Monday, December 6, 2010

Self Defense...

In college my Aikijutsu instructor was Dr. Carl Farinelli.  A great person and a man of many talents.  When I say many talents.  This gentleman defined the concept of the Renaissance Man.  From what I know of him he has degrees in German, English, and Education with his doctorate being in Education.  At the university he teaches a variety of academic classes.  These changed back and forth over time so I cannot tell you what they are now but they were in each the fields of study mentioned above.  In addition, he also taught a country/western dance class, a few musical instruments, and of course the martial arts classes.  Since I have known him he has also been in a few bands.  An amazing person.

One thing I picked up from him were the four steps of self defense.  Now, these are very simple and with anything made simple it might leave room for inference but work with me here.  I have changed the words used to make it more easily remembered but the material is the same.

Avoid, Evade, Talk, Walk

  • Avoid - always doing our best to not be where the problems can occur.  Being aware of our surroundings and if we see a problem...evade.
  • Evade -  when we see a problem we go around it.  Give it a wide berth if you will.  Someone gives you the creeps, cross the street.  I don't agree with everything in the book but the core tenant of "Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker is that if you get a vibe off someone it is probably right.  Go around them.  If they close on you and evading is not an option then...Talk.
  • Talk - when the problem is not avoidable it is time to confront.  There are several rules I would add to this issue.  Of course this is supposed to be simple but here are some sub-rules that should apply all the time.  
    • Make eye contact - give them a good look.  Most criminals do not want to be remembered.  Remember the clothes they are wearing, scars or distinguishing marks, hair color or style.  Depending on your mindset at the time you might even make a audible checklist.  If they know you are taking their inventory it might make them rethink their choice. 
    • Keep your distance - do not let them inside 8 or 9 feet.  Tell them to stay back.  If you have told them and they still close on you they have shown you they mean you harm. 
    • Asking for money - simple, this is one of the only things where you should just go ahead and comply.  Toss your purse or wallet away from your escape route.  When they move to get it.  You head the other way.  You can make more money, you cannot recover from death.  
  • Walk - the assailant has accosted you.  All bets are off!  Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung are some great resources for this information.  Rory pointed out that many people don't feel allowed to act on their own behalf.  Like no one has ever told them they are allowed to be mean to survive.  Remembering that your number one goal is escape, every action you take should be toward that end.  Hit them hard and often.  As soon as you see a way to escape, make for the hills!  Run!  If escape is not an option.  Kids you must stay to protect, trapped in a locked room, etc...  Hit, bite, scratch, tear, until you are certain you are no longer threatened.  This is where the martial arts or self defense techniques take over.  Assuming they have been trained with this end in mind.
Looking at these steps, notice how the majority of them have nothing to do with actually fighting.  This is as is should be.  Most of what we need to know to avoid violence is in our heads.  However, most of us will face violence at least once in our lives.  Statistically, some people see violence more then others.  Those people skew the average for the rest of us.  We might never see violence in our lifetime, I hope that is the case for everyone.  But it is better to be prepared than not.

Again, this is a very simple model.  And one that I think applies to young men before anyone else.  TV, video games, and other things glorify violence and make it almost attractive.  I know my son is nearly a teenager and he likes games of this nature.  He has even expressed an interest in joining the military.  I have tried to explain and I think I have done fairly well.  Violence is rarely fun.  I would say that in my experience violence is a great example of extraordinary stress.

For most of us that work in the civilized world, violence is a foreign concept.  He might experience stress from a deadline or an important presentation.  But the stress of violence is like making someone experience all the stress of years of an office job in less than a second.  It can be breath taking and confusing and .  It is primal.  Most people might glorify that but most are just not ready for it.  It can be very scary.  One thing to consider, I have fought people that want to knock my head off in a figurative sense.  I have never had to face someone who was trying to out right kill me.  I hope I never do.   

Finally, there is a time to fight.  Don't get me wrong.  But do it knowing that it is not going to be nearly as fun as a video game.  Also, there is also the violence we don't see coming.  Ambushes and such.  Skip straight to the last option in that case.  Being aware that violence can occur is great but it won't cover every event. If you ever get the eerie feeling that something is wrong, act on it.  Better to be considered a little paranoid than to end up a statistic. 

Okay, enough rambling for now.