I was recently reading an article on personal self defense in which the author was speaking of violence as though you could pick and choose the level of seriousness of the interaction. If he’s a little more serious, then so are you—and if he wants to kill you, well, that’s the only time you’re going to use certain techniques and targets like eyes, throat and so on.
This idea illustrates a fantasy disconnect between “fighting” and violence. It’s the idea that you can choose to hit someone with, say, 60% of what you’ve got—and that you’ll only ever hit someone with 100% when your life depends on it. But here’s the problem: holding back can get YOU killed. There are many ways to hold back:
1) You can wait and try to figure out his intentions.
2) You can make certain targets “off limits” because wrecking them is awful (you’ll never hear me say otherwise).
3) You can “go easy” on him by not striking as hard as you can.
Any one of these leads directly to reduced effectiveness, poor results, and in the worst case, can get you killed.
The idea that you can suss out his intentions is a fantasy. If you don’t have psychic powers (and my guess is… wait for it… you don’t), then you’re screwed. You’ll know he wants to kill you because, well, he’s doing it.
Making targets off limits ahead of time (“I’ll never take the eyes”) will give you a hesitating hiccup if your next—and only—opportunity is that target. You will stop. And try to get restarted. If you’re lucky, it means nothing. If you’re unlucky, the opportunity is gone and you just got shot/stabbed/injured (perhaps again) and you just better hope he got it wrong.
So, to that point, how does the way we train in personal self defense help serve you? It would seem on the surface that we ONLY train for the worst-case scenario, that to use what you know in any other situation would be like using dynamite as a can opener.
Let’s put it this way: The ‘worst-case scenario’ encompasses and includes all other possible scenarios; going in purely to cause serious injury, put the man down and then pile it on. The real beauty is that you can stop at any time.
You’ll typically do this the moment you recognize that he’s non-functional.
This is because your personal self defense training prepared you for the totality of violence, and helped you understand it for what it is—a single-use tool that does not have an intensity dial on it. You can’t make guns shoot “nice.” And what a bullet does is the purest expression of everything we’re ever talking about. All violence is the same.
So what does this mean for you?
First and foremost, it means you understand that violence is not a plaything. You won’t goof off with it any more than you would with a loaded firearm. This is healthy. It means you won’t get sucked into stupid shenanigans (antisocial) thinking you can use what you know without any negative repercussions. It means you’re going to be smarter about when to pull it out and use it. This is going to save you tons of wear and tear, not to mention legal troubles.
It means that when you do use your personal self defense training, you’re going to use it the only way you can be sure it works, with no artificial social governors restricting what you can and can’t do. You’ll use your personal self defense knowledge and strike him as hard as you can to cause injury. And you’ll take full advantage of that injury, replicating it into non-functionality.
If we view this through a social lens, it is savage, brutal, dirty, unfair and very probably illegal somewhere. This was the essential thesis of the self defense author.
But the question you have to ask yourself is are you going to bet your life the other guy is playing by the rules?
If he is, well, then you’re a jerk, aren’t you?
If he isn’t, you’re dead.
The moral of the story is: Screw around with violence the same way you’d screw around with a firearm. You don’t.