Monday, April 26, 2010

Hindsight: 20/20

A little while ago a few of our members and I were having a discussion about some of the recent salient violent events occurring around New Zealand. We watch these events closely as they give great insight into current trends and behavioural psychology as it relates to violence. The discussion found its way to the topic of Mr Singh, the Manurewa liquor store owner murdered in 2008 as part of an Armed Holdup. I was asked by a martial artist who was attending our group class what I would have done if I were the person in the liquor store. In other words, if I was Mr Singh.

My reply to him was along the lines of; "Well he was shot in the chest at close range so I probably would have died. Why do you ask?" This was clearly not the response he expected and he immediately retorted with "well, that's a great attitude from a self defence teacher!"

I asked him why he felt that way and he went on to explain how his (martial arts) instructor had told the class exactly what he would have done in the situation to not only not get shot, but to physically harm the three robbers, one of whom was armed with a gun (which incidentally involved jumping the counter in front of the gunman and kicking him in the throat etc *Sigh*). I find this attitude incredible. Actually, I find it blatantly ignorant.

No-one can say how they absolutely would react in that situation. We can theorise about it, but there is no way we can say with certainty what we "would" have done. There is never any black and white answer to violence. Ever.

It reminded me of what Rich Dimitri told me about a magazine which called him up after 9/11 to ask him what he would have done if he had been on the plane when the highjackers took it over. Several other self defence 'experts' had told the magazine how they would have dealt to the highjackers and resumed control of the plane saving the day, whereas Rich's reply was "I would have died of course". His reply was not published.

Certainly there is merit in analysing the situation and what occurred retrospectively to help create 'mental blueprints' and provide greater understanding of how these situations unfold and occur, and also to adapt our training to suit and give greater chance of adapting to the specific scenario, but we will never 'fully' bridge the gap between how we think it may happen and how it really happens, unless...It really happens. There are always too many variables which could occur to try to "run a script". But if your self defence training is reality based it will prepare you as much as possible for this type of event. The 'stress inoculation' training that is a core concept of what we teach at Protect helps you to prepare and to make decisions under pressure which best serve you.

I don't know exactly how the events unfolded in the liquor store, and whether any previous training for this type of situation could have helped Mr Singh, I would like to hope it may have, but one thing I know is that he did the best with the knowledge and preparation that he had and in the end he tragically had his life taken from him and his loved ones.

All we can aim to do with our self defence training is gain as much knowledge and preparation against real world violence as we can so that if the worst happens we are as prepared as possible. Still, we will never be 100% prepared but 90% is better than not prepared at all. If the worst should happen you only have a small gap to bridge and will be far more able to adapt under pressure.

Self defence is not about flashy Hollywood moves and being a hero, it is about staying safe and getting home to your loved ones. That's all. And effective self defence training should reflect that.

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