Sunday, November 3, 2013

Another senseless death...(and some food for thought)

It saddened me to hear of yet another senseless death this weekend, caused by (at the physical level) a punch to the head resulting in impact with the ground and serious injury leading to the loss of another life (this young man has passed away from his injuries).

I have written and spoken about this subject several times so won't rehash the same opinions except to say that this is so common as to be a real concern. I was speaking to one of our senior members, a very experienced Police Officer, this weekend about the event and his comment was "it's just all the time, it's so common". After 20 years in this industry I certainly agree, we see this all of the time, sometimes resulting in serious injury, sometimes resulting in death.

Obviously, Protect training helps you to avoid these situations happening to you or your loved ones through increased ability to recognise, avoid, de-escalate, or physically respond to violence to keep safe, but what about looking at this from a different angle for a moment..?

I wrote a magazine article recently (Read it HERE) regarding some of the downsides to be aware of when punching to the head is trained as a primary response. One of those considerations is the potential damage to your opponent which may have unintended (as well as un-justified) consequences.

I know a man, a good human being with a good heart, who killed a man. He did not intend to do this, he was placed in a situation where he was legally, morally, and ethically justified in defending himself against a violent assault, so he did. Unfortunately though his only "self defence" (what he had been told/sold was "self defence") training was in boxing and kickboxing (two great combat sports and he was great at them both). His response, having no ability to de-escalate at all (he himself says that it could have very likely been diffused had he been given those skills instead of a purely physical option only) was to unleash a flurry of punches, one of which knocked the person unconscious, resulting in his head smashing into the pavement when he fell. And he died.

To give the story above some context, this was not some predatory criminal. It was a classic 'ego-based' situation in the courtyard of a pub, which could very likely have been de-escalated. It started when this guy accidently stepped back, bumping the other guy and spilling his drink on him. The offender, protecting his ego, went through all of the usual 'Pre-Contact' behaviour and then shoved the other guy and cocked his fist ready to punch him. Does that sound like a justifiable reason to use force to protect oneself, yes. But does it sound like a justifiable reason to take this guy off the planet? To take a son from his parents? A father from his kids? A spouse from his partner? You can answer that one. But that is exactly what happened. Why? Because that is what he had been trained to do. It is not what he intended, not for a moment, but remember, whatever goes "on the disk" is what's coming off the disk. We don't rise to the occasion in a violent encounter, we sink to the level of our training. In this case he did a great job of doing what he had been trained to do. The unfortunate reality is that his training was grossly flawed. And it cost him dearly (it cost the other guy and his loved ones more). I will not go into details of the consequences caused to this guy by this situation except to say that they were all negative. The consequences to violence always are.

At Protect we are very aware, when we train the physical aspects of self-defence, to consider the potential outcomes of our actions at a legal, moral, and ethical level. But we are the vast exception to the norm, and that is very unfortunate and will be the undoing of many people. There are times when an extreme level of force is necessary, justified, and reasonable. But real self-protection training in our opinion had better equip the trainee with the ability to know the difference and have the right "toolbox" to be able to adjust the level of force to suit the situation. That decision-making process needs to be made under the stress and pressure of the situation which requires a very specific way of training, which is vital to what we do at Protect.

We have even evolved many of the physical strategies that we teach and train in to have the ability to achieve the intended level of damage to the opponent, while at the same time keeping them as safe as possible from unintended consequences. This is work in progress but it is something we consider to be showing the highest level of responsibility to the people we train.

I encourage all of our instructors, trainers, and clients to challenge the status quo, to ask questions, to think for themselves and to look outside the box. That is how Protect has evolved. I encourage you to do the same. If you are training in any form of martial art, combatives, or anything else stating to teach you "self defence", stop and ask yourself if it adequately covers the legal, moral, and ethical consequences and considerations of what you are learning. If it doesn't, you may have a very big problem and it may be time to start asking some serious questions. Remember that you need to be very careful what you practise as you may become VERY good at doing the wrong thing.

This is just food for thought as always.



"Hello. You don't know me..." (Trigger Warning)

The below, from 'Safe For Life' is a quick look into one example of the mind of a predator. It is NOT intended to create un-warranted fear or to be a scare tactic, it is simply study material to help us understand the mindset of the enemy and help overcome the apathy mentality. This is just one example, each situation is different, but it is all interesting and can add value to your safety and awareness. At Protect we have worked with dozens of people who are/have been the target of 'Stalking' situations, from CEO's and celebrities, to everyday women (and several men) of all ages. Although the vast majority of the offenders are known to the targeted person, the below is one example of a look into the mind of an offender not directly known to the target.
At Protect we have a saying: "Although someone else may choose you as a target, you decide whether you become a victim or not".
Hello. You don't know me and you never will, but I know you. I've been watching you.

I've studied your habits and I will make myself known to you…when I see fit. I've
bumped into you at the local supermarket. By the way, you and I share the same taste in
cuisine. It's too bad you're too stuck up and could never see yourself having a romantic
dinner with the likes of me. On the day we meet, you may, however, change your mind. I
know you're intelligent; I'm aware of the books you read. Sometimes I've even read
parts of your book with you. I love to read over your shoulder. I can smell your hair.

We connected once. Remember when you felt uncomfortable for a moment? It was

during your lunch hour break and you were reading beside your favourite tree. I was

there, and you looked confused. I laughed. You prefer the shade there when the sun

seems too strong. When you leave your house at 7:00 am, I am there watching you. I see

you wave to your neighbour as the two of you seem to leave your driveways at the same
time to start your workdays. I don't like him. That's ok though, I'll take care of him. I
know your outfits and I know how you try to accessorize to make it seem like you have

more than you actually own. I can almost tell, based on the weather as to what outfit
you'll pick out for the day. I prefer when you have your hair out as opposed to when you
tie it up on the weekends. I like the changes you made to your bedroom and kitchen. It
certainly is a lot brighter in there. More room in the bedroom closet I've noticed, that's

nice. I walked behind you today as you went window-shopping. You left your purse open, right after you bought the vanilla ice cream. I know how sensitive

you are. I can tell by the movies you rent. You don't notice me; you're too into reading

the backs of the movies. It's ok for now but soon you won't be able to think of
anyone or anything but ME. I will posses every thought you will have. Every emotion

will be with ME in mind. Everyone you see will remind you of ME. Why? Because,
that's the way it should be and so it will become. You will answer to me and don't think
for a moment that your boyfriend scares me. I know the car he drives. I sometimes sit in

it for kicks and watch the both of you through your living room windows when he visits
you. I can take away his brakes if I want, what does he suspect, it's a new car and he
drives way too fast. He might hurt someone with his sloppy driving skills. I could do

everyone a favour and get rid of him. Would you prefer I do it by pills? He trusts me you
know. I've been a baker to him and I could be his next pharmacist. You make me laugh.

I know you know I'm watching. Your silly little schoolyard prank of trying to make me

jealous just doesn't work you stupid bitch! Have a good night's sleep, maybe I'll see you

tomorrow and maybe I'll come up into your bedroom and tuck you in for the evening.