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.



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