Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Self-Defense, the ethics politics and practicalities. Part 1

In my last post I wrote about martial arts, and pointed out that self-defense is only one of the reasons for studying them.

But what about self-defense?

I mentioned in my post 'Virginia' http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/04/virginia.html that self-defense involves firstly, a comittment not to be a victim, and directed readers to Marc "Animal" MacYoung's site 'No nonsense self-defense' here: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/

I repeat, it's worth your time to go over it.

In my post 'The Amish Tragedy' http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/10/amish-tragedy.html I talked about "soft targets". NNSD can help you evaluate if and what kind of target you might be.

You should at least be familiar with the sections of criminal psychology, the four motivations of violence, patterns of behavior that lead people into violent situations and what responses the law considered justified - versus what will get you sued or serious jail time, or both.

Nota bene: saying that people's own behavior leads them into violent situations is NOT the same as victim blaming!

That doctor in Connecticut who just lost everything he loves in life, wife and daughters, and now has nothing to live for but the execution of the men who took them from him, is not, repeat not, responsible for their actions. That does not change the fact that they entered through an unlocked basement door.

The McCann family (whose little girl went missing on a vacation in Portugal) without doubt did not realize that a resort area, while seeming like an oasis of tranquility, peace and pleasure, attracts predators like blood in the water attracts sharks.

There's no need to tell them that leaving small children alone in a hotel room is stupid, they're already torturing themselves with that knowlege. Now the least bad possibility is that their little girl was kidnapped by someone who wanted a beautiful child to raise as their own. The others are too horrible to contemplate - but I guarantee you as a parent that they are. Constantly.

Everyone with a working knowledge of self-defense (in the broadest sense of the term) experiences the same teeth-grinding frustration of observing the same patterns of behavior nearly every time a college girl goes missing. I could go into detail (see NNSD) but essentially it amounts to being unaware of the environment.

On an even deeper level, it's complete cluelessness about the fact that the world is a dangerous place. I believe that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous and most common illusions of our culture and effects everything from our personal safety to the safety of our nation.

In future posts, I'll be dealing with both.


  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger Jim Sullivan said…

    "On an even deeper level, it's complete cluelessness about the fact that the world is a dangerous place. I believe that this is perhaps one of the most dangerous and most common illusions of our culture and effects everything from our personal safety to the safety of our nation."

    That reminds me of a story I read long ago in middle school and it had a profound effect on me. Too bad I can't remember the author. But he said in the book, "far too many never realize just how wild and savage the world is. That 'civilization' is only 5 days away." By that he meant, that is how long it takes for the Supermarkets to run out of food and then it's every man for himself. We found out during Hurricane Katrina, it isn't even 5 days.

    Another thought provoking post.

  • At 3:22 AM, Blogger Jabo said…

    Hi Stephen. I actually made good on the Wu wei Gung Fu link, and started classes last week in Tel Aviv.

    There was an element of purity to the class that I didn't get from Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Wu wei Gung Fu was full contact (as was jiu-jitsu), but controlled and calculated. There is an element of calm discipline as well.

    This post was also quite good. I read NNSD. Very good, very informed but there is a bit of bravado in the language and "don't do the crazy stuff I did" approach.

    The world is a precarious place. Jim Sullivan's post reminds me of a line from Albert Camus' "The Plague." The narrator writes about looking over a placid "checkerboard" of houses and thinks "about the precariousness of all things." One day a small town, the next day a plague.

    Living where I do (and where you have) has proved this point. Chaos does not start quickly; it never stops. Entropy is a constant force and maintaining control over a situation is only about maintaining control over yourself in that situation. A bus blows up -- do you break down and start a fight (as I've seen happen moments after a terror attack), or open your eyes for another possible attack?

    Not to get too literary, but one of the best pieces of advice I've ever found in my life comes from Joseph Conrad's "Typhoon." The old captain screams through the wind at the young first mate during the crisis of the typhoon to "keep a cool head...it's the most anyone can do."

    Thanks for the Wu wei Gung Fu reference.

  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Thank you! And please give my regards to Eyal. I've never met him but hope to someday.

    About Animal - all violence professionals do at least a bit of "woofing" I've noticed. You can't have missed though, that he's also highly intelligent and very well-read. I wonder if the woofing is for the purpose of countering the wimpy steriotype of intellectuals?

    I envy you getting to study in Tel Aviv. I've been trying to make it to the Philippines to study for a while and I'd really like to study We wei further in Israel. Maybe when I write that book...

  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Gilmoure said…

    As someone who's family and people have been attacked/killed/driven from many 'civilized' places in the past 3000 years, I don't place too much faith in our current society. It doesn't take much to remove the thin veneer of civilization that covers the wild animal that is man.

    I'm also raising my daughter to realize that, sure, she and her children may live a long peaceful existence but one shouldn't count on it. One should be ready to defend their world and, if necessary, throw it all away and move on.

    Also, have never forgotten the Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared.

  • At 2:52 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    And it's good to remember that the Boy Scouts were founded to be just that - scouts. The skills taught are those of a military scout, in the original concept of Lord Baden-Powell.

    I believe he also based the idea of the Zulu age regiments.

  • At 4:19 AM, Blogger Jabo said…

    Hi Stephen. I actually did mention you to Eyal...he needed a few more details like when and where you studied. But it seems you studied with one of his trainers.

    Anyways, he is quite an intense guy. No mistaking the real-dealness that he carries around. Serious, studied, and actually quite personable despite the "I could easily rearrange your vital organs before you could scream"-look.

    As for Animal, I agree there is some necessity to the tone. Like anything else, the reader needs a reason to carry on reading the prose. His brains and experience are evident, and I have no problem with the rhetoric. I just found it ironic that his precautionary, "Don't be a crazy cool tough-guy like me" statements are a bit self-defeating.

    Anyways, we're on a couple weeks break for now from wu wei gung fu. But it will give me some time to toughen up my forearms and shins (and thighs!, which are killing). I found the workouts to be decently intense, not overwhelming, but quite specific. I started replacing heavier weight workouts with interval training sessions to ramp up a bit.

    Anyways, enough of the ramble. Would be interesting to see you at Eyal's class on Herzog St. Till then.

  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    I studied with John Haynes in Oklahoma City, who eventually passed me on to his teacher, John Douvier.

    I've also noticed that teachers on the highest levels of mastery are most often some of the nicest people you would ever hope to meet.

    On the level of the merely tough is where you find the ego-bound @$$holes.

    For physical training for us types who do their work sitting down, I've been working with Indian clubs for a few years now. John Haynes and I are trying to put another video together, but you can find my first one (and order clubs) at woodenswords.com. I don't get any money out of it, but it'll be different for the next one...

    I've also been working with a Russian kettlebell I got from Dragondoor and I love it. And that's saying something because I loathe weight lifting.


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