Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Failure to Comply

Last night the Wife and I went to our local gym to work out and as I rolled into the weight room I saw a bright pink flier on the community bulletin board that read :


It's being offered by a gal who titles herself as a thirty-year martial artist, and gave a brief course outline. All par for the course stuff, but there were two things that left me shaking my head. One was a cute little Charlie Brown/Lucy-esque cartoon at the bottom with the girl standing over the boy while his head swirled from being knocked out.

Seems innocent enough.

The other was "How to be more aware of your surroundings and avoiding dangerous places!"

I don't know the instructor, nor her course so this is not intended to be a "puff my chest out piece" about what I know over her. But there are weakened, albeit good intentions, set sub-consciously into the flier.

I had the opportunity last week to see a guy get cut off in traffic and proceed to verbally berate the driver now five cars ahead of him. A few minutes later we ended up at the same drive up ATM. When his turn came he allowed a guy to walk up behind his car and wait while he did his transaction. From the review mirror he was looking an craning in his neck to see where the guy on foot was, which was less than ten feet away. For all of his earlier traffic bravado he didn't have the gumption to break societal politeness and tell the guy on foot to back away from his car.
Understand this isn't about yelling and screaming, but about looking at someone who is rapidly invading your personal space and telling them to walk away.

I'm a follower of Christ, love my God, but I also know that a flat even toned "Back the Fuck Up." does wonders in situational avoidance.If you can't handle a verbal confrontation with the average person on the street you're gonna lose the real fight.

And when the real fight happens it is going to be bad, and by bad I mean violent.

We are taught early on and reminded as adults constantly that violence is bad and that it never solves anything, and that no one wins in a fight. This is simply untrue. In fact it is horribly untrue. This is the result of political correctness infesting everything. It skews how we set and train our minds to win.

Violence does solve problems.

Reactive violence can and does routinely stop evil offensive violence. When you are left (regardless of your sex) on the ground and fighting to win to keep your life violence is the answer...and it is the only answer. And you should not apologize nor back peddle for that.

Don't allow yourself to be drawn into the false expectations of some protective incantation like "...and I hope I never have to use it". No one in court will ever ask "and why didn't you ever tell people 'I hope I never have to use it'". If you're worried about your character ever being referenced in court then you should be concerned about how you conduct yourself in daily life and the measure of your character as a whole. Not some silly phrase useless phrase that can lead a moments hesitation when the crisis starts.

Using violence to save yourself is an intense experience and while we know that a condition white mindset sets you up to fail so can a condition yellow mindset if you don't know how to move beyond it and into the fight itself.

For far too long we have taught statements like "be aware your surroundings" and "avoid dangerous areas".

Those who sat on the planes that crashed in the World Trade Center were very aware of their surroundings. They were on a plane that had been taken over by terrorists with a bag of peanuts in their lap. And the rest of the populace is beginning to understand that dangerous places include going to church and the gym.

Some live in areas of increased danger, like the inner city and the majority of those who dwell there are working class folks trying to make do. Perhaps you can afford to make statements like "I would never live someplace where I can't sit on my front porch for fear of being shot.", but others can not. Neither could the folks who settled this land. Pioneers of this country lived in fear of Indian raids and having their scalps taken. Blacks in the south lived in fear of having their homes set on fire.....and their churches bombed.

Former NatSec Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice talked openly about living through the 16th street Baptist Church Bombing in September of 1963 and how her father (a pastor) and other men patrolled the streets at night with shotguns prepared to defend themselves against Night Raiders of the Ku Klux Klan.

The simple reality is we live in a world where single moms may have to leave the safety of their homes in the middle of the night and go find the errant teenager who hasn't come home at 2am. Telling her to avoid dark parking lots doesn't do her any good.

The Wife's job is not only located in a "bad area" but she also works with several dozen juvenile offenders...some of them sex offenders. Her feel good, do no harm school of social work feelings of ten years ago no longer exist.

The fight never will be what you want it to be, and you should train accordingly. Shooting tight little groups at seven yards with that pocket gun doesn't prepare you for the first time someone slams a fist into the side of your head and knocks you to the ground.

You can make a cushy statement like "well you never should have gotten in that predicament".

Nice statement. My profession is being paid to think and to be aware and I can tell you that everyone gets caught off guard, simply because we are human and human factors come into play. Always. You need to learn to react instantly when you are caught off guard just as much as you need to learn to read the signs of a rapidly escalating situation two blocks away.

The suburbanite mother who is loading kids and groceries into her mini van at 2pm on Thursday needs to learn to react when her thinking about seat belts on a car seat and the bread in the bag are interrupted by a would be rapist delivering a hard right to her face. Followed by trying to drag her into his mini van.

I don't care that she got a bruised face near as much as I do that no one ever taught her to pull a Spyderco Endura out of her waist band and slam it into the side of his face and back.

We must learn to understand both in society and the courtroom that when an individual is in place of brute force that they must fight/attack in order to win. Because at some point the defensive must become the offensive. In combat there is no such thing as a defensive attack, there is only a counter attack. A badman must....must be beaten back so far and with such intensity that he either flees or is killed.

If you can't handle the thought of your clothes covered in someone else's blood from fighting them off or a body laying dead in your kitchen after he has come to kill your family..and you. Then its time you made some harsh real life decisions about that little pistol you like to carry around and the consequences that come with it.


Anonymous said...

um, wow. That was a severe dose of reality that I wasn't ready for.

Rustmeister said...

The phrase "I hope I never have to use it" will come in handy if you ever have to be "judged by twelve".

I hope I never have to use it because I don't want to lose it to a police evidence locker. ;-)

Robert McDonald said...

Well said. I've always felt the same myself.

Anonymous said...

I really want to say thank you for all the articles that you write.

Ten years ago I was almost a victim of rape, saved by my screaming and a couple of teenagers who came to my aid. I realized how unprepared I was after that and when our state got a CCW law passed I immediately went out and got mine. I have attended numerous Women's self defense seminars taught by men and women and none of them yet were able to describe in two hours the intensity of the situation and the fight like you do in five minutes.

Thank you so much for your "straight forward" honesty in all your writings.

A very avid fan.

Larry said...

The phrase "I hope I never have to use it" will come in handy if you ever have to be "judged by twelve".

Exactly. although one might actually want to use it, to be relevent and useful in protecting the society we love, it's not wise to express that in the current climate.

It is a problem that repeating a mantra long enough tends to re-inforce it subconsciously, so I hear you that someone needs to break the pattern, in the abstract, while people have the mental space to consider it rationally, in the privacy of their own thoughts, where it isn't a crime yet.

- said...

As a woman currently shopping for a knife (thanks for the Spyderco mention FYI), all I hear when I mention getting a knife is "it'll just be used on you". Is this the same mindset, or a more realistic one of needing to combine the purchase with some basic training?

Matthew said...

Pym,I have never known of an attacker trying to disarm someone by grabbing a bare blade.

And while I think training is always a good thing a career road cop I know once made the statement about knife training

"All these people wanting to take 'knife fighting courses' should just go on a domestic abuse call where there is an angry drunk women in the bedroom armed with a butcher knife. Slashing, cutting and stabbin' is all the same".

That being said if you can find training get it. It makes you more confident in how you will fight and defend yourself. Because it is more of that negative mindset they are making statements out of being uncomfortable with you doing something they won't.

I also encourage you to keep reading as this is a future article coming in the "dark arts for good guys" series.

And thanks for reading and sharing your comments!

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Thank you.

All the high-minded ideals spouted by friends about martial arts don't hold a candle to the moment, years ago, when mi mama took a knife out of the kitchen drawer, squatted down to my eye height, and showed me how to hold it against my thigh "so they won't see it, when you step out the door to check what's wrong." Her lessons included how to recognize when la guardia was trying to isolate a riot instead of simply looking for more pay via roadblock bribes, how to avoid getting shot as a bystander in election season, and how to most quickly incapacitate a man so you could run - as "Muggers will usually only run a block to catch you. After that, you're too much trouble." But when it came to fights you can't flee, she never taught me to 'fight fair' or 'hope I don't have to use it.'

The willingness to do violence is one of the best preventions for violence I know - and swift and totally committed violence is the best cure for violence I have ever found.

Thank you for the series - reading your blog takes me back to a warm kitchen, doing homework at the table while breathing the rich scent of chicken being boiled down to stock and beans simmering on the back burner, and listening to mama tell me how to be a proper wife and mother in the real world outside los estados unidos. Your advice is focused on getting out, hers on living and raising a family even when the revolution comes (and the riots after the revolution doesn't fulfill its promises, and the inevitable coup after that), but it's very similar, very practical, and likely more useful to this American daughter. Gracias, Matthew.

Albert A Rasch said...


Brute force will never win vs force and the mind together. I am not a martial artist, a pugilist, or knife fighter, but I do practice and fight on the same level as a street thug, except I use the best weapon at my disposal... my mind.

Quick, dirty, lethal methods are the moves to master. If I may paraphrase, "A Spyderco on the belt, is worth 10, no 20, fancy defensive moves from a martial arts class.

BTW, I use your thoughts and ideas frequently.

Best regards,
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Why I Carry a Gun

HankH said...

Excellent advice! (and not a politcally correct bone in your body (which is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much:) My 15 year old daughter and 16 year old son have been hearing all of this and more with increasing frequency, especially now that I can't be everywhere to protect them. I look forward to your future posts!


drjim said...

Thanks for another great post!

old car buff said...

My CCW instructor pointed out that "the permit is not lucky charm against violence".


Jannah Swiftwing said...

Thank you for writing this. I have been living with this mentality for a while, and I still get a bit stunned when people I talk to about it go all shocked. 'You'd what? Really?? That's horrible!' It's always been easy for me to understand that violence towards oneself is answered with force. I was raised in a good home, with a stay-at-home Mom and a businessman Dad. I've never been intentionally hurt by anyone. But when the time comes for me to defend myself or the life of an innocent, I know that I'll be able to do exactly what it takes. I guess I have a hard time figuring out why others don't think that way.

ASM826 said...

Another excellent addition to the series. Whatever weapons are available, there is a need for preparedness and training. For the knife fighting, there is nothing I know of that is better than Arnis, the Philippine knife and stick art. I make no claims to proficiency, just an awareness of the art since it is taught in the same dojo I take Aikido in.

I have a CCW permit, carry when I can. But it is the sad reality that I am disarmed by law when I am on the grounds of a school, when I fly, or when I go to the courthouse to pick up my permit renewal. Having a defensive plan that includes the scenarios and situations you have been using would be crucial to surviving the initial moments of a deadly encounter.

I put you on my blogroll, and have sent several friends to read your thoughts.

ASM826 said...


Here's the link to my comment on the series, from earlier last month, when I added your blog to my sidebar:


Matthew said...

ASM826 & all of you,

Thanks for spreading the word and the love. Just a guy trying to do his part and pull his weight.


Anonymous said...

Good post. However I have to add that people need to have a realistic view of what THEIR actual risk is. Before deciding how much of their time, money, worldview and stomach lining they are going to sacrifice to "defending themselves".

Yes, random violence to people "just minding their own business DOES happen. And some environs are going to be higher risk than others. An inner city resident vs. suburbanite vs. resident of a third world nation...

In my "Average American" Town which borders a high crime urban area it has been my anecdotal experience that most of the "victims" of violence COULD have used that "how to avoid violence" class. Booze, "hanging out" in bad areas for no good reason and associating with people who are crap magnets gets more people killed than the woman who has no choice but to look for her kid on a street of crack houses.

Not that that makes the 1% of victims of "random violence" (or "I had no choice but to be there violence") feel any better about what happened to them...I think the wise person needs to have a basic "first aid kit" of defensive skills. From there they need to make an honest risk assessment of their lifestyle and build, worry, spend, from there.

Anonymous said...


I respectfully disagree. When I lived in Vermont I was once in an very "nice" part of suburbia in the late afternoon when a man walked into the convenience store where I was getting coffee. He held up the cashier and then shot at him (he missed). My sister was mugged on her college campus.

As a woman I think most men fail to realize how vulnerable women feel against the other 1/2 of society. That is not to imply that all men are bad, but I also understand as a woman I do not posses the same body strength as a man and hence why I know carry a gun (and yes I am trained).

I appreciate Matthew's brutal honesty and approach.


Camry said...

Thanks for writing this. I'm already looking forward to your knife fighting article.

Anonymous said...


As I said. Random violence DOES happen. However, for the average American it is statistically rare. Most of my clientele were in the "asked for it" crowd. The remainder were domestic violence victims with a scattering of "pure victims".

My only point is that life is too short to be walking the streets of America believing its Baghdad in MOST circumstances. Stay sober..stay "clean"..stay away from people and places that you know are shit magnets and you will be OK "most of the time.

However, I dont want to sound like I am disagreeing with Mats post here..far from it.

What I do agree with here 110% though is that THAT is not enough...

Another thing I agree with 110% is that self-defense is UGLY and brutal and most "mcdojo stylists" are being led down the primrose path.

old car buff said...

tgace, with all due respect, it's not 'random' when the goblin is staring you in the face, snarling "give me your purse, b!$ch". At that point, oh boy, is it personal.

I didn't shoot the kid, he ran. I didn't need to go up the force scale. But I was ready to. I got out of the whole thing with a wrenched shoulder and an adreline rush. (And I made the local news, which hit a certain RSS feed in IRAQ, for pity sakes. I thought that it was cool that I could email The Boy in-country. It wasn't so much fun when his command called to check up on ME LOL).

Kent McManigal said...

My only disagreement, and it is slight, is with this: "Because at some point the defensive must become the offensive. In combat there is no such thing as a defensive attack, there is only a counter attack."

If you have been attacked, then no matter how violently you respond, and no matter how much more violent you are than your attacker was, it is still defensive, although it may be "offensive" to those who would rather see you dead than successful at eliminating a predator. I just had a similar discussion with someone else here.

MamaLiberty said...

As the survivor of a violent attack, I have already had to shoot a man to save my life. I know I can do that now.

I had no training in self defense at the time, and only a farm girl's understanding of the firearm I used, but even with all of the potentially serious mistakes I made, I survived.

I am now a certified NRA instructor for handguns and self defense. One of the points I make in every class is that attitude, the fighting spirit, is the most essential element. I ask them if they truly can picture themselves shooting and possibly killing another human being. If they can't honestly say they can accept that idea, they are advised to consider it carefully before they begin to carry a gun.

Just remember, as with an aircraft landing, it's a success if you can walk away afterwards. Attitude counts most.

triptyx said...

Well written Sir. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little different. I never want to be in a violent defensive situation, and I'll take every possible way out to avoid it. But if I can't and someone tries to do me serious harm, I would enjoy having their blood on my shirt. I consider it a high service to humanity, dispatching a piece of filth. If someone has the nerve to try and kill an innocent person, they just need to die.

Anonymous said...

Well, I do carry a pocket pistol. And at night I pray two things:

First, that I never have to use it.

Second, that if I have to use it, the training I've taken makes me good at it - for I have every intent to use it if pushed to the brink.

chris said...

well written, thank you... I have to say that i have had the whole "violence never solves anything" argument with more than one 95lb hippie girl...

sometimes, the only way to handle a violent situation is to respond with violence that is so quick and overwhelming that it makes your attacker stop...

The bottom line is that in a lot of these cases, you only have fractions of a second to react... in that time, your life will change forever...

Anonymous said...

While everything you say is pretty darn true, and you do make comment that you are not trying to put down the course offered in the flier.

Truth be... Deterrents are selfishly good things. My locked door and alarm doesn't stop crime, it stops me from being a victim of crime.

For most women (and men), they usually have choices and by making the rights ones, they can live in a world with less trouble.

My daughter will have the means and the knowledge to protect herself. But, arguably more importantly, she will have the skills to avoid trouble.

Not to live in fear, but, to avoid trouble. Keys ready for the car before she leaves the restaurant. Walk in packs. Be aware of her surroundings.

Will she always have the luxury of choosing her surroundings and situation? No. She has to be prepared for that as well. The problem comes that for the large majority of people, they do have the luxury and don't even think about exercising it.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who wishes to learn knife fighting could do worse than ask a Marine for assistance. The USMC is one of a small and shrinking number of 21st Century militaries where edged weapons techniques are still seriously taught. If you know a Marine (there are no "former Marines," ask anyone who ever graduated from boot camp), ask him to teach you.

OldDog said...

I can truly say "I hope I never have to use it" because I also say "But I will in a heartbeat!"

I probably won't have to because all around me know I will!

Somehow they seem to know I have.

The WatchCat said...

Brilliant post, Matthew. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Love the series! Here in Australia, violence is on the increase, yet, girls go jogging in parks alone with earplugs in! Or even walking on the street! Total lack of awareness of your surrounds is like a neon sign to purse snatchers or sex offenders.. Then the newsreaders are full of righteous indignation about the predator! This stuff should be taught in schools! Thanks Matthew ! Love ya work mate!

Fly Weight

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