It’s a difficult subject to understand, but not necessarily hard to write about. You will find an Internet of academic papers, first-hand stories, armchair quarterbacks and trolls with well-written articles if you search for them.
Aaron Cowan at Breach Bang Clear does a very good presentation. Jeff Cooper’s “Principles of Defense” adds a worthy dimension to the topic. I’m currently working through Cory Miller’s Meditation on Violence, at least as far as Amazon will let me read. I ordered a copy to read from the library system.
Cory points out that most training (both gun and fighting) is a product of the instructor’s world view. They see an attack or situation developing in certain ways and address those ways. I’ve often wondered about that when I played Kung Fu and Tai Chi. One of my instructors was a giant of a man, taller than 6 foot 4 inches. He preferred distant attacks and defends, always assuming you would see the attack from a distance and never experience a hell for leather, suicidal, meth driven rage. He hated ground fighting. So these skills were not taught.
While not a fan of UFC cage matches, ask yourself when was the last time you saw a fighter eye gouge or kick his opponent in the nuts so hard he lifted him off the floor?
I don’t want to discuss fighting styles. I just you want to think about the assumptions and limitations that are built in to all training.
Very few people have experienced enough forms of violence to talk in generalities. The violence you experience at 1am when your door gets kicked is different from what the soldier in combat experiences, or the police officer responding to a ‘man with a gun call,’ or a woman experiencing domestic violence at the hands of a drunk. While they have common features they are all different!
But there are some generalities.
Violence is a tool. It is neither good nor evil. What we do with it determines that.
Imagine a school shooting. Dickless walks in, pulls a gun and shoots a student and looks around for a second student. The school security officer happens to walk in seconds after the shot is fired, pulls his gun and shoots Dickless, ending the tragedy.
What’s the difference?
In both cases one round is wordlessly discharged and one unsuspecting person is shot. From a mechanical view both acts are the same. But are they?
I would say the difference is intent.
Dickless is selfish, satisfying his personal desires while initiating unnecessary harm and creating chaos. The officer protects the innocent, reduces chaos and starts to restore order. He is altruistic as he is well aware of the shit storm ahead of him.
Violence isn’t always unexpected and extreme.
I say usually because the battered women knows her drunken spouse will find some excuse which he blames on her and the violence will escalate. Even this simple statement is filled with layers of conflicting processes.
I was at a graduation party for a college friend of mine when Mandy asked that we take the keys from her boyfriend Bob who had too much to drink and now wants to drive home. He clearly had too much alcohol.
My friend and I talked for about 20 minutes but Bob kept moving to the exit with car keys in hand. Despite our urging and pleas from Mandy, Bob kept the keys. Seeing the future, I grabbed him and my friend physically took the car keys away. Bob was pissed and amused, an odd combination later explained. Mandy said she would drive so we gave her the keys.
Bob turned to her and said, “Mandy, give me the keys.” Mandy did so in an eye blink. That’s conflicting processes at work.
This is a trivial example, but it indicates that surface appearances of actions including violence are seldom that simple.
Because of the disorienting nature of violence you have very little time to respond. Get suckered gut punched in a bar. If you don’t have something in the experience bank and in training, it will be the rare person that can cobble something together in the fractional seconds until the second blow.
No, I don’t suggest you get in a bar fight. I suggest you get some experience you can draw on. The OODA loop works when there is both skill and experience to work with.
Violence will usually be thrust on you when you are least prepared to deal with it. War might be the perfect example. The cagy commander wants to catch his opponent before he is prepared and in a position of strength. While this doesn’t happen often, read a little about anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic during WWII. The US fliers wanted nothing more but to catch a crippled Nazi sub on the surface or connected to a refueling sub by hoses, steel cables and with their hatches open. Fair? Hell no, it was war.
The successful response to violence will necessarily be more violence. Your response to the sucker gut punch might be twisting slightly to take the punch on your rib case and simply propel your hand open fingered into his face to buy time. Then you have to do something else.
And frankly a firearm or knife isn’t the answer to every problem. Are you going stab Uncle Fud at the family Christmas party because he’s drunk and copped a feel from your wife or shoot tipsy Aunt Myra who wants to see if your husband is aroused?
But it might be the answer if a drunk charges out of the ally holding a brick overhead.
I would suggest you put some training into different aspects of violence. Did you ever think that reading books on salesmanship would assist you in disengaging Fud and Myra from your spouse without ruining the holidays?
I ran a Tueller-like drill with a moveable cardboard target. It was surprising how many good IDPA shooters had trouble drawing and getting a round off when attacked by a cardboard target. Can you draw and shoot one handed? What about from a seated position? Could you do it from inside a car trunk? On the ground lying on your gun side?
Ever thought about shadow boxing your way through a sucker punch? Just mentally thinking about your response and then acting it out?
Think about that home invasion at 1am. Did you think it out or maybe walk through it?
It might be:
A loud noise awakens you and you say what hell was that? Roll out of bed, scoop the weapon. Flashlight? Reload? Head to bedroom door. Do you have to knock your spouse to the ground to get them out safely out of the way? Do you tell them call the police, or do they know to do that? Maybe they are arming themselves to back stop you before calling 9-1-1?
So what am I saying? Study violence and its occurrences. Like my Kung Fu instructor we will want to dismiss occurrences that don’t fit our world view. Don’t do that. Embrace those occurrences and look for a response.
Different levels of violence surround us and shape our world. We need to understand what it is and how it accomplishes that to be better prepared to deal with it.