Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Difference

Disparity - noun: lack of similarity or equality; inequality; difference.

A search in Bing found 2,270,00 hits for disparity of force.  After about the first couple of pages it defaults to women’s wages and race relations.

Why is disparity so important? 

From a social perspective if you found out you were paid two-thirds the salary of the new person just out of school doing the same job, wouldn’t you be angry over that? 

In terms of a physical contest, it’s very important.

two fist showing disparity
Okay, which fist will win the thumb wrestling contest?  It's disparity!

Flyweights don’t box heavyweights.  That would be unfair because there is too much inequality.  Advertisements for automobiles claim “The best ride for the money.”  There is a difference among vehicles and the dealership wants to use money as an equalizer.  The implication is you can find a much better ride, but you’ll shell out the greenbacks.  The opposite is also true; you can save money with a worse ride.

Most of humanity prefers some measure of equality in sporting events.  Watching a professional football team run up and down the field at will because they’re playing a grade school team isn’t perceived as fun or interesting. 

I was going to use the lottery as an example of who would bet if they had no chance of winning, but clearly this is a bad example.

American law recognizes that physical altercations between individuals of unequal ability justify the weaker party using a tool or special circumstance to equalize the conflict. 

If you were to poll people experienced with violence, like boxers, MMA fighters, police and muggers, on the likely outcome of a physical confrontation between various sizes, strengths, sex and physical restrictions, you could create a chart.

It’s too late to apply for a grant, but J David Myers did something like that.  He went around and asked experience fighters what would be the expected outcome for fighters, using only open hand techniques if the combatants varied only by size, not skill or training.

His results are what you would expect.  People of same size and skill were rated at 50-50 odds.  But put a very large man in with a small fellow and the odds shift in favor of the big man.

You can find his chart in John Peters’ "Defensive Tactics with Flashlights" (make that Mag-light flashlights!) published in 1982.  I’ve scanned a copy for you below.


Chart of likely outcomes--disparity
No, it's not your eyes, the chart is crooked, but honest.


We should note some of his assumptions: 
  • Both combatants are of the same sex.
  • Both have the same physical limitations.
  • Size, weight and strength are related. 


He also defines, according to height and weight, a range of sizes from mini to monster.

The grid reads best by going from the left side and down from the top.  Where the two lines meet is your contest.  Put a monster and a medium in Thunderdome and the monster is given a 70% chance of winning as compared to the medium who clocks in with a 30%.

This recognizes that no matter how the odds are stacked, a mistake or superior mental toughness can steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

Remember the old saw: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Bill Cosby has an audio comedy routine in which conflicts are arranged with a coin toss like football.  He imagines General Washington winning the coin toss at the start of the Revolutionary War and declaring the British have to wear red clothing and march in straight lines.  The Colonists get to hide behind trees and bushes and take potshots at them.  Not such great odds for the British, wouldn’t you agree?

No criminal would risk such a coin toss.  The criminal wants to create total inequality.  He wants the odds to be overwhelmingly in his favor so he can operate with complete impunity to any resistance you might make.

How? 
I was watching a television presentation on a zoo where the animals, even the dangerous ones, are behind sheets of glass.  The zoo’s visitors could walk up and touch the glass and be within 4 inches of a lion.

It happened the lions could see the herd of gazelles across the walkway in their glass cage.  One of the gazelles had injured a hoof and was limping a bit.  The lions, despite being amply feed, immediately noticed and took interest in the injured animal.   The zookeepers got the gazelle out of there before the lions got too worked up.

It’s called the victim selection process and criminals use it.

He might select a smaller size victim or someone with a physical injury or handicap.  He could bring a buddy to help out.  He could plan his attack to take you by surprise, or when you’re distracted and not expecting trouble.  He could put you on the defensive by attempting to embarrass you or make you feel that you are somehow responsible for some offense. 

Remember that little guy with a 30% chance of winning?  That’s too much left to chance for the criminal.  The more likely scenario is he’ll bring a weapon, because that gives him a bigger pool of potential victims.  Think of all the possible items you could find around your house that could be used as a weapon: a steel pipe, screwdriver, knife, broken piece of glass, hair brush, a gardening trowel, a weed digger.  The list goes on and on even without the poor man James Bond weapons like hair spray and a lit cigarette.

I tell my students the disparity in combat goes like this:
  • Big vs Small
  • Strong and healthy vs Old and injured/sickly
  • Young vs Old
  • Man vs Woman
  • Several vs One
  • Contact weapon vs Unarmed
  • Prepared vs Unaware
  • Remote weapon vs Contact weapon
  • Overwhelming violence vs Helplessness.


The iffs

Would you shoot an eleven year old in self defense?  What if you’re confined to a wheelchair or eighty years old using a walker?

What if there were three of them and you were already on the ground trying to protect your kidneys?

What about a 20-year old beating you and you're more than twice his age and out of shape?

These questions reflect degrees of disparity.

I hear the questions coming in. 

“But what,” you say, “if the criminal is only trying to scare you?  Maybe there isn’t any disparity of force.  Maybe that’s just a stick in his pocket and not a gun or knife."

Would you take a chance?  Maybe the signs you assume to be timidness and fear are really the results of coming off a fix and the all consuming NEED NO MATTER HOW!! for another.

What if the criminal had a failure of the victim selection process?  He thought you were Tommy Timid, but you've just come back from six months of taking out armed sentries with nothing more than jogging shorts and a broken bird whistle?  It doesn't seem fair….

I’d assume the criminal’s evaluation is the correct one until I could assure myself that he is in error and the conditions are reversed. Reversed, so that I have and will retain the upper hand.

The gun culture is a subset of the self-defense community portion of humanity.  Many people not in the self-defense community find the “What-ifs?” not only horrifying but quite incomprehensible.

“You spend time wondering about what to do if you're attacked by a child and a one-eyed dog?  What?  Are you nuts?” they say to you.  The kinder ones simply roll their eyes and wonder “How did I get into this conversation and how do I get out of it?”

You Better Know

But you know why you ask and answered these questions, don’t you.  You've already decided that if someone grabs your child/spouse/loved one and threatens them with harm, you’ll turn them off like a light switch and pay the shrink’s bills later. 

You know that if someone assaults you with a pointy stick, they are demonstrating their belief they have sufficient disparity to act with impunity.  If they believe that, you should as well and respond with the appropriate force.


You know the time to ask ‘What is my response?’ is before you need to respond.

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