Monday, January 25, 2010

PJTV: Young men and violence

Today, I interview Lawrence Kane who (along with Kris Wilder) wrote The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting. Even if you are not so young, watch the show to hear about how to handle yourself in a violent encounter, keep from getting involved in a domestic dispute, or how to deal with a violent woman. Also, Kane answers a question by one of our commenters. Kane has some great advice and a warning: "guys, the system is stacked against you."

You can watch the show here.

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Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

as a man with some training in martial arts, my advice to those in conflict situations is to leave, distract or negotiate.

asking the question, "are we fighting?" when in a developing conflict situation is a sure-fire way to distract all but the most ardent assailant.

if, after such a question, the process of agression continues, some tools for negotiation may be employed....not in a weak way, but as a continued appeal to the rational mind of the assailant.

then, if all else fails, hit them with a planet.

a policeman once told me he`d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six. this statement is from a man coming from intense urban conflicts, not lab-borne hypotheses.

i have two young sons and the adult son of my girlfriend in my care and i advise them in this way in all situations.

firstly, don`t be in situations of conflict...but, if you must, keep your wits and your language about you....and be sensitive to the subtle but sure signs that conflict is turning from the conversational to the physical.

oh yeah, and never go into situations where there is even the slightest possibilty of gunplay. a twelve year-old with a gun can take down an entire football team without even trying.

12:17 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

i watched up until that joker said if a guy pulls a knife and you shoot him you are a murderer. find better authors. no find better topics. you're a woman and this is a topic out of your ken. of course if you had grown up in the projects you might have had a glimmer.

12:30 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

richard, unfortunately, in law if you shoot an assailant with a run the risk of being judged to have used unreasonable force.

even if you have athletic or martial arts skills in an assault situation you can be judged to have used unreasonable force.

this goes back to my first rule of fighting; avoid.

12:34 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

not true. magic words; "i was in fear for my life". get a semi-decent attorney and a jury. of course you can get stabbed 40 or 50 times. helen there are many discussions of this exact senerio. no need to reinvent the wheel. so you're jumped by thugs weilding knives. you have a concealed gun. ask your husband about this situation and what he would have you do. life trumps legality. and there surely is much CASE LAW to be presented to the jury should it get so far.

12:46 PM, January 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - usually the idea is that you have to be in imminent fear of death and you CAN'T retreat (you usually have an obligation to retreat to a safe place if you can). Obviously there are lots of variations on that under state law (and whether you are in your own home or not, for instance).

It usually helps in court later on, though, if you really were in fear of your life.

12:54 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...


Nowhere did I say that you should not use a concealed weapon if a thug comes at you with a knife. Not sure where you are getting that.

12:54 PM, January 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's also obviously a difference between self-defense and on-the-spot retaliation.

12:55 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

well yeah, adding the scenario about being jumped by thugs adds to the narrative.

again, first rule of fighting; avoid.

don`t go into areas where there is a strong likelyhood of bands of knife-toting thugs....unless you are stupid enough to be looking for a fight, in which hopeful that your god is smiling that day.

the law in this country compares your actions to that of the reasonable man. the reasonable man doesn`t look for a fight or go into dangerous areas...or even carry concealed weapons.

the reasonable man stays in his patch and minds his own business as best he can, and if unavoidable trouble comes knocking, which it statistically never does, then blast away.

1:02 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

don`t go into areas where there is a strong likelyhood of bands of knife-toting thugs

Although the premise of this idea on the surface is good, if one sticks to it they may find that they are limiting themselves to the opportunities for them that might be occurring in areas where there is a strong likelihood of bands of knife-toting thugs. There is a bit of a gray area between being smart and letting fear control your movements. Going into an area with bands of knife-toting thugs doesn't automatically mean one is looking for a fight. As the gentleman in the video suggests, you may wish to learn a few ways to diffuse potentially violent situations so that you are prepared if they do occur.

1:34 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i worked for several years in an urban office and i used an underground parking lot to enter and leave the building.

there are reasons why facilities such as that exist. security is a main one.

i will always let reasonable fear dictate my movements and that of those i care about, though i would like to make some distinction between reasonable and unreasonable fear.

reasonable fear is based on some common sense, while unreasonable fear is moving toward agoraphobia.

and yes, going into an area where you know there are bands of knife-toting thugs, means you are looking for a fight....and that you have a death wish.

2:02 PM, January 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... if one sticks to it they may find that they are limiting themselves to the opportunities for them that might be occurring in areas where there is a strong likelihood of bands of knife-toting thugs."



Ummmm ... OK, Cham.

What kinds of "opportunities"? Buying drugs?

Kind of a bizarre statement.

3:08 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Anwn said...


I disagree with every point you have made so far.

Americans in most jurisdictions are not required to meet a threat with equal force; if you are facing serious harm, you have the right to use deadly force to stop an attack.

If the only implement of deadly force is something "excessive", you are still permitted to use it - up to the point where the threat is neutralized.

As a more enlightened poster has asserted, if you are "in fear for your life", the law gives you a lot of latitude to:

1. Stop the attack
2. Do so in a way that poses the least amount of risk to your self.

A citizen acting lawfully is under no obligation to mitigate their response to something less forceful if doing so is likely to place them in greater danger than a more deadly response. The life of an unlawful assailant is not part of this equation.

Of course, if you live in an unenlightened jurisdiction like Chicago, New York or Washington DC, all bets are off and if you live in England, God help you as the law requires you to prostrate yourself before any assailant and if you happen to have a weapon on hand, you are required to offer it to your attacker if he requests it. (yeah, tongue in cheek, but those people have some f***** up ideas about self defense)

And your comment about a 12 year old with a gun taking out a football team is just ridiculous. What does that have to do with anything? The truth is that under the very best circumstances, a gun is difficult to employ - add in stress and chaos and the physiological effects that occur in a life or death situation and it is easy to understand why in many gun fights, dozens of rounds are fired without any hits.

Anyone who thinks that they only need to be concerned about self defense in "bad areas" is naive. Bad things happen in good areas all the time but "magical thinking" - that your nice gated community will keep out a determined criminal or that because your office requires a "badge" to enter - these things do not guarantee your safety, they are in place to make it easier to lie to yourself. We call it "security theater".

You and you alone are responsible for your life. It is incumbent upon all free citizens to see to their own security, at all times. Nobody on earth is paid well enough to die in your stead.

Anyone who takes self defense seriously should read widely on the topic and seek training with whatever force increasing technologies they are comfortable with. I personally recommend a hand gun as it is still the best life saving tool developed.

Whatever you do, don't get your information from television, video games and anonymous writers on the internet.

3:16 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'd love to hear Dr. Helen's reactions to the Mr. Kane's comments. During the interview, she seemed to be holding back -- which may have been appropriate at the time, but I'd still like to hear "Dr. Helen --The Unexpurgated Version."

My own reaction is that Mr. Kane is heavy on the pragmatism, light on the idealism. That goes against my grain, but I'm sure there is much for me to learn in his book -- I've already ordered it.

3:27 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Anwn said...

And another thing:

You don't negotiate with violence. What the HELL is this mindset? Are you going to talk him out of murder and get him to settle on just breaking a few bones and knocking out some teeth?

A person engaging in unlawful violence has completely cast off the social contract.

If you have time, you might yell at them to stop. You might display a weapon. In my opinion, these are acts of deference that are undeserved on the part of the assailant and only serve to tighten your response window: Should they choose to ignore you, you now have to evaluate their actions in light of your most recent behavior.

Oh no, I told him to stop, but he is still coming... is he about to stop? did he hear me? he is closing fast, now what?

Sorry mister "some martial arts training". If you had some training and some practice, you would understand the combat mindset and how to determine when to take action:

Seekers go here:

3:33 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...


"I'd still like to hear "Dr. Helen --The Unexpurgated Version.""

I'm not sure the world is ready for that yet.

3:42 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

Heh. Fair enough.

Specifically, though, I'd like to know how you feel about Mr. Kane's overall balance between pragmatism (avoid legal risk) and idealism (don't let the thugs/jerks take over). From your (muted) reactions during the interview, I assume you lean more towards idealism than Mr. Kane, but some explication would be appreciated. (If a previous blog post covers this, a link would do.)

4:17 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Anwn said...

That there is a significant fear that legitimate self defense might lead to adverse legal consequences is, in my opinion, the result of significant ground gained by the progressive movement.

This fear is based on the idea that you do not fully own your life and you do not have the right to defend and maintain it. Progressives would prefer that this power rests exclusively within the government.

While you may have occasion to fear a criminal, that we have to fear our government when we consider our options to secure our safety is abominable.

Good people second guess themselves, the population becomes less resistant to crime and all the while, the risk of committing crime (which we should consider an obvious barrier to entry) is reduced. This leads to more police, more intrusiveness, more restrictions on the rights of citizens to secure their lives and their belongings.

There was a day when people believed they had a moral duty to oppose crime. Now we worry more about our "safety" and hope that if we display enough docility, we might get off easy.

Yes, I am ranting, but this is a site about mens issues and providing protection for their families is something that men do instinctively and anything that interferes with this inclination is something to be opposed and destroyed.

So yeah, I personally fall on the idealist side.

Not that you asked me...

4:32 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Helen said...


I lean towards doing whatever you have to do to protect yourself from real and serious danger. I think that our society tells law abiding citizens daily to be pacifist wimps in serious situations and I don't like it. At the same time, bullies and violent thugs are let go or treated with kid gloves because "nothing can be done." I have seen too many people who do horrible things to others get a slap on the wrist or get off scott-free.

I do think Mr. Kane and I are discussing different populations, however. He is talking about guys who sometimes get into fights over ego, and for that, his approach makes sense. I am talking about being attacked or confronted by those who wish to do you bodily harm. Here is a blog post on psychological impotence that may explain more about how I feel:

4:51 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

anwn, there are martial arts and then there are martial arts...and then there are also martial artists of all manner of attitude.

my training is disciplined in not attacking and not fighting unless absolutely necessary, and any blackbelt that i`m aware of is of the same thought.

in your fantasy description of an assailant advancing and not responding to verbal communication, one would automatically prepare for the attack with a quick prayer to one`s god and then make sure to check for foot placement and useful natural weapons such as door frames, desks, stand-pipes, etc as the assailant offers you the solution to the problem by charging forward.

regarding unreasonable force, in certain states what you say may be true, but in most places in the civilised world hand grenades, rocket launchers and shotguns and even the simple handgun is unlawful to defend yourself with...and personally i wish it were different...people are much more polite around displays of force.

but here we are.

5:24 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

anwn, and you raise good points regarding our ownership of our bodies. our government would have us give up all our power to the state...and that would be ok if they could actually provide protection...but they can`t.

what they provide is due process, which really sucks when you are dead.

my point was and is that if an assailant wants to really go, he`s signed his death warrant, but most are merely suffering from a massive adrenaline dump that dissipate after a few minutes into a drunken or drug-induced haze....which poses little or no threat to anyone except his girlfriend or his cat.

a phrase i keep handy for silly verbal jousts that occasionally arise socially is; don`t confuse my kindness for weakness.

5:32 PM, January 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool ... a Zen pissing contest.

5:34 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

"I think that our society tells law abiding citizens daily to be pacifist wimps in serious situations and I don't like it. At the same time, bullies and violent thugs are let go or treated with kid gloves because "nothing can be done." I have seen too many people who do horrible things to others get a slap on the wrist or get off scott-free."

You've touched a nerve with me...we have so many rules and regulations in society that do nothing to stop the real offenders, but make life difficult for normal people.

A trip through the TSA line at the airport is one example, as is Sarbanes-Oxley and other onerous business regulations.

Zero-tolerance rules are a third school shootings or massacres are stopped by banning plastic knives and the drawing of tanks in class. But normal kids learn that they best be paranoid and risk-averse, growing up neurotic.

I also think there is a lack of leadership skills among the educational establishment, such that they can be socially "out-alphaed" by bullies who are eight-year old kids.

People that break rules do it as a matter of their nature. They are expert at finding loopholes and "getting it done." They are not stopped by new rules.

As another example, it appears to me that college "date rape" activism is less about protecting the corporeal security of women than about "punishing" alpha-dog males for doing what they do, which is talk women into bed. It hasn't stopped top-dog men from continuing their Casanova behavior - but it has vilified and ensnared normal men who had the misfortune of bedding the wrong woman.

(I do not mean to minimize real date rape, with or without drugging...I am talking about the "sex you're not proud of the next morning/I wouldn't have done that if I was sober" type of 'retroactive rape,' which is what college activists normally mean when they discuss date rape.)

Addendum: what's wild is that date-rape has diverged from rape so much that they had to coin another term, "rape-rape," to describe what was everyone's conventional idea of rape.

8:22 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

Avoid if you can, fight if you must. If you must fight, win. Leave ego at home.

Heightened situational awareness will keep you out of most potential problems.

ex. When I roll up on a convenience store,ATM,etc I take a few seconds and look around. Anyone lurking in bushes? What's going on inside the store? That sort of thing. If it isn't 100%, I just keep going and come back later. Projecting the unaware oblivion vibe is the quickest way to mark yourself as an easy target.

The only guaranteed outcome in any fight is in the fight that was avoided. No plan survives contact with the enemy.

10:50 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger 1charlie2 said...

Well, I didn't watch the video, so I can't comment on it. But I will expand on some points already made.

First, as already mentioned by others -- don't take anyone's word about what the law says except a lawyer. And then only one who specializes in deadly force.

I can tell you the sections of the Penal code in my state that cover it, but I was prohibited in my class from rendering any opinion about it -- I had a lawyer co-instructor to do that.

Second, as mentioned -- these laws vary. If you feel you want to to get serious about self-defense, learn the law where you live and work.

Third, in some circumstances an over-zealous DA can prosecute a case about an incident that should have been summarily ruled justifiable.

Finally, understand that penal law and civil liability are not the same. Under some circumstances, you can prevail in criminal proceedings, and still lose a civil case. Depends on the locale, the circumstances of the incident, the skill of your lawyer and the skill of opposing counsel.

I used to tell students to be prepared to pay many thousands of dollars -- best case -- to defend themselves if they used deadly force -- assuming they survived and later "won" in penal and civil cases. (Some lucky souls in the Republic of Texas and other enlightened areas not included, of course, and I am very jealous)

Cheap at the price when compared to a deadly threat. But not a good trade-off for most property, or ego points.

Different point: Most locales require the "reasonable person" doctrine for justifiable use of deadly force -- would a 'reasonable' person in the same circumstance be in fear for their life ? So you and your lawyer need to demonstrate your fear was 'reasonable.'

'Nuther point: Generally, the standard is not so much "equal" force but "appropriate force." Imminent deadly threats can generally be met with deadly force, but see above about over-zealous prosecutors. Hire the best lawyer you can find.

The converse of this is "disparity of force," such as when you are armed and don't walk away from a confrontation when you can. Remaining in an area of escalating confrontation (like someone trying to pick a fight) when you are carrying a firearm is not an option in most locations -- should it escalate and the other get violent you have surrendered the "reasonable person" rationale.

This also means that if I put on a concealed firearm, I leave my friends "ego" and "idealism" on the dresser at home. It's painful, because I hate jerks as much as the next person, and sometimes think about dressing someone down when s/he leaves the shopping cart in a parking space 15 feet from the cart corral. But I will not do that -- suppose they bug out and witnesses say I started it.

'Nuther point, predicting violence or gunplay in some arenas is easy. In other places, not so much. I tell my sons to avoid trouble areas, but sometimes it finds you anyways.

10:55 PM, January 25, 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

final thoughts; 1) survive 2) do not leave a wounded assaliant. dead ones do not testify 3) view the police as the enemy. say this and only this; "i was in fear for my life" and "i have nothing more to say. my lawyer will speak for me". what a bunch of wool gathering.

1:44 AM, January 26, 2010  
Blogger Anwn said...


That is terrible advice. Between witnesses, the ubiquity of surveillance cameras and modern police forensics, and putting morality aside for a moment, your advice can take someone from justifiable homicide to first degree murder in a matter of seconds and there are real life examples of exactly this.

As soon as you go from acting to stop a threat to acting out of anger or vengeance, you have turned a corner and "pre meditation" can occur in seconds. If the guy is down and you look around and then shoot him in the head, that could easily be construed as such.

1charlie2 has the right idea. If you carry a pistol, you give up the luxury of running your mouth. If you don't have the moral clarity to see that you have the responsibility to de-escalate and walk away from any potential (ego oriented) confrontation, then you should put it back in the safe.

A gun should not make your feel like a bad ass that nobody should mess with, it should make you considerate, alert, and mindful of every thing you say.

At least, that is what the school of Ayoob teaches.

And yes, you are right, in all but the most enlightened jurisdictions, even in a very clear cut situation, a justifiable discharge is likely to be expensive.

Here in Texas, it is likely to get your neighbors bringing you food for a week and making sure you are OK.

2:27 AM, January 26, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

I have to agree about the surveillance cameras. My city has a video camera on just about every corner. Many businesses have many surveillance cameras, some pointed at the street. The police helicopter which is constantly overhead can tell the difference between a rat and mouse at 500 feet, and it records everything it sees. Dead men do not testify but digitized data does pretty well in the courtroom.

9:23 AM, January 26, 2010  
Blogger Steve said...

Whatever you do, don't get your information from television, video games and anonymous writers on the internet.

Am I the only one who finds that.........ironic?

2:47 PM, January 26, 2010  
Blogger JJW said...

@Anwn - Thanks for mentioning Ayoob. Anyone who is remotely interested in using a firearm for self-defense should read, at a minimum, Massad Ayoob's In the Gravest Extreme. More information can be found through his Lethal Force Institute ( I have no stake in his success, just 30 years of familiarity with him and his writings.

3:04 PM, January 28, 2010  

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