Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Win a Fight or Dodge a Lawsuit?

Which is more important? I thought about this question as I read through a new book on fighting called How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence written by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. I was excited to see my copy show up in the mail and I started reading to see if I could gain some insight into how to increase one's self-defense moves.

I had previously interviewed Lawrence Kane, the author of The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting for a PJTV show and one of the things that struck me about Kane and the other authors in this self-defense genre is how much focus is placed on avoiding a lawsuit or jail. Yes, those are good goals to have, but better ones are avoiding losing your life or your limbs.

The book starts out with a warning that self-defense is legal but fighting is illegal. "Readers are encouraged to be aware of all appropriate local and national laws relating to self-defense, reasonable force, and the use of weaponry, and act in accordance with all applicable laws at all times." Next, a foreword by Sergent Rory Miller emphasizes how bad you will feel if you killed someone in self-defense. He goes on to let you know that "Maybe the relatives of the guy who attacked you, though they have been afraid of him for years, come out of the woodwork and get a small army of attorneys and start remembering how he was 'a good boy, very caring'...." These family members and their attorneys will be looking to take your money from you. Or, you could end up in jail for defending yourself.

Then, in a chapter called "Use Only as Much Force as the Situation Warrants", Kane and Wilder ask the question, "Is it really better to be judged by twelve than carried by six?" Their response? "We do not advocate that sentiment because we feel that it trivializes the seriousness of violent confrontations. Never forget that if you are found guilty in a jury trial, you will be spending a whole lot of time in a confined environment... Even if you don't go to prison, you could lose your job, suffer the consequences in you family and community, etc." To the authors' credit, they do point out that "under no circumstances should you let your fear of legal consequences keep you from living through a violent encounter... If you don't survive, everything else is meaningless." Good advice.

As far as the rest of the book goes, absolutely read it if you are interested in learning the tactics of self-defense. It is terrific in that area. The chapters on awareness, the seven mistakes to avoid in a fight and how to use your words as a weapon are invaluable.

My problem is that the real readers of this book are likely to be highly civilized middle-class people who are likely to hesitate too long to defend themselves, not too quick to throw a punch. Yes, I wish the criminals who need this book would read it but they won't. If they thought that far ahead, they wouldn't be criminals. The average American is probably not aggressive enough in self-defense, rather than too aggressive. If you don't believe me, remember that most people passively hide under a desk during mass school shootings which often leads to the person being shot or killed. J.Reid Meloy, author of Violence Risk and Threat Assessment, points out that those who are aggressive or who have the opportunity to run away are more likely to live through an attack like this.

Having a flexible strategy that will help you survive when approached with violence is imperative, this book will help you be prepared to find one that just might work.

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Blogger Unknown said...

If violence falls upon your head, drop all civilized behavior and become a raw animal. Don't drop your intelligence, simply relegate it into the subordinate role of how to apply defensive violence, for that is what it will take to survive.

You cannot concern yourself at that moment with whether you think the other will stop or behave within whatever set of limits because, if they do not, you die. There is no reset button.

*If* and only if, you find yourself on the surviving side, split. Now your intelligence can return and guide you because you will be able to reflect instead of simply cool down to room temperature.

Anyone questioning "six pallbearers" logic needs be aware that the alternative is no voice in *that* trial because you won't be there. The moment you become aware that you *should* have used greater violence is the one preceding your demise.

1:48 PM, September 18, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

A few months ago Helen put up a short post about the situation with the woman who became concerned about the man who asked her out in the elevator. I was on another message board about the same topic. I agreed about becoming concerned about any person that hit on me while we were in a confined space together. My position on the matter was to avoid elevators late at night, or to avoid getting on them alone. I dislike elevators because I don't feel safe in them, there is no escape if there is a negative encounter.

I was amazed at the onslaught of bullying irate comments I received from the masses. I was accused of being paranoid and rude. I was told that I should be more open minded and tolerant of other people. I agree with Helen, middle class people are likely to hesitate too long to defend themselves. Those that make sure they always have an opportunity to flee are the ones that survive. I'm big on fleeing and getting out of harm's way fast.

1:50 PM, September 18, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

You want to know how to win a fight?

The Art of War by Sun Tzu. And only the Samuel B. Griffith translation. U.S. Marine Corps General, and an expert in Mao, Chinese history and language, and military strategy.

Nuff said.

If not him, then Sean Connery in The Untouchables.

1:57 PM, September 18, 2011  
Blogger Ern said...

Next, a foreword by Sergent Rory Miller emphasizes how bad you will feel if you killed someone in self-defense.

Sergeant Miller must be a really smart (and omniscient) guy to know how I'd feel if I killed somebody in self-defense, since I don't really know myself (although I strongly suspect that I'd feel better than if I'd gotten badly hurt, and I'd feel pretty good to be alive).

3:40 PM, September 18, 2011  
Blogger MarkD said...

It's always dangerous commenting when the subject is a book one hasn't read. Attitude is essential, but it's only the beginning. Reading a book isn't going to give you the skills you might need.

The Marines have a pithy saying for everything. "The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war" is the one for this situation.

There are a lot of self-defense systems and martial arts that will produce claims of superiority. Any of them is better than your life depending on you doing better than you did in your last fight back in fourth grade...

9:24 PM, September 18, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

Having been mugged and beaten in broad daylight in the Holiday Inn, Memphis airport parking lot in broad daylight by 5 individuals, I would opt for the judged by 12 version if possible. I keep my wallet in my hip pocket(chiropractor's advice - it's bad for the back having it in your back pocket) so they got nothing. They were unarmed, so I am still here.

All I could think of was my wife and kids at the time. I actually struggled with buying a gun, or buying more life insurance afterwards.

6:25 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my advice for men fighting, don't unless you really have to, and then fight to win by any means possible.

as for women...just don't be there. especially in a cocktail dress and 4 inch heels.

and about feeling badly about killing someone in self-defence. i'd feel badly enough until i felt the warm embrace of my children and my wife....and a good long talk with my dogs.

they are good listeners.

6:32 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

As far as feeling bad. Back in February I was chased by a man with a gun late at night downtown. Because I am always prepared I had chosen my wardrobe carefully that evening. Even though I was returning from a business reception I had smartly chosen firm flat-soled boots, and instead of carrying a handbag I was using a backpack that had the sternum and waist strap firmly affixed to my body. Unfortunately, my prospective robber wasn't as smart. He had on droopy pants, a heavy leather jacket. It didn't seem like an exercise program was part of his daily ritual. Because I am always aware of what is going on around me I realized I was getting followed by somebody holding something that looked a lot like a gun. I picked up speed and the chase began. I hurdled a small bush and so did my pursuer. I cleared the bush, he didn't. As I looked behind me, yes, I did feel bad. Was he okay? Was he hurt? Would he be able to get up with his pants around his thighs?

I thought about going back and seeing what was going on but I decided I best move along to a safe well-lit hotel lobby and discuss this issue with a member of the hotel staff. So, yes, one does feel bad when one hurts a criminal....for about 0.00000001 second.

7:34 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Firehand said...

I just love advice like that: "You'll feel terrible, you can go to jail, etc., etc., but if you're attacked DON'T HESITATE!" After saying everything they can to MAKE you hesitate. Wonderful.

As to the 'feeling bad', I've read of people who felt terrible, and others who felt "If he'd not attacked me, he'd still be here; I feel fine!"

9:46 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree with Firehand. I have no pity for anyone who initiates violence and reaps whatever reward.

Would I feel bad? No.

10:03 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

we forgot about lawyers.

my advice; avoid them at all costs. yours, theirs all of them.

to them we are all robots with dollars signs on our foreheads.

11:30 AM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger Firehand said...

Line from a Matt Helm novel went something like "When they decided to attack, they opened the door to violence, and they've got no damned right to bitch because more walked through than they were bargaining on."

Have to say, from what I've read in far too many cases you'll probably NEED a lawyer even in a open/shut case of self-defense; there's a reason for that video about "Do not talk to the police without a lawyer. About ANYTHING."

3:26 PM, September 19, 2011  
Blogger M said...

Yes, don't let your hate for lawyers overcome your need for a lawyer.

"Do not talk to the police without a lawyer. About ANYTHING."

I agree.

5:58 AM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i think the idea of not talking to the police is something you could easily do without a lawyer, and in many ways a lawyer could fuck things up for you by inducing you to actually talk, thinking his strategy was somehow clever.

there is a video out there of a police officer showing how easy it is to take the sworn statement of an innocent man and making a case to convict the same innocent man of the crime.

i will try to find it.

9:37 AM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

this is in the cops own words.

the first part, of which this is the second, is well worth watching also, as it's by a law professor.

2:24 PM, September 20, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Don't ever talk to a cop.

3:59 PM, September 20, 2011  
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2:39 AM, September 21, 2011  
Blogger ghillie said...

Hello Dr. Helen , speaking of fights , could you weigh in on the Greta and Tucker fight over Mike Tyson's comments about Sarah Palin.To me it's like two different people talking about two entirely different matters which have been confused as being the same event. We need your wisdom.

5:16 AM, September 21, 2011  
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6:06 AM, September 21, 2011  
Blogger Fowl Ideas said...

Speaking of violent sociopaths...

8:46 AM, September 21, 2011  
Blogger Guildofcannonballs said...

"If you don't believe me, remember that most people passively hide under a desk during mass school shootings which often leads to the person being shot or killed."

A couple of problems with this statement. Comparing kids (the occasional teacher/aide I presume also) with "Americans" in general seems wrong. Wouldn't we expect kids in school to be less aggressive than adults not in school?

Also, hiding might often lead to death, but of course so would running (or not hiding) in many cases.

2:52 AM, September 23, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Running works pretty well actually. If your pursuer has a gun you'll find it is pretty hard for your chaser to shoot while he/she is running as well. Even if your pursuer fires, there is an excellent chance of recovery if you get shot in the back or buttocks. Not so much if you get shot in the heart, lungs or face while arguing/negotiating with a violent person. Also, if while you are running you can take a corner and put a building or car between you and your pursuer that is even better. Fleeing may not be manly but it can lengthen one's life span considerably.

7:15 AM, September 25, 2011  

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