Saturday, April 20, 2013

Today We Will Discuss THE RULES

R:  for Rules

I took martial arts courses in college.  My very best friend in the whole wide world wanted to and therefore I wanted to, too.  We got in there and I was like "oh this is going to be a hot mess" but then we stuck with it and it turned out to be a perfect fit for the both of us.  And we both stuck with it.

One of the lessons I learned there was THE RULES.

It's a five step plan for a fight.  Not exactly how to 'win', per-se...  but usually that's what ends up happening so long as you follow THE RULES.  It's five simple steps, which I will share with you now, that will keep you safe for the rest of your life.  Well, 'safe-er', frankly.  You can't control what the other people do...  but the whole point of this is that you CAN control what you do.  Kung-fu moves or no...  this is just about as useful a means of living as any other I've ever studied.

Rule Number One:  Avoid the situation

So let's say that there's this great bar on the corner.  Let's say that every Thursday night it errupts into a wicked bar fight.  Rule 1 tells us that if we don't want to get all messed up in a bar fight, we avoid that particular bar on that particular night.  Easy peasy.  Rule 1 is all about listening to that litte voice in our heads that says "hmm maybe the shortcut through the alley at 1am isn't such a smart idea." We all know what a dangerous situation looks like.  

We all have, as well, a naughty little voice in our heads that says "cowboy up, kids, let's see if we can go kick some ass in there!  yawr!"  Rule 1 will now fold its arms tensely and stare down that naughty little voice and wait for it to realize what a big fat dumbass it really is and go back to shutting the hell up again.  Because when it comes to getting in a fight, a real fight that happens 'in the wild' as it were and not on TV and not in a gym, the thing about being in a fight is that it's a mess and it's expensive and it's painful and you usually end up ruining something important.  A relationship/friendship, for instance.  Your collarbone.  Your shoes.  Your insurance premiums.

Fights, while excellently entertaining on the flat screen in our living rooms, are actually pretty awful things.  When done right, they don't happen at all.  And Rule 1 is a big part of keeping fights out of our lives.  Hate your psycho-hysteria-monkey exgirlfriend?  Avoid her.  Don't go to costco on the same weekend as she does simply to see if she'll go all psycho-hysteria-monkey on you.  Do. Not. Antagonize.  

Avoid the situation.  No... avoid it.  Like for realz.  Don't get goaded into it.  Be the bigger person.  

Avoid it.

Rule Number Two: Walk or run away

Okay okay, so psycho-hysteria-babe shows up at YOUR place of grocery looking to antagonize you.  Now what?  Well, the moment you glimpse her, you ninja your shit right outta' there.  We ALL know what trouble looks like.  It is not cowardice, kids.  You don't have to hand over your 'man-card' simply by being smart enough to know that a really unpleasant experience is nigh and you'd like nothing better than to avoid it.  

I'm losing a lot of you testosterone-types, I know, but this is good advice for you guys too.  Simply put:  you can not control the other party.  You don't know what they have in mind.  You can't know.  And no matter how good you think it's going to feel to put a public whoopass on your resume, I can promise you that it will never ever EVER go so well as your balls are telling you it will.  I can prove it, too:  Lawyers.  We have them.  So keep reading you big lunk.

See a barfight kicking up?  Walk away.  Someone's about to start a big fat blowout at the restaurant?  Call the cops and walk away.  Think that big guy in the booth behind you is drinking way too much and is no longer smart enough to resist his neanderthal urges?  Find a friend and walk or run away.

Rule Number Three: Talk your way out of it

Well now this sucks.  We were paying for gas and some yahoo idiot comes in and thinks she's going to rob the place.  Can't avoid the situation, situation found us.  Can't walk or run away without probably getting grazed by that souped up firearm that's getting waved around the place.  This is a nuanced step here.  Talking one's way out of a situation isn't always so simple as we hope it is.

Talking your way out of a situation, by the way, does not always mean the ol "hey what's that over there!" trick.  Usually there's something about the situation that you can use to diffuse the attack.  For instance, buying someone a beer.  Excusing yourself to the bathroom.  And in the case of a mugging or a stickup...  frankly just keeping one's mouth shut can go a long way toward surviving.  Situational awareness comes into play bigtime here.  IF you're stuck and rules 1 and 2 can't help you...  a lot has already gone wrong and by this point you're probably pretty well amped up on enough adrenaline to fuel Michigan for a week.

NB:  Waving your OWN gun around the place is not a step.  Pulling a gun on someone says "I'm ready to kill you now."  And you are just trying to pay for gas.  You're not ready to kill someone.  Guns, in my book, do not solve problems.  Gun-waving is not 'helping'.
That's antagonizing.  See rule number 1 and start over.

Look.  Listen.  Take advantage of pauses in the action to review other people in your surroundings and look for alternative exits.  Offer a cellphone if calls need to be made.  Offer a smoke if you have 'em.  Decide (quickly) if this is the kind of situation where you want to bring attention to yourself.

And be genuine when you're talking to your attacker.  This is someone who already trusts nobody, so lies won't work.  If you CAN talk your way out of it, by apologizing to the guy you accidentally rear-ended before he takes his tire iron to your windshield...  do it.

If you can't...  we end up with rule number four.

Rule Number Four: Defend yourself but take your exit

If you are being actively attacked, defend yourself.  Kick, scream, bite, swear...  let the whole goddamned world know that this is happening.  Make it hard for the other person to get the upper hand.  Don't get suckerpunched.  Don't suckerpunch.

If, for instance, you kick out someone's knee...  you can consider yourself "defended" because your attacker is down and cannot run after you.  Back to rule number two you go and you take your escape.  Sticking around to pummel the guy (like you will want to) will only end you up on the criminal side of the law.  Once you have your exit, you must take it.  As soon as you become the aggressor, you fail to hold your position as the victim.

Sprayed the attacker in the face with mace?  Run away.  Leave.  Get out.  Get help.  Get away.
Conked the attacker over the head with a crystal vase and rendered attacker all buttery and weak?  Run away.  Leave.  Get help.  Get away.
Already took a few punches yourself and have had a chance to get in enough of a junk-kick to make the bad guy's guts beg for oxygen?  Run away.  Leave.  Get out.  Get help.  Get away.

NB: junk-kick doesn't always work, btw.  Shoot for the jewels and you might get unlucky with someone who's either wearing a cup or who has the neanderthal superpower to just cough it off and spring back for more.  Shooting for the soft spot in the thigh between the hips-n-jewels (think "whoa there" inseam) can actually trigger a sympathetic nerve that will make one or both legs go completely numb regardless of the recipient's build or moxy.

This is not cowardice, kids.  This is survival.  Cowardice is waiting around and letting your anger get the best of you and putting someone in intensive care (that you will now have to pay for because it turns out the guy was only attacking you with a rubber knife and a plastic gun and was off his meds for the third week in a row).  Smart = choosing to live.

Rule Number Five: Match force for force

Now, in today's modern world, we hear a lot about the big scary "them" who's always out to get "us" and that's why we all need guns and shit.  Well, this is where rule number 5 comes into play.

If someone is going to kill you, is genuinely putting upon you a threat of lethal force, you can match that force and 'respond' in kind.  

The very picosecond that deadly force is debilitated, however (for instance you knock the gun out of her hand and it falls into a ditch far away from both of you);  most legal teams in this country will tell you that the deadly force 'response' is no longer warranted.  Match deadly force with deadly force, it's self defense.  Match dangerous or pissed-off force with deadly force and you, my friend, have become the murderer.

Dangerous force is when someone's throwing punches.  Deadly force is throwing knives (to an extent).  Litigation gets really sticky around this area so let's be clear:  I'm not a lawyer and I don't know the exactly precise rules in your area.  A good rule of thumb to have in your soul, however, is that as soon as that gun goes away, as soon as the knife is dropped, you are no longer 'allowed' to respond with deadly force.  Proceed with a disabling move and find your escape.  If you're a 250lb tough guy and your 85lb girlfriend comes at you, claws out and screaming "i'mma kill you!" and she has no weapon to do so?  That's just 'dangerous', cowboy.  That's not deadly.  Loaded gun in her hand?  Now it's deadly.  Knock that gun out of her hand?  back to 'dangerous'.  Gun in YOUR hand?  Tables have turned and no matter how pissed off she is and no matter how pissed off you are, you are now the one using deadly force and it is up to you to diffuse the situation without anyone getting killed.  No.  Matter.  What.

Military types, cops, and professionals who deal with this kind of situation have loads of special training to handle these horrible, horrible decisions.  Us unwashed masses and civilian-types who end up in these pickles are therefore held to a different standard.  We're forced to make decisions without the training.  We're forced to react to the worst possible moments of our lives, and we're expected to always make the right choice no matter what; and for us unwash-ed, that means bail as soon as possible.  Follow these five rules and you'll go a long way toward making sure that those decisions are far simpler than they'd be otherwise.

In all of my international travels and amidst some of my very own miserably ill-advised decision making...  I've never EVER had to use more than Rule Number Two.  Avoid the situation should get us all through the rest of our lives.  Failing that, when everything else goes incrementally wrong, the remaining rules will help advise us when we have nothing else coming to mind.  

Final thought:  Safety isn't about hiding or simpering or being some stupid little flowerpetal in a cast-iron box lined with live grenades.  It's about being smart and living in the world anyway.  Using The Rules can give you a lot more power in your daily life than you might expect because of the situational awareness that goes with it.  Surprise is what happens when you don't expect something.  So know your surroundings.  Get good at knowing.  The panic will leave you and your whole big world will open right up.  

4 comments: said...

This is a difficult topic to address. I agree about guns not solving problems. I agree that there are many kinds of force. A to Z highlighted your blog so I'm offering a tool that a friend offered to me. I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. See my Other Blogs post for details. Take care.

Damyanti said...

Excellent, well-balanced advice. More lives are lost to violence, drunkenness and stupidity, than anything else.

Damyanti @Daily(w)rite Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
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Summer Ross said...

Rules are always important- even as a writer I find there are many rules to follow for my own well being. But then again that's one of the reasons I do write- my characters can break the rules I can't.

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Anonymous said...

Interesting. I`ll keep this in mind. Thank you. Brest wishes.