Yours. And perhaps those of the people around you.
I won’t be there if (God forbid) it ever happens to you. It’ll just be you, by yourself, armed only with what you know, what you practiced.
It’s one thing to hear about the true victims who wanted nothing more than to escape… and another thing entirely to hear about those who turned to fight—but had no idea what to do. Lives lost for want of a little bit of information.
The motivation is there, the intent is there, as well as the physical ability to get the job done. The only thing missing is the knowledge of what to do with all of that, where and how to put it for maximum effect.
I have heard too many stories now of people with the will and the strength to survive being overcome by raw ferocity and insanity, engaging in a wrestling match for their lives and losing because wrestling is hard when you’re out-massed and untrained. It’s like trying to stop a moving car by getting in front of it instead of turning off the ignition.
In an objective, physical world knowing what to do is such a small thing. Like most life-changing fulcrum points it’s a matter of mere inches. In a subjective, psychological world the difference is a yawning gulf between our comfortable, everyday lives and a frightful alien landscape beyond the horizon. It’s not just unknowable, but unthinkable.
Seeing a person as a machine—and then acting to shut it off—goes against everything we are and everything we love. It is a failure of our humanity and our society. But when it’s that or the grave, you know what you must choose.
Lethal motivation, unfortunately, does not confer ability. There is no secret beast within you waiting to be unleashed, no Hulk or Hyde to transform into when your existence narrows to a choke point. You will only have what you brought with you.
You know how to run. You know how to hide. Conventional wisdom says to “do whatever it takes” when those tactics fail. If only the skill of hand-to-hand violence were innate then we wouldn’t have to trust our lives to that vague phrase.
Not wrestling, but injury: a ruptured eye, a broken neck, a lacerated liver, a knee folded backwards. These are the only things that make a difference when squeezed into that frantic black hole, that singularity of violence where you will either succeed or die.
Not philosophies, moves or techniques—only results. Break one important piece of anatomy so it can’t do its job anymore and you buy yourself the time and opportunity to do it again, and so on until you’re done with him. These are the mere inches that matter. Knowing where they are, how they break, and how to use yourself as a battering ram is the precious knowledge. Practice means that when it matters most it won’t be the first time you’ve done it, but the 101st.
All of us, in our own way, wish we could have been there at the cusp of disaster, perhaps with a firearm, or at least armed with knowledge and skill and in the right place at the right time. That fantasy of making a difference, of being the wooden shoe in the gears of madness, is made real by preparation. The worst time to be reminded that you always meant to learn CPR is when someone is having a heart attack right in front of you. No one’s ever ready for it in the moment. Only those who considered the unthinkable and prepared accordingly when things were calm and good have any chance of making a difference when they’re not.
This is why I teach and train. I can’t be with you every moment of every day. But the information, the knowledge can. And once you know how, you’ll never forget how to take an eye.
As a father and as a husband of a school principal I am beyond serious about these things. Everyone—every last one of us—should know the physical and anatomical specifics hidden inside “do whatever it takes”. No lives should be lost for simple want of information. If the spirit and the flesh are willing, then may they meet on the hilt of the sword of knowledge.
TFT Master Instructor
PS. Editor’s note: Friday, December 21 we release the 2013 live training calendar. And within it, the ability to eliminate any ‘want of information.’ Including a first-ever unfolding of a new live training module: Dealing with the Active Shooter: The Principle of Swarming. You won’t want to miss your opportunity to experience this.
If you haven’t read Chris’ earlier blog post on “swarming” (along with its more than 210 comments), you can find it here. Then watch your email or return here Friday and click this link for details. It’ll be live then.