Monday, November 12, 2007

Violent Attack

Quite a while ago, I started writing an article about the nature of conflict, especially violent attack. Here is first part of that article, slightly revised:

The Nature of a Violent Attack

You crave, and don't have, so you kill.
You covet, and can't obtain, so you fight and make war.
(James 4:2)

What is the essence of violence? It is moral and psychological as much as it is phys­ical. Here is an operational definition of violence:

Inflicting physical harm to achieve a desired end.

Note that when someone decides to use violent force on you, he believes it will gain him something he wants. Thus, the source of the violence lies not in his fists or weapons. It lies within his heart.

Violent attack is merely his chosen means to impose his will on you. And if you choose to resist him, you are not, ultimately, resisting his fists. You are resisting his will.

In that sense, a fight is like any other contest. In the final analysis, it is a contest of wills. Take a football game – or any other sport – for example.

Sometimes, an underdog will defeat a highly favored team. Afterwards, coaches and commentators will say that the lesser team won because they were hungrier or they wanted it more. The favored team lost, not in terms of strength or skill, but because the other team overmatched them in the will to win.

This principle is highly significant for your self defense training. You can train long hours over months and years to build your strength, speed and endurance. You can develop your martial skills to the point of excellence.

But in the final analysis, if you do not have a heart for the fight, you will lose a violent confrontation.

On the other side of the coin, though, this is good news for most of us. That’s because the average orc doesn’t really have the heart for a fight, either. He targets victims that he believes he can overpower easily, without a fight.

Because the violent predator wants a victim, not a fight, your willingness to fight back gives you an edge. For this reason, self defense experts rate mental attitude over skill. Tony Blauer says that fights are 70% mental and only 30% ability.

Similarly, karate champion Joe Lewis has said, “Fighting is 10% technique and 90% spirit.” And women’s self-defense instructor Meghan Gardner maintains, “100% attitude and 5 techniques will beat 100 techniques and 5% attitude every time.

In at least two of his movies, John Wayne made the point that the battle often goes to the one whose will is stronger. In Cahill, US Marshal, the title character faces down a lynch mob with the following words (to the best of my recollection):

“I’m willing to die to keep these prisoners, if you’re willing to die to take them.”

And in The Shootist, he counsels young Ron Howard that it takes more than skill with a gun to make a successful gunman. (Again, I quote by fallible memory.)

“Some men aren’t willing. You can see it in their eyes. . . . I’ve always been willing.”

Orcs, by and large do not want to risk a fair fight. In most cases, they don’t even want to risk injury in a fight tilted in their favor. They want easy victims.

This does not mean that it isn’t dangerous to resist a violent attack. It is danger­ous. And you should only do it when the alternative is morally unacceptable.

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