Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Best Self Defense System, 4

If you've stayed with me in this series of posts, you may recognize that I have made significant progress in putting together a comprehensive system of self defense that meets the criteria I laid down in the first article. Now, let's take a look at some of the areas that are incomplete, or that (I feel) could use some improvement.

Levels of Force:

Not all violence is life-threatening. Some perverse people just want to hurt you but not necessarily kill you. This doesn't mean that their attempts to rob you of your dignity and peace of mind cannot escalate into a threat to life and limb, but you must not assume they will. If you gouge an eye or use lethal force because someone is bullying you, you've stepped over an ethical line (and a legal one).

Nevertheless, the man or woman who is physically harassed in one way or another needs to deal with the problem before it does get more serious. And the first level of force includes the verbal response (although your physical attitude is also part of this force level). I have several books that treat the subject of verbal conflict, but the most readable, most practical and most easily adapted to a Christian worldview that I've found is George J. Thompson's Verbal Judo.

Thompson combines his skills and life experience as English professor, police officer and martial artist to produce a field-tested set of methods for gaining the cooperation of of those who may otherwise become a physical threat. This will probably work at least 50% of the time, and it will place the legal burden squarely on the harasser, since you did your best to defuse (not diffuse, please) the situation. In the cases that fail, you must have some non-lethal defensive methods in your arsenal.

Your lowest level of physical force should include tactical responses to being grabbed, joint locks for immobilization and compliance, and -- the almost universally neglected -- compliance holds that work by taking a person's balance rather than by causing pain. Usually, to apply these techniques you need to use very mild strikes as diversions.

Farther up the force continuum, you can apply the gross motor striking methods already discussed above. You also would want to supplement this with training in strikes that will render a person unconscious (knockout blows) and how to choke a person into a semi-conscious state without killing him. Finally, there are the methods that will cause serious physical harm or death.

That completes the overview of the force continuum from verbal to lethal. I have studied the verbal level, and my time training in Goshin Ryu jujitsu has provided me with a catalog of joint locks, compliance techniques and chokes. And I know the basic gross motor striking skills well enough to teach them. Some of the most lethal techniques I picked up from a book as youngster -- they ain't rocket science. I used the rear naked choke (with my clothes on) a couple of times that I shouldn't have, and only God's Providence protected my opponents (and me) from potentially serious consequences.

I should say that over the past nine years I have not had a motivated practice partner to train with on a regular basis. I really need an interested, motivated male who would like to learn self defense in the context of Christian Martialism. This would help to keep my performance and teaching skills honed.

In my next post on The Best Self Defense System, I want to discuss the one big hole in my own personal defense system, and how I hope to plug the gap.

This series is concluded in "The Best Self Defense System, 5"

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