In Part one of Four practical tips to avoid a fight, I gave a couple ideas on how to avoid violent situations by spring-boarding off the advice Peyton Quinn gives. Peyton was kind enough to leave a lengthy reply in the comments section and instead of leaving it there where most people will miss it, I decided to do a follow up post with it. Peyton mentions a bunch of things I think are just as important as what is mentioned in my first post.
I’ll comment below but first, here’s what Peyton wrote:
Very well done here Wim and a real service to those who read it and take it to heart.
You are sure right its the ‘adrenal dump’ that often takes away people’s ability to think rationally and avoid the fight. They thus show ‘fear’, or ‘denial ‘or ‘anger’ all of which are so closely related as to be at times ‘inseparable’. None of these serve them either.
Only ‘measured assertiveness’ will serve them and its also the only one here that is really a ‘choice’ too of the ‘rational mind’. Because Fear, Denial and Anger are not choices that we consciously make at all, they are ‘knee jerk’ adrenal driven responses.
But the person of experience, well he or she has experienced all this before and learned to deal with that adrenal dump and thus show no fear, avoid disrespecting the verbal aggressor, and yet make it clear (non-verbally is best) that he or she still knows exactly what the aggressor is up too.
It is all part of the same whole, if the aggressor sees no fear or denial or anger he knows his attempt to ‘impair the person’s ability to defend’ has largely or entirely failed. He also knows (from experience) that the only people who can behave this way under his “woof” are ‘ the experienced and capable’ and thus too dangerous for him to play his game with.
Everything in your response must be CONGRUENT and ‘say the same thing’ though.
This means your eyes, face, body carriage, voice, tone etc. This relaxed but focused congruence alone will not go ‘unobserved’ by most human predators. They are constantly evaluating their prey’s possible danger to them. This is simply because they are afraid they might ‘pick the wrong guy’.
This is a key issue: everything needs to be congruent. If you are saying the right words but your voice is trembling so hard it sounds like a scared little boy afraid of the monsters in his closet, you will not convince your aggressor to leave you alone.
If you get the words and your voice right, but your legs are shaking, the same problem arises. And so on.
Like Peyton says, every part of you needs to be saying the same thing: I am not an easy victim for you.
Here’s some more from Peyton:
This is why it is so important not to ‘insult’ or ‘disrespect ‘ them too. If you do so you trigger their deeper insecurity and feelings of ‘personal worthlessness’ and thus maybe force them to attack physically. You also make it harder for them to disengage with saving of face if you are so foolish or ‘out of control of yourself’ that you do challenge or insult them.
Think on this I have had large scary guys loom over me and run their verbal abuse and threats (the “woof”). But when I responded as I outline, well they might not of backed of right away, but sometimes here is what occurred.
They would all of sudden stop their ‘woof’ smile or even laugh and say something like “I was just jerking your chain Bro’ …to see which way you’d jump, you’re OK” and then walk off.
But if I had disrespected them or insulted them then I would have denied them that honorable and ‘easy face saving exit’. A lot about real world self-defense is about giving yourself more and even ‘new’ ‘options’ (through training physical and mentally) but it is also about “knowing the ways of the enemy’ not closing off options in a crisis too.
Younger men often lack this ability to restrain themselves from leaving the opposition a face-saving exit. They might be able to talk the other guy out of throwing the first punch but as soon as he makes a move to leave, they can’t help themselves and shout out “Pussy!” or “Bitch!” Which leaves the retreating party little other option but to “save his honor” by taking a swing anyway. Even if he gets his ass kicked, everybody will still know “he’s a man”.
Here’s the thing: maybe he gets his ass kicked, maybe it’s the name caller who gets beat up. Violence is a tricky and unpredictable thing, so you can never be sure if it will go your way or not. This is why it’s stupid to make somebody who is already backing away from you lose face: you only maneuver him into a position where he sees no other option but to attack. The worst part: up until that point: you were winning! He was backing up, he was leaving, and the fight was avoided.
It. Was. Over.
If you would only have let him off the hook, he would have gone home and you could have bragged about it to all your friends. But by running your mouth, you now face a humiliated opponent who just might decide to palm a knife and plant it in your gut to show you how much he enjoyed you ridiculing him in front of everybody…
All that to say this: you can do everything right and then get carried away by your own success at de-escalating somebody who is in your face. So an additional safety tip is:
As long as they’re backing up and leaving, don’t respond to anything they say. Let them leave, let them save face. Keep your mouth shut until they’re gone.
Half my RMCAT course is spent ‘role playing ‘these ‘woofs’ situations under real adrenal stress and practicing how to deal with them effectively and thus avoiding the fight all together.
A great analysis on your part my friend and a very good and useful article you have presented here sir. Peyton Quinn
The role-playing Peyton does is an incredibly powerful way of teaching you all these points we mentioned in both this post and the previous one. If you have a chance at attending the RMCAT courses, I very much advise you to do so. It’ll change the way you look at training forever.
Great follow up post Wim!
Unfortunately the people who tend to need self defense skills most are probably those who won’t be able to be congruent in every way. And I don’t think it’s something you can simply “will”. You either have it or you don’t. Of course training helps. But if you don’t have experience with violent crime/criminals, you’ll likely be scared the first time around. Thus…the importance of awareness and prevention!
David Bruce Leonard says
Great observations! Succinct and practical. Thanks to both of you….
Rob Y says
Thanks Wim! This series of posts was really useful — especially the point of rememering and not abandoning your mission — and I’ve forwarded it to several friends who’d appreciate it.
What would you suggest as effective ways to train full congruence in the face of a confrontation and adrenal response?
I ask because I’ve realized that despite a few years of varied martial arts training (the most relevant of which is probably stress drills in krav maga), I still don’t have enough exposure or practice maintaining this congruency even in confrontational social situations like speaking with mysteriously angry coworkers, to say nothing of actual impending violence.
So while my mind feels like it’s relatively under control — taking stock of the situation, reminding myself of my goal, reminding myself to breathe evenly and deeply — my body’s reactions (increased heartrate, shaky hands and tight chest) are not, which definitely don’t send the right signals to whomever I’m dealing with.
The link for RMCAT near the end of this article links to steroid supplements, not training classes.
I just contacted Peyton to see what’s up with his site, will update as soon as I hear more.