By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved
In the search for practical self-defense the topic of rules, formalities, and social conventions must be addressed. Most people are taught from a young age that it is not appropriate to get into a fight and if you did find yourself in a situation where you had to fight there was a “right” way to do it.
To address the first social convention (it is not appropriate to fight) I would have to say that I agree. Getting into a fight is a very poor method of resolving an issue and I certainly do not advocate fighting. However, it must be made clear that violence is not always avoidable. The idea that all you have to do is just walk away from a potential fight and you can avoid violence is purely a social convention. If it was true then how do you explain that in America a woman is sexually assaulted every 90 seconds? To follow the logic, if the woman had just walked away she could have avoided the assault.
“Fighting” consists of two or more people agreeing to engage in a physical altercation which is usually structured. Criminal violence, on the other hand, finds you whether you look for it or not. Self-defense addresses the criminal violence side of physical altercations where you do not have a choice of whether or not you enter into it.
The second social convention I’m addressing is the topic of a “right” and “wrong” way to fight. Most people are taught from a young age the concept of “dirty fighting”. They are taught that if you get into a fight you put your hands up and punch; you NEVER slap, bite, kick, scratch, attack the groin, or hit someone when they’re down.
The reason the rules of fighting came about was because “civilized fighting” was equated with boxing. In order to make fighting more civilized society attached a sport mindset to it. The thinking was that if both parties put their hands up and slugged it out like civilized persons in a structured manner there would be less damage to both parties. The problem with this today is that few people respect the rules.
If you look down upon “fighting dirty” and decide that you’re going to follow the rules in a violent altercation then the issue arises of whether the other person will do the same. If you put your hands up to box and expect the other person to do the same, then you’ll be caught off guard when they kick you in the groin then stomp on your head while you’re on the ground. While rules are a great thing, they only work if everyone follows them.
The main reason why people don’t respect the rules is that all the things that are “dirty” are the things that work the best. Think about a UFC fight or a boxing match; both parties dance around and hit each other repeatedly round after round and often the fight ends up being decided not on who actually wins but who scores the most points. Think of all the trauma that each person absorbs during the fight then think about the things that make the referee jump in and stop the fight. 9 times out of 10 the thing that makes the referee jump in and stop/pause the fight is because something “dirty” happens (usually by accident). Someone gets poked in the eye, hit in the throat, groin, or gets a finger bent back. When these things happen the referee stops it right away because these things generally result in an injury and sport fighters want to beat on each other but don’t actually want to injure each other. That is great in a sporting application but could prove to be a lethal mistake if you are fighting for your life.
You can punch someone in the face repeatedly and cause little reaction, but poke them in the eye once and suddenly they can’t continue the fight. All the things that are “dirty” are “dirty” because they work. It is far more civilized to punch someone in the mouth then it is to punch them in the throat, however, a shot in the mouth may make them say “oww” or piss them off while a punch to the throat can close the airway and may prove lethal.
Following the rules and making them say “oww”, or “fighting dirty” and making them fall to the ground, start coughing, and not being able to breathe…what methodology do you want to follow when you get attacked?
If you plan on surviving a criminal assault it is important that you realize that “dirty fighting” is merely a social convention with its place existing solely in a socialized situation. The minute someone steps outside of socialized behavior and assaults you in a life threatening manner the only appropriate response is to step outside socialized behavior yourself and go for what works as fast as you can.
Socialized responses are only appropriate for socialized problems. When your life is under threat the only way you’ll survive is to leave the rules in the ring and do anything in your power to injure the other person before they injure you.