I've long been a fan of
simple, but profound concepts.
The difference between
simple and profound and a sound bite is the latter is a conclusion. Whereas the
former is a fundamental. Now in case you don't know the difference between a
fundamental and a basic, it's subtle, but important. For most of the definitions, basics and
fundamentals are pretty much the same. The difference shows up when you get to
'a basic is an introduction to a subject' (like basic training or
kindergarten). A fundamental is something a system is based upon and rises from
(like the primary colors) So while fundamentals can themselves be simple, all
the ways they manifest can be complex -- really, really complex.
This as opposed to sound bites.
Or what I call 'Puddle Profundities' (they sound profound, but they're actually
about as deep as a puddle in a parking lot.) Unfortunately, the self-defense
world is filled with these cliché, cool sounding and grossly over-simplified
sound bites about what to do, 'what it takes to survive' and what is
'self-defense.' It's arguable this is an unfortunate result of business
requirements. The market (students)
strongly dictates what is taught as self-defense. A whole lot of people want
simplistic answers to complex problems -- and by gawd they'll pay lots of money
to anyone who can provide such in training. This regardless of how quick -- in
real life -- that advice will get you killed or thrown into prison.
Now it's real easy to boil
complex subjects down to overly simplistic sound bites -- like what people have
done with Cooper's "I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by
six." Which to me is about as
obvious as saying "I'd rather be alive after a self-defense
incident." Really? No kidding? (DUuuuhhh!) But it doesn't help keep you
out of a violent situation. Sound bites can be specific help for some people
during an incident, but for the most part they don't help you in the middle of
an incident. They're not useful guidelines for your behavior in a crisis. Nor
do they prepare you for the legal, emotional or ethical aftermath of successfully defending yourself.
This especially if you used lethal force in a situation that didn't require it
because your thinking had stopped at '12 and 6.'
On the other hand, it really
takes skill to sum up complex circumstances down to a few -- reliable --
fundamentals. Fundamentals that no matter how far into complexities you get, still apply. I don't want to say 'that
apply anywhere' (and you'll soon see why), but really apply to most
circumstances. This to the point of even
though the manifestations can be -- and often are -- wildly different, it's
still the same fundamental idea. And that is where the simple but profound comes
One example of this skill is
Peyton Quinn's 'Five Rules' about violence.
1) Do not insult him
2) Do not challenge him
3) Do not threaten him
4) Do not deny it's
5) Give him a face saving
If there is a better, more
concise list of fundamental ways people step on their dicks when it comes to
potentially violent situations, I've never seen it. I use the trodding on a
particularly tender appendage comparison for three very simple reasons. The
Five are not only the fastest ways to escalate a potentially violent situation
into physical violence, but the most reliable ones too. Those are first and
second. The third reason is they cover
the widest possible spectrum. When I say this a number of folks involved in
self-defense training immediately jump to tacti-cool or kung fu related
scenarios. Mostly having to do with why they're too smart to deny it's
happening. They're trained in self-defense doncha' know?
But number four is really,
really, REALLY important for the average citizen. I'm not just talking about
the person pushing a cart out of the grocery store, who, upon seeing three
thuggish looking guys spread out along a wall, decides, getting home is far
more important and they won't bother him/her -- and then walks right into an mugging.
Yes there is that. It also applies to someone who is so hell bent on a behavior
and their 'right' to do it, they don't notice how close they're coming to being
attacked. The worst -- and most common -- form of 'denying' is someone telling
him or herself "That person wouldn't dare..." In doing that they fail
to recognize they're pissing someone off enough to throw them a beating.
Funny thing is those five rules go miles for keeping you from getting into
fights -- much less taking a beating.
So like I said, those five
rules are really good as they apply in all kinds of circumstances -- and this
includes when they won't work to keep violence from happening. How's that for
an unexpected left turn?
Rory Miller came up with the
social, asocial model of violence. Basically there is violence for social
reasons and for asocial reasons. Rory's observation that while the five rules
will (most likely) prevent social violence, they won't stop asocial violence.
When Rory said that, I flat-out
agreed with him. They won't stop an asocial predator. That predator will blow
right on past these attempts to prevent violence. However, that doesn't mean
they still don't apply...
See, after I told Rory what
I'm about to tell you, I picked up the phone and called Peyton. "Peyton, I
says to him. Here's what I just told Rory Miller about your Five Rules. They
won't prevent asocial violence, but -- if you violate them -- they'll make it
See to a robber (a type of
asocial violence), you're just an ATM with legs, a walking Happy Meal if you
will. And that's what you want him thinking about you. That way, he'll come up,
rob you and go away. Once he's got HIS money, he's done with you. He -- and the
danger he poses to you -- are gone.
That is unless you make it
personal -- usually by violating rules one through three. Rule four means you've made his life easier
by walking into it. Rule five shouldn't be an issue ... well, unless you yell
obscenities at him or try to chase him as he's leaving. Then you've just made
it an issue.
But violate rules one
through three and you'll have hell to pay because -- still sticking with
robbery -- the ATM just started talking shit to him. Whether it is resource or
process asocial violence, you've just given an attacker the excuse to really
unleash hell on you. If he was planning violence anyway (process predator),
he's really going to tear you up now. So violating these Five Rules is going to
make the violence worse, this whether social or asocial.
I tell you all of this to
show you something important. That is how professionals kick ideas around in
the field. In doing so, they make things better. This in contrast to people who
steal a good working model, twist it around to make it sound like they invented
it. This unique spin often makes a much more generally effective model, narrower
This isn't as cut and dried
as it may seem. Where we run into a problem It's often hard to tell a
difference between 1) someone with specific experience who is tweaking for
particular application, 2) someone who is trying for unique branding of
themselves (but still trying to pass on good -- if limited-- information) or 3)
someone who doesn't understand the model and yet has changed it just to say
Here's why it's not easy to
tell. I tell people that there's only so
many ways to describe a shark. After a while, all the descriptions are going to
start sounding the same. So when someone starts telling you they saw a fur
covered saber toothed shark with antlers, if you know what a shark looks like,
it's going to be obvious he's making shit up. If you don't, well isn't that
what sharks look like? My combatives instructor said they did...
Still in specialized fields
there's hammerhead, thresher sharks and whale sharks. Those suckers don't look
like normal sharks. But until you realize these are specialized critters,
stories about weird shaped heads, giant tails and sharks the size of whales
sound wrong. Same thing with specialized fundamentals in a field. The
fundamentals for bouncing, prison guards and police are often very different
than what Joe and Jane Civilian are going to be dealing with.
This is why when I saw a jpg
of Richard Dimitri supposedly promoting
1) Don't insult
2) Don't threaten
3) Don't order
4) Don't tell him he's wrong
I went ?????
Okay I know those first two
trace back to Peyton, and I know the last two from hostage negotiation
strategies. Which seriously struck me as 'going into a specific field'
direction (narrowing of applicability).
'Order' just sounded too
much like a sound bite and not a fundamental. Whereas telling him he's wrong --
while very good advice -- is kind of specific situation advice (as is not calling him a liar). True, but
just not fundamental and general enough to guide someone's behavior in a situation.
Not ordering was a sticking
point for me. This especially when I'm training cops, the protocol for
establishing a pattern of non-compliance -- thereby legally justifying use of force -- is
'Ask. Tell. Order' For example: Ask him to step out of the car (complete with
please and thank you), tell him (Sir, step out of the car) order (Get out of
the car NOW!) After three, you physically pull him from the car. And if he
resists, you drag his ass out. But
again, without some tweaking, that's heading down a narrowed applicability hole
of police use of force. (Granted that tweak can also help you articulate why
what you did was self-defense, but that's another article.)
Mix into that the number of
times I've ordered people to 'walk away'
as a clear -- non-insulting or threatening -- communication on how to
avoid violence, the 'don't order' didn't make sense to me. You can upgrade this to the number of times
I've snarled "BACK OFF" with the clear, yet unspoken, message of 'or mayhem will
immediately ensue.' So ordering is not an absolute. Yes, you have to be careful
about ordering someone, but to make it a 'don't?' That's an awfully big word.
The best thing I could come
up with on my own was 'don't order if you're not ready to back it up.' Which is
eight more words and a world apart from just 'don't order.' And it missed the whole, 'and don't be an arrogant ass while doing it' aspect.
When I questioned the jpg, a
few people came forward to explain how smart Richard is for this good advice
(Yes, I knew Richard back in the day, thanks for the update.) But they seemed
to believe that was all there was. Nobody could really give me a good reason
for 'don't order.' Then Richard came onto the scene...
He phrased it another way. A
way that made me stand up and declare "YES!"
What Richard said is: Do not
NOW you're talking! In this context, command means (to me) being an imperious, arrogant, contemptuous asshole. Do not command is a fundamental that both addresses a common problem behavior and
dovetails nicely with the 'ordering without the ability to back it up' issue.
It also specifically articulates the most common way someone can violate
Peyton's insult, challenge and threaten in one single sentence. With a fair
dose of not giving him a face saving exit thrown in to warrant the last parting
kick to your face as you're laying on the ground.
Let me paint you a mental
picture. Imagine a woman walking through an otherwise empty parking at night.
She's approached by a strange man and, with contempt and anger dripping from
every syllable, sneers, "Get away from me!"
That is an imperious command. It is how
you treat slaves, servants and peasants. It's also an insult and challenge, but
more than that it's usually an implied threat. For example, "Or I'll call
the cops" It is a command that the woman is most likely neither able or
willing to back up by herself. It's an imperious command that relies on social
mechanisms, standards -- and usually others -- to be enforced. Again, "Or
I'll call the cops," which roughly translates into "I'll summon another servant [lesser being] to punish you"
It's also very much a threat
display (also called display aggression). Basically it's a bluff to show that
the woman is too high of a social status for the man to safely attack. But it
comes across like a self-righteous noble commanding a worthless peasant. Although, with many younger women, it's an
attempt to show that they aren't afraid of being violent. The ugly truth about these
bluffs is how fast they fall apart when the other person busts the
person-using-commands' jaw for disrespecting him like that.
That's if the
person doesn't just pull a gun and shoot the 'commander.' My all time favorite
(not) is when the commander tries to bluff multiple individuals. Not only have
you insulted, threatened and challenged them, but you've humiliated them in
front of witnesses. Yeah, that's going to turn out well...
In case you missed it,
imperiously commanding someone doesn't give him a face saving exit. Which is really
dangerous because something else Rory talks about is: You cannot shame a predator, but you can
To which I will add two
things. One, if you do humiliate him
you're going to increase the level of force he will attack you with." Two,
you become a participant in the creation and escalation of an incident, which
is drilling holes in your lifeboat of 'self-defense.'
So I'm adding one more good,
generalized fundamental to make the Six Rules
1) Do not insult
2) Do not challenge
3) Do not threaten
4) Do not imperiously command
5) Do not deny it's
6) Do give him a face saving
Simple but profound
fundamentals that can guide your behaviors to keep you out of violence, dictate
your behavior in a situation and save your ass when -- later -- explaining to
the cops (and hopefully not the jury) how you did everything in your power to
avoid having to use force.