Finding the Rage


Recently we were talking with a woman about taking walks in the park.  My instructor was cautioning against walking in the really wooded and remote areas, maybe making an exception on Saturdays when more people are within earshot.  He was telling her about carrying her OC spray, her cell phone, and the concealed knife that she is able to use.  She does not own a firearm, and we discussed the speed of drawing a knife versus drawing a gun.  He reassured her that she had the skills and ability to protect herself, and he emphasized the importance of her displaying “ferocious resolve” (an idea he borrowed from Marcus Wynne) to fight for her life by utilizing verbal commands, intimidating eye contact and body language, etc.  This got me thinking about aggression, and the conversation turned. 


What does it take to flip the switch?  We all have the potential for violence, though it may be latent in many of us.  What can we do to help students turn it on and off at will, and control it?  I watch some of these practitioners online and in DVDs on Combatives, and I marvel at the intensity, like a feral animal, with which they train techniques.  They create an emotional state that renders them downright intimidating.  It’s interesting, because some of our students won’t even hit the BOBs or training pads with much passion. 


Many years back, when I was training Muay Thai three or more times a week, I got hit and bruised a lot.  It made me very aggressive in my practice—I can only assume my survival instinct kicked in.  We see the same aggression come out of young athletes when they practice the Contact Reflex drills with Thai pads.  (The feeder hits the technician with the Thai pad.  The tech he must cover and return with a combination.)   For four years I trained consistently at one school, with a lot of strong people severely lacking in control, then I moved house to another school.  I was criticized for being too aggressive, and instead of being taught how to control myself, I believe my instructor hoped to train it out of me.  This not an ideal strategy, and does not serve me on the street.  It’s martial arts, for crying out loud!  What does serve me is this: having the ability to flip the switch on and off, and the ability to quickly assess situations to determine exactly how far I need to take my aggression.  If my response makes my would-be assailant back off, then I don’t need to continue pounding him into the dirt.  Good judgment and control lets me know when to stop (easier said than done, I know).


Training has to evolve into being something dynamic, versus the static methods that many dojos employ, and one has to be able to put the mind in an intense emotional state, similar to that which he or she might experience in a true confrontation; we have all got to find the rage in ourselves, plain and simple.  In my research, I am discovering that learning techniques can be accelerated with better retention because of adherence to realism.  If in the unfortunate event that this woman does find herself standing in the woods, brandishing a knife and issuing warnings with her words, eyes and body language, it is very likely that most perps will back off, as long as they feel her intention (and suppressed rage).  It might be a better idea to tangle with a wildcat.  NOW, if he doesn’t retreat, she knows IT IS ON!!!  She must be prepared to take the situation wherever it needs to go on the way to swift resolution.  I want her to win, of course, but she needs to ask herself now: what is my life worth? 


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