Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rules of engagement

This my last blog for this year, and I have decided to tackle the topic that has too often been disregarded and ignored, although more important than any gear review or technical piece of advice anybody could ever give you.

We have all heard, numerous times probably, that in a street fight there are no rules, referees, time limits etc. While that sounds very true and common sense at the first glance, things are actually bit different if are able to see beyond the most obvious, seemingly random and chaotic appearance of such altercations. If we analyze them critically, most so-called real fights seem to share many things in common, which means that in effect they can be taken as rules. Then, the real question is whether one knows the rule at play, although many people will adhere to some rules even on a subconscious level.

Fist of all, what is commonly termed a street fight can belong to one of two main categories – social and asocial. Some matter experts and authors will have different terminology (fight/combat, altercation/assault etc.), but it boils down to either being involved in a fight over an insult, petty differences, some sort of grudge etc. (shortly, bruised ego); or being subjected to a criminal assault (mugging, robbery etc). For those interested in a more detailed analysis of each there are many fine books out there, but I particularly like and recommend Rory Miller’s “Meditations on Violence” (you gotta like his term Monkey Dance for the social category of street fights), although you would also do well with some works of Marc “Animal” MacYoung, Peyton Quinn, Bill Kipp and Rich Dimitri and others…just do your homework.

So, what are those rules we have in play here? Essentially, I could divide those in two broad categories – social and personal. Now, the social rules of engagement, in this case, could be institutionally imposed (i.e. local or state laws), or maybe take the shape of certain actions being frowned upon in various degrees, even if not legally discriminated (eg. hitting another man or another woman, a young buck or an elderly man; fighting over a parking place or over a woman). The interesting thing here is that various people will reason differently over various criteria in this regard, so as a consequence what seems like a mindless and stupid fight to one man will make perfect sense to another. This in itself was/is and will be the cause of many a brawl among the members of different strata of the society, so it deserves some consideration.
Ready to be frowned upon?

The legal rules apply just as much to the asocial type of fight, i.e. even if you do emerge “victorious” from an assault, but after the use of physical means on your part to make it happen, you better be sure to deal as affectively with the possible judiciary aftermath. Invest some effort into learning about the local criminal laws and penal codes of your place of residence, as your ability to understand them might have some ramifications later. Namely, there have been more then a few occurrences of a thug pressing civil charges against a person who had defended from the attempted mugging or robbery, but failed to justify their acts. Do not let yourself be a victim of that. Again, do your homework and have some backup – as much as I detest the profession, it is better to have a good lawyer on your side.

Training-forged, street-lethal...court-proof?

Self-imposed rules (sometimes more appropriately called personal issues) often stem from the social ones, from the way you were raised by your family and how you were treated in life, but sometimes it is a matter of deep personal stands (religious beliefs, ethical stance) and/or trauma. For example, you will sometimes see people taking classes in weapon based martial arts, or being computer “tactical” game aces, while getting sick from seeing a chicken or a pig slain. Well, do you think that a human being, even if a lowlife thug, will not bleed and scream after being stabbed wit ha knife or wacked with an iron pipe? On the other hand, we have the opposite type – a hoplophobic person who would not touch a gun or reach for a knife even if their very lives were at stake. To me, neither makes sense, but it’s just me… Everybody has got to take a good, honest look inside themselves and ask some serious questions.

In this regard, it is much better to be clear about things up front, because those answers will certainly not be easier to find when facing a bully in a bar, or even worse, an armed robber in your own house. What are you willing to do, and what price are you willing to pay for your choice of actions is very important, as it makes the foundation for the development of the proper mental state and attitude you will need to deal with these kinds of situations… One thing is for sure, complacency is neither an answer nor attitude. 

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