You are on page 1of 224

Candidcommentsfromreadersofthisnewbook

“Compulsory reading for every adult male on this planet. It is the most eye opening
book I have ever read on the subject of self preservation. It’s so simple and clear you
are left with no illusions about real violence and what is required to survive.”
Lawrence Jooste, Gauteng, South Africa
“It was really a game changer for me. There have been several times in my life
when I felt I truly became enlightened about something and it forever changed my
outlook – this book is one of them. I trained in college for Tae Kwon Do and became
YHU\HIIHFWLYHDWKLWWLQJWDUJHWV1RZ,UHDOL]HKRZQDwYHP\VHOIFRQ¿GHQFHKDVEHHQ
I’ve been lucky! I started your book late the night I received it and could barely put it
down to go to sleep.”
Ed Hopwood, Warren NJ
“Well-written and compelling, this book will quickly strip away your ingrained,
IDOVHSHUFHSWLRQVDERXWKDQGWRKDQGFRPEDWDQGJLYH\RXFRQ¿GHQFHWKDWZLWKDQ
understanding of what is really needed for victory, you could actually defend yourself
against any attacker, regardless of differentials in size, aggressiveness, or skill level.”
Scott Nelson, Houston, TX
“Never before have I come across a book that addresses the use of violence in
the open and honest manner this book does. As a former soldier, we were taught
WKHVLPSOHIDFWWKDWZKHQ¿JKWLQJIRU\RXUOLIHLW¶V\RXRU\RXURSSRQHQW±DQ\WKLQJ
goes. The authors of this book address this basic idea but delve much deeper into the
difference between anti-social and asocial violence, and why “anything goes” may
sometimes be necessary. They make it abundantly clear that although violence is very
rarely the solution to a confrontation, when it is, it is the only solution. This is not a
book about techniques; it’s a book about mindset – the mindset about when and why
the tool of violence should be utilized to end a confrontation. It is this mindset that
may very well save your life if ever faced with a truly violent encounter.”
Tim Baguley, Las Vegas, NV
“I couldn’t put it down. Read it in one sitting. It’s a brilliant study on the use
of violence as a tool and its use in social, asocial, & antisocial settings. If you’re
considering the purchase of any self defense tool or training I highly recommend you
read this book before doing so. You won’t hear this caliber of truth ANYWHERE else.”
K. T. Martin, Sacramento, CA
“I have been around combat in the Marine Corps, and with cops for most of my life.
7KLVLVWKH¿UVWVHULRXVFKDQJHLQKRZZHPXVWORRNDW6859,9$/FRPEDW,WLVQRWVR
much technique as it is a mental frame of mind. It has been most refreshing to read.”
P. Neskow, Barrington, IL
³,WZDVWKHEHVWERRN,KDYHHYHUUHDGRQ6HOI3URWHFWLRQ,WJLYHVDGHJUHH
understanding of the subject. I possessed the physical side and understanding but I
FRXOGQHYHUIXOO\XQGHUVWDQGWKHPHQWDOSDUW2QFH,¿QLVKHG\RXUERRN,UHDOL]HG,
could get the job done if need be... without hesitation. The way you communicate so
clearly on the subject, I can see you have survived violent encounters. A lot of people
ZKRWHDFK6HOI3URWHFWLRQQHYHUKDYHLWVMXVWWKHRU\´
Shane Parisi, Mountain View, CA
³7KH7)7PDWHULDOKDVVKHGOLJKWRQWKHJUH\DUHDRIYLROHQFH6RVLPSOHWR
understand, anyone can pick it up and learn the truth about surviving an undesirable
VLWXDWLRQ2QHRIWKHPRVWVLJQL¿FDQWUHDGV,¶YHFRPHDFURVV,KLJKO\UHFRPPHQGLW´
Justin Negrete, Madison, WI
“Having survived a tour in Nam as a combat medic I can attest to the mental
IRUWLWXGHQHFHVVDU\WRFRXQWHUDYLROHQWEDWWOH2QO\ZLVKWKLVERRNZDVZULWWHQ
years ago!”
Dennis Aurilia, Parkland, FL
“I always thought I had a good combat mindset, use of color codes in my everyday life,
and an understanding of what I would do if confronted with a life and death situation. I
had half a picture! This is a whole different world! The simplest and best explanation I
have ever heard of why when violence is the answer it truly is the only answer.”
Todd W. Carr, Marion, NY
HOW TO
SURVIVE
THE MOST CRITICAL
5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
T I M L A R K I N
&
C H R I S R A N C K - B U H R
©2009 TFT Group. All rights reserved.
Third Edition
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic
or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system now
known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer
who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine,
newspaper, or broadcast.
How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life
by Tim Larkin & Chris Ranck-Buhr
First Edition: 2008
Second Edition 2009
ISBN 978-1-61539-310-7
The TFT Group
Straitview Publishing
325 E Washington St, #207
Sequim, WA 98382
Dedicatedtoeveryonewho
madeitbackhomealive...
andtothememoryof
thosewhodidn’t.
iv
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
v
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FORWARD ix
PART ONE: Violence In Your Life Today 1
Chapter One: The Unthinkable Happens 2
Chapter Two: Surviving the Most Critical Five Seconds of Your Life 5
Chapter Three: Inside the Criminal Mind 14
Chapter Four: Antisocial vs. Asocial Violence 20
Chapter Five: When To Engage 25
Chapter Six: Competition Vs. Destruction 31
Chapter Seven: All The Reasons Why You Can’t 44
Chapter Eight: Spiritual Enlightenment, Competition
and the One-Way Street of Violence 52
Chapter Nine: Stripping the Fat to Find the Bone—
Reason in Violence 62
Chapter Ten: Everyone’s a Badass 70
Chapter Eleven: The Absence of Choice 83
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence 87
Chapter One: Fight or Flight 88
Chapter Two: Violence is About Injury 92
Chapter Three: Why You Must Learn to Kill 99
Chapter Four: Overcoming the Stigma of Violence 105
Chapter Five: Violence as the Ultimate Survival Tool 109
Chapter Six: Kill It Simple, Stupid 115
Chapter Seven: Access the Meat 119
Chapter Eight: The Hardest Lesson 126
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action 131
Chapter One: Roadblocks, Plateaus & Epiphanies 132
Chapter Two: Training For Life 137
Chapter Three: Learn To Fight or Work Out? 145
Chapter Four: Dead Men Tell No Tales
or, Why You Can’t Learn Anything of Value From the Dead Guy 150
Chapter Five: The Final Word in Context—MURDER 152
Chapter Six: It’s Not About Naughty or Nice 157
Chapter Seven: Time to Stop Lying to Yourself 165
Chapter Eight: Scenario-based Training vs. The Hard Knot 178
Chapter Nine: Kill The Unknown 181
PART FOUR: The Legacy of Violence—Peace of Mind 185
Chapter One: An Ounce of Prevention 186
Chapter Two: Taking Control of Your Life 190
Chapter Three: Treat Everyone Like They Are Six Seconds Away from
a Killing Spree ... and Other Philosophies of Good Neighborliness 195
Chapter Four: Living a More Peaceful Life 198
AFTERWORD 202
viii
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
FORWARD
ix
Foreword
“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where the enemy
LV*HWDWKLPDVVRRQDV\RXFDQ6WULNHKLPDVKDUGDV\RX
can and as often as you can, and keep moving on.” —
*HQHUDO86*UDQW
There are many different reasons you might start reading this
book, but the only reason to finish it is if you want to protect yourself
and your family from violence. That’s it. You see, I’m not just going
to give you a few techniques to ward off a local thug. I don’t want
to level the playing field. I want to skew it in your favor. In other
words, I want to make sure that if you’re ever in a violent situation,
you walk away with your life.
But to do that, you need to know something about the principles
of what you’re doing. It’s educating yourself about the facts of
violence. Without it, you’re doing what everyone else is doing—
just learning techniques for specific situations. And by the time you
finish this book, you’ll understand why that’s a recipe for disaster.
It truly amazes me how many people just stumble into various
martial arts or combat sports never having once considered why
they’re doing it. If you’re training your body to participate in
competitions, then you’ll find numerous martial arts and combat
sports that provide excellent instruction and challenging forms
of competition. These give you the opportunity to exercise your
abilities in a safe situation, with rules and supervision agreed upon
in advance.
Combat sports can teach you effective tactics for fighting,
and they’re great for getting into shape. Unfortunately, however,
if “sport fighting” is your thing, this book will not say a thing to
you. I’m talking about real violence, the kind we all want to avoid.
I’m talking about learning to effectively deal with real life-or-death
threats. And that’s completely different from combat sport fighting.
x
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
At this point, you might be wondering why you can’t do both.
Or maybe you’re wondering why you should know how to fight at
all. Maybe you’re thinking that’s why we have social institutions
such as the police—to defend us and keep us safe from life-or-death
situations.
But this book addresses the place where social communication
ends and real violence begins—places where you have no control
over your opponent. In other words, this book addresses those
situations we all try to pretend don’t exist.
The real question is, if you’re unfortunate enough to find
yourself in a life-or-death situation, will you have the ability to
defend yourself and your family? Because in that moment, nothing
else will matter.
If you want to know the truth about self-defense, read on.
You might not like what I have to say. But if you keep reading, I
guarantee you’ll come to see the truth: There’s only one way you’ll
ever be prepared to walk away from a life-or-death situation.
—Tim Larkin
1
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
PART ONE:
VIOLENCE IN YOUR
LIFE TODAY
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
2
Chapter One:
The Unthinkable Happens
“Any man who is a man may not, in honor, submit to threats
of violence. But many men who are not cowards are simply
unprepared for acts of human savagery. They have not
thought about it (incredible as this may appear to anyone
who reads the papers or listens to the news) and they just
don’t know what to do. When they look right into the face of
depravity and violence they are astonished and confounded.”
—Jeff Cooper
It doesn’t make you a coward to acknowledge that you have no
idea what to do in a life-or-death violent situation. In fact, it means
that you have the courage to accept that there are people out there
who will act in unpredictable and irrational ways to get what they
want—a fact many people blithely ignore. And if you’re reading
this book, it means you’ve taken that acceptance a step further, and
you’re ready to do something about it.
Since I started Target-Focus Training (TFT), I’ve traveled
extensively, giving seminars on how to use violence as a tool for
survival. One of my most significant trips occurred when I toured
Asia. I had the good fortune to travel to Singapore, Jakarta, Manila,
Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and every step of the journey, the specter
of violence loomed in the background. Most of my hotels had a
barricade, all my cars were searched for bombs, and each guest was
searched every time they reentered the hotel. My hosts represented
some of the most influential people in each of these regions, and
they all welcomed my message: violence is the only way to combat
violence.
Why?
3
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Because the people living in these cities live every day with the
threat of violence entering their lives in a real and dramatic fashion.
And they don’t just face the threat of criminal violence. Political
violence, terrorists, kidnappers, business rivals—all use violence as
a means to solve problems.
These are clients who take a plan for asocial violence seriously.
It’s not that they’re violent people themselves or ever want to use
the knowledge. But when you’ve seen political assassinations
over a mayoral election, when you’ve seen a political opponent’s
entire family slaughtered, you realize there are those who are very
comfortable solving any conflict with violence—and you realize
that you’d better be ready if they ever come gunning for you.
It quickly becomes clear that if you are unfortunate enough to
get involved with people like this, you may very well find yourself
in a situation where using violence is your only answer. I share this
because rarely have I found my message so well received—ironically
in a part of the world that was the birthplace of martial arts.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
There are two types of people who won’t find much to help them
in this book: those who think violence is never justifiable, and those
who think violence is the answer to everything. One thing that will
become very clear over the course of this book is that violence is an
extremely negative thing. I don’t recommend it as a solution to any
but the most desperate of conflicts. In other words, violence is what
you use when every other choice has been taken from you. So why
can’t we all just get along?
A perfect example occurs in the war against terror. Whether
you back the war or not, our soldiers face a committed enemy who
is willing to do whatever it takes to further its cause. They don’t
think twice about beheading civilians or sacrificing innocent lives—
including their own—to make a point. Their commitment to their
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
4
cause is total and even the wounded will booby-trap themselves just
to kill a couple more soldiers ‘for the cause.’ Against such an enemy
you cannot afford to respond with a litigious, law enforcement
mentality.
We cannot win by trying to ‘arrest’ the enemy. The cold, hard
fact is that we must kill the enemy in large enough numbers to break
the back of the insurgents. It is politically incorrect to point such
facts out, but that, quite frankly, is the nature of war. You don’t have
to like war, but you have to accept it for what it is. A soldier overseas
may not like what he has to do, but if he wants to survive—and if he
wants his friends and family to remain safe—he has no choice but
to respond to the enemy in kind.
But this mentality is not just dangerous to soldiers on the
battlefields of the Middle East. The same applies to you. You cannot
afford such a litigious mentality when faced with real, asocial
violence. You must respond by injuring the other guy as fast as
you can. You can’t rely on running or blocking anymore than the
military can use law enforcement guidelines to defeat a ‘kill or be
killed’ enemy.
I don’t advocate responding to antisocial behavior with violence;
nor do I believe violence will solve our social or political problems.
But whether it’s a soldier facing a committed, fanatical enemy or a
businessman facing an asocial recidivist criminal, the only response
that will get the job done is to use the tool of violence. That’s why
you must ask yourself right now, “Do I really know how to use
the tool of violence?” You simply can’t wait to ask it until asocial
violence is imminent. By then the stakes are far too high.
5
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Chapter Two:
Surviving the Most Critical Five Seconds
of Your Life
³:KDW FDQ EH VXFFHVVIXOO\ ZLOOHG PXVW ¿UVW EH VHHQ DQG
XQGHUVWRRG´²%ULJDGLHU*HQHUDO6/$0DUVKDOO
There’s nothing artistic about violence; it’s an instinctive survival
tool, like swimming. Once you’ve learned the basics, you’re set for
life. You don’t walk around every day wondering what you’d do if
you fell into a swimming pool: “Let’s see, first I’d tread water, then
I’d follow that up with a couple of neat butterfly strokes...” You just
know that if you fall in, you’ll swim to the edge and get out of the
water.
An Olympic swimmer who trains every day will always be
able to swim faster, further, and with more grace than the average
person who learned as a kid and only ever gets wet in the shower.
But under normal conditions, neither of them will drown. Whether
you’re an Olympic swimmer or an amateur, if you fall into a life-
or-death situation in the water, you swim to avoid death. Violence
is the same: a simple, utilitarian life skill. And as in swimming, the
only arbiter of success is survival. If you make it out alive, you did
the right thing.
Serious violent conflict rarely lasts more than five seconds.
It doesn’t take much to put even the biggest man down, and five
seconds is more than enough time to cause serious injury. On the
other hand, that means you don’t have the luxury of time to think or
take up a fancy kung-fu stance. You get time only to act, cause an
effect, and continue to act.
So why is violence so important to survival? Because violence
works on everyone. Superior physical ability, knowledge,
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
6
experience, and iron will are all trumped by the thumb in the eye.
There is nothing anyone can do to make themselves immune to the
laws of the physical universe.
Bullets are not swayed by opinion or presence; they are
maddeningly impartial. In other words, everyone can do violence,
and no one is immune.
Surviving is not Enough
Some people will argue that it’s not necessary to become familiar
with the tool of violence—that it’s enough to know self-defense and
be prepared for different situations. Well, I’m here to tell you that
those tools might give you the ability to survive a violent situation.
But is survival enough? Consider these examples:
At the age of 32, Jim, a man with years of martial arts training,
was attacked by a meth-crazed mugger in an unprovoked homicidal
assault. He was stabbed three times. He’s still with us because his
girlfriend attempted to stop the mugger. She was stabbed twice in
the neck and bled-out before the paramedics could arrive.
John is a police officer with 12 years on the force and numerous
defensive tactics courses under his belt. On a bright August day he
pulled over a ‘79 Chevy Camaro for a dangerous lane change while
speeding. As he approached, the 6’5”, 262 lb very drunk driver got
out to contest John’s decision to stop him.
Before John finished the verbal warning he’d used a 1,000
times before, the driver bum-rushed him, lifted him off the deck,
and slammed him to the pavement. Following the techniques he’d
been drilled in, John fumbled for his pepper spray while the driver
laughed and repeatedly pounded John’s head against the pavement.
John lost consciousness as kicks to the head and torso rained
down from the alcohol-fueled rage. He’s still on the force today but
in an admin job. Nerve damage to his right side is pretty severe.
7
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
His facial reconstructive surgery went well and surgeons think he’ll
regain 90% control of his facial muscles, eventually.
John’s defensive tactics training was extensive. The board that
reviewed the video of the incident stated John responded exactly as
he was trained.
Jamie is a survivor, too.
She did everything the serial rapist asked. But the self-defense
course she took never gave her a technique for the way this 234 lb
brute held her on the floor of her apartment. When she said she’d
do whatever he wanted, he responded by punching her face and
breaking her jaw. From there it got worse.
After 3 reconstructive surgeries, she eventually recovered from
the beating, but not from the trauma of rape.
Her self-defense training had great techniques and real life
scenarios. Hell, it even had an instructor in a padded suit attacking
them, one she could hit as hard as she wanted.
And yet she still fell victim to this violent attack.
All of these people are survivors. They lived after a vicious,
unprovoked encounter with real violence. But are their lives what
they were before the attacks? What they’ve suffered should be
enough to convince you: survival is not enough.
What Went Wrong?
So what was lacking in the training of these three survivors?
I’ve asked this question many times before, and I always hear
two responses: mind-set and will. Mind-set is by far was the most
popular response. Most who respond with this answer feel the
survivors’ training failed to develop the proper mind-set to survive
and win these encounters.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
8
Those that offer “will” as the lacking ingredient usually state
that the training of the three survivors failed to provide them the
“will” to use violence.
Makes sense, right? There’s only one problem: no one knows
what it really means. They’re buzzwords, and when you’re faced
with real violence, they’re worse than useless.
All the talk about ‘mind-set’ in this industry makes everyone
sound the same. Most people still believe you need to be in a certain
‘state’ to be able to respond to violence. Color charts are drafted and
everyone feels good about how to get ready to ‘kick some ass.’
And then there’s ‘will.’
Some people stated that the three survivors lacked the will to
do injury and this was a failure of their training. But how do you
train will? Think about how useful will is when it comes to things
like losing weight or working out. Besides, when you consider the
situation, all three of these survivors were in desperate situations.
In the midst of these horrible, vicious attacks, they almost certainly
had the will to survive.
A lot of people will lecture you on mind-set and come up with
numerous drills to ‘instill the will to kill.’ But neither mind-set nor
will is what lacked in any of the survivors’ training. In fact, large
amounts of the training in all three of the survivors’ cases focused
on developing proper mind-set and will. But neither was there when
they needed it.
That is because mind-set and will are not training objectives.
Proper training develops everything needed to survive and win. The
problem is there is very little proper training offered to the general
public.
The point here isn’t to belittle these three survivors. They did
everything right according to how they’d been trained. The problem,
then, isn’t with the survivors: it’s with their training.
9
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Making the Critical Choices
At this point, it’s time for you to make a decision. Do you want
to survive a violent encounter, or do you want to win? Because in
the moment when someone comes at you, you won’t have time
to consider mind-set, will, or any of the other things self-defense
instructors commonly go on about. You’ll only have time to act.
If you’re still with me, you’re probably starting to realize that
proper training is the key to becoming comfortable with violence.
When I say comfortable, I don’t mean that you should look forward
to or seek to engage in violent encounters. What I mean is, you need
to be comfortable using violence in a violent situation the same way
you’re comfortable swimming in a drowning situation: as a tool to
survive.
The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Picking a Self-
Defense System
So now that you’re ready to learn how to defend yourself—how to
win a violent encounter, not just survive it—how do you decide what to
do? How can you avoid a program that trains you in the same mistakes the
three survivors above learned to make?
When it comes to self-defense systems, there are a lot of choices
out there. You’ve got everything from karate at the local Y to
aggressive combat sports to ‘hardcore’ hand-to-hand combat types
on the Internet. With all these choices, how is someone supposed
to know what really works and what doesn’t? Here are the most
common mistakes most people make when confronted with choosing
a self-defense system:
1. Pickingasystemthattakesyearstobeusable.
If a system won’t work for you until you’re a Black Belt, it’s
not going to do you any good next week, let alone tomorrow. If
it’s going to take you a couple of years to learn, then you’d better
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
10
pray you don’t run into trouble until then. And let’s be honest:
that time frame is just not realistic. In a world that’s dangerous
right now, you need something that’s useful to you right now,
not five years down the road.
2. Pickingasystemthatrequiresconstantpractice.
You never forget how to ride a bike or swim; no matter how
long you go without doing it. If you’re going to bet your life on
a self-defense system, it better work the same way. It does you
no good to learn something that requires constant upkeep. Sure,
it’ll work great as long as you’re still training, but what about
after you stop? What if it’s been a couple of years since you hit
the mats? You’ll be more than rusty: you could wind up dead!
If knowing how to swim means you know how to save yourself
from drowning for the rest of your life, doesn’t it make sense
that a self-defense system should work the same way?
You might think: “But I’m not going to stop training!” Well,
that’s fine for right now. But you have to plan for all eventualities
in the future.
3. Pickingasystembasedon‘cool’techniques.
The instructor puts on an impressive, spellbinding demo.
He’s flying all over the place, doing all sorts of amazing and
complicated things—heck, he even broke a block of ice with his
head! Naturally, you want what he has: that ability, that catlike
grace, that power. The only question you have to ask is, when
was the last time you saw a serial killer do anything fancy? Or
what about in a prison riot? Nothing fancy there—just brutal
simplicity. When trying to figure out what to do in a violent
situation, look to the people who have the most experience with
it: the common criminal element. They know you don’t need
empty techniques that look ‘cool’ to get the job done. In violence
it’s never about how it looks: it’s what it does that makes the
difference. Make sure your chosen system can tell the two apart
11
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
and show you how to get the job done, no matter what you look
like doing it.
4. Pickingasystembasedoncompetition.
Physical competition in and of itself is a wonderful thing.
There’s nothing quite like pitting yourself against another person
to see who’s faster, stronger, or more cunning. There’s no high
like besting others while basking in the camaraderie that skilled
competition brings.
But when your life is on the line, you can’t afford to compete:
the stakes are just too high. Violence is, by definition, unfair. If
all of your training is for fair competition, you’ve put yourself
at an unfair disadvantage on the street. I can guarantee that the
criminal who has decided to stab you in the neck isn’t going to
play by the rules.
5. Picking a system that doesn’t take into account all body
types.
Be honest: are you in the best shape of your life? Even if you
are, all it takes is a couple of years behind a desk, and a couple of
kids, to end up like the rest of us. If you’re training somewhere
where the instructor, all his senior students, and the best of the
rest in the class look like a gang of clones, you can bet that the
system favors that body type. Whether it’s tall and lean with
long legs at a Karate dojo or shorter and solidly stout in a Judo
club, you’re only going to do well there if you look just like
them. If you don’t, well, it’s not going to work so well for you.
Your best bet is training that fits any body type, no matter how
tall, short, small or heavy. If you see people of all shapes and
sizes practicing, you can bet it’ll work for you.
ô. Pickingasystembasedonahitmovie.
You’d be amazed how often this happens! Sure, we’d all like
to fight like Spiderman ... and while we’re at it, why don’t we fly
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
12
like Superman, too? Movies are, by definition, fake. Anything
you see in a movie is choreographed and computer-generated.
It’s all a set-up: they had to do 800 takes and edit the crap out
of it to get the final result that wowed you in the theater. In real
life violence, you only get one take, and there’s no movie magic
to save the day. Keep the fantasy in the theater and off the mats.
7. Pickingasystemthatonlyworkswheneveryoneagreesto
playbycertainrules.
This can mean anything from competition (where the
contestants are bound by rules) to training in prearranged patterns
that never change. The problem with this kind of training is
that in violence, anything goes. Set patterns get shattered and
that one scenario you trained and trained for will go down in
the most unexpected way possible, taking you completely by
surprise. Make sure any system you choose takes into account
the chaos that exists naturally in violent conflict.
8. Pickingasystemthatdoesn’tlookliketheviolenceyousee
onthenews.
If it doesn’t look like the violence you see on the news, it’s
not going to work off the mats or outside the dojo. Period.
9. Pickingasystemthatdoesn’taccountformultipleattackers.
The biggest fallacy out there is that violent assault is going
to go down just like an episode of heroic single combat: you vs.
him. Statistics show it’s much more likely to be you, him, and
all his friends. Make sure any system you choose can show you
how to deal with everyone who’s going to be there.
1ô.Pickingasystemthatdoesn’taccountforcommon,modern
weaponry(knives,sticks,guns).
This is the killer. Nothing is more surprising than bringing
a ‘spinning backhand’ to a gunfight. Or expecting a stand-up
boxing match only to get knifed in the process. Every system
13
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
can show you how to deal with a single unarmed guy. Fewer
systems can show you how to deal with a stick or knife. Only
a couple even bother to bring up the gun. You need to make
sure you find the one that handles all of these things at once, no
matter how many people you’re dealing with or what they’re
packing.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
14
Chapter Three
Inside the Criminal Mind
“Although we must change the ways we protect our country,
we must also guard against policies that appear attractive
but offer little real protection and may even impede our
ability to protect ourselves.” —Richard Burr
So now you know how not to train for self-defense. Unfortunately,
the best way to train for self-defense is to look to the people who are
going to be perpetrating the violence: the criminals themselves. The
idea of fighting like a criminal might not sound very appealing, but
believe me, when you’re face to face with someone who’s ready and
willing to kill you, you want to have all the advantages you can get.
Your biggest problem is that you want to go in playing by the
rules. But don’t worry—it’s not your fault. You’re sane. You’re
civilized. Your humanity is intact. You’ve got empathy, and heck,
the rules are really, really nice. They’ve done a lot for us—humans
couldn’t have walked on the Moon without the rules to help us all
work together.
The predators in our society look at life a little ... differently.
Sociopathy is a broad term that covers everything from people with
personality disorders to psychotics. That doesn’t really matter to
you, though: what matters is that this person’s brain isn’t working
the same way as the normal, civilized people you meet at work, next
door, or at the supermarket.
The main characteristic of a sociopath? A complete lack of
awareness about morality and social behavior. That means that a
criminal not only won’t abide by rules of fair play, there’s a good
chance he won’t even give them a passing thought. You have to
understand that this guy will not be worried about pulling dirty
15
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
tricks, playing fair, or shoving a knife through your eye. He has one
thing in mind, and the ends justify the means—even if the “ends”
are nothing more than the ten bucks in your wallet or soothing his
savage pride.
Until you can approach violence the same way, he will always
have an edge. You do understand about morality and fair play. But
in the moment your life is in danger, you have to shut that awareness
off and go after him—any way possible.
Isn’t It Dangerous to Put This Information Out There?
One of the most common objections I hear from people is, “What
if criminals get a hold of this information? Isn’t it dangerous to give
them access to the kind of information they need to kill and maim
other people?”
Well, this would be an excellent objection except for one thing:
They already know how to use violence to get what they want!
Do they have all the principles and methods included in this
book? No. But they have no problem using violence to get what they
want and they know the critical factor that makes violence work:
intent!
As I’ve stated numerous times in my newsletter and DVD
products—to be successful with violence you need zero training but
you must have intent. If you have years of ‘training’ and no intent,
you lose every time.
Criminals don’t waste time learning to use the tool better—they
rely on intent alone.
Information I’ve released has created a fundamental change in
the way good people go about truly protecting themselves. At first,
for some, the information is uncomfortable, even shocking. But it
rings true. My job is not to worry that the criminals will get a hold
of this info, but to worry that good people won’t. They are the ones
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
16
who truly need this program. All a criminal would do is look at it
and nod his head in agreement.
An Inside Perspective
This is a perspective on the criminal mind offered to me by a
criminal defense attorney:
“I am an attorney, my job is communication. I represent
criminals. They do not communicate in the same way as we
do. They do not communicate from the same set of social
beliefs.
A person under stress, such as a knife to the neck, may not
communicate well with adrenaline pounding through the
system and blood retreating from the frontal lobes of the
EUDLQZKHUH\HDUVRIKXPDQFLYLOL]DWLRQOLYHVWRWKH
FHQWUDOEUDLQZKHUH¿JKWÀLJKWRUIUHH]HOLYHV
3HRSOH EOXUW RXW WKH PRVW LQDSSURSULDWH WKLQJV 5HFHQWO\ D
journalist was being kidnapped in Iraq, she wanted to say
that she was a journalist; instead she blurted out, ‘I’m a
vegetarian.’
The fact that she thought either phrase would help indicates
that she did not understand the concept of the operation. A
detachment of Marines solved the problem. If all one has is
communications skills, then one must work those words for
DOOWKH\DUHZRUWK0\¿UVWFKRLFHUHPDLQVWKHHTXLYDOHQWRI
a detachment of Marines.” - Kevin Jamison
The key here is that the criminal is not operating from the same
set of social beliefs you are. You are a well-adjusted, socialized
person. Deep down, you believe that there’s a way to resolve your
17
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
problems without anyone getting hurt.
A criminal doesn’t.
As social, sane people, we tend to think of violence in social
terms—either by framing everything as the school yard David
and Goliath or by believing that if we take our social rules with us
into the void place we can somehow hang onto our humanity and
therefore not stoop to the criminal level.
We tend to think of violence as a force continuum where if he
yells at you, you can yell at him. If he pushes you, then you can push
him. If he throws a punch, then you can hit back. We also believe
that the worst kind of violence, that which results in death, happens
somewhere out at the end of this progression, if it gets pushed far
enough.
The problem is that it is not necessary to get ‘worked up’ or walk
through all these various steps to get to serious crippling injury or
death; punching someone in the throat or stabbing them in the neck
is readily available at all times, in all places.
This is what the criminal sociopath knows.
Can someone ramp up through all the steps and whip themselves
into a frothy frenzy that ends in killing? Yes. But what the criminal
sociopath knows is that he can get there instantaneously. He can
go from smiling and shrugging to stabbing in the amount of time
it takes him to reach into his pocket. And the really scary part is so
can you.
Violence is always available; you just have to choose to do it.
You don’t need to walk through the social dance one step at a time
to get there. You don’t need to get ready, or drop into a fighting
stance, or give a verbal warning. You can swing the tool of violence
whenever you wish, at a moment’s notice. And this is exactly what
you must to do in the face of asocial violence in order to survive.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
18
Why are the Thugs Still Winning?
The reason thugs are still using violence, and still winning,
certainly isn’t that they’re smarter. It isn’t even that they’re
stronger—many people who get beaten up and robbed on the streets
every day are fitter and stronger than their drug-addicted assailants.
The reason muggers win is that they have power. They know what
they want, and they know that if they use every violent means at
their disposal, they’ll get it. They know that:
• If they pull out a knife, you’re going to get scared.
• If they put a gun to your head, you’re going to freeze.
• If they threaten to kill you, you’ll give them anything they
demand.
They understand how to use violence in order to cause the effect
they want to achieve.
Am I advocating that same approach? No. Learning how to use
violence doesn’t turn you into a criminal; it changes the balance of
power. When you are proficient in the use of this simple system,
instead of a threat from a violent stranger causing you to suffer pain,
loss or even death, you will be able to cause serious injury to the
man, resulting in his complete incapacitation.
You’ll understand that if you injure a man in a certain way, you
can precisely predict the result. Instead of doubt preventing you
from taking action, you’ll have the confidence to make the split-
second decisions you need to stay alive during the most stressful
seconds of your life. When you’ve undergone this sort of training,
you’ll have the power—the power to protect yourself and those you
love.
Taking Off The Gloves
In violent conflict there are no rules. No part of the body is out
of bounds and there are no gloves to soften the blows. Violence
19
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
isn’t like the choreographed dance moves you see on TV shows and
movies. Each side doesn’t take turns to swing and parry. One side
strikes and the other side gets injured. And usually, the side that
causes the first serious injury wins.
When you know how to use violence as a survival tool, you’ll be
the one doing the striking, the one causing the injuries.
Criminals are not in it for competition. They are committed to a
radically different idea: injuring people. In the society we live in, the
focus for the law-abiding citizen has been on learning how to keep
violence from happening to us—how to deal with a violent attack,
how to keep a serial rapist at bay, how to keep the minimum safe
distance, how to break the hold and run away.
The myriad techniques available all claim to work, yet never
cause debilitating trauma. It’s easy to see why you’d want to know
hundreds of different ways to keep someone from hurting you. Yet
each and every technique you learn has you struggling to survive,
without the surety of success the criminal enjoys. The criminal
doesn’t succeed because he knows how to deal with violence. He
succeeds because his specialty is dealing out violence.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
20
Chapter Four
Antisocial vs. Asocial Violence
“Though defensive violence will always be ‘a sad necessity’
in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more
unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men.” —
6DLQW$XJXVWLQH
If you listen to people recount their experiences with violence,
you’ll quickly find that they fall into two distinct groups: those
who have survived a true life-or-death confrontation and those who
participated in violence as a kind of sport or game.
The first group rarely speaks about the subject. When they choose
to share the experience, you’ll notice that they are usually brutally
honest, and almost always emphasize the fear of the situation. They
make it clear that they were forced into action because they had no
acceptable alternative. There is no gloating over their surviving the
experience, and though many acted heroically, they don’t see it that
way. They see themselves as fortunate to have survived and they
hope never to be in that situation ever again.
Participants in social aggression, however, often revel in
retelling the exploit where “they kicked his ass.” You’ll find yourself
sitting through a play-by-play and listening to trash-talk about the
other party. These people also give the impression they are ready
to participate again should they ever be called upon to defend their
honor, a parking space, or a spilled drink after happy hour.
Why the different responses? The first group came in contact
with that ultimate specter: unavoidable life-or-death violence. No
choice, no retreat, simply fight or die. In other words, the situation
wasn’t fun. They dealt with it and moved on.
21
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
The second group chose violence. They took a situation that
was not life threatening and chose to respond with violence. This
group enjoyed using violence to gain dominance. It produced a base
human reaction of control over another in the pecking order.
Now, that doesn’t mean the other guy wasn’t “asking for it,” so
to speak, or that the situation couldn’t have escalated to a life-or-
death situation. But in this case, using violence as a response was a
deliberate choice.
People choose to use violence when they let their egos rule the
situation. That’s why a victory is enjoyable—it’s an ego boost. The
unavoidable use of violence produces a very different outcome: the
desire to not participate in it ever again.
Raw violence is not something I wish on anyone, but I teach
its use and methodology because when you need it you can’t have
enough knowledge of the subject. And quite frankly, the more
competent I make you in that subject, the less likely you are to waste
your time choosing to use violence in a social situation.
Antisocial Violence
The violence that comes from social posturing is avoidable; it
is often loud, dramatic, and instantly recognizable. You get to see it
coming. And that means you can dodge it if you choose to.
If you don’t choose to (or cannot) leave, these sorts of problems
can be handled with the social tools we’re all familiar with. We’ve
all talked our way out of a bad situation—you wouldn’t have made
it this far in life if you weren’t good at negotiating. We all know
how to calm someone down. We all know how to capitulate. We
also all know how to act like a jerk and add fuel to the fire and
turn an argument into a shouting match, a shouting match into a fist
fight. The important point here is that in social situations, you have
a choice.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
22
Antisocial violence is also eminently survivable. The typical
goal in a bar fight is not to kill anyone—it’s simply to best the other
person and dominate them physically. Does this mean you can’t be
killed in a bar fight? Of course not. What I’m saying is that the death
rate in the typical Saturday night punch-up is far lower than one
would expect—and most fatalities are accidental. You can get killed
in a bar fight, or an argument over a parking space, or any other
trivial social status confrontation. It’s just highly unlikely.
Asocial Violence
Asocial violence, on the other hand, cannot be handled with
social tools and is far less survivable. Negotiating with a serial killer
is like arguing with a bullet: if it’s coming your way, words are not
going to deflect it. If someone has decided to stab you to death,
capitulation only makes their work easier.
Confusing the Two
So how do you know whether you’re dealing with antisocial
or asocial violence? Once you understand the difference between
the two, it’s really as easy as telling a peacock from a tiger. One
involves posturing and ego, the other is all about survival. The big
problem arises when we confuse the two—when we don’t know
there’s a difference between competition and destruction, between
antisocial and asocial violence.
Think about a bar fight. It looks and sounds like it does because
it is a display, meant to be seen and heard by all those in attendance.
The participants have no intentions of seriously injuring each other;
in fact, if you interrupted them and offered them handguns to shoot
at each other, they’d probably think you were insane.
Asocial violence is brutally streamlined by comparison. It starts
quietly, suddenly, and unmistakably. It’s knocking a man down and
kicking him to death. It’s one person beating another with a tire iron
23
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
until he stops moving. It’s stabbing someone 14 times. It’s pulling
the gun and firing round after round into him until he goes down and
then stepping in close to make sure the last two go through the brain.
If you’re a sane, socialized person, those images make you
physically ill. That’s because you recognize them for what they are:
asocial violence. The breakdown of everything we humans hold
dear, the absence of our favorite construct, the very fabric of society
itself. It’s an awful place where there’s no such thing as a ‘fair fight’
or honor. It’s the place where there are no rules and anything goes.
It’s the place where people kill and get killed.
The Essential Differences Between Antisocial
and Asocial Violence
There’s a short and easy way to sum this up:
Antisocial Violence:
• Is avoidable
• Is survivable
• Can be solved using social skills
Asocial Violence:
• Is lethal
• Is unaffected by social skills
• Requires decisive action.
Antisocial and Asocial Acts
Once people understand these critical differences, they rarely
confuse antisocial and asocial violence. There’s still the risk, though,
that they may confuse antisocial and asocial actions. Antisocial
actions are threatening and potentially dangerous, but there’s still
the possibility of dealing with them through basic social skills.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
24
Asocial actions, on the other hand, are kill or be killed.
Essentially, the difference revolves around the idea of
communication. Antisocial behavior is in the realm of communication
(albeit the bad end of communication). This means that though the
other guy is threatening you (for example, holding a knife to neck
and demanding your valuables), he is still attempting, in the crudest
way possible, to communicate with you. Holding a knife to your
throat and saying, “Give me your money” is still in the realm of
communication. If it was a truly asocial act, he wouldn’t bother
telling you what he wanted. He would simply take it.
If you use your social skills towards antisocial behavior you
may be able to diffuse the situation and essentially ‘make the bad
man go away’ by giving him what he wants and then hoping he
chooses to honor this questionable contract and leave. I’m sure you
notice the qualifiers in there, and that’s because there’s an inherent
risk in trying to reason with someone in this situation. There is still a
possibility of resolving this situation without violence. If this is how
it goes down, then we would say this was a successful use of your
social skills to handle antisocial behavior.
However, if at any time the situation devolves to physical
violence, it ceases to be in the realm of antisocial and is in the realm
of asocial violence. In this realm, there is no communication—only
action. The goal is not to continue dialogue but to end the interaction.
The only way to gain control of this situation is for you to be
the one successfully using the tool of violence. The only way to be
guaranteed success with this tool is to cause an objective injury on
the other guy and continue to do so until he is nonfunctional.
There are no gray areas in antisocial vs. asocial. If you have
a choice whether to respond with violence, then that situation is
in the realm of social/antisocial. When you have no choice then it
is asocial. In other words, if it’s fight or die, you’re dealing with
asocial violence.
25
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Chapter Five
When To Engage
³7KHZRUOGLV¿OOHGZLWKYLROHQFH%HFDXVHFULPLQDOVFDUU\
guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns.
Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.”
—James Earl Jones
The reason I spend so much time on the difference between
social and asocial violence is because it’s absolutely essential to
know what kind you’re dealing with. Some people think just because
I train the use of violence as the ultimate survival tool that it means
I advocate responding to any situation with violence. Nothing could
be further from the truth.
Here’s a classic example of a trained reaction to avoidable
violence. Matt, one of my Mastery students posted this sad story on
our TFT Mastery Forum:
“In Dallas we have a famous little nightspot called the Gypsy
Tea Room. You can see acts like Ben Harper, Edie Brickel, Old 97’s,
etc. “
“Recently, a father of two teenage girls decided to take his girls
to an end-of-summer show before they left for college. Before the
show was over he ended up having a severed spinal cord injury and
can feel nothing from the neck down. Why?”
“Needless social violence.”
“He engaged a ‘skinhead’ in a verbal altercation because the
skinhead made a comment to one of his daughters. This led to male
posturing, yelling, etc. And then the skinhead opened his ‘toolbox of
violence’ first and pummeled the guy to the floor.”
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
26
“As the father was on the floor the skinhead stomped down on
his face and severed the man’s spinal cord somewhere between C1-
C5. This all occurred right in front of his two daughters.”
“Situations like this remind me of the many reasons I thank God
TFT came into my life.”
“Why?”
“Most people would think that I would say this because if I were
this father I would have kicked the skinhead’s ass because of my
training.”
“WRONG!”
“Because of what I learned from TFT I would not have engaged
the skinhead in any verbal altercation. If the skinhead tried to start a
verbal altercation I would have gotten my girls and myself out of the
club immediately. All the while trying to look like a coward—the
wimp.”
“Don’t get me wrong; if the situation were going to become
violent I would have made it very violent. But, more than likely,
simply leaving the club would have saved this man a lifetime of
paralysis and spared his daughters from witnessing this horrific act.”
“TFT gives us a plan, choices, and many tools to pull out of
the toolbox. As cliché as it may sound, life is about the choices we
make. Thank you, TFT, for the education that you’ve given myself
and countless others in order that we may make the right choices
when it come to violence.”
“The father is a local high-end trim carpenter and has a home
in a very wealthy part of Dallas. The club that he was hurt in, along
with the band, had a fund-raising 5k run for him this weekend. The
skinhead fled to California and was arrested later that week.”
“I firmly believe that the skinhead’s stomp to the face was
merely intended to cause cosmetic damage not severe the man’s
27
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
spinal cord.”
“The skinhead knew how to use violence as a tool but clearly did
not understand targets and injury to those targets.”
“I am constantly amazed that we get the question ‘does this stuff
work?’ from many of the students. This ‘stuff’ works far better than
they understand. Violence is at work everyday, everywhere.”
This story, in all its horror, graphically illustrates a key point.
When violence is the answer, it’s the only answer. At that point, if
you don’t know how to use it then you’re screwed—and very likely
dead!
But since it rarely is the answer, if you don’t know when to use
it, then you’re equally screwed (and may wish you were dead)!
“So then I took my thumb and I dug his eyeball right out of his
skull.”
Some of you might be cringing at the above statement. Some of
you might think it’s unnecessary exaggeration, or something you
didn’t want to hear.
But that statement is exactly, word-for-word, what a Master
Instructor stunned participants with at a recent live training in San
Diego after he’d repeatedly gotten the question, “... how do I know
when I should use what you’re teaching?”
See, if you want to know whether the situation warrants extreme
violence, take the situation you’re suggesting and add that phrase to
the end of it.
Try it out with these two examples:
1. "1he drunk just ßipped me off and told me to #$"¡ myself,
sothenItookmythumbandIdughiseyeballrightoutof
hisskull.”
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
28
2. “As I turned, the gangbanger stabbed me, cutting me in
the ribs, so then I took my thumb and I dug his eyeball
rightoutofhisskull.”
Put that way, it’s pretty obvious which situation warrants the
response. If you can’t finish your “self defense” question with that
phrase then it’s not a situation violence can help with. Period.
Why? Because I teach how to do one thing and one thing only:
how to completely shut off another human being. It’s what I mean
when I say “using violence as a survival tool.” It’s a limited tool,
for sure, but one that’s necessary (and priceless) if your life is on
the line.
When To Act
It’s a romantic notion—using a combat sport or martial art to
‘better’ a bad guy—and one that’s far more seductive to think about
than gouging the eye out of the socket of some guy who comes at
you with a knife. But you have to leave the romance on the movie
theater floor and deal with the reality of violence as it’s practiced in
everyday life.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use the kind of violence I’m
talking about. But if you’re ever in doubt about whether you should
use it or not, remember the advice from above.
Using violence to solve social problems is like using dynamite
to open your car door. It’ll do the job, but it’ll cause a whole heap
of other problems. Violence has nothing to do with communication.
It’s not part of the negotiations that form the vast bulk of personal
interaction. It’s the last resort, when communication isn’t an option
and it’s injure or be injured. Violence is what you use the moment
you feel threatened.
If you realize it’s possible to talk your way out of a difficult
situation, that should probably be your first choice. Often, an
29
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
aggressive person will put on a show to dominate without actually
resorting to violence. They’ll make themselves look bigger, scream
obscenities or issue threats. Sometimes, they’re just trying to
intimidate in the hope that you’ll back down. Sometimes, they’re
psyching themselves up for violence. You’ll have to decide and act if
you feel there’s a real threat. Once you decide to act, act immediately.
If you don’t believe a problem can be solved with language and
diplomacy, say nothing. Don’t look them in the eye or engage in
conversation. When you enter into a conversation with a threatening
person, you enter a gray zone in which it’s much harder to disengage
and strike the first blow. Leave if you wish to and if you can.
Violence isn’t always the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s the
only answer.
Use violence when you have no other choice. And once you
start, you’re not done until you finish it on your terms.
The Reality of Violence
That’s what makes it so important to know when to use your
training—that’s why you should only use it as an absolute last resort.
You aren’t trying to disable your opponent. You’re using violence
as a tool to cause injury. That’s because if you start with the intent
of causing injury, then you have a much better chance of changing
the situation in your favor. You control the situation as long as you
continue to injure the other guy until he’s nonfunctional.
Employing social skills to handle this type of scenario puts all
the control of the outcome with the guy who has the knife to your
neck. This is where you need to ask yourself, “How well do I read
minds?” Because you don’t want to get this one wrong!
There is a big difference using social skills to assuage the ego of
the guy you spilled a drink on vs. trying to use them to deal with an
individual who has no problem putting a knife to your neck.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
30
You don’t need permission to use the tool of violence. It is
available to you right now! The main thing I try to point out to you
is you have the option to use this tool.
By learning the difference between antisocial behavior and
asocial acts of violence, you end up avoiding a good deal of
antisocial interactions. This by itself allows you to live a more
peaceful, enjoyable life.
That’s because you have no question what to do when violence
is the only answer!
31
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Chapter Six
Competition vs. Destruction
³7KXVWKHPHWULFV\VWHPGLGQRWUHDOO\FDWFKRQLQWKH6WDWHV
unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-
millimeter bullet.” —Dave Barry
We all know real violence when we see it: someone being shot
in the head, or stabbed repeatedly, or kicked to death by a mob. We
have a primal, visceral reaction to the real thing. It sickens us.
And yet, we can watch a bloody and grueling title bout with
nothing but excitement, cheering for our favorite as the two fighters
beat each other to the point of exhaustion.
What’s going on here?
It’s very simple, really, and has to do with the difference between
social interaction and asocial violence.
Consider, for example, a schoolyard fight. The bully, who
occupies a position of power high up on the social totem pole, is
being challenged. If the kid manages to cow the bully and make him
cry, the kid will gain social status while the bully will lose status.
Everyone gathers around because it’s important to see who will be
victorious, you want to associate yourself with the winner and shun
the loser.
Such an upset, such a potential drastic change in the playground
pecking order, is important to witness. The outcome of this event
holds many repercussions for everyone in the social order. If the
bully loses, he and his toadies will see their power eroded; kids will
be less likely to hand over their lunch money. The kid who bested
him will be a hero and automatically rise above the bully in social
regard. If the bully prevails, the status quo is not only maintained,
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
32
but reinforced. Once again, it’s extremely important, as a member
enmeshed in this social order, to witness the contest and its outcome.
But what about a school shooting? No one gathers around to
watch that. That’s because a shooting is inherently asocial, that is,
we instantly recognize that it has nothing to with communication
and there will be no change in the social order. There will only be
mayhem, death, and misery. As such it holds no interest for the
witnesses; it holds only terror.
This is what I mean when I speak of a divide between social
aggression and asocial violence. They are two very different
interactions with very different expected outcomes. And confusing
one for the other can get you killed.
Another way of looking at it: one is a competition while the other
is only about destruction. Competitions have rules. Destruction is
just about who gets it right first.
Think about it—how does what you use from (insert chosen
combat sport or martial art here) compare against, say, a guy trying
to brain you with a tire iron (violence)?
If your response produced an injury, then wherever you got your
info is irrelevant. It worked and you survive! Who cares if it was
learned from combat sport X or martial art Y. What matters is, it
worked within the standard of violence.
But most of the time, that isn’t the case. The problem of
attempting to train for competition is that it severely affects your
ability to cause destruction.
For the purposes of achieving ranks, winning tournaments, and
bettering your athletic skills—competition is the way to go. It takes
tremendous dedication and discipline to go through the ranks and
compete against other world-class athletes in your chosen sport/art.
But surviving asocial criminal violence is different. Here you
must harness the power of destruction. Violence is about shutting
33
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
down the human body, not scoring more points or making the other
guy submit. You need to know the weak areas of the human body
and how to use your brain to command the ‘tools’ you choose to
destroy the target area and get an injury. You then continue this
simple process until the other guy is nonfunctional.
The thing that is so disturbing to the competition crowd is this:
many highly skilled combat sport/martial arts athletes are murdered
by less athletically skilled (and often untrained) individuals.
Does that mean the competition crowd is “weaker” than the
destruction crowd? No—they just are using different methods.
What’s important is understanding which method is appropriate to
a given situation.
Why Violence Isn’t Competition
Why is it that the violence you see on the news never looks like
a sparring match? Where is the back-and-forth, the cool techniques?
Why is it always one guy (or guys) doing it to another guy? Why
doesn’t the guy taking the beating fight back?
If the true nature of violence is one person doing it to another,
knocking them down and then stomping them on the ground, why
does most modern martial arts and combat sports training look
nothing like what you see on the news?
The answer comes down to ‘The Rules.’
In the ring, the goal is to score points and get your opponent to
submit, using everything allowed in the rules. Things that are against
the rules are usually awful anyway: eye gouging, throat stomping,
groin kicking and other ‘low blows’ and ‘cheap shots.’ We can’t have
these if we want to keep competition fair—if we want the winner to
be the one with the most skill, strength and heart. After all, one ‘cheap
shot’ could make it so a smaller, untrained man could win, because no
one can handle losing an eye.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
34
On the street, however, ‘low blows’ and ‘cheap shots’ are where
people start—and finish —violence. It’s as if they’ve thrown The
Rules out the window and refuse to play by any rules at all. The
average criminal is just not interested in competition or ‘winning’ in
the way we like to think of it. The average criminal is interested in
only one thing: taking people out.
This is why untrained criminals can take out highly trained
Black Belts. The Black Belt spent most, if not all, of his time
training for competition, getting stronger, learning new techniques
and working very hard in the ring: in other words, following the
Rules the entire time. The criminal, on the other hand, didn’t train
and probably couldn’t name a single rule. All he knows is that if you
stab someone in the neck, they tend not to get back up.
When they meet each other on the street, where there are no
rules, the Black Belt is in serious trouble because he’s used to
playing by The Rules. In fact, The Rules have always protected him
from harm. In the ring his opponent was never allowed to stab him
in the neck. But outside the ring, anything goes. And the only person
who is used to that lack of rules is the criminal. Someone’s going to
get stabbed in the neck—and I bet you can guess who it is.
If you use destruction in a competition environment, you’ll be
disqualified and have little chance of advancing in your chosen
martial art or combat sport career. No one will want to train you
or work out with you, and you’ll find yourself blackballed from
combat sport competitions.
On the other hand, use competition skills in a destruction
environment and you have a good chance ending up maimed,
crippled, or killed. If you think you can somehow switch between
competition and destruction, don’t be surprised if you find yourself
on the highway littered with the maimed, crippled, and killed who
also thought that way.
Here are the steps you need to take if you don’t want it to be you:
35
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
• Make sure your training looks just like the news
• Make sure your training works when The Rules are not in
play
• Make sure your training includes all the ‘low blows’ and
‘cheap shots.’
Does your training cover all three of these? Be honest with
yourself—lying about it can get you killed. If the answer is ‘yes,’ then
you’re learning ‘effective self-defense’ that will work anywhere, at
any time. If the answer is ‘no,’ you’ll do just fine in the ring—but
what about everywhere else?
Going Against the Rules: Using the 31 Ultimate Fighting
Championship Fouls as the Basis for Operational Success in
Violence
Believe it or not, most of the 31 UFC fouls are excellent guides
as to what you should do in a violent situation. There are a few
exceptions (a few are iffy, and two are flat-out wrong), but in general,
to survive a violent situation, you need to go against the rules.
Before you cringe at the following no-holds-barred consideration
of violence, remember that we are talking here about a life-or-death
situation—one from which all other options have been removed. At
that point, your goal is survival, and you’ll do whatever it takes to
live.
Of the 31 fouls, these are the ones that stand out as a blueprint
for what to do—and what not to do—in violent conflict:
'H¿QLWH<HVHV
1. Eye gouging of any kind. One of the three targets that do not
require body weight to injure. Don’t avoid this because some
silly “rule” says not to.
2. Hair pulling. See 12, below.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
36
3. Groin attacks of any kind. The second of three that do not
require body weight.
4. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration
on an opponent. By itself, this is just discomfort. But if we
take it to mean ‘rolling him over with his broken elbow’ then
I’m all for it.
5. Small joint manipulation. As long as this is really code for
‘breaking fingers,’ I’m all for it. Personally, if I were going
to use code I’d say something like ‘forcible removal of all
future piano concertos.’
6. Striking to the spine or the back of the head. This is going
straight for the central nervous system. Serious, life-long
disability or death could result from head or spine trauma.
Such things are undesirable in the ring (that’s why they
have a rule making it off-limits) but can mean the difference
between life and death on the street.
7. Striking downward using the point of the elbow. This is
contraindicated due to ‘accidental’ body weight transfer.
Downward means gravity-assisted, which means falling
body weight; using the elbow rather than the lower arm or
hand means the removal of muscle power. This changes it
from a punch to a body-weighted strike. The point of the
elbow is the smallest, hardest striking surface. Add it all up
and you have people ‘accidentally’ doing an ideal strike. Line
it up with a target (oh, like the spine or neck of a grounded
man) and you have a guaranteed fight-ender.
8. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation,
grabbing the trachea. The last of the ‘Anti-Wrasslin
Trifecta’. No body weight required to cause a serious injury.
9. Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh. By itself, this does
not make the cut, as it’s simply painful. As an adjunct to
something vicious (like a throw or joint break) it’s wonderful.
37
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
To the trained operator the human body is like a jumpsuit
with handles all over it. Except that the handles are all sewn
into the bones.
10. Grabbing the clavicle. See above. By itself this is merely
painful. It only really becomes useful if you look at the
clavicle as a handle on the battering ram you’re going to try
to splinter the door with—if by ‘battering ram’ you mean
‘head’ and by ‘door’ you mean planet Earth.
11. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent.
12. Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent.
13. Stomping a grounded opponent. Again, the ‘accidental’
inclusion of body weight, driven home by leg-strength and
front-ended by a part of your body that’s meant for rough
business (your foot). Could result in actual, fight-ending
injury.
14. Kicking to the kidney with the heel. Your doctor would tell
you to never, ever do this. A ruptured kidney is no joke—
which makes it a huge advantage in a life-or-death situation.
15. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck.
Again, 9 out of 10 doctors scream ‘NO.’ Especially if by
‘canvas’ you mean ‘mall parking lot’.
16. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area. Okay,
bear with me on this one. I take it to mean ‘throwing into a
not-nice place’ like a fire hydrant or a plate glass window. Or
into traffic. I’m not joking.
17. Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent. Falls under the
aegis of 4, 12 & 13, above. Useless in isolation, brilliant in
conjunction with a throw.
18. Engaging in an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an
injury to an opponent. Goes without saying.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
38
19. Holding the ropes or the fence. Typically employed when
stomping or kicking a downed man. Adds leverage and
improves follow-through.
20. Attacking an opponent on or during the break.
21. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.
22. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the
end of the period of unarmed combat. AKA ‘attacking
unexpectedly’. But isn’t that the best time?
23. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee.
Violence is the time to jettison those pesky social mores.
You are free to do as you will, beholden only the physical
laws of the universe.
24. Interference by the corner. Yes, your mates are free to pitch
in. Many hands make light work, and all that.
IFFY
25. Butting with the head. Goes without saying. Can it work?
Sure. Ask a Scotsman ... from a distance. Is it a good idea?
Hardly.
26. Biting. Three little words: BLOOD-BORNE PATHOGENS.
Can it work? Sure. As an omega option. I bet you ten bucks
you can figure out something better to do first.
27. Fish hooking. I actually know a guy who was in a headlock
and went for the eyes and missed and ended up fish hooking
the perp instead. It did make the perp let go. This is anecdotal
and your mileage may vary. The danger of getting your
fingers chewed on should dissuade you.
28. Spitting at an opponent. If we mean the ol’ sand in the
eyes trick, then maaaybe. Still, I bet you can come up with
something better.
39
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
29. Timidity, including, without limitation, avoiding contact
with an opponent, intentionally or consistently dropping
the mouthpiece or faking an injury. This one’s iffy. I take
it to mean ‘social manipulation to gain advantage’ (see 25-
27, above). But that would only really apply in antisocial
situations, wouldn’t it?
FLAT-OUT NO WAY
30. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area. Once
you break that plane and cross over into violence, there is no
communication.
31. Throwing in the towel during competition. You quit, you
die. End of story.
The point is, real violence isn’t a game. Real violence breaks all the
rules. That means you’d better be ready to break them, too.
Not All Killers Are Quitters
Most of what goes on in martial arts and combat sports works
because people quit. They quit because it hurts, or because they’re
exhausted, or because they start to listen to the little voice that’s
telling them everything will be a lot better if they’d just give in and
give up. More often than not it’s a combination of all these things, at
once; the question gets asked often enough, with each blow, “Why
don’t you just quit?” until they hit that personal threshold and just
can’t take any more.
Any technique that isn’t about career-ending, crippling injury
is about compliance, about making the person submit. Convincing
them to quit. This is fine when the outcome isn’t critical, when
what happens next is nice and social. It’s great for competition and
the dojo. In fact, without this, sport becomes impossible without
sickening ‘accidents’; the dojo runs out of students as they succumb,
one by one, to the brutal endpoint of their training.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
40
Relying on your ability to make people quit, to have a higher
pain tolerance, better conditioning and an indomitable will—to
outlast your foe while working him to the point where he caves—
will get you killed in the place where those things don’t matter. If
your would-be murderer is a quitter at heart, chances are you’ll be
fine. But if he isn’t ... if he doesn’t care about pain, or how tired he
is, and he lacks that little voice that the sane call caution, well, he’s
not going to quit. Unless you know how to remove choice from the
equation, he’s going to kill you. Even if it takes him a little bit of
work to get you there.
If he’s a killer, he knows it’s not about making you quit. He
knows it’s not about technique, or speed, or strength. It’s about
results. He won’t waste his time engaging or setting you up. He’ll
go straight for those results, breaking you, shutting you down to
the point where there’s nothing you can do—not even quit—he’ll
remove choice from the equation and treat you like meat to be
butchered.
Your only hope is to know how to get those results, too; to know
why those results happen so you can make them happen every
single time, and get it done first. Toughness, bravado, ego, superior
technique—these things mean nothing in violence. Going against a
killer when the prize is your life is no time to hope for the best with
a suitcase full of techniques you don’t fully understand—techniques
that you hope will work but can’t articulate why they do. If you
don’t know, with surety, the result you’re going to get, and why that
result occurs, you’re out of your league when it comes to violence.
And in violence there are only two kinds of people: those who know
what they’re doing—precisely—and the dead.
The Terror of Competition, the Pleasure of Predation
A man approaches you on the street with a proposition: “See that
guy over there?” He indicates a big, strapping fellow, his 6’4” frame
enrobed in 300 lbs. of muscle. “He’s coming over here to wrestle
you to the ground and choke you out for a million dollars. If you can
41
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
pin him instead, I’ll give you the million.”
“B-but,” you stammer, “I don’t want to wrestle him!”
The man sniffs. “Doesn’t matter—he wants the million. Here he
comes—best of luck!”
How does it feel to suddenly have this contest thrust upon you?
To have to worry about your performance, and how it will stack up
to his experience level? For all you know, he could be very good at
wrestling—and even if you, yourself, are no slouch in the ring, he’s
clearly way outside your weight class. And much, much stronger.
As he begins to sprint toward you, you notice he’s a lot faster, too.
How’s it feel now?
Let’s try a different tack:
Same set up, except the man says, “All you have to do is touch
him, and I’ll give you the million instead.”
Feel any different?
How about if we qualify that touch a bit—”All you have to do is
break something inside of him.” And you’ll get the million.
In the first case, the contest is sprung upon you, you’re not
prepared, you’re being asked to compete with the man’s physical
size and athletic ability. You’re being asked to perform at a level
most of us can’t reach. You’re being asked to compete in such a way
that is clearly unfair, and puts you at a disadvantage.
We could just as easily set up a scenario where you are suddenly
tasked with debating international monetary policy, before an
audience, with someone who may or may not be a Nobel laureate in
economics. We’ve all got the basic tools, the components to compete
in such a contest—we can speak out loud, we have experience with
finances and money in general—and yet, the idea makes me sweat.
Most of us can expect to get hammered and humiliated, everything
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
42
we say twisted back on us with a sneer and derisive laughter from
the audience.
In the second case where, “All you have to do is touch him,”
there is no performance pressure—we can all reach out and touch the
guy, even if he wants to wrestle us. In fact, there’s really no way you
can lose—how can he wrestle you down & choke you out without
you touching him at some point? It’s so simple it’s ridiculous.
And sure, that ‘touch’ can easily be used to break something
inside of him, as in the slightly more difficult scenario. We all know
he can’t successfully wrestle you without you crushing his groin or
gouging an eye at some point. Everything he would want to do just
pulls you in nice and close to those delicate anatomical features.
Another easy win.
All of the above highlights another distinct difference between
competition and violence—that impending competition brings with
it performance anxiety as you realize you will be required to pit your
skill against unknown thresholds (what if he’s the better wrestler? or
speaker?). It’s the worry that your meager skills will be outclassed.
When we remove the competition and go instead to a win
condition that is not dependent on unknown thresholds (e.g., nothing
about the other guy factors into the equation) there is no dread or
anxiety.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—what about performance
anxiety around getting violence done? Well, how anxious did
you feel about merely touching the guy, above? Really? Outside
of counting coup, did your anxiety increase when it was qualified
as causing an injury (“...break something inside of him.”)? If the
answer is yes, then you’re still looking at violence as competition.
Violence, as the absence of competition, has no performance
anxiety component. It really is just touching, if we mean it in the
same way that we would smash a soda can flat, or slam a car door,
or break a stick on the curb. The physics and biomechanics involved
43
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
are all the same. Any considerations beyond that are imaginary.
Hang ups, if you will.
As with pretty much everything in this work, the solution is mat
time. It’s the second best place to learn that competition has nothing
to do with anything in violence, that size, speed and strength have no
bearing on who wins and who dies. Those who still view violence as
a form of competition, a high-stakes one, act hesitantly on the mats;
they keep their distance (even when they think they’re penetrating),
flinch, hide and otherwise give poor reactions, and rarely employ
body weight. They behave as if they are fundamentally frightened
of what’s going on. Which they are.
Those who have figured it out by physically burning the idea
out of their heads with hours of mat time throw themselves into the
work with great relish, applying themselves bodily to every problem
presented them. The physical realization that violence is about a
failure to compete, an end-run around competition, is liberating.
Gone is the worry about being big enough, fast enough or strong
enough. The other guy’s skill counts for absolutely nothing. It’s all
about you, and only you. The other guy is prey to be taken, meat to
be butchered. The pressure’s off and you’re free to do as you will.
You’re exercising your legacy as a predator—and by all accounts,
predation is pleasurable.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
44
Chapter Seven
All The Reasons Why You Can’t
No sane person wants to be involved in violence. If you did,
all you’d have to do is run outside your house and punch the first
person you saw in the neck as hard as you could. Getting involved
in a violent act is easy. The fact that you don’t go looking for it
is a testament to your civility, sociability, and sanity. Everybody’s
willing to cop to this.
But there’s something more than basic humanity underlying your
aversion to violence. I’m sure that if you sat down right now and
made yourself a list of the top twenty reasons you don’t want to get
into a violent encounter, one or two would result from civility and
the others would all come from the same source: fear. All of those
excuses come down to the same thing: you are afraid of violence.
Now, don’t take that the wrong way. There’s nothing wrong
with being afraid—a little fear is healthy, and to paraphrase Eddie
Rickenbacker, America’s top fighter ace in WWI, there is no
courage without fear. What’s wrong is lying to yourself about it.
You come up with all the reasons you can’t engage in violence, but
what they really are is a smokescreen designed to protect your ego
from becoming aware that you’re scared. And there’s a problem
with lying to yourself: deep down, you know the truth. You’re not
actually saving your ego from anything, because you know you’re
lying to yourself inside.
But with a little effort and a lot of time, you can usually succeed
in convincing your conscious mind that you’re telling the truth—
that it doesn’t come down to fear but a host of other excuses.
Sometimes it takes an outside source pointing out those fears before
your conscious mind jibes with your unconscious and realizes the
truth. So finally, collected in a single place (other than the inside of
45
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
your skull), here are all the reasons why you can’t—and the truth
behind them!
Physical Excuses
1. I Don’t Have Enough 1raining! “I take classes in self-
defense/martial arts/fighting, but I don’t have enough
days/months/years/belts/levelstobeabletohurtsomeone.”
If only you had more time in, you’d be ready. Maybe next
month. Maybe next year. The sad part is you typically don’t get
to pick when violence happens, so you’re as ready as you’re ever
gonna be. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop a criminal in his
tracks and say, “Sorry, pal, I’m not ready for this yet. Can you
come back in a few months?” You can’t. And the fact that most
people who successfully use violence (incarcerated criminals)
have little or no training whatsoever blows this one out of the
water.
2. I’mAotCoordinated!
I hear it all the time: “I can’t move like you guys do!”
Neither could Frank the Lawyer, the self-proclaimed Most
Uncoordinated Person In The Universe. Stop me if you’ve heard
this one before (and if you’ve trained with me live, you have). I
trained Frank for about a year, a year spent lying awake at night
agonizing over his personal safety. He was the only person I
ever trained who I prayed to God would never, ever be called
upon to use his training. He was the most uncoordinated person
I’d ever met. He had two left feet—and that was just his hands.
Fast forward five years and I get a phone call from him telling
me how he took out two muggers, one of whom had a knife. And
to quote him, “It was just like a movie.” This was the guy who
convinced me that if he can do it, literally anyone can. Scratch
that excuse.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
46
3. I’mPhysicallyAotAble!
The wheelchair-bound, the blind, a guy with one functional
arm. What do they all have in common? Not this excuse. These
are all people I trained—and they were more than capable of
getting it done right. What’s your excuse? A bum knee? I got two
of ‘em. You have no excuse. Even if it’s as severe as the ones
above, it didn’t slow anybody I know down. It only slows you
down if you want it to. Sure, there might be some challenges,
but we work around them. Once you stop viewing, for example,
blindness as a complete incapacitation and start seeing it as
a hurdle to be overcome—just like a bad knee or a sprained
elbow—you not only have what you need to start your training,
you have what you need to seriously improve your entire life!
Mental Excuses
4. I’mAotCutOutForIt!Aotcutoutforviolence?
Don’t be ridiculous. If you’re human, you are. You’re born
to it, built for it, and the only reason you’re here is because all
your ancestors did it to everything that got in their way. If we
could bring back a Neanderthal I guarantee he’d piss his hides
at the mere sight of you. You might not think of yourself as
particularly scary, but then you’ve forgotten that your kind wiped
his kind out. Whether you like it or not, everyone’s cut out for
the commission of violence. That guy you run into on the street
isn’t all that scary either—in fact, if you saw him begging in an
alley, you’d probably feel a combination of pity and revulsion.
What makes him scary is that he has the intent of hurting you.
So all you need to make yourself scary is—you got it—the exact
same intent.
5. ICouldAeverDo1hat1oSomeone!
Yeah, this is typically code for “Holy $#!& I had no idea
people did that to each other and so I’m going to go unilateral
for the peace-thing with the idea that if I don’t do it to anybody
47
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
then no one will ever do it to me.” You’d be amazed at what you
can do when the social security blanket gets stripped away and
it’s just the screech and sparks of your life rubbing up against the
steel deck-plate of reality.
A gentleman once openly scoffed at me and said, “I could
never kick someone in the throat when they were down.”
Really? Not even if they were down because they were
picking up a gun to shoot you with? You really are very sporting
about your own murder. Closed-casket funeral notwithstanding.
What he was really saying was that he was afraid. As we
all are. But he was lying to me about it, as if I wouldn’t notice,
and worst of all, he was lying to himself. What’s that? You think
maybe he wasn’t afraid, but just valued fair play? Well, we all
do. That’s normal. But the point I keep trying to drive home is
that a real violent situation has nothing to do with fair play. It’s
not a game, and if you try to observe the rules of polite society,
you’re not “valuing fair play”—you’re making an egotistical
statement about how much better you are than that criminal.
Unfortunately, in this case, your statement won’t matter much to
your grieving family at your funeral.
So this man’s statement isn’t about his morality, it’s about his
fear and egoism. If he’s lucky, it’ll never matter. And statistics
are on his side. If he ain’t lucky, that ego’s gonna get him killed.
And for no good reason other than he was unwilling to admit a
small, universal weakness.
Fear and Courage
I have to tell you, Rickenbacker’s quote startled me. I mean, he
was the top American ace in WWI. He once dove on and single-
handedly fought with a formation of seven planes. Seven to one,
by choice. A stone-to-the-bone killer. And he admitted to spending
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
48
most of his time terrified out of his gourd. But then, as he said,
“there is no courage without fear.”
So get over it. You have no excuse. You’re not saying you can’t,
you’re saying you don’t want to. Well, none of us do.
Train hard, to the best of your abilities and know that it’s more
than enough. It’s served people who were smaller than you, weaker
than you, less well trained than you, when it counted most. And
they’ve all made it back alive and well. So can you. But only if you
quit with the excuses and get to work.
Filthy Lies
Every now and again something gets stuck in my craw, jammed
in there so tight that the only things that’re going to get it out are a tire
iron and a liberal dose of bile. Here’s a dose of both for three things
that got stuck in there recently—lies I hear people tell themselves
and each other about training for violence:
1. Intellectualunderstandingofthematerialiskey.
The criminal sociopath knows only one thing about
violence—that the person doing it wins. And even that statement
is too wordy. That’s not to say the average criminal is stupid.
It’s just that violence operates where intellect stops coming into
play—in other words, from a gut level of what you have to do to
survive. That’s why you’ll never hear a criminal use the words I
just did, even though if you said it to them, they’d agree it was
true. When asked to articulate what works in violence they’ll
tend to speak to injuries—you know, things like “What works?
Knee ‘em in the groin/stab ‘em in the neck/shoot ‘em in the
head.”
Intellectual discourse on the subject is an exercise for
instruction, not for doing. Who actually believes that a football
49
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
team would be better off if they spent every practice talking
about football instead of actually playing football? Your best
bet for getting good at violence is to practice doing it—not sit
around talking about it. You should really only be sitting down
and talking about it because you’re wiped out from practicing so
damn much.
2. Once the technique is automatic, it will take care of
everything.
No, it won’t. Either you’re going to take care of it, or
nothing’s going to happen. ‘Doing a technique’ is like throwing
a hood ornament at someone—when what you really want to
do is hit them with a truck that just happens to have a hood
ornament bolted on the front end.
Knowing how to set up a specific joint break is not the same
thing as breaking a joint. Likewise, knowing the precise ‘hand
wave’ to ‘claw the eyes’ is not the same as causing a serious
eye injury. A subtle distinction? It has to do with how far into/
through the other man you’re thinking. A typical technique stops
at the outer boundary of your skin—it’s a subjective, personal
exercise that has very little to do with the Other Guy or even
realistic results. You know what it’s supposed to do, but because
technique focuses primarily on hand waving and foot placement
there’s really no way to be sure of the outcome.
Breaking out beyond technique means looking through an
anatomical feature in him and converting it into an unrecognizable
mess. It’s starting with the result you need—injury—and
working backwards from there to figure out how to get that
result. Or, to put it another way, technique is like obsessively
polishing an empty gun. What you want to do instead is study
gunshot wounds and figure out how best to make those.
In other words, techniques only work when they ... well,
work! To stick with the idea of the football team: sure, there
might be some value in the team meeting, where they have a
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
50
brief discussion of strategy. But do they then go home and work
through the motions of that strategy on their own? Of course
not! They have a team practice, a scrimmage game, and put
those principles into motion exactly how they’ll do it in the real
game. That’s where technique falls apart and actual real-life
practice takes over.
3. Ican’tbeexpectedtodoitbecauseI’mnotready.
You’re half right. You won’t be able to do it until you give
yourself permission to be ready. The only gatekeeper holding
you back here is you. So why not take the time, like, right now,
and decide that you can for a change?
It’s shockingly easy to blind a man, make him barf his own
nuts, bust his leg and stomp on his neck to end him. The only
thing missing is your full force and effort, the physical symptom
of a little something we call intent, and that’s just you giving
yourself permission to do what your inner predator wants to do
anyway.
“I’m not ready” is kung-fu theater bullshit. It’s a
responsibility dodge. What you’re really saying is, “I don’t want
to be responsible for screwing up. I want to be able to blame
the training.” You gotta wake up and own it. You gotta take
responsibility for what you know and what that makes you. To
do otherwise is to let yourself down—it’s participating in your
own murder.
Have you ever watched sumo wrestlers—you know, the huge
guys who look like they’re wearing diapers? An actual sumo match
is very brief, but the build-up can take forever. That’s because it
doesn’t start until both wrestlers indicate that they’re ready by
placing their knuckles on the white line. Sometimes for up to ten
minutes, one or both wrestlers approach the line, squat down, get up,
and walk away while their opponent patiently waits for that signal.
That’s why sumo wrestling is not violence. No criminal will
51
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
patiently wait until you’re ready, and if you expect him to, you’re
going to get yourself killed.
To be honest, nobody’s ready; nobody wants to go there. But the
last thing you want when you do end up there is to be dragging a big
heavy sack of self-doubt along for the ride.
Everything outside of the mechanical facts of injury—body
weight driven through vulnerable anatomy—is an illusion.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
52
Chapter Eight
Spiritual Enlightenment, Competition
and the One-Way Street of Violence
Violence is eons older than polite society. It had long been the
dominant tool of last resort before anything even remotely human
strode the savannah. And that worked fine as long as we were dealing
with animals with two primary objectives: survive and establish
dominance. But once we were here, and began to pull together and
organize against this hostile environment we call home, it became
crucial to put limits on violence within society. After all, you can’t
build a pyramid if everyone’s busy choking each other out.
We added rules, decided society-by-society when it was
appropriate and when it was not, who could do it to whom, and the
state-sanctioned use of the tool on those who broke the rules. This is
not a bad thing. This is the necessary order of history.
Violence, then, gave rise to traditional martial arts, which in turn
produced combat sports. Makes sense, right?
It’s not so clear-cut to everyone. If I had a steel penny for every
time I’ve heard someone refer to TFT training as being just like this
or that martial art or a ‘really brutal’ version of combat sports, I’d be
able to fire torpedoes full of cash down on Bill Gates’ head from my
solid-gold orbital rail gun. (Do you have any idea how much it costs
to get solid-gold I-beams into orbit? Neither do I).
Because the family tree goes:
Rock to the Head D &UDQH6W\OH D Wrestling Match
and not the other way around, this view is a funny one.
TFT is not the next step in the evolution of modern martial arts;
it’s a return to the root of the whole matter. ‘Back to basics,’ if you
53
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
will. In other words, I’m not trying to teach you anything new. In
fact, I’m trying to work all of those newfangled (if you can count
something society came up with a couple thousand years ago as
“new”) rules and ideas out of your head and get you back to what
your basic instincts already know: the primary, raw rush of violence
in its coldest, most brutal form.
Martial Arts: An Empty Bottle of Violence With
a Child-Proof Cap
Long ago, the martial arts were the initial attempt to codify and
keep knowledge of violence to train elite troops. In other words, Asian
societies used martial arts to train warriors. The original martial arts
were limited to a select warrior elite, and they had one objective: to
train people in the effective use of violence. As time went on, though,
warfare stopped being about physical ability and became more and
more about weapons. The warrior elite vanished and the martial arts
began to open to anyone who displayed an interest. As the schools
got further and further from that original purpose—training for
war—the teaching was more and more diluted with philosophy and
religion. As well it should be—it wasn’t necessarily a good idea to
train the average person in the skills of total war.
Instead, martial arts staked a claim to the foggy gray expanse
of the antisocial realm—how to behave when dealing with social
belligerents. Or, more plainly, how to be the best damn bar-fighter
to ever sit a stool.
This is the area that martial arts is famous for: how do I deal with
a drunk?
It all starts with a bunch of rules on social decorum—essentially
a checklist of social tools to try and defuse the antisocial bomb.
When all that has been tried, and failed, then comes the fighting
stance and perhaps a verbal warning. This is the equivalent of the
frightened cat arching its back and hissing in an attempt to look
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
54
threatening. Then comes blocking, and ‘techniques’ designed to
convince the unruly to quit: punches, kicks, joint-locking, etc.
For the most part, it works. Martial arts has taken ownership
of the antisocial realm and worked very hard to give practitioners
a road map to navigate all the pitfalls and mine fields. And if the
situation truly is antisocial in nature, blocking, punches, kicks,
joint locking, etc., work well. But when we move from antisocial
behavior to asocial behavior ... well, that’s where martial arts start
to lose their grip.
Combat Sports: Violence Made Palatable
Thanks to the Internet, things we couldn’t have imagined
seeing fifty years ago are now readily available. In the sixties, it
was astonishing to people to see a man walk on the moon. With the
internet, though, you can get all kinds of visual media, things that
used to be forbidden or at least damn difficult to get your hands on—
like video clips of unrestrained violence. There is, however, little
interest in such things. Sane people cannot stomach real violence—
we literally have a gut reaction to it. And it’s unpleasant.
Movies that attempt to recreate real-world violence—with an
unflinching eye and no stylistic embellishments—make people
leave the theater.
But what if we could make violence palatable? What if we could
titillate and tease with just enough action to excite the predator within
us all while maintaining enough padding to keep from scaring the
higher-order functions?
Let’s say we put rules on it and make it a contest of strength,
skill and will instead of maiming and killing. I bet people would pay
money to see that.
And they do.
But still we’re sickened when someone actually breaks an arm,
55
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
or loses an eye.
That’s because obvious, crippling injury is coloring outside
the lines—it’s not social anymore. As long as we can all enjoy the
sensation of watching the school-yard tussle without crossing over
into the school-yard shooting, we’ll pay to play. And that’s where
combat sports come in.
Want a prime example? Wrestling has been a ratings jackpot for
decades now on prime time television. Everyone knows it’s fake.
That’s why we’re appalled when someone actually gets hurt: this
is a game, and we don’t expect actual injuries from a game. We
might think we’re witnessing violence, but even while we get a
vicarious thrill, the human inside us knows that we’re playing by
an established set of rules, and it reacts with shock and horror when
those rules are violated.
Violence: Not Just ‘Anything Goes’ but ‘Do Your Worst’
What we strive to teach you with TFT is not just martial arts
knobbed up to 11 or combat sports without the rules—it’s to get
back to the genesis of all the rest of that stuff. It’s back to basics.
When people think of violence as martial arts gone wild, they
are trying to drag an antisocial tool into the asocial realm. To be
metaphorical, it’s like trying to use a can opener to change a tire on a
car: wrong tool for the job. To be more concrete, it’s like putting out
your hand and shouting “No!” to dissuade a sociopath from killing
you.
Wrong tool for the job, indeed.
When people think of violence as combat sports ‘without the
rules,’ they’re also missing the point. Again, they’re thinking of
violence as ‘anything goes’ when really it’s ‘do your worst.’ While it
sounds like pencil-necked semantics, it’s really a chilling distinction.
‘Anything goes’ means you can do anything, and when left
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
56
to their own devices people will choose non-awful things. Innate
squeamishness will keep sane people away from the eyes, as in peri-
orbital scratching, where people who were being strangled to death,
murdered, choose to scratch at the eyes rather than dig them out.
What other situation, outside of your own murder, could be more
‘anything goes?’
Violence, on the other hand, is ‘do your worst,’ as in ‘go to the
end of the list and pick the most god-awful thing—and start there.’
It means you will start by taking the man’s eye, then break his leg to
drop him and stomp him like you’re making an apocalyptic vintage
from the grapes of wrath. No ifs, ands, or buts, no veering off from
the socially unacceptable, the horrible, or the sickening. In point of
fact those things are your stock in trade. They are the tools you use,
not ‘techniques.’
The key difference here between “anything goes” and “do your
worst” is this: with “anything goes,” you start small and work up.
With “do your worst,” you start with the worst possible injury you
can inflict. And that makes the difference between pissing your
attacker off and incapacitating him.
In violence you don’t best the man or even win—you do horrible,
sickening, awful things to him. You do them first, without hesitation
and without stopping out of pity or horror.
Is it really any wonder, then, that our ancestors sought to
minimize and hobble violence with social constraints, limits and
rules?
How Much Philosophy In A Bullet?
People like to get philosophical about hand-to-hand combat.
Dueling, martial arts, swordplay—all traditions deeply woven with
aphorisms, exhortations, rules and other philosophical constructs.
Why, then, does no one wax poetic for handguns?
57
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Because there’s no philosophy in a bullet. There’s only shooting
people dead. Romance doesn’t stick to stone-cold physics.
Guns don’t need philosophy because shooting someone to death
is violence. Why, then, do people cling to it when seeking the same
result by other means? Do you really need philosophy to break
someone’s leg and stomp on their throat?
The answer is no, you don’t. You don’t need it in the moment of
violence, you don’t need it to train for violence, and, in fact, it can
retard your ability to learn and execute violence. The answer to the
question, “How much philosophy in a bullet?” is none. And that’s
an incredibly important distinction when you start thinking about
real-life violence.
Mixing Philosophy With Violence and Other
Alchemists’ Jokes
People like to mix up philosophy and violence for a variety of
reasons:
1. Aovelty/culture
2. Cimmickryinlieuofwork
3. Psychologicaldistance.
The adoption of Asian martial arts by the West in the post-WWII
era was primarily due to novelty: Westerners had nothing like them
in their history or traditions. (It was not because they didn’t know
how to hurt people—the initial Western practitioners were war
vets). Asian martial arts were transmitted in toto, with all of their
extraneous cultural elements intact: costumes, rituals, and boatloads
of philosophy. None of which are necessary to put fist to flesh.
But for many people philosophy remains an integral part of
training because it’s novel and “the way it’s always been done.”
More to the point, it provides a civilized layer between the act of
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
58
violence and its results, allowing you to engage in some form of
controlled violence without sacrificing your high human standards.
Philosophy is often used as a gimmick that is clutched at and
bandied about in lieu of actual work. People who are put off by
or unwilling to do the hard stuff almost always want to engage in
philosophical discussion instead. They see it as a timesaving device,
thinking that if their understanding is more advanced, they’ll be
better at doing whatever it is they’re avoiding.
The last reason is the most dangerous, and that is when people
use philosophy as a buffer to gain psychological distance from what
has to be done: you, harming another human being.
In it’s simplest form, it’s role-playing, setting up an ‘attacker-
defender’ dichotomy and then lauding one while disparaging the
other. Not just to make one feel good, but to make them feel superior.
And for many people, that’s enough—no further work is required.
People often hunger for a feeling of moral superiority, for
ultimate permission to violate social norms (or reasons to avoid
this violation), especially in situations where power is concerned.
And there is nothing more powerful, from the individual point of
view, than the ability to take or spare life. But seeing yourself in a
certain role can hamstring you operationally—if you’re the ‘good
guy’ and he’s the ‘bad guy,’ is it okay to sneak up behind him, knock
him down and kick him to death? What if he’s begging for you to
stop? Are you still a ‘good guy’ if you keep going? Where is the
hypothetical line that, once crossed, makes you bad?
Instead of playing roles or choosing sides it is much more
effective to accept the reality of the situation at face-value: no white
hats, no black hats, just two human beings working really hard to
injure each other, and somebody’s going to get it right. And that
person is typically the survivor.
It behooves you to make sure you can cause injury, from a purely
bio-mechanical point of view, and all this takes is intelligently
59
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
guided practice.
This is the crux of my argument, and cannot be overstated. Much
of the time I see philosophy used as a buffer between the practitioner
and what has to be done. Accepting the biomechanical reality of
it is far more important than any feeling of moral superiority. The
stark white light of what is required—force and a target, a bullet in
a brain—burns away the extraneous junk.
Once you know how to hurt people, you’re free to think of
it however you wish (although I’ve found that most people are
unwilling to add superfluous adornments once they really grok
what we’re up to. Stapling the Mona Lisa to a supermodel improves
neither).
Problems with Philosophy from a Perspective
Within Violence
It’s actually very simple to sum up the problems with mixing
philosophy and violence. Philosophy is:
1. Aot part of the depnition of violence
2. Subjective
3. Asocialconstruct.
Only two elements are required for injury: large amounts of
kinetic energy and human tissue. The gun is the perfect tool to
illustrate this. The bullet is pushed out of the gun and flies away
with a big, fat load of kinetic energy—if it hits a piece of a human
being, it’s going to wreck it.
Where is the philosophy? Nowhere to be found. It can exist
before the trigger pull and then later in the hospital, but for the
moment when the bullet cuts a trajectory through a target there is
none. And as we’ve established previously, if it’s not necessary for
injury, it’s worthless. No matter how much you might wish it were
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
60
so, a philosophical stance cannot break a knee (or prevent your knee
from breaking).
Philosophy is purely subjective. What is profound and
illuminating for one person is the inane natterings of the Cult of
Hogwash for another. I will never tell you how I order the skill of
hurting people for me, in my life. I would expect what works for
me to be meaningless to you. And I am not so egocentric to believe
otherwise. If we had a standard TFT philosophical line, we would
alienate some percentage of potential clients right out of the gate.
It’s more important that everyone develops their own approach that
works for them.
Philosophy is a social construct. And yet, violence is asocial.
Sounds pretty damn incompatible to me. There is no good or evil in
violence—only success and failure. Philosophy is after the fact and
typically involves a cup of hot cocoa. And a comfy chair. It would
cease to exist, momentarily, if you threw your boiling hot cocoa
into someone’s face, broke their leg and stomped on their throat.
It would then come back into being again, informing the judge’s
decision on whether or not to give you the gas chamber.
Violence is biomechanical. It requires nothing—nothing—but
force and a target. Period. Anything that pulls you away from this
reality is window dressing, padding, blinders and earplugs. Anything
between you and this fact is an obstacle that you must overcome in
order to act.
Psychic Oven Mitts
So what good is philosophy then? Philosophical precepts and
their more formal, ritual expression—religion—typically inform
a person about their place in the universe and what constitutes
acceptable (and unacceptable) social behavior. Or, more simply,
how we relate to the universe and how we relate to each other. The
first case is way out of bounds for this discussion. The second case,
61
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
how we relate to each other, would seem to govern violence. It does,
but only before and after the act. It does nothing to bolster your
chances of success in the moment of violence.
Because, quite frankly, philosophy does not exist in the moment
of violence. No more than it exists in bullets. Philosophy is for
getting a handle on what your skill-set means to you: when and how
to use it. But the skill-set is still the skill-set. Like a gun, how you
think about it doesn’t change the reality of it. The only thing we can
show you how to do is hurt people.
I do believe that it is imperative that each practitioner come
to grips with this in their own way—I especially recommend that
they work it into their previously chosen ethical framework rather
than making up or adopting new ones; new or novel philosophy that
is ungrounded in your religious or life experience will infect and
insinuate itself into your training, tainting the biomechanical purity
of hurting people. In other words, the philosophy becomes a part of
the tool rather than merely informing your use of it.
You have to think of it this way: we all know that in any religion,
some prayers get answered and some don’t. So would you rather see
each bullet as a prayer to the Death God or as simple physics, kinetic
energy striking matter?
Philosophy can get you to the point of pulling the trigger and can
help you order and understand what you’ve done after the fact, but
it has nothing to do with the biomechanical realities of violence and
can, in fact, act as an impediment to success in both learning and
doing violence.
What serves you best is to view violence in purely biomechanical
terms. Learn it in a philosophically sterile, asocial environment.
Once you got hurting people down cold, look to your own heart to
find what that means for you.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
62
Chapter Nine
Stripping the Fat to Find the Bone —
Reason in Violence
Sane, well-socialized people see violence as insane. When we
hear about violence, we’re usually talking about terrorists, criminals,
sociopaths—in other words, horrible events perpetrated by horrible,
mentally unstable people. By saying you are willing to use violence
as a survival tool you are also saying (in the layperson’s mind) that
you are a card-carrying member of one of the groups above.
Sane, well-socialized people want desperately to ascribe ‘reason’
to violence. That’s because violence is a scary, random thing that
they (typically) only ever think of as happening to someone else. If
they can hitch it to a reason, then they think they can use their social
skills to avoid it by:
• Staying out of ‘bad’ parts of town.
• Being nice to people.
• Avoiding the insane.
Not bad ideas in general, but hardly enough insurance for you,
personally, to bet the rest of your life on. ‘Speak softly but carry a big
stick’ and all that. The essential problem is that when the layperson
looks at the idea of violence without reason they see (rightfully
so) the very definition of a monster. And so, when you say you’re
willing to use real, hardcore, brutal violence, in their eyes you’ve
just exposed yourself as a monster.
They don’t understand that a tool is just a tool. Picking up and
using a hammer to drive nails doesn’t mean you’re any more likely
to run around the neighborhood smashing car windows than you
were before you picked it up. Of course, the layperson sees an
increased likelihood of vandalism simply because you picked up
63
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
the tool. They suffer from an underlying assumption that there is
reason and purpose to it—you only ever pick up a hammer to nail
things, right?
For a sane, well-socialized person who happens to be trained
in the use of violence as a survival tool, you are no more likely to
use it inappropriately, in monstrous fashion, than you were before
you were trained. In fact, you’re probably less likely to seek out
‘opportunities’ to use it now that you know, without ambiguity,
what’s at stake. (Nobody’s willing to die for a parking space—unless
you live in Southern California).
People who really understand violence, rather than just viewing
it from the fringes, know that it’s no more or less a tool than the
hammer. Violence isn’t right or wrong—where and how you choose
to use it is. But it is this dispassionate, morally-neutral view of
violence that is troubling to the average person. There has to be reason
behind it, passionate and evil, or there is no social blanket woven of
rules thick enough to keep them warm against the shuddering cold
void of the universe laid bare.
What they need to understand is that we use violence when our
long utility belt of shopworn ‘social’ tools fail to get the job done.
The tool of violence is only good for one thing—shutting off a
human brain. It’s the end of the line, the final option in a long list of
tools and techniques. If you’re injuring people, you’ve run through
and exhausted all the other ‘social’ tools and arrived at the last one,
glinting cold and hard in its ‘in case of emergency break things’ box.
I do not use violence out of anger. This is not a requirement for
injury. That also scares people, who think violence is an irrational
act and should therefore be committed in an irrational state of mind.
In fact, killing with dispassion is the hallmark of the sociopath. This
is the stickiest point for most people—they assume that if you don’t
have to be ‘worked up’ in order to injure people then you’re empty
inside, too.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
64
Violence is not insanity, either. If you were sane before you
understood violence, you’d still be you on the other side. ‘Crazy’ is
also not a requirement for injury.
The simple fact is that there is no reason to it. You’re not injuring
someone because of any extraneous reason—you’re injuring them
to shut them off. If you’re in there to ‘fight for your life’ and he’s
just in it to kill you, you’re probably going to get killed. The person
with the clearest, cleanest and smallest achievable goal will tend to
prevail. This is what I mean when I say ‘intent,’ which is another
way of expressing monomaniacal focus. The focusing of your entire
will and effort onto one small thing at a time—destroying a single
square inch of him.
This one small thing is so monumentally important I worked it
into the title of what we do—Target-Focus Training
Splitting Hairs or Splitting Heads: The Semantics of Violence
There is nothing sexy about beating a man to death with a tire
iron.
Okay, let’s rewind a little bit. I had two very different (and yet
not so) conversations about violence with two very different (and
yet not so) individuals. The first one involved a grandmother and
her very young grandson who just happened to be walking by a
bunch of Mastery students savaging each other outside a Las Vegas
seminar. She looked extremely uneasy, the child even more so.
“What is this?” she asked, eyes wide.
“It’s the intelligent use of violence as a survival tool,” I replied.
“Like self-defense? Like when you’re in trouble?”
I hesitated. I wanted to say ‘no, more like breaking people’ but
she had asked with such hope in her voice, as in, ‘I sure do hope
this isn’t what my gut is telling me it is—please reassure me’. So I
65
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
blinked and let it go.
“Yes,” I said, “It’s exactly like that.”
Her face flushed with relief. It wasn’t what the awful knot in her
gut said it was. These were sane people after all.
The second conversation occurred at my son’s weekly piano
lesson. It turns out that I went to high school with one of the teachers,
and when he realized this he Googled me to see what I’d been up to
for the last twenty years.
“So, you’re still doing that martial arts thing?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “except it’s not martial arts.”
He frowned. “So it’s like self-defense?”
“No—more like beating a man to death with your bare hands.”
His eyes widened and heads began to turn. The metaphorical
needle came off the record and the chatter in the room dipped a bit
as people began to tune in to our conversation.
“So you don’t use any weapons.”
Once again, the hopeful inflection in the voice. He wanted me
to veer back into something sane, and away from the idea of killing.
I didn’t blink. I gave it to him straight. “Sure we do—you can
beat a man to death with a tire iron or stab him to death with a
kitchen knife. It’s all the same.”
That did it. Everyone in the room was listening now. Everyone
had questions, and every single one of them was to try to get me to
recant, to box me into a corner where I’d have to admit that what
I meant was a sane, righteous, defensive use of force to disarm or
disable an ‘attacker’—not the wanton misuse of power to maim,
cripple and kill at will.
I was my usual courteous, approachable, informational self—
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
66
but something tells me future conversation at music class will be
strained. Maybe I should have told them it was all about timeshares
...
Often, when I’m attempting to explain what it is I do, I’m accused
of splitting hairs, told that it’s ‘all just semantics.’ That one man’s
self-defense is another man’s tire iron murder. But the ridiculousness
of that sentence shows it ain’t so.
I’ve written previously about how well-socialized humans like to
fall back on euphemisms to distance themselves from the ugly, brutal
reality of what has to happen in violence—namely, you seriously
injuring another person. Not stopping when he begs you to stop. Not
interacting with him as a person, or even an enemy, but as meat to be
torn to uselessness.
Describing it in these terms causes (dare I say) violent reactions
in lay people as they instantaneously judge you to be adrift without
moral compass, operating at the debased level of the thug—in a
word, insane.
People parse killing in socially acceptable terms (martial arts,
self-defense, etc.), to show other socialized people that they are not
‘bad.’ When someone defies convention and steps out of bounds
(‘beat a man to death with a tire iron’), the strong reaction comes
from an unconscious, intrinsic understanding that if everyone’s
playing by the same rules, we’re all okay. But there’s a problem with
that philosophy, and it comes as soon as you encounter someone who
isn’t playing by those rules.
This social parsing of violence then takes the next step up to
seize the moral high ground where we all have permission to behave
badly. Witness the ‘attacker/defender’ dichotomy. If you are the
defender, you are cleared, in pretty much everyone’s mind, to brain
the attacker.
The moral high ground is also a cool place to be seen. There you
are, on the wind-swept mountain top, beams of blinding righteousness
67
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
radiating from your head. It’s super sexy with a double side order of
pizzazz. Having a black belt in martial arts impresses friends, and
whatnot. Knowing how to kill a man is less cool in most circles.
Being ready and willing to do so is another thing entirely.
Maintaining righteousness in the face of simple killing takes a
lot of mental gymnastics. Many people try using Animal Farm-esque
stand-ins to try to illuminate roles to be played. White hats and black
hats. The protectors and the helpless. Guess what? Those are nice lies
we tell ourselves to feel better about what it is we’re training to do.
There is no animal schema, no predator and prey, regardless of
which one you think you are. There are only naked humans, milling
about on an infinite gray plain. You’re one of them, and everyone else
is stuck there with you. We all have the same set of advantages and
disadvantages. Identical physical constraints and powers. We each
possess the most dangerous weapon in the universe, a human brain.
Everyone, exactly the same on a level playing field. Not
comforting in the least, but then, when was the last time reality
was comforting? And that’s the problem: in most people’s minds,
there’s no difference between saying, “I am able and prepared to kill
someone if necessary” and saying “I’m a psychotic killer and you
probably shouldn’t be alone with me, especially if there’s a weapon
handy.”
So how do we talk about it? Let’s look at some of the most
common terms, and then I’ll toss mine in. And I promise it’ll be a
live psychic grenade.
MARTIAL ARTS
This term really only works in the ancient Greek sense, as in
‘the skills required by warriors to make war.’ This sense has been
completely lost in the modern day (think of the Olympic Decathlon),
and I doubt anyone out there thought of ‘maintaining and operating
a cruise missile launcher’ when they read the words ‘martial arts.’
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
68
More likely than not you thought of your local Karate school. And
until that kind of training is necessary for serial killers to ply their
hobby, it will remain a misnomer for what it is I do.
Self-Defense
This is the next logical step. And yet, ‘beating a man to death
with a tire iron’ tends to strain the definition of self-defense beyond
the breaking point. Self-defense requires an attacker; it requires you
to be second-banana in physical terms (as the lowly, yet beloved
defender), but don’t sweat it. ‘Cuz you’ve got the moral high ground
and that awful attacker had no right to be doing these things to you.
Good luck, and remember this comforting fact: you are in the right
no matter how it all works out.
Beating a man to death with a tire iron probably isn’t allowed in
self-defense, but—funny how the universe works—it may be just the
thing that has to happen in order for you to survive. And that’s where
the term breaks down. We can’t call violence self-defense because
when most people hear that term they assume you’ve been attacked
before you did any violence of your own—and then that violence is
designed not to injure, but to temporarily incapacitate your attacker
long enough for you to get away. That’s great, isn’t it? Except what
happens if there are two attackers, or three, or nine, and your attempt
at incapacitation goes wrong?
When given the choice between self-defense and survival, let’s
all pick survival, shall we?
Fighting
This term doesn’t work because it’s too wide open. You can fight
with your sibling, your spouse, and your boss. On the high end you
can fight for your rights; on the low end you can fight for the TV
remote. Do any of these uses make you think of stabbing someone in
the neck—other than the one about the TV remote?
Fights can have rules and referees. Murders don’t.
69
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Hand-to-Hand Combat
Here we are—down to the hard nuts, in your face, XXX-
TREEEME!!! term. While on the surface it would seem to be the
one we want, it’s still lacking. Hand-to-hand carries with it the
connotation of back-and-forth, tit-for-tat. Most people would not
readily apply the label to a man being beaten to death with a tire iron.
The question you have to ask yourself is: “Do the people who are
best at violence in our society (the criminal sociopaths) truly engage
in hand-to-hand combat?” I’ll let you answer it for yourself.
So what is it I do? What words can ever truly communicate the
essence of it?
At a recent seminar someone asked a question about an extremely
accomplished combat-sports champion. This champion is big and
tough and skilled. The question was, ‘how would you defeat so-and-
so?’
To which I replied, without hesitation, “I’d start by hiring
someone to shoot his father.”
And that’s it exactly, rendered as precisely as words will allow.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
70
Chapter Ten
Everyone’s a Badass
Human societies are fascinated with strength and power.
Obvious personal power, especially height, musculature, and a hair-
trigger willingness to do violence are eternally impressive to us.
Hence the rise of the “anti-hero” on television and in movies—the
hero who, in reality, would be a pretty dangerous guy you wouldn’t
want to meet, but makes a compelling fantasy. We all desire what
those attributes grant the possessor: respect, awe, and perhaps fear.
When we are intimidated, we feel all those things acutely. Most
of all the gut-snarling fear. We feel it, and we want to make others
feel those things, too. We feel it and realize we don’t want to confront
the intimidating person ... and wouldn’t that feeling be a very useful
thing to project? Doesn’t it seem like the perfect solution? After all,
if you’re scary enough, no one’s going to mess with you, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Your brand new badass
attitude is probably going to get that bad ass kicked. Intimidation
is like juggling 13 double-edged swords and playing with fire
simultaneously.
For our purposes I’m going to define ‘intimidation’ as the
antisocial process of going out of your way to make someone afraid
of you. Most people take this a step farther, not stopping at mere
fear but going headlong into humiliation. Once they realize they’ve
made someone afraid, they will typically push it and rub it in to
humiliate the affected person.
As an interesting aside, it’s a common truth that people who use
intimidation as a social tool will do the things that would intimidate
them—they will project the behaviors that they, themselves, fear
most.
71
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Why is intimidation so dangerous? Because whether you fail or
succeed at it, it can get you killed. If you fail to intimidate the man,
you have just escalated the situation—saying, in effect, “Do you
want me to hurt you?”—and now, unimpressed, he’s calling your
bluff. If he’s the kind of guy who responds to threats with physical
action, then it’s on. You just called it down upon yourself because
you wanted to be a badass.
Most of the time it’s not going to be a problem—if the badass
thing went physical all the time very few people would do it, right?
The problem is, the people who get set off by this are the worst
kind. In other words, the sane, normal people are the ones who will
get scared and back down. So who are you left with? Criminals,
sociopaths, murderers... and I hope I don’t have to tell you that
choosing to escalate a screaming match to a life-or-death situation
is asinine.
Let’s say you succeed in intimidating him. Mission accomplished,
right? You put him in his place; you showed him (and everyone
in earshot) who’s boss, you made him feel afraid. How could that
possibly go wrong?
Yeah, I know—it’s a rhetorical question.
Let’s flip it around: he succeeded in intimidating you, he made
you feel afraid. Maybe even made you feel afraid for your life. How
do you respond? If you know how to handle the physical side, or are
carrying a gun, you can take it there in a blink of an eye and shut him
off. Maybe you just feel socially embarrassed and walk away. Or
maybe you knock him down, knee him in the face and stomp on his
head until he’s nonfunctional. Who can say? It’s going to be decided
on a case-by-case basis.
So you make him feel afraid. Most people will back down and
disengage, usually while making even more noise than before. But
there are some, the worst out there, who will take it as a threat and
work to destroy that threat. They may go off instantaneously, or they
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
72
may simmer for hours, days, months. In the long-term case, you
probably won’t have the luxury of seeing it coming. And if you truly
terrified them, they’re going to want to do things to even the odds
—things like coming back with accomplices and firearms.
So, succeed or fail, intimidation can get you killed. It’s a sucker’s
game.
I can just hear you getting up in arms. Some of you believe that
if you’re not the intimidator, you’re prey. You point to the wild and
demonstrate how a lion puffs out its chest and roars to frighten off
its competition, and you think you should do the same.
I’ve got news for you: you’re not a cat. Let’s make a quick
clarification here: the opposite of being intimidating is not the same
as appearing meek, weak or helpless—it’s simply not registering as
prey. Looking like you know what you’re doing and know what’s
going on, and yet assuming a comfortably unconcerned air, is more
akin to being socially remote than a badass. That is, you’ve got the
NO SOLICITING sign out without being a jerk about it. Appearing
unimpressed and unafraid is not the same as being intimidating.
You can project the confidence that you can handle yourself
without threatening anyone. A high order social skill? Probably
one of the highest. And for many people, elusive. But it’s a lot
less harrowing than running around being intimidating, which is
exhausting and scary at the same time.
I think of it like this: “Go out of your way to get to the rest of
your day.”
When in the social arena, be social, use your social skills, and
treat everyone like people. In the asocial arena treat everyone like
meat. Don’t confuse the two.
It doesn’t mean you have to be everyone’s friend, a ‘pushover’
or smile at daily human ugliness. It can be as simple as biting your
tongue instead of spitting fuel on the fire. Of course, the hard part
73
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
is if you’re successful, you’ll never know it. You’ll never even be
aware of the trouble you’ve dodged. You can only ever be aware of
the trouble you’ve caused.
Violence in the Antisocial Realm
The use of violence can have unintended consequences. Tearing
into someone physically can end up killing them, even when you
didn’t mean to. And if it later turns out that the circumstances didn’t
justify that killing, you can be subject to serious legal (and life-
changing) consequences down the road. These consequences are the
reason I do not recommend using violence in antisocial situations—
wrong tool for the job and all that. It’s far better, in the short and
long term, to disengage and get the hell out of there.
That’s all well and good, and in a perfect world, things should
be so clear-cut and easy. But we don’t live in that world, and they’re
not. Those ‘unintended consequences’ cut both ways—say he just
wants to ‘kick your ass’ and you end up brained on the sidewalk as
a result. Everyone ends up sad, and he’ll cry in court about how he
didn’t mean it, it was all a terrible mistake, his life is ruined, etc. Fat
lot of good that does you.
And that’s why I’ll never tell you to hold back and take a beating.
So the question is, how do you use violence in the antisocial arena?
The sad answer is, pretty much the same way you do in the
asocial arena. You need to break things inside of him so they don’t
work anymore. There are a couple of important ideas you need to
understand, and keep in mind, if you’re going to use that stick of
dynamite to open your car door, after all:
1. Don’tpullanypunches.
You cannot ‘go easy’ on him just because this started out as
an antisocial situation. You have to strike him as hard as you can,
every time, in a target, to smash it beyond functionality.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
74
2. Co in 1ôô" dedicated to tearing his head off.
If your intent is anything less than full-bore, you will get
less than effective results. If you don’t want to hurt him, don’t
worry, you won’t. He may not be so kind to return the favor if
given half the chance. You can’t afford to screw around—the
only way his ribs are going to break is if you make every effort
to break them.
This all-or-nothing approach will save your ass—it gets him
to nonfunctional so rapidly and efficiently it’s over before you
know it. This is where you have to take it, as soon as you decide
it’s on; you have to finish it on your terms, immediately. You
cannot afford to get drawn into any back and forth—you need to
injure him, take control of the situation and end it on your terms
now. Ironically enough, that’s the best way to avoid killing
someone. You haven’t given the situation time to escalate. Sure,
you broke his ribs. Broken bones heal. Flesh grows back. If
it gets to the point where there’s a knife sticking out between
someone’s ribs, though ... that’s another story altogether.
3. Cofornon-lethaltargets.
You probably don’t want to start things off with a fist to the
throat. Or a stick to the head. Or a knife through the solar plexus.
In general, you’re going to want to stay away from targets and
striking profiles you know to be lethal. And together with that,
be sure to use tool configurations that change the nature of the
injury (an open hand to the throat instead of a forearm; a forearm
to the side of the neck instead of a knee drop).
But let’s be brutally honest here—don’t be fooled into
thinking this changes anything, really. Anytime you enter into
a physically violent situation, there’s the possibility of someone
dying. The best you can do is limit those chances by not doing
anything you know for a fact will kill him.
75
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
4. Understandthatonceyougophysicalwithhim,histakeon
what’satstakemaychangedramatically.
Perhaps he was only thinking of ‘teaching you a lesson,’ but
now he’s afraid for his life and willing to defend it with lethal
force (pulling a tool or otherwise ‘getting serious’). If you’re
going in with less than everything you’ve got, chances are you’ll
screw up, lose control of him and give him an opportunity to,
for argument’s sake, shoot you dead. Also, be aware that he may
have allies who may come to his aid—be fully prepared to have
to injure pretty much everyone in his vicinity. Don’t assume you
know who his friends are. The same guys who found him an
embarrassment when he was spouting nonsense might be willing
to kick your butt for laying a hand on him.
Those last two issues—the fact that he could die regardless of
how ‘careful’ you are and the fact that your crossing into the physical
plane can get you killed—are the chief reasons I don’t recommend
using violence as a tool in antisocial interaction. More often than not,
your life (losing it or changing it forever) just isn’t worth whatever it
is you’re ‘fighting’ for. Betting your life in order to win it back will
always make sense—that is, in essence, what the asocial is all about.
The above issues are what you need to be aware of, in advance,
should you decide to use the tool of violence in an antisocial
situation. Whether the situation has turned or spiraled out of ‘social
tool’ control or other factors lead you to act, you need to know what
you’re getting yourself into and enter into that decision with full
knowledge of the pitfalls and possible outcomes. While I will never
expressly recommend it, sometimes you are forced into a position
where it’s either that, or take a beating (or worse) that risks your own
well-being.
What I will recommend is being smart about such things and
hewing always to the idea of exhausting all options when given the
luxury of a choice, and carving a path of destruction through him
when you’re not.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
76
Mechanics of the Sucker Punch
Disclaimer - There are serious legal and moral problems
with injuring someone who isn’t trying to injure you or hasn’t
otherwise threatened you with serious harm or death. For
the sake of this discussion on the idea of the sucker punch,
or otherwise taking people out from behind or when they
don’t know it’s coming, we’re going to assume you are right
to do it—that your impression of the situation is such that
you believe inaction on your part will get you (and/or others)
seriously injured or killed.
To injure or not to injure?
We all know what to do when someone comes after us—get in
there and cause an injury, then repeat until satisfied. But what if the
man hasn’t ‘crossed the line’ physically, but has let it be known to
you, overtly or not, that violence is in the offing? This is everything
from a terrorist telling you to sit back down on an airplane to a
mugger making his demand, “Give me your wallet,” and all the way
down to a simple, “You’re not leaving here,” as you try to go out the
door after a party.
You may stand there a split second, taken slightly aback by the
seemingly social interaction—he spoke to you with arms crossed,
rather than hitting you, or even cocking back to hit you, or even
laying hands on you at all.
Now what?
This is where the judgment call starts. If you decide to work it
out with social tools, then go for it. I wouldn’t recommend it with
the terrorist (as we now know all too well), the mugger could go
either way depending on your personal read of the situation, and the
jerk at the party is even less clear cut.
If you want to go physical and start injuring him, it’s best to
dive in and get it done as soon as you make the decision. Waiting
77
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
around to see how it develops gives the man more traction, control,
and confidence over the situation—this is how one man with a blade
can take over an entire room full of people. The longer it goes on,
the more in charge he is. If you take him as soon as you realize
it’s a bad situation, he never gets the opportunity to assert social
dominance. For any kind of hostage-taker, the most critical portion
is first contact with the potential hostages. This is where he’ll either
get everyone to capitulate, or it’ll all go to hell for him. It’s your job
to punch his ticket and get him to tell Charon you said ‘hi.’
Let’s backtrack a little and take a look at the realities of violent
conflict for the average law-abiding taxpayer.
In all reality, you’re probably going to be the one getting sucker
punched. Because you’re not out looking for it, on the hunt, prowling
for victims, you’ll typically know it’s on because someone is trying
to do it to you first. Your part in this is easy—if you can still think and
move, you’ll crush his testicles or gouge his eye (or maybe some of
both). Anecdotally, this is how it goes—”There I was, minding my
own business, when this guy comes out of nowhere and punches me
in the head.” The next part of the story is about looking at a target
and wrecking it. “So I look up from the ground and see his knee as
he’s stepping in and I rolled into him and broke it.” The rest of the
story you know. Or at least can guess. (I’ll give you a hint: the guy
survived to tell his version of the story).
This is how it will probably come to you. Out of the blue, when
you’re sick or tired, or otherwise encumbered. When you least
expect it. Almost by definition.
When you’re walking around with your head up, bristling with
vigor, you send an unconscious message. When you walk like you
know how to break a leg, predators read it and go looking for the
stragglers in the herd.
So most of the time you’re avoiding bad situations by simply
looking like you know what you’re doing. I’m not talking about
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
78
being a ‘badass’ or walking around like you’ve got an attitude—
everyone can see right through that (except maybe white suburban
kids). If you go to a truly rough part of town the scary ones aren’t
the jumpy, theatrically hardcore types. They’re putting on an act the
same way many prey animals try to look like predators in nature
(there’s a kind of caterpillar that has eyes on its butt so it looks like
a small snake, for example). No, the scariest people are the calm,
quiet ones. Why are they so damn calm? Because they know they’re
the apex predators. Nothing hunts them, so why worry?
So what about that weird middle ground—the halfway point
between getting sucker punched and the complete wave-off?
We’re back at the party and the guy at the door crosses his arms
and simply says, “You’re not leaving.” If you choose violence at
this point, is there a ‘best way’ to get into it?
As detailed above, the best way is now. You can throw out all
pretense and concepts of technique and simply go for your target.
Any defensive moves on his part are moot as long as you don’t
play that game—if you’re going to compete with him, tit-for-tat,
strike for block, then, yeah, he stands a chance. If you just wade in
to beat him broken, that’s what will happen.
This is why I try to get everyone off the idea of waiting, looking,
and blocking. It’s a sucker’s game. For every two you block, the
third one’ll get you. Out of all the video footage of violence I’ve
seen, none of it—exactly zero—had anyone ‘defending themselves’
successfully. The successful party was always—every single
time—the one who did the beating. Or stabbing. Or whatever. The
one doing it got it done. The one trying to stop it got done. Period.
So, if you’re worried about what he’ll do, you’re already on
the wrong track. Instead of worrying about what he’s going to do,
make him do something. Like lie down and hug his shattered knee.
That’s not to say there aren’t some interesting tactical
considerations to take in executing an initial strike—there are, and
79
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
we’ll be looking at them in detail, below—it’s just that they are
minor and completely subordinate to the idea of wading in and
causing injury, first and foremost. Don’t get caught in the trap of
‘fancy.’ Stick with what works because it works. Even if it seems
‘beneath you’ in its simplicity.
1. Howtostrikewhenhe’snotlooking.
Alright, this one’s obvious. Just pick a target and wreck it.
But everyone here already knew that.
2. Howtostrikewhenheislooking.
We’re back at the party. The man is standing between you
and the door, thick arms crossed over his barrel chest. He just
told you you’re not leaving and now he’s staring right at you,
daring you to defy him. We’ll assume that other details of the
scenario have led you to believe you are in danger (that’s why
you were leaving, after all) and you want to get through him
and out the door now.
There are two limitations of human vision you can exploit. The
first is the fact that when you look straight ahead while standing,
you can’t see your own feet. This blind spot is created by the
lower part of your face, especially the cheekbones. So he can’t see
anything that comes up inside a 45˚ angle off his cheekbones. This
is why uppercuts work so well. Any low body shot will work, as
well as strikes to the groin using hands/arms or knee/shin.
If he’s looking you in the eye, he won’t see the boot to the groin
until it’s too late. And here’s where we get into some advanced
targeting because if you look down at his groin before you strike
him, you’ll tip him off. Your targeting needs to be good enough
that you know how to triangulate your foot into his groin based on
where you can see his head is. (This ability grows from lots and
lots of floor time with another human body, striking targets in all
kinds of orientations).
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
80
The second limitation of human vision has to do with the fact
that we are all predators. There are specific receptors in your eyes
to detect motion across a static background. There’s wetware in
your head that is specifically wired into these receptors to gage
rate of travel and predict where the motion is going.
What this means is that if you throw a big roundhouse motion,
like a John Wayne-style haymaker or other large overhand motion
that breaks your silhouette and travels across the static background
behind you, every human being on the planet is hardwired to see
it, clock it, and intercept it. In the old days it would be to hit a bird
with a stick. Today it could be for him to simply get his hands up
over his face and muck up your strike.
(As a side note, this is one reason people get killed by trains. It
is incredibly difficult for us to judge the speed something is going
when it’s coming dead-on. Laterally, across a static background,
and we peg it. Coming straight at us, we’re not so good at. Folks
walking on the tracks routinely misjudge the amount of time they
have until the train is upon them—and the error typically kills
them.)
So if he’s looking at you, don’t break your silhouette—use
straight moves that go into the target from inside your outline.
Stepping in and driving your fist into his solar plexus (with your
elbow in nice and tight at your hip) fills the bill.
As an example of manipulating both limitations, look at a claw
to the eyes. It should come up from underneath his vision and
inside your silhouette, not from the far outside like an open hand
slap.
• And just to reiterate the Important Stuff:
• It doesn’t matter if he knows it’s coming or not—get him.
• Trying to play this stuff like chess at 90 mph will get you
hit by the freight train of violence and send game pieces
flying everywhere.
81
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
• It’s not a game, so don’t try to ‘play’ it.
• Injure him now.
Manipulating Social Conventions
This is even more morally problematic, as we are now delving
into the use of social tools to maneuver people into position for asocial
opportunity. This is what the top-end, most cunning sociopaths are
very, very good at—like the American mass-murderer Ted Bundy, for
example. Everyone who met him said he was singularly charming;
he typically used contrived social devices to lure victims into range
(wearing a fake cast on his arm, or walking on crutches).
This may be morally rough ground we’re on at this point, but the
misuse of social tools is brutally effective.
The most basic use would be the ‘false capitulation.’ This is
where you pretend to give up to get an opportunity to injure him. It
can be everything from talking to him, “It’s cool,” or “Okay, you got
me, I give up,” to simple body language, palms up, arms spread. Or
a combination of the two to get you in close enough to strike while
getting him to lower his Defcon level. I know people who have done
this, and it works great.
You can also talk to him to get him to look away. Ask a question
and point, and as he looks, drop him. It’s a popular tactic of muggers
to approach their victim and ask what time it is. When they look
down at their watch, the mugger strikes, having manipulated the
situation to regain surprise.
A more advanced, and insidious, version is using your social
tools to befriend him. Get him to close distance to shake hands.
Then break him.
Of course the big question in everyone’s mind right now is, “how
can I keep from getting taken by these tricks?” The big one is to
trust your gut—people trying to hide something look like they have
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
82
something to hide. This may manifest itself as small, consciously
undetectable ‘tells’ that you will pick up unconsciously. Your
unconscious will then attempt to communicate with you by giving
you a ‘gut reaction.’ Queasiness, butterflies, or other uneasiness.
Trust your gut and act on it. Ask questions later.
To wrap up, there are some interesting tactical considerations
you can exploit when going in first—when the situation is teetering
on the razor’s edge between social and full-blown asocial. You can
exploit the limitations human vision to ‘hide’ a strike and you can
use social tools to manipulate people to your advantage—getting
them to move, look away, or disregard you as a threat.
But all of these things pale in comparison to wading in now and
injuring him. If he knows it’s coming and can see it’s coming that
awareness will only work in his favor if you’re playing by rules—if
you are in competition mode. Then it will be a tit-for-tat exchange.
If you wade in simply to beat him toothless and unconscious, then
that’s what’s going to happen—whether he saw it coming, or not.
83
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
Chapter Eleven
The Absence of Choice
Violence starts where choice ends.
For social and antisocial interactions, this means you get to choose
whether or not to be involved, and how deep your involvement will
go. On the asocial side, you won’t have that choice.
This gives us a nice, clean delineator between violence and
Everything Else. As you’ve heard me say time and time again: if
you have to ask, the answer is probably ‘no.’ The reason I say that is
because once you commit, your choices dwindle dramatically. Once
you cross that line, you’re in it ‘til you finish it. There are, to be sure,
small choices to make—which target to wreck next, when to stop—
but none of them involve ‘unviolencing’ him. Once you break that
wrist, you can never go back to just holding hands.
Make the choice you can live with.
Be man enough to be called a coward. I’ve walked away
from situations where I was legally and morally in the right and
no one present would have objected if I’d laid the jerk out. I’ve
walked away while dodging ego-withering epithets and slurs to the
accompaniment of the loud and obvious sound of my social standing
peg being taken down a notch. I did this gladly because I was handed
the luxury of choice and, to be quite frank, I just didn’t feel like it.
‘It’ being the stomping, the screaming, and then having to do it to
all his friends while getting punched in the head three or four times,
maybe getting stabbed or shot or killed, or arrested and spending
the night in jail, making bail, paying a lawyer and then getting sued.
Not to mention having to look over my shoulder every time I stop to
take a piss. All that crap is worth my life, but it’s not worth my time.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
84
Social standing is a manufactured illusion; losing it is nothing
compared to the loss of an eye, or freedom, or your life. If your
friends are truly your friends they will remain so; everyone else can
go hang.
Asocial means you have no choice; or rather, the choice is
something decidedly unchoosy like ‘kill or be killed.’ (Which one
would you pick? Yeah, everybody picks that one, too). Because it’s
hallmarked by a lack of communication, asocial comes on without
warning, without preamble, like lightning out of a clear blue sky.
One minute you’re worried about which curry joint to patronize and
the next you’re getting stabbed. You’re down to those small choices,
like which target to wreck next, and when to stop.
Once you’re out of choices, you have one choice left: give it
your all or play games. If you choose the latter, you’ve handed all
the power of choice to the other guy. From a purely mechanical
point of view, in social and antisocial situations he gets to choose
whether or not a technique works. All of your sundry come-alongs,
pain compliance, joint locks and submission holds fall into this
category. If he decides you ‘got him’ and gives up, all well and
good. If he decides the pain in his wrist doesn’t matter, well, now
you’re stuck holding the tiger by the tail. And your Plan B better be
really, really sharp. Especially if the choice he makes is to take it
into the asocial and get to the work of injuring you.
For some people, the difference between antisocial and asocial
is really problematic. They’re the ones who interpret every sideways
look as a challenge to fight. For you, on the other hand, it’s really
simple. Just remember that:
1. Youdon’thavetoworryaboutsavingyourpride.
You know what you’re capable of, and beating someone up
(or breaking his ribs) isn’t going to change that. And if your
friends are people who lose respect for you because you choose
not to start breaking heads, well, you might want to take another
85
PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today
look at y our friends. That’s where you do have a choice!
2. Antisocial interactions can seem asocial, and they can
becomeasocial.
But like I keep saying, until there is absolutely no chance of
walking away, you’re still in the antisocial arena. You, and often
you alone, have the power to defuse this bomb and make sure
no one gets hurt. Or, you could choose to take things into the
asocial arena. Just hope you’re not dealing with someone who’s
going to hunt you down and pay you back in kind—or worse.
3. 1he moment you stop thinking “Should I hit this guy?”
and start swinging, that’s when you’ve stepped into the
realmofviolence.
If you’re asking if you should, you shouldn’t. Period.
When No Choice Matters
Fortunately for you, once you enter that asocial sphere, you’re
not the only one who loses the luxury of choice. For both you and
him, this has become a kill-or-be-killed event. You’re both in there
hardcore, giving it your all, and your single goal is to give it to him
first and hard. Why? Because if you want to be the one walking
away, you have to remove all aspect of choice from his life—at least
for the time being.
The mechanics of the asocial, violent, interaction can be summed
up in a single word: injury. Injury removes choice from the equation.
He has no say in whether or not his eye comes out of his skull or if
his throat crushes. He has no say in how his body will move next.
The physical laws of the universe, and how well you’ve employed
them, are the only arbiters here. If you did it right, everything breaks.
He may wish double-plus hard on a falling star it wasn’t so, but it’s
not going to matter one whit. Violence is the absence of choice, and
he’s just along for the ride.
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
86
87
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
PART TWO:
THE PRINCIPLES
OF VIOLENCE
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
88
Chapter One
Fight or Flight
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of
acting and reasoning as fear.” —Edmund Burke
People often ask me about the “fight-or-flight” response when it
comes to responding to a violent, imminent threat of physical attack.
When I tell them that there are actually four responses to this type of
threat I usually get a confused looked.
As a lifelong student of violence I constantly research sources
from the academic and literary world that deal with this very
controversial subject. Some of my research has led me to see fight-
or-flight as a fallacy. Fight-or-flight is a viable response, but only
when the threat occurs between two different species. If you are
walking through the woods and a Kodiak bear starts to rush you,
you would quickly either fight if you had a weapon or run (flight)
if you did not. Yes, you can use the other two responses but for the
most part the meeting of two different species results in fight-or-
flight.
So what are the other two responses? What sets a violent human-
to-human encounter apart from a violent interspecies encounter?
The Four Horsemen of Response
When two members of the same species meet with one side
posing an imminent threat, the other can respond as follows:
1. Fight-1hechallengeisassessedandthetargetdecidesto
pght back.
2. Flight-1hechallengeisassessedandthetargetdecidesto
evadethethreat,orrun.
89
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
3. Posture-1hechallengeisassessedandthetargetdecides
tofeignorpostureaggressivelywiththeultimategoalbeing
to avoid having to pght or ßee.
4. Capitulate - 1he challenge is assessed and the target
decidestofreeze,liedown,andhopethatbysubmittings/
hewillappeasetheaggressor.
Most are familiar with the first two options, but let’s explore
the latter two. How many times have you seen a person issue a
threat and move towards someone aggressively, only for the person
to respond by yelling back and striking an aggressive, threatening
stance? This is very common in social violent situations where there
is much posturing for dominance. Often the real objective is to get
one side to back down, with verbal threats and aggressive postures
used to convey dominance. That is a classic example of the Posture
Response.
This is a dangerous gambit for both participants because it
delays the fight option and often wastes valuable opportunities to
end the situation with the Fight Response. The next response to
explore is the all too common Capitulate Response. This is where an
aggressive threat is met with complete and immediate submission to
the threatening party. This response is very dangerous when used to
avoid getting harmed because it literally puts you at the mercy of an
aggressor. You rely on their moral code to respect your capitulation
and have that be a sufficient way to satiate their desire to aggressively
dominate you. Very risky.
However, when used properly the Capitulate Response can be an
extremely effective manner to get your aggressor into a vulnerable
position to execute the Fight Response. Basically, you’re getting the
aggressor to expose vulnerable areas of his body to attack by your
feigned capitulation.
Why is this important? There are three reasons. First of all,
understanding how to use capitulation as a fighting tactic can be
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
90
extremely useful. But more importantly, you can’t enter a violent
situation expecting your fear to drive you away. Moreover, it’s
essential that you not rely on “fight or flight” as an excuse to avoid
learning what you need to know in order to defend yourself. Fear is
a powerful human emotion, but with practice it won’t control you.
That’s what will really matter in a violent situation.
Acting in the Face of Fear
For too long fallacies have held sway while common criminals
exploit fear and ignorance; the simple facts that govern the effective
use of violence as a survival tool are well known to them, and
denied to the law-abiding, successfully socialized citizen. Know,
then, these simple facts and let your power increase:
1. Youcantakedecisiveactioninthefaceoffear.
The first reaction in any violent situation is that most primal
emotion of fear. When a man steps out of the shadows holding a
knife, or an intruder pulls open the curtain in your shower, your
adrenaline immediately starts pumping and your heart beats
faster. These are natural reactions, which cannot be avoided—
nor should they be. This is the fight-or-flight survival instinct
that allows you to focus completely on destroying your enemy
or to get the hell out of there.
Many people fear that they will be overwhelmed by fight-
or-flight and behave irrationally or ‘freeze up’ and be incapable
of acting.
When you know how to ‘swim in the pool of violence,’
however, your reaction will be slightly different. You will still
experience the biological fact of fear, but that will be tempered
with the knowledge of what to do next. Instead of being shocked
and frightened into submission, believing you have no choice
but to submit, you’ll do what you’ve trained to do. If that training
was to wait and see, or to get ready, you may have already lost.
91
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
If, however, that training is for violence—for causing injury—
then that’s what you’ll do.
2. Jiolenceisavailabletoeveryone.
You are a predator born, with stereovision for hunting prey
and teeth for ripping and tearing flesh. You are a member of
the only species that makes an art of war. The average human
body is an awesome engine of destruction, driven by the most
dangerous thing in the known universe: a human brain. You are
a survival engine, the descendant of winners; your ancestors
didn’t get you here by laying down and giving up. They made
the losers do that. Violence is your birthright.
3. 1heonedoingtheviolencetendstoprevail.
Violence is one person injuring another person. This is the
definition of the effective use of violence. While all violent acts
have injury in common, they also share another trait: at the end,
the person walking away is typically the one who did it.
4. 1he one getting the violence done to them tends to get
injured.
Defense wounds are found on corpses. ‘Nuff said.
92
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Two
Violence is About Injury
“It is by no means self-evident that human beings are most
real when most violently excited; violent physical passions
do not in themselves differentiate men from each other, but
rather tend to reduce them to the same state.” —Thomas
Elliot
All acts of violence come down to the same thing: injury. By
now, you should be ready for that message. Until you accept this
basic fact, you’ll never be able to defend yourself effectively.
In violent conflict, always assume that your life is on the line.
While you can predict how he will react physically to being struck,
how he reacts psychologically will vary from individual to individual.
Some people may panic and run; others may choose to kill you for
daring to defy them. This means you have to be merciless, vicious
and methodical. You’re going to kick him when he’s down. You’re
going to break his arm, then use it to throw him. And no matter
what, you’re not going to stop until you’re done.
After you land your first blow, assume that he is prepared to go
all the way. You might be wrong, but it’s better to assume the other
man is in it to kill you than to assume he’s not and leave your family
to mourn your mistake.
This may make violence seem kind of useless in your everyday
life. If you’re living right, it is. Violence is a very narrow tool; it’s
only good for one thing, and that’s shutting off a human being.
It’s not really good for anything else. If you’re going to pull it out
and use it, then employ it to full effect. ‘Going easy’ on someone
who wants to murder you or otherwise screwing around in violent
conflict can get you killed.
93
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Every technique and every target is must be exploited, even
those you might normally regard as ‘out of bounds.’ If, for example,
you consider eye gouging to be beyond the pale and your only target
is his eye, your hesitation could cost you your life. (Employing
violence to it’s fullest has an added benefit. Remember that people
flock to a social fight and flee from actual violence. When you get
in and break him with brutal efficiency, stomping him when he’s
down and whatnot, anyone not involved, like innocent bystanders,
will take off running. Anyone you need to pay attention to will make
themselves known by closing distance and coming after you. Put
one man down and you’ll find out who his accomplices are.)
The Injury Manifesto
There is a single key feature that is present in every successful
use of violence: injury. It defines the act and brands the participants,
the vanquished more so than the victor. Owning injury, the arbiter of
success in violence, gives you a distinct advantage over those whose
understanding is dim and instinctual. Know, then, these simple facts
and let your power increase.
Violence Begins and Ends with Injury
Violence is purely about injury. Injury is the only thing that
means anything in violence. It’s the goal and end-result. It defines
the violent act and finishes it. Violence literally starts and ends with
injury.
Effective violence is hallmarked by serial injury: injuring him,
taking advantage of that injury to do it again, and again to put him
down, with ever-increasing severity (stomping on a man who’s
down is easy for you and devastating for him).
Injury Changes Everything in Your Favor
In violent conflict, injury is the portal through which you pass
into the rest of your life. As things go bad—he pulls the gun—your
94
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
options narrow to a single question: ‘action or passivity?’ In a way,
you are at the end of your life: if he shoots you dead, it’s over. The
thumb in the eye, however, is the key turning in the lock on the rest
of your days. Injury gives you options; a universe of choices spreads
before you. Injury is opportunity.
Injury is Objective
Disinterested third parties can all agree that an injury has
occurred. A broken leg is obvious from across the street.
Injury Decrements Body Function
It will alter the normal functioning of his body in a negative
way. A broken leg just plain doesn’t work.
Injury is Permanent
That is, it’s permanent across the course of the encounter. It will
require medical attention in order to heal. A broken leg does not get
better on it’s own. He can’t ‘walk it off.’
Injury is Physics and Physiology Meeting Badly
Excessive force plus vulnerable anatomical target equals injury.
There is nothing in this equation about pain or the psychological
state of the recipient. Neither of these matters. Different people have
different pain thresholds; for some, a torn fingernail drops them
into dramatic paroxysms of agony, for others a torn off limb goes
unnoticed. But note that in the case of the missing limb, that person
may be functioning just fine psychologically, but they’re not going
to be grabbing and picking anything up anytime soon.
Injury is Independent of Technique
All we need is force and a target. You could trip and fall, all by
95
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
yourself, and get an injury. Note the conspicuous lack of a hopped-
up emotional state, a technique, or even another person. This fact is
why technique without injury is a parlor trick, and injury, regardless
of how it occurred (with technique or without, ‘accidentally,’ etc.)
will always be more effective.
The most artless injury will always be superior to the fanciest
technique. Rock to the head, anyone?
All Injuries are Equal
This is another way of saying all targets are equal. The best
target? The one you just wrecked. All injuries are equal when you
know what to do next—how to take advantage of the fact you injured
him.
Injured People Move in Predictable Ways
The body responds to injury through the somatic reflex arc
(spinal reflexes). These are pre-programmed, specific movements,
triggered by a large stimulus (like ruptured testicles). The threshold
switch that decides whether or not to reflex is in the spinal cord, not
the brain. There is no conscious choice involved. Just physics and
physiology. These reflexes are injury-specific, meaning that a boot
to the groin elicits the same basic response in all humans.
This means you can predict how he’ll move when you injure
him—and be there to take full advantage of it.
Injured People are Helpless
For the short moment of time they are in the throes of their
spinal reflex, they cannot stop you from injuring them again. And
again. And again...
96
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Injury Begets Injury
An adjunct to the helplessness above, as beating an injured man
is easy work. It’s also shorthand for ‘a broken knee can cause head
trauma.’
Injury Trumps Speed, Strength and Resolve
Is he stronger than you? Not with a crushed throat he isn’t.
Is he faster than you? Not with a broken knee. Is he far more
dangerous than you, with scads of training, experience, a gun, and
an indomitable iron will? Funny how a broken neck takes all the
scary out of him.
Violence Begins and Ends with Injury
Anything you do in a violent situation that does not cause an
injury is worthless to you. Every time you touch him, you need to
break something inside him. Every time you touch him, you need
to make a part of him cease normal function. Injure him, drop him,
and keep on injuring him until he’s nonfunctional. You’re not done
until you’re sure he’s done.
The answer to every question in violent conflict is: injury, now.
What is Injury Really?
It’s the only thing that means anything in violence, or at least
that’s what we’re always saying. But what is injury after all? And
is there a simpler way to think of it, relate to it and thereby better
relate it to others? We’ll start with the dictionary definition of the
word—The Shorter OED, 5th Ed. says:
‘Hurt or loss caused to or sustained by a person or thing; harm,
detriment; damage, esp. to the body; an instance of this.’
This is a good start, but it’s not quite as serious and stunning as I
97
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
would like. While ‘harm, detriment, damage’ are all good synonyms
for what we’re up to, it’s still a little bit vague on the overall effect
we’re gunning for. There are plenty of people out there, for example,
who believe that they can sustain ‘damage’ and keep going. And,
of course, they’re right. We all can. But no one—NO ONE—can
sustain injury the way we mean it and keep going. Period. So even
the dictionary leaves something to be desired, a ‘tightening up’ of
ambiguities.
These ambiguities flourish and grow into their own chaos-
gardens in the minds of the average person. I dare say no two
people’s definition of ‘injury’ is going to be exactly the same. For
some it is tearing a fingernail or stubbing a toe; others won’t declare
it until blood is spilled. The difference between the definitions of
a lucky person unused to pain and a trauma surgeon is going to be
vast. It’s a lot like saying the word ‘dog’ out loud to a roomful of
people: everyone will see a dog in their mind’s eye, but I dare say
no two will be alike.
And still, for me, even with torn skin and spilled blood, we are
not at a workable definition.
The TFT ‘textbook’ definition reads thusly:
µ7KHGLVUXSWLRQRIKXPDQWLVVXHLQDVSHFL¿FDQDWRPLFDOIHDWXUH
such that normal function is obviously impaired (and can only be
regained through medical intervention), eliciting an involuntary
VSLQDOUHÀH[UHDFWLRQ¶
This is great for two reasons: it reinforces the universality of
violence (as this effect can be achieved with any judicious application
of kinetic energy, from fist to stick to bullet) as well as being specific
enough to rule out hangnails and messy, but ultimately ineffective,
minor lacerations.
The only problem is that for all its precise ‘lawyer-ese’ it’s quite
a mouth—and mind—ful. It’s not easy to remember, it doesn’t roll of
the tongue, and you’re just plain not going to win over any converts
98
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
with it. It’s thorough but clunky. By seeking to be clear it loses its
clarity and becomes next to worthless to you. Anything that gets in
the way of your understanding needs to be retooled—like carving
steps into an insurmountable cliff face.
This gets us to my current favorite way to think of injury:
Break things inside of people so they don’t work anymore.
This is the way the sociopath approaches the problem, the way
the Saturday night slugger thinks when he wades in to deliver a
beat-down. It is the simplest way to think of injury. It paints a picture
that’s easy to parse; even the ambiguities work in your favor. Does
‘they’ refer to the people or the things inside them? Hey, either one
or both: I’m good with all of it.
This is a definition of injury you can take as your personal
violence mission statement. It’s all you want to do; it’s the only
measuring stick that divides success from failure. Easy to think,
easy to say, easy to do.
99
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Chapter Three
Why You Must Learn to Kill
“It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!”
—Emiliano Zapata
If you were uncomfortable with the last chapter, you’re not
going to like this one very much. It contains some things that are
hard to take but have to be said. I won’t sugarcoat it: you must go
into every violent situation with the intent to cause serious injury
and, if necessary, death. The time has come to point out a harsh
truth: the biggest fear most people have is realizing they actually
can be every bit as brutal—and effective—as the most heinous thug
walking the street.
The obvious difference between a slap-fight and a murder is one
of intent. You have to have that intent. You have to go in willing to
injure and even kill the person who’s trying to kill you. But unless
you have scary psychic powers or you really can throw daggers with
your eyes, intent, in and of itself, is not what’s going to get the job
done. So what is intent really doing? What lies between intent and
injury?
Body weight in motion
When one has intent, they apply themselves totally to causing
injury. A total dedication of will tends to manifest itself as a total
dedication of body mass. There is no hesitation, no getting ready,
no waiting to see what will happen next. There is only rapid, brutal
motion. The knife punched through ribs, again and again.
But I Don’t Want to Become the Bad Guy!
When confronted with the realities of violence, sane, well-
socialized people recoil. Violence is the void oblivion in which
100
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
nothing save injury exists; it is a hellish monospace where things
like communication, love, and caring are not just absent, they never
were.
It is a space defined by the absence of all we hold dear.
It is Nietzsche’s Abyss.
It is natural, and indeed ‘good’ in a social sense, for the mind to
recoil from such a thing. But then a secondary reaction occurs; the
mind recoils and then seeks, desperately, to fill in the gap between
itself and that awful space. To build a wall of easy ideas in order to
maintain a sanity-safe distance. You can hit a guy in the head with
a rock, or you can do a back flip and then hit him in the head with
a rock. Either way, he gets a head trauma. Remember, Occam’s
Razor says: “Forget fancy—the tire-iron to the head trumps all.”
This Guy’s a Killer
During my time in Las Vegas, I met a number of Mixed Martial
Arts competitors from various “No-Holds-Barred” events like the
UFC and Pride. For the most part, these fighters were amazing
physical specimens and tremendous competitors. Their skills in
the arena were impressive and fun to watch. And surprisingly, the
fighters I met were all very good-natured guys.
At one event I was introduced by an MMA friend of mine to one
of the top competitors, and this fighter asked, through his interpreter,
if I was an MMA competitor.
Before I could answer, my friend (who had a couple of beers
in him since he was not on this fight card) smiled and said, “Nah,
Tim’s a ‘killer.’ He likes to teach you how to stab people to death or
beat their brains out with a tire iron. You’d like his course!”
(It’s always great to have friends give this kinda PR “help”).
Then the fighter asked if I taught how to “defend” against knives
and guns. Again, my friend “answered” for me saying “Oh yeah,
101
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
and more than one attacker, too. I mean, its prison riot training!”
(Again, very “helpful” stuff. By now, I’m sure the interpreter’s
really wondering about me!)
Then the fighter told of his cousin being assaulted and stabbed
by two men in his home country. He said he felt bad because he truly
couldn’t give his cousin (who survived the attack) any tips on how
to “fight” people with knives.
“Quite frankly, for all my skills in the ring, I doubt I could have
done much better. I know how to kick someone’s ass on the mat but
on the street, it’s so different.”
We exchanged info and he got the dates when I’d be training in
Europe that year. Then he was off to prepare for his match (which he
easily won that night, absolutely wrecking his opponent).
But his words got me thinking about the difference between a
fighter and a “killer:”
• The fighter competes to better his opponent; the “killer”
focuses solely on ending the other person.
• The fighter seeks to score points or force a submission; the
“killer” seeks to shut down the other’s brain.
• The fighter is good at kicking someone’s ass; the “killer”
knows how to irreparably injure vulnerable areas of the
human body, permanently wrecking the functioning of that
area.
• The fighter relies on superior strength, speed and skill;
the “killer” gets his results using stealth and the action of
violence.
• The fighter’s skills work best in the controlled environment
of the ring; the “killer” is effective anywhere violence is
necessary.
• The fighter’s skills deteriorate once his competitive years
102
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
end; the “killer” retains his skills often for a lifetime.
I could go on, but you see the pattern.
Here’s the point: you must always ask yourself, “How will I
apply my martial arts or combat sport training?” ‘Cause if it’s in
the random chaos found in the world of real violence then you
hamstring yourself with rules and skills that work mainly for the
young, fast, and strong.
And we’re not even addressing whether the other guy plays
by your rules (wanna guess how much time most murderers spend
worrying about your competitive standards?).
That’s why I challenge you to explore the world of the “killer”
(even if you’re pursuing a competitive MMA career). Despite your
likely repulsion at the term, these skills are easily learned and can
last your entire lifetime. But most important is the by-product of
learning this—you get to live a far more relaxed and peaceful life.
Strange, I realize, but true.
Finally, understand the big difference between a “killer” and a
murderer.
Face-to-face with the later, it’s the skill set of the “killer” that not
only prepares you to survive. It can actually give you the advantage.
Lethal Force
No cop wants to draw his gun, but if some psychopath comes
running at him with a knife, you better believe he’ll do it. When it’s
your life or his, you have to be ready to make a choice. Is your moral
stance against killing strong enough that you’ll let some sociopathic
murderer end your life for no reason? If the answer is no, you’d
better be prepared to use lethal force when you have to.
You need the skills to kill, and if it’s clear that it’s life or death,
then killing is in order. The severity of the situation can be surmised
103
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
in many different ways (hostage situation in which other hostages
are being killed right in front of you, modern airline hijack, firearms,
and associated threats of imminent death, etc.), but ultimately it’s
going to come down to a personal call on your part. And your best
guideline is to trust your gut.
If you don’t think it’s a particularly bad situation you’re
probably picking up unconscious cues from body language, facial
expressions, etc., that are telling you he’s not serious. If you feel
serious apprehension in your gut—that queasy, ‘oh my God’
feeling—you’re picking up those same unconscious cues but this
time they’re lethal. He means to kill you, and primitive parts of your
brain are trying to let you know by making you feel sick.
For all of that, ultimately it’s your call. We can’t build every
possible scenario you could ever be involved in, and we can’t tell
you how you should think and feel. It’s all up to you; you have to
live or die with your decision.
Once you do go in, go in full-bore, to tear his head off. How
far you take it will depend on what you need to feel done, safe, and
able to turn your back on him and walk away. Every use of violence
must start with serious injury, and then proceed to rendering him
nonfunctional.
This can mean one or more of three things:
• Incapacitation
• Unconsciousness
• Death
Incapacitation is everything from a single shot to the ribs that
drops him and makes him go fetal and quit to a broken knee and
two broken collar bones that make it impossible for him to get up.
At what point you’ve reached incapacitation and can stop is your
personal judgment call. Just make damn sure you feel comfortable
turning your back on him.
104
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Unconsciousness is just that: he’s out cold and down for the
count. It’s obvious when you’ve achieved it. He’ll be down,
motionless, possibly with his jaw slack and eyes rolled back in his
head. Once you’ve got this it’s safe to say you’re done.
Killing the man by stomping on this throat, breaking his neck,
or stabbing him in the heart is reserved for the most extreme
circumstances only. Situations where you realize or believe that you
or others will be killed if you do not act. You need to think a great
deal about how you feel about his and make your choices ahead of
time: you don’t want to get caught hesitating when what’s required
is decisive action.
105
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Chapter Four
Overcoming the Stigma of Violence
³9LROHQFH LVQ¶W DOZD\V HYLO :KDW¶V HYLO LV WKH LQIDWXDWLRQ
with violence.” —Jim Morrison
Hopefully, by now you’ve come to realize that I don’t endorse
using violence for the reasons a criminal sociopath would. I don’t
think violence should ever be used to get what you want, and I think
in all situations, it’s a last resort.
But when it becomes your only option, you have to be ready to
act.
People are afraid of violence. They’re afraid of experiencing it,
and they’re afraid of being the one to do it. If you go into a room
full of people and start talking about gouging eyes, they’re going to
freak out. We live in a society that’s safe on the surface, and no one
wants to think about what lies underneath.
But something does lie underneath, and if you ever encounter it,
there’s only one way to survive it. And in order to do that, you have
to accept violence as a tool—not good or evil and of itself, but a tool
that can be used for good or evil depending on who gets a hold of it
and how they’re swinging it.
Violence is a tool, and as such it takes on the moral color of the
user—but only after the fact. Bludgeoning someone to death with a
claw hammer can be murder in one instance and justified homicide
in another—but in both cases someone bludgeoned someone else to
death with a claw hammer. Knowing how doesn’t make you a bad
person. Using that knowledge to bully and intimidate others is a far
cry from using that knowledge to protect yourself and your family.
106
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
How Much is “Too Much?”
Most people are willing to accept that violence can come in
handy. If you say to someone, “I know self-defense,” you’ll get a
very different reaction than if you say to someone, “I know how to
kill people.” But the first is an empty, generic term, and in a real
life-or-death encounter with asocial violence, it’s not going to see
you through.
Now, I’m not saying you should go around bragging about
knowing how to kill people—that’s just stupid. But you should
know how to do it, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact.
Society would really rather that you meet force with like force;
if he just wants to push, you’re allowed to push; if he just wants to
slap and choke, you’re allowed to slap and choke ... and if he wants
to kill you, you’re allowed to match him in kind. That’s great—
as long as he doesn’t get the ‘kill’ idea before you do. Of course,
if he just wants to slap and you break him, people will call that
‘excessive.’ I find it hilarious. It shows a basic misunderstanding of
violence itself. There’s no such thing as ‘excessive force’ when it
comes to hurting people—violence is the art excess.
There are lots of examples floating around of precision knockout
blows—restrained force that results in a successful attack or defense.
But in pretty much every such video circulating on the Internet, we
see the results of a perfect storm: there was just enough penetration
and rotation through a target to get the desired outcome. The
conditions were sufficient to get an injury, but almost always hardly
optimal. The perfect storm usually consists of luck-factors like the
injured man moving into the strike (increasing penetration & body
weight effects) and/or being caught off-guard and flat-footed.
But what about the times when he’s moving away from the
strike? Or ‘rolls’ with the punch? In that case sufficiency fails to
result in an injury, and now you can see how this is sub-optimal.
Sometimes you get a knockout and sometimes you don’t. That’s
107
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
fine and dandy in the ring, but you can’t bet your life on such things.
Your job is to figure out what is sufficient to cause the injury,
and then optimize it to ensure that you get exactly that set of
circumstances every single time.
Penetration and rotation through a target, anyone?
Maximizing penetration means that even if he’s moving away or
‘rolling’ with it he’s going to get overrun: you’re going to get a good
three feet of follow-through through the target—with your entire
mass behind it.
Maximizing rotation is you taking full advantage of that three
feet you bought yourself with the penetration: you will make the
target bounce off of the tool, rather than the other way around.
So with so-called sufficient force, if we get lucky, we catch him
with just the right amount of ‘snap’ at the end of that punch to give
him a concussion: so out of ten wild swings we get the one that
connects and gets the job done. Again, if we’re lucky.
With optimal, we get the knockout (or whatever injury we’re
gunning for) every single time, and only luck (and unusual
circumstance, like you screwing something up) is going to prevent
it.
Look at it this way: blowing on some embers you made by
rubbing two sticks together in a heap of dried pine needles is
sufficient to start a fire, but, as anyone who’s earned that merit badge
can attest, ‘sufficient’ doesn’t mean ‘every time.’ It can take all day.
We can optimize our situation by firing a flare gun into a ruptured
gasoline tanker truck. Now that’s gonna make a big BOOM every
single time.
Overdoing it? Yes, and that’s the point.
Injury in violence is, by definition, the result of excess. The body
108
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
only breaks when it is subjected to forces that exceed the elasticity
of human tissue.
And while there are those who will tell you that sufficient is ‘just
enough’, that’s only good in theory. While it could work every time,
in practice it often doesn’t. Optimal means it will work every time.
Sufficient hopes for a perfect storm. Optimal recreates that storm,
every time, through excess, brutality, and methodical thoroughness.
Call it precision brutality, if you will.
109
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Chapter Five
Violence as the Ultimate Survival Tool
“One should always play fairly when one has the winning
cards” —Oscar Wilde
The reason it’s so important to view violence as a tool for
survival came to me during a conversation with a friend of mine
named Chuck, a former NFL Defensive Lineman. Chuck had a
reputation in college as a brawler and never missed an opportunity
to use his fists to answer any disagreement.
Chuck has definitely mellowed over the years and is much easier
to be around these days—but old habits die hard. The conversation
drifted towards my training and he was giving me some feedback
from a mutual friend who attended a TFT seminar.
Our friend Tony loved the training and, since he travels to some
of the more dangerous parts of the world, has unfortunately had to
use his training. The results were that he survived two unavoidable
criminal attacks using principles and methods from the TFT Seminar.
Tony faced multiple attackers in one incident and a knife in
the other. Chuck was impressed that Tony survived both incidents
unscathed and then commented that the three attackers were all
larger than Tony, as was the knife wielder, and that in a “fair fight”
Tony would have lost.
He pointed out that if Tony hadn’t used all that “unfair stuff” he
got from my seminar he never would have “won”. Chuck said he
was glad that Tony knew TFT but that it really didn’t prove he could
fight.
Chuck went on to say that if it were just a “thumping contest”—
”Ya know, Tim, a real fight,” then the bigger, stronger guy would
110
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
always win. He was disturbed by the fact that Tony had to crush the
throat of one of his attackers and actually kill the guy who tried to
knife him. To Chuck, that proved it wasn’t a “real fight.” In addition,
the fact Tony effectively used deception to disarm his attackers
before he attacked really disturbed Chuck.
“That’s not fighting, it’s just...”
“Violence?” I suggested.
“Yeah, it proves nothing about how good a fighter you are,”
Chuck blurted out.
I know what Chuck was trying to say and it’s sad when I see
anyone like him that has never gone beyond using violence to
dominate a social situation.
By choosing to use violence in a social situation, guys like
Chuck always run the risk of bumping into someone who won’t
bother fighting a bigger, stronger guy.
They’ll just use violence in the only way it should be used... as
a survival tool.
A “Fair Fight” Isn’t About Survival
Some of you might agree with Chuck. You might think
that, although you understand the necessity for some people to
understand TFT’s methods, a real fight involves two people pitting
their strength against each other. That’s fine in terms of competition.
Unfortunately, a criminal doesn’t think that way. He has absolutely
no desire to make sure the fight is “fair”—only to make sure he
wins.
People often ask me for the best way to “protect” them in some
imagined criminal assault. They want me to respond by giving some
perfect technique that handles their particular imagined scenario.
They’re often disappointed at first when I don’t respond the way
they want me to. They don’t like to hear the truth—that violence is
111
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
random and thinking only in terms of “techniques” to use against a
random act is a good way to get yourself killed.
The problem with practically everyone’s approach to dealing
with violence is not that they’re incapable of learning techniques.
It’s that they don’t understand this way of responding to violence—
real asocial, maim, cripple, or “kill you now” violence—is seriously
flawed.
That’s because when it comes to violence, we (meaning you and
me, the productive, law-abiding members of society) live lives of
assumed constraints.
We are taught early on by parents, teachers, and our legal system
that if we want the benefits of living in a society like ours, then we
need to constrain our violent impulses when things don’t go our
way.
And obviously, this is a very good thing. It’s the reason you
don’t kill the obnoxious jerk that steals your parking place, you wait
patiently for the light to turn green at an intersection, and you don’t
shoot the neighbor’s Labrador for digging up your rose garden.
When it comes to the subject of violence, we are controlled by
society much like circus elephants are controlled by their handlers.
These trainers know the most reliable way to handle an elephant is
to “condition” it when it is very young. They put a shackle on the
baby elephant’s leg with a short chain that is held in the ground by
a very long spike. The baby elephant tugs at the chain attempting to
break free.
After a short while the elephant breaks the skin around the
shackled leg and gives up. But the pain of attempting to break free
is never forgotten.
Later on, that same method is used to control the now full-grown
elephant, even though the adult beast could pull the spike free with
no more effort than you and I use to remove a thumbtack from a
112
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
corkboard.
And the same approach is taken with all productive members of
society regarding the tool of violence.
We are “shackled” at a very young age—first at home, later in
ours schools, and finally at our workplaces.
When faced with violence, most of us respond socially. We
attempt to communicate with our attacker in hopes of avoiding the
use of violence. We may threaten to use this tool but we really don’t
want to since that shackle is still firmly attached.
The sad part of assumed constraints is that most martial arts,
combat sports, and, yes, even most “reality fighting systems” teach
you to respond—while still shackled!
It doesn’t work.
I learned long ago the first order of business is to teach my
clients how easy it is to break those assumed constraints when the
threat warrants such an approach.
Because the real threat to society is when we run up against
some “rogue elephant” that has never been “shackled” and has no
problem using violence to get what he wants. And imagine how
easy it is to fight someone if they have their leg shackled.
Remember first and foremost—violence is rarely the answer to
most situations, but when it is the answer, it’s the only answer.
Once you understood that you then must be able to rip off those
assumed constraints and free yourself so you can utilize the tool
of violence when required. This is not the best way to survive an
asocial, violent threat: it is the only way.
A Tool For Survival
In the end, you don’t ‘win’ in violent conflict—you survive it.
113
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
It’s not competition; it’s destruction. The survivor gets to walk away.
The other guy doesn’t. And far more often than not, the one who’s
walking away is the one who was doing the violence.
It’s only going to work out in your favor if you get in there and
injure him. You have to put him down and keep him there. You have
to throw out the rules and combine instinct with intellect.
In these situations survival is the only thing that matters, and the
best way to survive violence is to be the one doing the violence.
Knowing how to use violence as a survival tool—and being
willing to do so—puts you on nice, flat terrain, even and equal with
the worst of humanity. You can see the people who still have their
heads in the sand and the predators who stalk among them taking
advantage. Before you know how to grab the tool of violence in
both fists and swing it hard and sure you are at a disadvantage.
But learning how to use violence as a survival tool means that
disadvantage is gone, and in its place is the stone-cold truth: you’re
responsible for you, all alone. Either you can rely on yourself or you
can’t; either you’ll get the job done or you won’t.
You have a choice: you can be afraid, or you can be resolved.
The Golden Rule Of Violence: Injure Him Now
The best way to survive violent conflict is to be the first one to
cause an injury. When you destroy a target and make him react, you
will have the time and the opportunity to injure him again and again
and again. You will be in control of the situation, and of the other
man. Do unto others before they do unto you!
All of this flies in the face of a “fair fight.” But survival situations
aren’t a fair fight. In a competitive fair fight, it’s all about skill and
ability. A violent situation is about survival: injure the other guy as
fast and hard as you can, in any way possible. It’s not something to
be used lightly, but when it’s the only alternative, it will save your
114
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
life.
You have to ditch the social constraints and shackles before you’re
in the situation. It’s time to accept that, while these constraints are
useful in 99% of everyday situations, you may one day find yourself
facing a situation where they don’t apply. And in that situation, you
have to be able to slip them off and unleash the killer within.
115
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Chapter Six
Kill It Simple, Stupid
Violence is simple.
How simple is it? We can answer that with two more questions:
1. Howcanuntrainedpeopleprevail?
2. How is it that untrained people can prevail over trained
people?
Because for all their blissful naïveté the victorious untrained
have a firm grip on the tool of violence. This fact stands because
violence is much simpler than people would have you believe; it’s
much simpler than you want to believe.
The idea that violence is difficult and requires years of training—
and that years of training will protect you from the untrained—
are comfortable, comforting thoughts. They are society’s buffer.
Even if you yourself aren’t one of the trained, it provides comfort
to know that unless someone’s had years of training, they aren’t
really going to be able to damage you. Sit back and relax. Doesn’t
that feel nice?
I read somewhere once that the little lies we tell ourselves on
a daily basis, the small untruths that shape our subjective realities,
are what keep us happy. That the people who see the world and
themselves as it all ‘really is’ are the clinically depressed.
Accepting the simplicity of violence is an unpalatable dose of
hard reality. To learn that you are never immune and that someone
who is completely and conspicuously untrained can murder you is
acutely unsettling. Even depressing.
If, that is, you’re a blood-bucket-is-half-empty kind of person.
116
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
I like to look at it from the other side—the blood bucket is
half full, and I’m going to use him to fill it the rest of the way
up. If violence is so simple that even the untrained can use it and
survive, then even a little bit of training is going to make you
really, really good at it.
With a little bit of training you could know far more about
wrecking people than a serial killer does. The only thing that could
possibly hold you back is a lack of intent; what the serial killer
lacks in technique he more than makes up for with a monomaniacal
will to get the job done. But you already knew that.
Violence is much simpler, even, than I present it to be.
I spent a lot of time teasing out the common elements of
violence and finding ways to communicate them to you. It comes
across as a ton of material that people mistakenly believe they
must master before they can be effective. Let’s be honest: I have a
lot to say. This stuff is interesting to me, and if you’ve read this far,
I’m guessing it’s interesting to you, too. I like to talk about it—to
break down those social walls that pretend this stuff doesn’t exist.
But for all that, we’re only ever really talking about the rock to the
head ... and what is the rock to the head but a big hunk of kinetic
energy driven through a vulnerable target?
Everything else is just detail work, an exploration of all
possible combinations and configurations for using your body as a
human tissue wrecking machine, with and without snap-on tools.
Violence only seems complicated if you buy into the hype, if you
think that because someone’s falling-down drunk, they can’t hurt
you, if you think you need a black belt before you can seriously
injure someone.
Let’s look at it this way: close your eyes and think of the
most stunning martial arts action movie sequence you’ve ever
seen. Come on, I know you’ve seen them—they’re everywhere,
117
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
and they make violence as intricate and beautiful as some sort of
dance. Now think about the end result of that complex series of
leaps, jumps, throws, and movements. It was a guy down on the
ground, dead or injured, right?
So in other words, that beautiful build-up is exactly that:
a build-up. It has absolutely nothing to do with causing actual,
physical injuries. It looks impressive. If you shout a lot, it sounds
impressive. And if you’re dealing with a normal person, it might
be enough to scare them into backing down, hesitating, or making
a bad mistake.
But we’ve all seen the flip side, too: the moment in an action
movie where some guy comes up twisting, turning, hopping,
flipping, and doing every martial arts move known to man ... until
our hero punches him in the face, and down he goes. That’s a slightly
more realistic assessment of how violence works. When you focus
your energy on techniques, execution, and style, that means you’re
not focusing on what violence is really about: hurting people.
Remember, in a life-or-death situation, technique won’t save
your life. Hops and yells, throws and flips, none of it matters. When
the chips are down, every single movement should be directed at a
single cause: injury.
So forget everything you think you know about how it should
go down: violence is you injuring people. It’s throwing yourself
at him to break things inside of him. You are the bull in his
anatomical china shop, the Enola Gay to his Hiroshima. It’s you
violating every tenet of polite society and destroying the only thing
that any of us ever really own. And if that violates your personal
philosophy, counters your techniques, or seems unsporting, then
you haven’t really listened to a word I’ve said. Because violence is
never about competition. It’s not about showing off or practicing
your coolest moves. Save that stuff for the arena. When we start
talking about life-or-death violence, your whole focus has to be on
survival—and in this case, survival means causing more damage
118
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
to him than he does to you.
It’s simpler than you think because it has nothing to do with
thinking. Violence is all in the doing.
119
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
Chapter Seven
Access the Meat
&KRRVLQJWKH/HYHORI,QWHUDFWLRQLQ9LROHQW&RQÀLFW
One of the key features of the sociopath is that he sees everyone
as essentially the same—a piece of meat to be butchered. Sociopaths
look at everyone this way, regardless of personality, skill, or ability.
You have to keep in mind that sociopaths are not insane.
Sometimes they claim to be in an effort to lower their sentence.
But that’s what’s so chilling about many serial killers: they are
completely sane people who made rational, calm, cold-blooded
decisions to rape and murder and do whatever else they came up
with. Ted Bundy, America’s most notorious serial killer, once said:
“I’m the most cold-blooded sonofabitch you’ll ever meet. I just liked
to kill; I wanted to kill.” Does that sound like someone who didn’t
know what he was doing?
The other thing to remember is that sociopaths see violence
as a useful tool. In a best case scenario, they aren’t even thinking
about your pain or humiliation; they’re just using the violence the
same way they’d use a pencil to write with. In a worst case scenario,
they’re actually getting a charge from your helplessness—enjoying
the sense of power, superiority, and prowess. Pleading and talking
won’t have much effect on these people because they like what they
do. Like Ted Bundy, they pride themselves on being cold-blooded
sonofabitches. In an online dating profile, they’d list “murder” as a
hobby.
And knowing that, you start to understand why they don’t
differentiate between victims. It never occurs to a sociopath
that he’ll get caught, or that someone might be able to stop him.
Sociopaths are more than twice as likely as any other criminal to be
120
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
a repeat offender. They not only don’t think they’ll get caught, they
like what they’re doing too much to stop. Eventually, every human
being looks the same to them: a piece of tender flesh to be brutalized
as a means to an end.
A big strong guy with a black belt looks the same to them as a
sleeping little girl. The sociopath understands that both their skulls
open the same way, their eyes yield to equal pressure, and they both
die when their throats are cut.
The sociopath disregards the things that set them apart; he will
not interface with their personalities, or the big strong guy’s black
belt-level skill, or his massive muscles. He will only concentrate on
the things that they are both susceptible to.
In order to use violence successfully, in order to have an equal
chance of survival, so must you. Don’t get caught in the sucker’s
game of interfacing at higher levels, of showing respect for the
person, his skills or physical power. Go straight for the meat.
The Four Levels of Interaction
1. Asaperson—social
This is trying to change behavior, mood, or motivation. It’s
where most people would like to keep the situation, and in our
Happy Place, this is where everyone would want to be, able to
talk a serial killer out of his crazy tree.
2. Asaskillset—antisocial
This is trying to outwrestle him, or out-technique him in a
90 mph chess game. This is a duel in which the most skilled
practitioner will typically win. It is ‘civilized violence’ and seen
as ‘fighting fair.’ Some bar fights look like this, especially if
they’re between drunken friends. School yard fights almost
always involve antisocial interactions. So do combat sports:
wrestling, boxing, martial arts. Someone might get hurt, but not
121
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
badly. No one is really meaning to seriously hurt someone else.
At worst, they might try to “teach him a lesson.” If someone in
this type of interaction was seriously injured or died, the other
parties would be horrified.
3. Asananimal(viastrength,speed,stamina)—antisocial
This is pitting your strength against his, trying to outmaneuver
or outlast him, going blow for blow. This typically looks pretty
brutal and ugly. Two lions fighting for dominance of their pride
might look like this. In all likelihood, no one’s going to die—at
least, that’s not the idea—but this isn’t your typical schoolyard
brawl. Kids would run for a teacher, not stand around watching.
While an antisocial fight can be somewhat good-natured, an
animalistic fight is serious. Both combatants are taking this
seriously. They are out to prove who is the best specimen. This
is seen as brutish, desperate and decidedly ‘uncivilized.’
4. Asapieceofmeat—asocial
This is regarding him as a physical object beholden to the
natural laws of the universe. Paying no heed to the person, the
skill, or the ability. This is seen as almost universally ‘bad’—
people who do this naturally are classified as ‘evil’ in a social
setting. This is interfacing with him as a thing that can be broken
down and rendered non-functional.
It’s interesting to note that these four levels correspond to
different ranges and comfort zones:
Interfacing with the person can be done from across the
street, a distance from trouble where most people feel safe (they
can always take off running if it gets out of hand).
Interfacing with his skill-set is almost always done at a pace
away, with the contestants circling to get a feel for the other
guy’s skill level, feinting and parrying and otherwise dancing
around. It’s all about giving yourself enough room to see what
122
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
he’s doing and try to counter it.
Interfacing with his physical abilities is done skin-to-skin,
but that’s as deep as it goes.
Interfacing with the frailties of the flesh is done beneath the
skin—true injury is about disregarding the sanctity of the body
and simply destroying it.
What-ifs, Buts and Maybes
As a trainer, I’m constantly interacting with people of various
sizes, ages, genders, and skill-levels. What’s interesting isn’t so
much the physical configuration of the person I’m training, but
the things they ask me. The kinds of questions people ask during
training can tell you a lot about where their head is at and at which
level they’re stuck on. Most people are used to the social sphere.
They accept the antisocial sphere as sometimes necessary, and that’s
as far as they ever want it to go. Getting them to move beyond that
to the asocial can be an incredible challenge. They come up with all
sorts of questions to avoid confronting the truth. But the important
thing to note is that none of their worries have any impact on injury
whatsoever.
The ‘Socialist’
The person who is uncomfortable with the whole idea of conflict
will ask questions that dance around the issue from across the street,
like, “How can I tell if he wants to hurt me?” and such. It’s obvious
that they never want to engage in actual violence. Most people start
out here. What they’re actually looking for is some kind of warning
system that will tell them when they should get away. They’ve yet
to realize that what they’re training for is the type of violence that
can’t be avoided. If you have the option to run away, then take it.
There’s no “how can I tell” involved. How can you tell if he wants
to hurt you? You’ll know. Your instincts will tell you. And at the
123
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
time, you won’t think about it because it won’t matter.
The Duelist
People trained in martial arts usually get hung-up on interfacing
with his skill. They’ll ask the most what-ifs, like, “What if he throws
a spinning back kick?” “What if he counters my joint lock?” and
“What if he’s holding the knife like this?” They are also overly
concerned with blocking—both in doing it and worrying about
having it done to them. These are the tacticians. They want to lay
out every scenario beforehand so that when it happens, they have a
technique to address it. Trying to explain to them that they have to
leave the technique behind is difficult because it’s been so carefully
drilled into their heads. These people are also concerned with
keeping things at the social level. They never want to move outside
the world regulated by rules and fair conduct.
The Animal
Untrained people who can come to terms with the idea of conflict
usually end up fixated on physical attributes. For smaller, less athletic
people it manifests as worry about how they’ll fare against bigger,
stronger, faster adversaries; big, strong folks have the opposite
problem—they typically believe they cannot be defeated by ‘lesser’
beings. Both are equally problematic. Violence isn’t about prowess.
It’s about injury. A five foot tall, 100 pound woman is just as capable
of gouging your eyes out as a six foot tall, 250 pound man. Don’t ever
fall into the trap of thinking the stronger party prevails. Whoever gets
it right, first, does.
Sociopaths & Butchers
Almost no one shows up comfortable with injury as a starting
point. If someone came in excited about hurting people, I would be
very worried.
124
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Progress
Another interesting thing to note is that progressing through the
levels is not linear. Socialists don’t usually walk through the others
to arrive at injury. They go one of two ways—either they dig in their
heels and cram their heads into the sand and will never, ever cross
the street, or they go straight from where they are to injury (though
sometimes with a short stopover at the animal level).
Duelists are another thing entirely. It is often very difficult to
wean them off of the idea that they need to respect and/or thwart his
skill before they can be effective. If they do move on, it’s usually
with a long stopover at the animal level. His skill bothered them
before; now they’ve transferred that worry to his physical abilities.
Those who have taken the long walk from skill to animal to injury
are typically the most evangelical about the whole process. (As
opposed to those who went straight from social to injury. They
usually don’t see the whole experience as that big a deal).
Animals are easier to nudge into interfacing directly with the
meat of the matter. They’re pretty close, conceptually, and they just
need to be shown how to direct their efforts away from strong points
and into the weak ones. (Instead of going strength-to-strength, go
strength-to-eyeball).
If you’re reading this I’m going to assume that you don’t have
a problem with violence in a general sense, that you’re not hung up
on the social aspects from across the street. So where are your hang
ups? What are you stuck on? Are you worried about what he’ll do
if he’s skilled? Or bigger-stronger-faster? Be honest with yourself.
You’re letting yourself down if you lie—you’re not going to get any
more effective that way.
If the idea of going after a trained Goliath makes you sweat
(more than the usual, healthy amount, I mean) then you need buckle
down and study up on injury. Seek out photos of sports injuries (for
broken joints and twisted, non-functioning limbs). Autopsy reports
125
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
from non-firearm killings—especially where the victim was beaten
to death—are illuminating. Troll the internet for videos of prison
fights and violent muggings. Essentially, look for anything where
the survivor is interacting with the other person as a piece of meat.
You’ll be repulsed and comforted simultaneously.
126
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Eight
The Hardest Lesson
I’ll be honest with you, when the Virginia Tech shooting first
happened, I really didn’t want to write about it. Not the day it
happened, and not the next. Never. I didn’t want to write about
it because nothing I could say would be novel, or surprising—if
anything this incident was just everything we’re always saying and
doing anyway, knobbed up to 11 and turned on a mass of hapless
innocents.
But mostly, I didn’t want to write about it because I did not wish
to inadvertently speak ill of the dead or laud a mass murderer.
What changed my mind? To a large degree it was the back channel
chatter I got—phone calls, emails, PMs from pretty much everyone
who knows what I do for a living. Everyone wanted my take on it.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was one in particular who
pointed out what a difference it made, for them personally, when I
spoke to the point on the 9/11 attacks the day after they occurred.
That, and the comments of an Israeli lawyer. But more on that
in a moment.
I’m going to skip the obvious dissection for the reasons stated
above, and instead focus on problems within American society itself
that, in my opinion, make it possible for one man with a 9mm pistol
to slaughter more than 30 people.
It comes down to two things that together make for a tragic
oxymoron: we live in a society that is voyeuristically obsessed with
violence, and yet we have very little real information on how to
function in violent conflict. To me, this is a lot like living on boats
and aggressively plying the seas while not actually knowing how to
swim.
127
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
On the one hand, our culture celebrates violence in video media,
music, and indeed our literature. On the other we recoil from any
attempt to confront the realities of violent conflict. I believe most
people view portrayals of violence in media through an antisocial
lens; when the ‘hero’ kills a ‘bad guy’ they are seeing the school
yard fight we often talk about.
But the moment one attempts to realistically address violence,
and train for it, we’re suddenly madmen. You would not believe the
amount of static I get for being honest, forthright, and attempting
to educate people in this matter. Of course, this is a natural, sane,
response; it would make perfect sense if we lived in a perfect world.
And therein lies the problem: if only madmen are allowed and/
or expected to use violence, then only madmen will have access to
the tool.
That brings me to the comment from the Israeli lawyer, made
to a colleague of mine. He asked, “Why didn’t they just rush the
gunman?” He further commented that this was the ‘tactic of record’
in Israel.
Did they try that? I don’t know. I fear that what allowed this
murderer to work so efficiently was the same thing that allowed the
9/11 attacks to succeed: individual fear of a tool.
The mechanics that make handling the situation are simple.
The psychological element is not. In other words, the mechanics of
knocking out or killing an armed person are very straightforward.
Making yourself get up and get in there—overcoming the terror and
chaos in your head—is not.
Knowing the mechanics of this sort of action, and training with
them, helps the psychological side immensely. Knowing what to do
is its own kind of confidence. Even something as simple as deciding,
as a society, that we’ll all rush and overwhelm a gunman—having
that plan ahead of time—goes a long way toward mitigating
individual, paralyzing fear.
128
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Realizing you have no idea what to do can only fuel the terror
and give the murderer the time and space he needs to work.
It’s already been said, in many places, that a single student
armed with a firearm could have made a difference. While they are
right, let’s tease out the ‘why that works.’
Another student with a gun could have affected the outcome
because he or she would have held, in their hand, the power to kill.
So what’s really being said here is that one student who had the
power to kill could have made a difference. Whether that power
comes from a device or from knowledge of how to do it with their
bare hands is immaterial. In fact, any amount of real information
as to what to do when suddenly dropped into this situation could
have made a difference. But none of us really know anything about
violence, in spite of our constant exposure to it. None of us are
comfortable enough to know how to kill when the situation arises.
Instead, due to the way our society processes violence, there
was only one person there who had access to the tool. If we don’t
change the way our society processes violence only one person is
going to learn anything from all this—the next shooter.
Don’t Flinch, Don’t Look Away—Learn
You’ve heard me say that the one doing the violence prevails,
and you’ve probably seen this adage in action (hopefully only on
video). You buy the logic of it, see the truth of it stitched across the
entire swath of human history. But have you ever really thought
about what that means for you?
In poker they say that if you sit down at the table and don’t know
who the sucker is, it’s you. If you find yourself there, as the sucker,
it’s best to get out before the first card hits the table.
In violence, if you’re not the most dangerous person in the room,
you’re a potential victim.
129
PART TWO: The Principles of Violence
So really, the end-goal of all training, all time on the mats, every
last millisecond, even reading this book is to become the most
dangerous person in the room. Period.
Wherever you go, no matter who you’re surrounded by, you
need to be the most dangerous person there. The One person who,
if you were to be caught on video doing violence, would stand out
for directness, ferocity and brutality. The One obvious person in the
frame who is in control, making everyone else want to get away
from them—and breaking people at will. The One who would make
even a casual observer blanch and crap their pants.
You want to be the center of the storm.
Right now you’re all nodding in agreement. You got it, this is
nothing new. That’s you to a ‘T.’ It’s where you live, it’s how you
roll, because you’re dedicated to living an embarrassingly long life
and dying in bed surrounded by your geriatric great-grandchildren
with your third baboon heart beating in your chest.
Here comes the hard part, the hardest lesson, because violence
has nothing to do with being dedicated to living—it has everything
to do with being dedicated to hurting, crippling and killing people.
With being The One person there who wants to do those things more
than anyone else in the room.
Who do we know of who pulled off this trick recently?
That’s right—the Virginia Tech shooter.
His use of the tool of violence was stunning in its base utility—it
was textbook. So much so it is now your required reading.
I already told you that I don’t want to applaud this guy. I don’t
want you to think that I approve of what he did. Hell, I’d like to
not lay it out like this at all, but then the question becomes ‘when?’
There will never be a good time, so like a nasty-tasting medicine
we’re just going to get it over with.
130
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
He was everything I laid out in the above paragraph, the one you
were nodding enthusiastically to just a moment ago. Feels different
now, doesn’t it?
If you really got it, if you really understood what we’re up to and
up against here, it wouldn’t feel different at all. You would nod, but
not enthusiastically. You’d do it with a grim determination.
See, it’s kind of cool to whisper to yourself, “I’m The One, the
most dangerous person in the room.” Kind of puffs you up, makes
you feel like a 007 agent.
The reality of that statement ain’t so nice—or socially acceptable.
Because what you’re really saying is “I’m like the Virginia Tech
shooter.”
The center of the storm, with unflinching intent, making everyone
want to get away from you rather than go after you, delivering
multiple injuries per person, dropping them and then making sure
they don’t get up.
If you had read the preceding paragraph before I mentioned
Virginia Tech, you’d think it was pretty cool. You’d think, “That’s
me.” But not now. Now you’re wrestling with it. Sickened by the
idea.
That’s why it’s the hardest lesson.
It’s not only hard to learn—most people don’t want to learn it.
If you’re having trouble with it, then that’s your biggest problem
with training for violence—not how good or bad your technique is,
or where exactly is the spleen target or not knowing enough joint
breaks.
Because if you walk into the room and you don’t know who the
most dangerous person there is, it sure as hell isn’t you.
131
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
PART THREE:
PUTTING THE
PRINCIPLES
INTO ACTION
132
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter One
Roadblocks, Plateaus & Epiphanies
In thinking about how it felt to learn and process the tool of
violence for my own use, I realized there were five distinct phases in
the evolution of my thinking and, by extension, my training focus.
As my understanding grew, the way I trained changed. Or, I should
say, as my understanding became more simplified and streamlined,
so did the way I trained.
Phase 1: Approaching the material from a fantasy angle.
I originally came from a martial arts background, and so
approached the new material as merely a ‘super-rugged’ martial art.
Or all martial arts crammed into one. We all bring our own appetite
to the table; an all-in-one approach is what I was seeking on my
martial arts Vision Quest because that is what I’d been led to believe
was required when someone wants to kill you.
I was also well ‘informed’ by the mass media. I was sure that the
real-deal would go down like the climax of a Schwarzenegger film.
I was looking to square off and trade blows until I could pull out a
really cool technique and impale my foe on a protruding fuel rod
from a nuclear reactor. And then coolly declaim a pithy one-liner.
Really.
I wanted to train for a duel, and was acutely interested in
countering whatever it was he had in store for me and being able to
get in. What exactly would happen in there? I had no real idea. But
I did have the fantasies.
My mat time reflected my thinking; I wanted to look cool with
all kinds of whippy-spinny crap. I went fast and slapped my reaction
partners around. I probably wasn’t a lot of fun to work with.
133
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Phase 2: A more realistic angle, but not quite.
I realized that movies and comic books were crap when it came to
useful instruction in violence—they require violence to be dramatic
and climactic for effect. Real violence, in contrast, was often nasty,
brutish, and short.
All that realization did for me was make me aware of my own
insufficiencies; it made me overly troubled by what the other guy
was up to. I sought to prepare for all contingencies. I worked over
scenario after scenario in my head, trying vainly to cover every
‘what-if.’
I sought ultimate, unassailable superiority as a palliative to my
anxiety. I worked hard on ‘advanced’ techniques, i.e., ever fancier
joint breaks and throws.
This phase could also be called minor paranoia. This was a huge
breakthrough moment, both triumphant and terrifying. If you’ve
engaged in combat sports, you might know the feeling: you finally
move up a level, and you feel a huge rush of pride together with a
twinge of fear. Now you’ll go from fighting guys at your level to
much tougher, harder opponents; in a single moment, you’ve gone
from king of the hill to bottom of the barrel.
That’s a human condition, by the way. It happens to kids
graduating from junior high school: it’s a huge accomplishment
to pass grade nine and head over to that big brick building, but
you’ve just gone from being the biggest, toughest kids in school
to the youngest and smallest. Any triumph usually comes with new
challenges, just to make things more fun.
When you realize that “real” violence is nothing like what you
see in the movies—that it’s brutal, tough, scary, and usually over in
an instant—that’s one of those moments. It’s a huge victory. You’ve
finally overcome years of social programming and seen the truth. At
the same time, though, it’s absolutely terrifying, because now you
134
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
know what’s out there. And if you’re anything like me, that leads
to this kind of frantic training, a desperate desire to make sure you
know how to handle what you might come up against.
Phase 3: Realizing he’s not my problem—I’m his problem.
It’s great to say it—it’s another thing entirely to live it. I knew
it was true, but I was still not comfortable owning that ideal. I had
a better grip on what was up but I was still plagued with nagging
concerns over what he might be up to. It was a lot of ‘okay, I got
that, but what if...’
This was the first time in my training where I began to concentrate
on injuring the man as a priority above and beyond what he was
doing or what I thought would look cool. My mat time started to get
ugly in the good way.
In other words, the transition ended. I overcame the shock of my
initial realization about the true nature of violence and began to deal
with it. Let’s face it: people can adapt to almost anything. We get
used to living without people we love who have died, we get used
to wars and starvation and just about anything else. It’s completely
natural that, sooner or later, we’ll get used to the truth.
Of course, before you get used to anything, you have to encounter
it. The whole point of this book is that we want you to encounter
violence, real violence, as an idea before you meet it on the streets.
That way you can go through your moment of shock and fear, get
over it, and be fully prepared for what you have to do when you
meet violence face to face.
Phase 4: Arriving at the singularity of violence.
This is where it all came together. This is where I realized that
all the seemingly disparate elements of violence were really just
aspects of the same thing—all strikes, joint breaks, and throws, with
and without tools, were all the same thing. Injuring the man. This
135
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
is where I made the shift from ‘fighting’ into ‘injuring.’ And it only
took me 11 years!
This change came, to a large degree, from nine years of teaching.
But it also came from anxiety fatigue. I was tired of worrying. I was
tired of getting all wrung out in knots over every little thing that
might could go wrong. The possibilities for fatal screw-ups were
infinite; in the end it was just easier to let that all go and focus on
breaking the man. I realized I was my own worst enemy and decided
to chuck it all and become the thing I feared most:
A person so narrowly dedicated to destruction that only death
could stop me.
While dispatching the ‘bad guy’ with flair and uncounterable
aplomb is a nice idea, it’s nowhere near as good as walking away
with your life. A solid, pedestrian money shot to the groin is worth
10,000 of the fanciest techniques.
I began to own and live the truth that all targets are equal, as
are all injuries; my workouts slowed and became inexorable. I
simply took what I wanted. I laughed with unrestrained pleasure
when people tried to grapple me. I taunted them openly as they tried
to pin me, “Are you sure you got me?” Then I grabbed them by
something unexpectedly fragile and dragged them screaming into
my serial injury cave. Eyes and mouth wide, fingernails splintering
on the stones as they vanished into darkness.
It was all about me all the time, and I was never sorry again.
Phase 5: Approaching the material from a sociopathic angle.
Most people would probably prefer not to be classified as
sociopaths. That’s fair enough. I don’t think of myself as a sociopath,
either. But in order to understand violence, you have to look it the
same way a sociopath would. That’s the only way you’ll ever stand
on even ground, predator-to-predator.
136
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
The moral of the story? In the end, it’s just as simple as this:
It’s not about what he’s got or what he wants to do—it’s about
getting over there and breaking him.
So what’s this mean for you?
It took me 11 years to get to this point because there was no one
there to tell me any different. I’m here to tell you how it goes down
right now, to give you the tools to make it work and show you how
to swing those tools. You get the benefit of every last second I spent
on the mats, every last second I spent thinking about it. Instead of
making you relive every second I spent, I’m here to give you the
end result. I’m here to tell you different. Instead of reinventing the
wheel, all you have to do is grab a body and hit the mats.
137
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Chapter Two
Training For Life
³3HRSOHRIWHQVD\WKDWPRWLYDWLRQGRHVQ¶WODVW:HOOQHLWKHU
does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig
Ziglar
Something we frequently hear is, “Okay, I get this whole violence
thing, but what if—” followed by some hypothetical situation you’ve
come up with that might go down on the streets.
This is code for ‘I don’t want to get hurt.’
Well, nobody does. If this were something that you could reliably
choose to avoid, it would be a central part of our training. But it isn’t.
The truth about violence is that you’re going to get punched,
kicked, stabbed, whacked and shot—whether you’re the ‘winner’ or
not. Any other outcome—like walking through it and putting your
man (or men) down without getting a scratch on you—is pure luck.
What you can realistically expect as the survivor is to limp out
of there alive.
Accepting the reality of the situation ahead of time will save
your life. It’ll keep you from quitting right at the point where things
are at their worst. Let’s say you are trained in ‘knife defense.’ And
then you get stabbed. Your first though will be ‘I screwed up’ which
will lead to the result of ‘screwing up’: death. You’ll be thinking
about the result of your mistake—‘I’m going to die!’—instead of
what you need to be thinking to survive, primarily ‘take the eye.’
Look at the difference there. We have an abstraction versus a
concrete action. Which one do you want coming out of you when
your life depends on it? You’ve heard it said that there are no atheists
138
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
in a foxhole. Well, there are no philosophers in a knife fight. Not live
ones, anyway.
It’s also important to note that the people who are best at violence
completely ignore the ‘what’s he up to’ side of the equation; they
simply put all their effort into making violence one-sided and
keeping it that way. They wade in and get it done, to the exclusion
of all else.
And so should you.
Success is your benchmark. You are going to do your best to
model the efforts and behaviors of those who are successful at
violence. In short, you’re going to act like the survivors.
You’re obviously not going to act like the dead (that goes without
saying), nor are you going to model behaviors and action that you
might wish were present. Rather than accessing violence the way
you wish it worked, you’ll look to reality for your training cues.
This is a huge leap into uncomfortable places.
Instead of training the way you wish it were, you’re going to
train the way it is. You’re going to start at the point of injury, and let
the other guy worry about waiting and seeing. He can wait and see
what you’re up to while you do it to him.
Reality is a smog-belching bulldozer with the elves and fairy-
folk of nice ideals all broken and snarled up in its iron treads. If
you have a choice—and you do—then train to put yourself in the
driver’s seat, and the other guy beneath the blade.
Three Common Training Mistakes
Let’s assume for the moment that you’re with me. You understand
that real violence is asocial, scary, and deadly, and you know that
you have to train to be prepared to attack and kill. How do you go
about doing that?
139
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Well, first let’s talk about how not to do it—these are the three
most common training mistakes practiced by many self-defense and
martial arts experts:
1. 1rainingforone-on-onecombat.
I’ve hammered home the importance of the cold hard fact: “you
do what you train.” Anything you do in a training environment is
exactly how you are conditioning yourself to respond in a life-or-
death situation. Most of my clients understand this principle in
applying trauma to the body. They are careful to insure that they
strike with a tight fist or make sure that they complete the rotation
of their body to deploy maximum force upon the given target area
of the other guy.
However, even if you do all this, you won’t be prepared to face
more than one opponent. You’ll be excellent at handling the one guy,
but add in another and watch the meltdown occur. And the simple
fact is, there’s safety in numbers, even for the criminal sociopath.
People tend to attack in groups.
You must always treat every confrontation as having multiple
guys. You need to be instructed how to be a 360˚ fighter and to be
aware of your surroundings at all times. In TFT, all fighting is against
multiple guys even in a one-on-one training session. This means as I
take out my current victim I’m aware of my surroundings and hunting
for my next victim If you’ve never really trained for multiple guys
then you’ve never trained for life-or-death confrontations. Don’t
make that mistake.
2. Wastingtime“conditioning”yourbody.
Martial artists are amazing. They can do extraordinary things.
I’ve seen television shows where they bend spears with the hollow
of their neck, sit on the floor in a cross-legged position while ten
students attempt with ‘all their might’ to push the master over, and a
variety of others who could pass needles through their skin without
bleeding, cut themselves, then ‘miraculously’ stop the bleeding, put
140
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
sharp objects in their eyes, etc., etc.
It’s impressive, all right. Unfortunately, conditioning the body
to take a hit is also a complete waste of time. “Why?” you ask?
Simply because violence is so unpredictable. I can almost
guarantee that the area of your body you chose to ‘condition’ will
not be the area attacked in a real situation. More importantly, there
are over 70 anatomical areas of the human body that provide some
200 specific targets that cannot be ‘conditioned.’ As you can see, it’s
very easy to injure the human body just by knowing a small number
of these 200 options. (Really, any single one will do if you know
what to do with it.)
You can’t condition the body for real violence, and neither can
those people listed above. Don’t be impressed with parlor tricks.
To the guy putting a sharp object in his eye—offer to do it for
him (just be prepared to stab him in the eye).
For the guy bending the spear with his neck—step behind him
and shin kick him to the groin, then watch how easily the spear
pierces his throat!
For the guy sitting cross-legged and having everyone attempt to
push him over—take your fingers and dig them straight up under his
chin and watch him topple over.
Finally, the sword swallower—I guarantee if you take your
fingers and jam them down his throat, he will gag and puke just like
everyone else.
The point is this: the human body can be trained to handle trauma
to a specific area under controlled conditions. This has nothing to
do with creating injuries. Take away the controls, and chaos reigns.
That’s why attempting to control the uncontrollable is a very
poor use of your time. With proper targeting, on the other hand, you
get injuries regardless of the other guy’s size, strength, speed—or
141
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
ability to bend spears with his neck.
Remember: the best way to survive a violent encounter is to be
the one doing the violence.
3. Relyingontrainingtools.
Many people firmly believe in training tools like punching bags.
They may agree that a bag can’t take the place of a live partner, but
they point out that you can hit a bag harder and more often than you
can a human being, thereby developing strength, speed, and stamina.
This is true for competition training—but training for
competition is not the same as training for violence. Such aids are
counterproductive when your focus is violence.
In the late 1980s I remember reading a very interesting interview
with a former San Diego police officer. He started his career in
the 1920s when San Diego still retained some of its ‘Wild West’
reputation (and the problems associated with that ‘reputation’).
In this interview the officer tells numerous stories of putting
down riots and engaging in all methods of hand-to-hand combat
in order to ‘do the right thing.’ That was all very entertaining, but
what struck me was what he told the interviewer midway through
the article.
He said that prior to joining the department he had been a boxer
and really enjoyed going to the boxing gym. He loved sparring and
working out on the heavy and speed bags. But he found that the more
he dealt with criminals on the street the more his boxing worked
against him. He noted there was different ‘timing’ on the street and
people ‘moved when you hit them.’ It got to the point where he had
to stop boxing because it made him slower on the street.
The interviewer was stunned by this statement and questioned
him further. The officer then elaborated saying that it was a lot easier
to hurt people when you didn’t have to ‘box.’ What you had to learn
142
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
instead was to stay on top of them as you hit them.
I remember one example where he told how easy it was to break
a neck after you hurt a man as long as you moved past him while
doing it (remember this was the ‘20s). He demonstrated how he did
this to the interviewer saying it was a great way for a couple of cops
to quickly put down a riot.
Hmmm ... sounds an awful lot like getting your first injury, then
doing a joint break, all using penetration and rotation—where have
you heard that one before?
Bottom line: Competition training aids like heavy bags are poor
preparation for doing violence against another human. The bad
habits ingrained with such products can rob you of opportunities to
end the situation you find yourself in NOW, instead giving the other
guy time to recover and do violence on you.
Principles of Target-Focus Training
I received an excellent breakdown of TFT’s training principles
from a client one day. They’re worth sharing with you now because
these are exactly the things you need to keep in mind when you’re
training for real life—not the boxing ring. They are:
Violence Basics
• Work like a sociopath in a life-or-death confrontation—
maim, cripple or kill.
• There are no rules in violence—remove any such boundaries
or you will suffer the consequences.
• Your only weapon is your brain. Everything else is a tool.
• In violence, never focus on the other guy’s tools (gun, knife,
or club). Focus on taking out his weapon (brain)—simply
taking away the tools and leaving the other guy functional
may cost you your life.
143
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
• Violence is not give and take—make it one-sided.
Doing Violence
• Be the one doing the violence.
• Aim small, miss small.
• Always focus on striking targets.
• Always strike, never block.
• Have a first strike mentality: don’t hesitate.
• Always strike as hard as you can, with your entire body.
• Never quit until the other guy is nonfunctional.
• Always assume multiple persons in a violent confrontation.
• Always ask yourself “what is available to me” NOT “what is
being done to me?”
Social vs. Asocial
• Don’t use violence to solve social situations.
• Don’t ever posture with violence.
• Don’t try to ‘teach someone a lesson’ or you may get
schooled.
• Walk away from ego-based confrontations—there is no
threat.
• If you can use social skills to avoid violence do so, but if it is
asocial then there is only one option: violence.
Training for Violence
• Be brilliant at the basics.
• You do what you train: make sure you train for the real world.
All in all, a pretty good primer for violent conflict. I was glad to
see our training had made sense to him and sunk into a deep enough
144
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
level that he was able to order the basics in his own words, for his
own use. His list made it obvious to me that he’d taken ownership
of the material—that he had the tool of violence firmly gripped in
both fists.
What he’s unrolled here is a great blueprint for anyone to get
started building the tool for themselves. You can’t go wrong with any
of it; it’s a to-the-point distillation of why criminals are successful,
and how you can be, too.
145
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Chapter Three
Learn To Fight or Work Out?
“There is a great streak of violence in every human being. If
it is not channeled and understood, it will break out in war
RULQPDGQHVV´²6DP3HFNLQSDK
I saw a commercial for one of those dance instruction programs
that guarantees you’d be able to dance as well as any member of the
most popular boy-bands. The program showed a group of students
following the instructor step-by-step to learn some pretty complex
moves, choreographed to perfection.
The result was that by memorizing the steps and combining the
moves, students could mimic the formerly difficult routine.
It reminded me of watching a Wushu team practice their show.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, Wushu is a Chinese martial
art that is delivered via a stage performance. The fights are very
elaborate and it takes a great deal of practice to put on a convincing
show.
As I watched the team practice it was interesting to note that
whenever someone wanted to screw around all they had to do was
execute a move different from the routine. Literally you would be
watching a fight scene you’d swear was pitting two highly trained
fighters in mortal combat when all of a sudden one of the guys
would move differently ... maybe slap the other guy in the face like
the Three Stooges used to do. Everyone would laugh, then take a
break. But that slap also woke me up out of the dream state I was in
as I watched the performance.
I realized that this was exactly the method in which most martial
arts or combat sports are instructed. Especially when they try to train
146
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
for self-defense. Basically there are set patterns you memorize in
response to various staged attacks. Memorize those responses and
you can look pretty impressive.
But what happens if you vary the attack?
Most students freeze.
Why?
Because they were never taught how to fight!
Nope, they basically were taught to dance—and as long as
everything went according to the routine, they could do okay. But
we all know things never go exactly as planned.
Fighting is no different—whether you are on the mat at your
training center or on the street locked in mortal combat with the
other guy(s). The only variation is that when you fight with your
training partner you don’t actually maim, cripple or kill. You still
target and simulate those exact strikes, just at a pace your partner
can handle.
If, however, you’re operating in a ‘training’ mode where you
are memorizing a ‘set’ response to an attack, you are learning
nothing but a ‘dance’ move. Such training is coordination training,
not fighting. If you don’t know the difference, you can easily fall
victim to the “now-it’s-for-real” syndrome. That’s where you face
an imminent attack, yet hesitate ... as your brain tries to accept the
fact that “this is for real.”
Contrast this to the well-trained fighter who simply sees all this
as merely fighting and proceeds to: a) find his targets and b) strike.
The only difference to the fighter is the fact he can now strike with
full power. That’s because the well-trained fighter never sees himself
as ‘training’—he’s always fighting. Understand this concept and
you’ll always be prepared ... no matter what the situation.
147
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Fighting is Fighting, Not Getting In Shape
I meant what I said: the well-trained fighter sees everything as a
fight. He’ll never tell you he’s going to “workout” when he heads for
a training session. That’s because the emphasis isn’t on “working,”
it’s on the fight itself.
While I was shooting a new video series, my friend (and world
class Olympian strength coach) Charles Staley was hanging out and
watching. At one point one of the instructors asked Charles about
how to improve his workout regime to get a better body composition.
The instructor made the comment, “What sucks is once you
know how to take people out, there’s no motivation to get big.”
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement, but I
understand what he meant—using violence as a survival tool and
staying in shape have nothing to do with each other. There are
obvious health and lifestyle benefits to being in good physical shape
but that is not a condition for effectively using violence to injure an
asocial criminal.
Violence is achievable by everyone—not just those in good
shape.
That’s the realm of combat sports and martial arts where being
in shape is important. Rules hinder your ability to use violence
effectively and when competing, the goal is to better your opponent
skill-wise, not injure him and leave him nonfunctional. Physical
conditioning can often be the defining factor in such contests,
especially with two equally skill opponents.
Using violence requires intent. You have to model asocial
conditions to recognize when to act. Effective targeting allows you
to maximize the use of violence. This allows you to bypass the need
for good physical conditioning to be able to create injuries on any
human body regardless of the size, speed, and physical strength of
the other guy.
148
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
My point is that violence is available to everyone regardless of
physical condition. TFT helps you to learn how to use violence most
effectively ... but you don’t have to know TFT to use violence to
protect yourself.
Again, the prisons are full of ‘untrained’ murderers who already
understand this point. Don’t use the excuse you need to get in shape
as a reason not to understand the tool of violence.
Worry About What Matters
Some people come to TFT looking for an exercise program.
When I tell them to work on targeting, it baffles them.
I tell people over and over the best way to hit harder is first hit
your targets. I also give people a simple drill: to constantly look for
targets throughout their day as they see people in the streets, malls,
grocery stores, etc. The best way to improve a skill is to constantly
practice it in non-stressful settings. That way under stress the brain
naturally seeks out this familiar skill set. Professional athletes
throughout the world use this visualization method—and the better
they are at it, the better their performance.
Yet over and over, I get confused looks and people saying, “Ok,
I’ll do that, but what type of workout should I do?” They want me
to give them a weight-based workout to improve their power and
(most won’t admit) their body composition.
I laugh to myself and wonder why they even asked for my
advice. Since I told them to first work on their targeting, perhaps
they should ask themselves why I advised that course of action.
The answer? Well, nobody likes to hear it, but it’s because their
targeting sucks.
The biggest improvement they could make in their fighting
at this stage is simply improving targeting. Period. After that is
accomplished I can then assist them in improving their physical
149
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
dynamics to increase the trauma they deliver to those targets.
If you want an exercise program, go to the gym. I’m not
recommending against that, either; I think it’s a great thing to get in
shape, and I encourage everyone to maintain physical fitness. But
this is a completely different issue from using violence as a tool.
Your physical fitness levels are literally nothing compared to your
ability to hit a target.
150
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Four
Dead Men Tell No Tales Or,
Why You Can’t Learn Anything of Value
From the Dead Guy
When we see an act of violence, we feel it in our guts. Our eyes
turn to the hapless victim, desperately trying to defend himself, and
a part of us is there, suffering with him. This is what sane, socialized
people experience when they see violence—empathy. Keep in mind
again here that I’m talking about real violence. Yes, people will
cheer and jeer at a barroom brawl or a schoolyard spat, but no one
cheers when they see a man stabbed in the neck. We can imagine the
pain and we empathize with the plight of the victim. This is normal
and natural and good. It’s what makes society tick along and keeps
us from tearing out each other’s throats at the drop of a hat.
If you spend any time at all worrying about things like violence,
that knee-jerk empathy morphs into questions: What could the
victim have done differently? How can I keep that from happening
to me? You have a natural tendency to identify with the victim
because, let’s face it, that could have been you. You’re not the one
prowling the streets looking for trouble. You’re much more likely
to be attacked than to be attacking. So the fantasy is that if only
you could learn from his mistakes, then what happened to him can’t
happen to you.
A neat idea, but much like the dead guy, full of holes.
The only piece of (almost) useful information we can learn from
the dead guy is to not be there. I say ‘almost useful’ because it’s
stupid-obvious. It works okay when you’re presented with a clear-
cut choice—do I escalate or disengage? But it’s stupid when you
think about scenarios like workplace shootings: “I’m not coming in
today—I feel a shooting coming on.”
151
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Anything you think you could learn from the dead guy’s
performance—if he’d just gone for the eye or not stepped back—is
pointless because it’s all pretend. It’s make-believe.
It didn’t happen that way.
Someone else in the picture was doing something. Something
that worked. Something that got the job done. Something that made
the dead guy dead. He’s the one you’re going to want to look at if
you want to learn what works in violence.
Is this a nice, comfortable idea? Hell no. The vast majority of
violent video footage also happens to be criminal. And you, not
being a criminal, will find it naturally difficult to empathize with the
person doing the violence. But that’s the only place where there is
anything useful to be learned.
Why? Because it is a record of what works in violence. It’s not
pretend, it’s not coulda-woulda-shoulda—it is. When we shift focus
off of the dead guy and onto the survivor we leave the world of
conjecture and land squarely in the realm of fact. If you’re going to
bet your life on something, I don’t recommend you bet it on a bunch
of opinions or armchair quarterbacking—bet it on the facts.
The person doing the violence is using the facts to his advantage.
Pay attention to what he’s up to. The only thing the dead guy can
show you is the end result of those facts. And that’s information you
already had going in.
152
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Five
The Final Word in Context—MURDER
Every time I discuss Target-Focus Training or my take on
violence, I encounter confusion about what it is I do—confusion
that I am, quite frankly, tired of hashing and rehashing. Every time I
start a new session, I have to tread carefully so I don’t make people
think I’m training them to become sociopaths. There are deep-seated
biological, psychological and societal reasons for this confusion—
and so it is perfectly natural for this confusion to persist—but as an
instructor it frustrates me because treading back and forth across
this well-worn rut doesn’t make you any better at doing violence.
The only thing that makes you any better is getting the
mechanics down pat—how and where to cause injury, and how to
best take advantage of the last injury you caused. Everything else
is just mental masturbation that feels important because it tastes
like philosophy with a little bit of work mixed in. You think you’re
working while avoiding doing any of the real work that will make
you better at doing violence—namely, getting a reaction partner and
hitting the mats regularly. It’s like trying to learn how to fly from
a book and then declaring yourself a qualified pilot. You may be
book-qualified, but I sure don’t want to get up in a plane with you
until you’ve got a few hours of actual on-the-job instruction under
your belt. Violence is the same.
This might feel like I’m flogging a dead horse, but my goal is
to flay it to the bone (or finally sell it off if you take the original
meaning); I want to take it to its absurd, logical conclusion beyond
which there is no more jaw-flapping:
What we teach is violence, which is what you need to do when
someone wants to murder you.
“So where’s the confusion?” you ask. That seems pretty clear-
153
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
cut. And that’s what I think, too. But then the questions start:
Why would I ever need to know how to kill someone?
Won’t I get in trouble if I use this in a bar fight?
But what if he’s got X and/or Y and he’s coming at me like so?
How do I do it to someone who knows what you guys know?
What if he does it first?
Or any one of an infinite number of variations. All of these
questions tell me one single thing: you don’t really believe that
bigger-faster-stronger doesn’t matter. You want to believe, but you
don’t.
Where does all the confusion come from? It arises because you
think you know what you’re seeing, and you’re looking at it through
the wrong mental porthole. When fists and feet are flying, you see
monkey politics. You see competition. It’s all Great Apes working
out dominance and submission. Don’t feel bad—you’re hardwired
to recognize and respond to this. It’s only natural. Which is why I
want to start the violence conversation off with one guy shooting
another guy to death.
Watching one person kill another with a firearm won’t ping your
monkey brain. It’ll go far deeper, down into the lizard-level, the
primeval predator level. You’ll see it for what it is —killing. If we
look at the underlying mechanics we have all it really is: kinetic
energy delivered through anatomy, wrecking it.
And now we have the perfect model to work backwards from.
Keep the killing context, keep the wrecked anatomy in mind and
now look at other ways of affecting that outcome: kinetic energy
delivered through anatomy, wrecking it
So, a fist, a boot, a pipe, a shin, etc., etc., it doesn’t matter what
as long as it’s doing the work that a bullet does, if only in a generic
sense. So now if we line up a series of killings and look at them
154
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
side-by-side, a shooting, a bludgeoning, a knifing, getting hit by a
car—we should be able to see the clear, underlying principles that
govern all of these equally and immutably. Learning how to wield
these principles is the ‘getting the mechanics down pat’ I mentioned
earlier.
All clear, right? No, back to the confusion: everyone gets the
gun and the car, but they feel iffy about the pipe and the knife, and
downright scoff at the fist, boot, or shin. I don’t mean that they
object to using them. I’m talking about learning to see them as
threats. Everyone knows a gun can kill you, but people think that
a knife gives them an element of chance—and they know they can
avoid getting killed by a punch if they’re careful. What they know
is wrong, of course, but they still believe it.
Why?
Because they read it with their monkey politics filter and think
there’s something they can do about it: “I can’t dodge bullets but
I can block a punch.” This is the ultimate in hubris and sends you
down a negative feedback spiral: if you can ‘handle’ a punch, then
of course he can ‘handle’ it when you’re trying to do it to him.
You’re pissing in your confidence reservoir and your training will
look hesitant and spotty. And that’s exactly where your skill will go.
You’re thinking that you’re fighting when we really want you doing
something completely else.
Let’s face the facts: people get stabbed to death. People die from
punches to the head. You can beat a person to death. Just because a
guy doesn’t have a gun doesn’t mean you should take him lightly.
And the converse of that is true, too: just because you don’t have a
gun doesn’t mean you can’t take him down.
I’m trying to teach you how to kill murderers. Everything that
fits that narrow model benefits you. Anything that sounds out of
place or silly in that context is nothing but crap.
That’s why ‘murder’ is the final word in context. Almost no one
155
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
knows what to do when that’s what’s up. ‘Fighting’ and ‘defense’
are worthless in that arena—remember that defense wounds are
found on corpses and tell the coroner that person ‘fought for their
life’. You’re not going to fight anyone for your life. You’re going to
kill a murderer.
Armed with this ‘new’ context, let’s look at the common
questions:
1. WhywouldIeverneedtoknowhowtokillsomeone?
If that someone is a murderer, then ipso facto. It’s like asking,
“If drowning can kill me, why learn how to swim?” No one learns
to swim and then thinks, “Great! Now I can go get myself in a
stupid situation, nearly drown, and use this swimming ability!”
No, the swimming is a safeguard for something you hope will
never happen. The ability to kill is the same. You don’t run off
to try it out. You hope you’ll never have to use it. But if the
situation comes up, the skill is there to save your life.
2. Won't I get in trouble if I use this in a bar pght?
Yes. Yes, you will.
3. Butwhatifhe’sgotXand/orYandhe’scomingatmelike
so?
[Cue sarcasm] Then you should act enraged and execute a
bluff charge and pray he’s playing by the same rules—that he’s
spoiling for a fight and not a murder. Would you ask the same
question with a firearm or a steering wheel in your hand? Of
course you laugh, but a crushed throat and a gouged eye don’t
care if it was bullets, hood ornaments or boots that did it. So why
should you?
4. HowdoIdoittosomeonewhoknowswhatyouguysknow?
Injured is injured, dead is dead, regardless of talent or
156
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
training. This is back to the bigger-stronger-better thing. Most
criminals do know what I know. It doesn’t matter. You won’t
be thinking about that at all—you’ll just be looking for an
opportunity, causing an injury, and moving on.
5. What if he does it prst?
Then you have nothing to worry about.
ô. Bigger-faster-stronger?
The murderer doesn’t care who’s the biggest, fastest, or
strongest—in fact, that’s one reason why he’s successful. And
that should inform your thinking on the subject.
Here’s the bottom line: check yourself and stick with what
matters. Is your question, your doubt, your worry rooted in
the mechanics of injury or is it stuck in monkey politics, in
‘fighting?’ Be honest with yourself. If it’s the mechanics, I can
work on that, show you what to do, how to do it. After that it’s
on you to hit the mats with a partner and take ownership of it.
If it’s competition, monkey politics, or has anything to do with
communication or changing behavior, then it’s immaterial and
meaningless in the context of killing a murderer.
Because you don’t talk to, try to best or even fight with
murderers. You kill them.
157
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Chapter Six
It’s Not About Naughty or Nice
It’s about what works & survival. Period.
I was recently reading an article on ‘self defense’ in which the
author was speaking of violence as if you could pick and choose the
level of seriousness of the interaction. For instance, he said that if
the other guy just wants to ‘kick your ass’ you kick his ass back, not
really hurting him, but teaching him a lesson. If he’s a little more
serious, then so are you—and if he wants to kill you, well, that’s
the only time you’re going to use certain techniques and targets like
eyes, throat and so on.
This idea illustrates a fantasy disconnect between ‘fighting’ and
violence, one that deserves a fantasy name: I often refer to this idea
as ‘dialing in your Spidey-power.’ (With many apologies to Stan
Lee).
It’s the idea that you can choose to hit someone with, say, 60%
of what you’ve got—and that you’ll only ever hit someone with
100% when your life depends on it. It’s being able to look at an
impending ‘fight’ and say ‘well, he’s not really serious, so I’ll dial
my Spidey-power down to 50%’ and then sock him hard, but not too
hard, because, after all, you don’t want to kill him, right? Of course,
this method strongly relies on your latent psychic abilities to figure
out the guy’s intentions in the split second when he’s rushing you.
And God forbid you think he’s 60% serious when he’s giving it 100,
because you’re going to hold back, and he isn’t.
Here’s the problem: holding back can get you killed. There are
many ways to hold back:
• You can wait and see to try and suss out what his intentions
are.
158
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
• You can make certain targets ‘off limits’ because wrecking
them is awful (you’ll never hear me say otherwise)—like
the eyes or breaking a knee, both permanent, crippling
disabilities.
• You can ‘go easy’ on him by not striking as hard as you can.
Any one of these leads directly to reduced effectiveness, poor
results, and in the worst case, death—yours, not his.
The idea that you can suss out his intentions is a fantastical
delusion. If you don’t have psychic powers (and my guess is ... wait
for it ... you don’t) or know the evil that lurks in the hearts of men
like the Shadow does, then you’re screwed. You’ll know he wants
to kill you because, well, he’s doing it. That is not the time to find
out. In fact, it’s never a good time to find out, right? But there’s
“bad” and “worse,” and while he’s doing it definitely comes under
the heading of worse.
Making targets off limits ahead of time (‘I’ll never take the
eyes’) will give you a hesitating hiccup if your next—and only—
opportunity is that target. You will stop. And try to get restarted. If
you’re lucky, it means nothing. If you’re unlucky, the opportunity
is gone and you just got shot/stabbed/whatever (perhaps again) and
you just better hope he got it wrong.
You always want to strike the man as hard as you can. Always—
as hard as you can. ‘Holding back’ reduces the chance of injury.
Now we’re into the realm of slapping each other around, pissing
people off, and delivering nonspecific ‘light’ trauma that is neither a
persistent injury nor spinal reflex inducing. It’s wasted motion that
lets him know it’s on.
Remember the author of that article? Don’t worry, he did allow
for killing. You see, he figured that in a real worst-case scenario a
magical transformation would occur—that even though you’d been
neutering and watering-down your training by waiting, making
targets off-limits and slapping at them you could suddenly rise to
159
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
the occasion of your impending murder by crushing the throat or
tearing out an eye with full force and effort.
That’s a neat idea, but it flies in the face of ‘you do what you
train.’
So, to that point, how does the way we train serve you? It would
seem, on the surface, that we only train for the worst-case scenario,
that to use what you know in any other situation would be like using
dynamite as a can opener.
Let’s put it this way: the ‘worst-case scenario’ encompasses and
includes all other possible scenarios; going in purely to cause serious
injury, put the man down and then pile it on (i.e., start kicking a
‘helpless’ man on the ground) covers, handles and takes care of
anything and everything he may have wanted to do to you.
But the real beauty is that you can stop at any time. You’ll
typically do this the moment you recognize that he’s nonfunctional.
Let’s say you start out by breaking his jaw at the Temporal
Mandibular Joint. You get the minimum expected reaction—he
turns slightly, somehow keeps his feet. You come back with a shot
to the groin and get a huge reaction: he goes down face-first and
tries to curl up in a fetal position. You break his ribs and then strike
to the side of his neck, knocking him unconscious. At this point you
recognize that he is nonfunctional (to your satisfaction) and stop.
Notice that I didn’t mention any techniques or tools—that’s
because they don’t matter. Injuries matter.
This sequence could have been different at each node of injury—
you break his jaw and he spins around three times and lays down,
out cold; you stop when he goes fetal after the groin strike; you stop
after breaking the ribs because as far as you’re concerned, your read
on him is ‘done.’
You also know how to carry it to a more final conclusion with
160
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
a stomp to the neck, a neck break, a stomp to the throat, etc. But
always as an informed choice—not out of desperation, and not after
having been trained that it is ‘wrong’ or morally less-than.
You also know how to start right off with throat-eyes-neck
break, but again, as a conscious choice. If killing is what will see
you through, you will kill him. If killing is not appropriate, you can
still operate because you know where the line is.
This is because you are trained in the totality of violence,
understanding it for what it is—a single-use tool that does not have
an intensity dial on it. You can’t make guns shoot ‘nice.’ And what a
bullet does is the purest expression of everything we’re ever talking
about. All violence is the same.
So what does this mean for you?
First and foremost it means you understand that violence is not
a plaything—you won’t goof off with it any more than you would
with a loaded firearm. This is healthy. It means you won’t get sucked
into stupid shenanigans (antisocial) thinking you can use what you
know without any negative repercussions. It means you’re going to
be smarter about when to pull it out and use it. This is going to save
you tons of wear and tear, not to mention legal troubles.
It means that when you do use it, you’re going to use it the only
way you can be sure it works—with no artificial social governors
restricting what you can and can’t do. You’ll strike him as hard as
you can to cause injury. And you’ll take full advantage of that injury,
replicating it into non-functionality.
If we view this through a social lens it is savage, brutal, dirty,
unfair and very probably illegal somewhere. This was the essential
thesis of the self-defense author. But the question you have to ask
yourself is are you going to bet your life the other guy is playing by
the rules?
If he is, well, then you’re a jerk, aren’t you?
161
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
If he isn’t, you’re dead.
The moral of the story is: screw around with violence the same
way you’d screw around with a firearm—don’t.
Knowing the Stakes and Acting Accordingly
Ah, yes. Knowing the stakes and acting accordingly...
... is a ton of crap.
Let me rewind a little bit.
The concept of the universality of violence is a key idea that
we come back to time and time again; that is, we treat all violence
as equivalent, with no such thing as ‘blank’ fighting, e.g., ground
fighting, knife fighting, stick fighting, etc.
The reason we have to keep coming back to it is because a
lot of the time you don’t treat it as equivalent; add a firearm, for
example, and you think the stakes are different and suddenly want
your performance to reflect ‘how serious’ you believe situation has
become.
Sometimes you think it’s just social status at stake, or mere
wounding. But when the knife or the gun comes out, then it’s
different, right? Now you’re playing for keeps, and so you have to
get all serious.
Now you know the stakes, and want to act accordingly.
I call bullshit.
Let me put it this way: you really don’t want to know the stakes.
You never want to find out if it was life or death, because you know
how you’ll know? When he’s killing you, that’s how. That’s a stupid,
behind-the-curve way to find out. It’ll be the last thing you ever
know. At that point the information will do you no good. It’s like
the balance of power between nations: the last thing you want is to
162
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
realize your enemy has nuclear missiles because they’re launching
them at you. If you know ahead of time, you’ll act to prevent that
possibility. But when you’re in an actual asocial violent situation,
there is no way to know ahead of time—so you have to proceed on
the assumption that the worst is true.
If your mat time is focusing on the idea that he’s ‘empty-handed’
and so the stakes are a mere beating, you’re probably being sloppy
with distance and penetration—letting him have too much of the
former and not doing enough of the latter. Then, when you add a
firearm into the mix, now it’s on, right? Everything changes; you
have to tighten up, ‘get serious’, etc.
You know what you’re really doing? You’re training to get
yourself killed.
Every time you go physical it’s for keeps. Every time you yank
out the failsafes and go off on him it’s serious. Every. Single. Time.
You need to take every turn you get in training as the ‘real deal.’
Treat him as if he has a firearm, or a knife—because he just might
be armed with something worse. He might be carrying what I carry:
A steel bear trap and a pack of wolves.
I never leave home without them. In fact, they’re with me
constantly.
Now, you might think I’m being funny or losing my mind and to
that I would ask that you review any video of inhuman savagery you
can find—as sickening as it is—of killing in war, a murder, a brutal,
one-sided mugging. Notice that once it starts, there is no escape.
The victim doesn’t get the opportunity to do much of anything other
than get injured, react, fall, and get torn apart.
This is what I think of when someone asks me if I’m a sheep,
a wolf, or a sheepdog. (Actually, the first thing I think of it that
I’m a Homo Sapiens, a human being, something much, much worse
than any of the above. But then, we’re all human and probably far
163
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
too close to it to see just how incredibly powerful an animal we
are. Hands-down the apex predator of the entire ecosystem. But I
digress).
So, if I have to pick a different animal, I’ll pick the way it feels
when I’m on the mats—like a steel bear trap and a pack of wolves.
The trap set, powerful springs straining beneath a hasty cover of
leaves and forest detritus, and a pack of lean, tawny wolves circling
in the shadows. Once the trap is sprung, there is no escape—after
the steel jaws of the initial strike splinter bone and sunder flesh, the
wolves are free to tear the crippled man to pieces.
Why does good training look like this?
Because I know the stakes ahead of time. It’s all or nothing,
every time. And once that trap is sprung, there is no escape.
Starting right now, here are three things you can do to get there:
1. 1hrowouttheideathatthestakesarevariable.
Treat every turn on the mats as if he has a knife, or a firearm,
or, worst-case-scenario, a bear trap and a pack of wolves.
Don’t get sucked into situational ethics and “what-ifs.” You
have to assume the worst and deal with the consequences later.
Remember, if you actually get into an asocial violent situation it’s
because everything else has failed. Once you realize you won’t
be using this stuff in bar fights but against criminal sociopaths,
the psychological part gets remarkably easy.
2. Bethesteelbeartrapandthepackofwolves.
Once you start, it’s all about you. He gets to do nothing but
react, fall, and get torn to pieces. He doesn’t get to stagger back.
He doesn’t get to roll away. Get inside and stay there, right on top
of him—the maximum distance between the two of you should
never be greater than one step/strike. Ideally, you’ll be pretty
much torso-to-torso the entire time. Make ‘there is no escape’
164
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
your personal violence motto—and then make it a reality.
3. Workonmakinguniversalityarealityforyou.
Violence is not a bunch of disparate things all duct-taped
together into an unwieldy Frankenmass. It’s a singularity. It’s
just one thing. It has a single use. You can’t dial it up and down,
‘go easy’ or be nice. You do not inflict it upon the ‘unarmed’
man any differently than you would an ‘armed’ one. (Think
about how dangerous you are, naked. With nothing but your
bare hands and intent. As dangerous as a steel bear trap and a
pack of hungry wolves, perhaps?)
You need to walk into every free fight session with these
three things in mind because you need to act identically in every
violent situation—spring the trap and maul at will.
Every training session should feel the same—guns, knives,
sticks or not. If it feels different with the gun, if it feels stressful
or ‘more real’, you’re missing the point when it’s not there—it
means you’re not taking any of the rest of it as seriously as you
should. The obvious, projected intent of the firearm is taking
you where you should be all the time when you’re on the mats.
Buckle down, focus and free fight to make the tool truly
immaterial—get the job done so that it really doesn’t matter
what he has, even if it’s a bear trap and a pack of wolves.
165
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Chapter Seven
Time to Stop Lying to Yourself
Experienced instructors are some of the most relaxed people I
know.
The question, of course, is why? After all, these are the people
who have no illusions about the criminals, sociopaths, and violence
lurking around corners. They understand that it’s kill or be killed. So
why are they so calm about it?
When you have the mechanical ability to cause injury (which you
all do) and couple it with the driving motivator of intent, everything
throttles back and gets calm and easy—you’re not out spoiling for
a fight or giving yourself an anxiety disorder by obsessing violently
over every human being who brushes up against you.
This is the ultimate goal of every aspect of TFT training: to create
a hard knot of intent, ready to pull out and use when the situation
calls for it. You simply cultivate the skill, and the will to use it, and
then sit back and relax into the rest of your life. Should the need
arise, you pull out the knot and brain people with it. Then you tuck it
back where it belongs and get on with living. (I should note that I’m
not talking about a ball of twine here—in my mind it’s an infinitely
folded tessellation of agony, a world-heavy fist-sized sphere from
which no light can escape). You don’t walk around brandishing it
high over your head, mad-dogging all comers with a halo of purple
lightning dancing about your enraged features.
Without intent, without the implacable will to wield the knot, it’s
not much better than yoga. Physically challenging, yes. A survival
skill, no. (As an aside, it’s critically important to remember that the
criminal sociopath has very little training—a deficit they more than
make up for with vast, raging reservoirs of intent).
166
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
So why do people have such a hard time with intent? And most
importantly, what can you do about it?
People have a hard time with intent for a number of reasons.
They ‘suffer’ from a natural disinclination toward violence, they
worry about what the other guy will do, and they think violence is
mechanically difficult. These all seem like valid reasons, so let’s
look at them one at a time.
1. 1henaturaldisinclinationtowardviolence
Not wanting to physically hurt people is healthy, sane, but
ultimately an impediment to survival when someone poses
the question to which violence is the answer. You need to get
over the idea that anything we’re up to here is social in nature.
This is why it’s so critically important that your free fight time
is as asocial as possible—no talking, no nervous laughter, no
checking your partner’s face for feedback. The only time you
should be looking at a face is if you’re taking an eye out of it.
I’m not talking about getting fired up and ‘hating’ your
partner. I’m talking about dispassion. Lose the emotional
triggers—you’re not there to communicate, and raging at your
partner (or his targets) is still communication. If you’re working
with your ‘war face’ you’ve kicked the social but are busy
reinforcing the antisocial. What you really need is to get off the
any-social, and get to its absence. That void space is the psychic
storage shed of the knot.
2. Worryaboutwhatotherguywilldo
Let’s be blunt. Injured people are completely helpless. Ask
anyone who’s done it. The first injury converts a fully-functional
person into a gagging meat-sack. Every injury after that is like
busting apart a side of beef with your boot heels. This is why
experienced instructors are so damned relaxed (and courteous,
for that matter). This is also why they won’t hesitate to be the
first one doing it. I drill this truth home time and time again:
167
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
injured people can’t hurt you, and they can’t kill you. In an
asocial situation, that’s all that matters. It’s the ugly truth that
no one wants to talk about—about how people really respond to
injury, about how when you cause one, you’ll know it because
what you see next will stick to the inside of your eyelids for the
rest of your life.
What’s he going to do? He going to break and behave like
an injured person. He’s going to go to the worst place he’s ever
been. And you’re going to put him there.
The question you have to ask yourself is will you worry
about what he’s going to do or will you make him worry about
what you’re going to do? (Hint: pick the one where you survive).
On this same topic, you need to get off the whole ‘attacker/
defender’ merry-go-round. In any violent conflict there’s going
to be, by definition, at least one person doing it to another. Be
that one person. Decide it’s you, now, and every time from now.
Out there it’s always your turn. If you have to think in terms of
there being an ‘attacker’ then it’s you.
Choosing to put yourself in second place is not the best
strategy for a win, no matter how much we may venerate the
underdog. In a ‘fair fight’ or a contest, the underdog is the hero.
In violence, he’s dead.
Quit empathizing with the dead guy. You’re doing it because
you’re nice, you’re doing it because you’re sane. In a social
context, it makes perfect sense. In violent conflict your social
skills and mores do nothing but prevent you from surviving.
Empathizing with the dead guy at the funeral is sane and normal.
Empathizing with him when we’re all trying to decide who the
dead guy’s going to be means you’re it.
Bottom line: decide who has the problem. Is it you, or is it
him?
168
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
3. Believing that violence is mechanically difpcult
Outside of the psycho-social issues, violence is really, really
easy. We’re all predators; we’re all physically built for killing.
Violence is as easy as going from where you are to where he
is and putting a single injury in him. The rest is academic.
How easy is it? General consensus says: easier than training.
You get to strike as hard as you can, you don’t have to take
care of him, and it’s over so fast you won’t even have time to
break a sweat or even breathe hard. The only hard part is giving
yourself the permission to be inhumanly brutal. Giving yourself
the permission to survive. (Personally, I vote for me every
time). It’s your choice whether you prefer living with the guilt
of seriously damaging another human being, or not living at all
so a sociopath can have your ball cap.
Thinking that violence is mechanically difficult (and thereby
trying to give yourself an ‘out’ so you don’t have to face your
own intent problems) is akin to thinking that swimming in the
deep end is any different than swimming in the shallow end.
Mechanically, it’s the same—swimming is swimming—so the
difference is all in your perception. In the shallow end, you can
touch bottom and can save yourself from drowning by standing
up. In the deep end you’re on your own—it’s sink or swim.
So everyone thinks mat time is the shallow end; there’s no
risk, you can always ‘stand up’ when you get into trouble.
That would make the street the deep end—no back-up, no
safety net, just swim or die. I’ll grant all of that as true. Just
remember, always, that no matter where you’re swimming,
mechanically it’s all the same. The idea that there’s a difference
is an illusion that takes effort on your part to make a reality. Stop
feeding the phantoms and just swim.
Intent—your will to cause injury, your drive to get it done—
169
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
is completely up to you. You need to start thinking about it now,
personally letting go of the things you’ve kept between the ‘you’
you love because he’s a lovable ‘good guy’ and the ‘you’ that
can stomp the throats of screaming men.
I can only show you how to mechanically take someone
apart—pulling the trigger on it is up to you, and you alone.
Intent Means As Hard As You Can
Intent is what makes people scary. It’s what you instinctively
feared in the criminal. It’s what society breeds out of we domesticated
humans. But what is it, really? It’s far too slippery to hold in the
mind’s eye, an amorphous, ever-shifting gem shrouded in a halo of
mist....
And what good is that to anyone?
If you’ll bear with me, I’ll try to get it to hold still for a moment.
Throw some sunshine on the cloudy facets and get them to sparkle
for you. I’ll do what I can to stabilize the whole thing; gaze into it,
into yourself, and get what you can out of it:
Intent is single-minded, goal-oriented focus.
Intent is being focused on injury to the exclusion of all else.
From the moment you perceive a threat to the moment that threat
is gone, all you care about is causing injury. From the moment he
pulls up his shirt to show you a gun or from the moment you hit
the ground face-first, you are on target acquisition and destruction.
You will find your targets and smash them, never stopping, never
hesitating until you get what you want—an injury. And once you get
that first one, you’ll pile them on until he physiologically buckles
under the mass of trauma and you make him capitulate, pass out or
die as you see fit. Intent is about what you are going to force him to
do. Intent is making violence one-sided as quickly as possible and
keeping it that way.
170
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
It’s not an emotional state—you’re not enraged or Hulked-out
or seeing red; it’s just that out of all the myriad possible things you
could do you are going to pick one (injury) and you’re going to get
it done to the exclusion of all else, over and over again. One target,
one injury. Repeat until it doesn’t make sense to continue.
Intent is how hard you swing the bat.
Intent is a self-realizing prophecy that cuts both ways: if you
think you can do it, you will; if you think you can’t, you won’t.
If I ask you to kick a soccer ball, how hard you kick it will
depend on what you expect to happen. If you believe that the ball
is filled with lead shot, then you’ll expect it to hurt and won’t kick
it as hard as you can. In fact, you’ll be very reluctant to kick it at
all, and your performance will be a reflection of that reluctance. In
a word, it’ll suck.
If I tell you that if you don’t kick it over the fence I’m going to
shoot you in the head, your performance will suffer even more. Your
preoccupation with a negative outcome will sabotage your efforts.
Your mind will not be focused on the task at hand. You’ll be worried
about living and dying while simultaneously trying to succeed.
Focus on reality, as it stands, not on all possible outcomes.
Focusing on things that may or may not be true, or are demonstrable
falsehoods, is the ‘feeding of phantoms’ that we discussed previously.
Thinking that there’s nothing you can do, or that you cannot injure
him, or that you’re going to die are all outright lies until proven
true. Why put your efforts into your own defeat? It does nothing to
aid you in shaping the reality you want. In violence, the reality you
want is the one where he’s injured. Everything you do must get you
there by the shortest possible route. To consider failure is to aid in
your own destruction.
Intent is how much of yourself you’ll put into getting it done.
Here’s a nifty fact that I like to bring up at training seminars: the
171
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
one thing that all survivors have in common is that they believed
they could survive. The circumstances are immaterial, whether it’s a
crash, drowning, fire, wilderness, or violence. Survivors report time
and time again that when they reached the lethal decision point—am
I going to live or die?—they all unequivocally, steadfastly chose to
live. They believed they could. I’ve never heard a survivor say ‘and
then I quit and waited to die.’ (Okay, to be fair, I have heard some
say that—but they were saved by others who refused to give it up).
Survivors believe they can alter the outcome.
So, back to the soccer ball. If I hand it to you so you can feel
how light and eminently kickable it is, and then tell you that our goal
for this training session is to see how far you can kick it, then you
are free to work on the mechanics of running up and kicking it with
your whole being.
This is what we are attempting to do here with TFT. Only instead
of kicking soccer balls we’re kicking people in the groin.
If you show up with false assumptions, believing that even
though you felt the ball and it was indeed light and bouncy it will
still hurt when you kick it, or that you are incapable of kicking a ball
very far, then anything I do to train you is for naught. You sabotaged
yourself before you even set foot on the pitch.
Negative expectations lead to diminished results.
Believing you can do it, expecting to get it done, gets you what
you want.
Intent comes down to wanting to cause an injury more than
anything in the world.
Focus your mind in that direction, onto that single vulnerable
target, and your body will follow suit. You will plow your entire
mass through his throat and crush it.
All because of the simple belief that you can do it.
172
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Building a Better Monster
Invariably, we get questions along the lines of “Okay, I get all
that violence stuff—but what if he’s bigger/faster/stronger/(your
favorite celebrity masher here)/has a knife/stick/gun/three guns?”
That’s a great question. Or it would be if that’s what they really
meant. More often than not people build a monster in their head
around a single overarching fear... And that fear is—
Not to be revealed until the end.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some specifics:
When people look at a larger, stronger man what they’re really
registering is his potential ability to generate power. He could
pick you up and throw you across the room, right? Heck, he could
probably pick up and throw a Volkswagen. What they ignore is that
though he may have more human tissue than you, he’s still made of
meat. And meat can be butchered.
Fast and skilled fall into the same category—the desire for a
duel. This typically comes from people who are worried about
‘getting in.’ This is particularly funny as I’ve never seen a prison
murder where the participants had any difficulty ‘getting in’ on each
other; I’m sure this idea would make serial killers shrug as well.
In short, professionals who use violence in their day-to-day are
conspicuously unconcerned with ‘getting in.’ And so should you be.
But what if he’s armed? Well, if I have a knife and he has a
knife, I stab the knife, right? Of course not. So why the hell does
this make a difference if he has a tool and I’m using fists and boots?
It just means you’ll beat him to nonfunctional instead of shooting or
stabbing him to nonfunctional.
Ah, but now we’re getting to the super-secret fear that is hidden
at the core of all these questions—these questions are all saying:
I’m afraid he has intent to do what I won’t.
173
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Everyone builds a better monster around the idea of superior
intent. The bigger/faster/stronger smokescreen is just worry that
he’s turned up willing to deliver a serious beating that ends in a
brutal curbing while you’re just there to look the hard boy or have a
manly slap-fight. You know, the kind where no one really gets hurt.
The tool, though, now that’s different. When he pulls out a labor-
saving device whose sole purpose is to rend meat and break bones,
well now he’s showing superior intent—intent you’re worried you
can’t match. If you’re just there to posture and look the part—if
you’re just there to duel and teach someone a lesson, then what the
hell is he up to with that man-mangler? We all know the answer to
that.
Everyone recognizes, on a visceral level, that the armed man is
displaying intent they don’t have.
That’s what everyone’s afraid of. Superior intent. All the sideways
questions, all the building of better monsters is just dancing around
this issue—what if he’s really here to kill me? I mean, really this
time? The recognition that this just might be so, and you can’t or
won’t match it, intent-wise, is the core fear that everyone harbors.
The dull toll of fear echoing in the intent gap is what I hear
whenever anyone asks one of these questions. They’re not even
consciously aware of it. They’ll deny it when pressed.
My advice is to build your better monster—bigger, faster,
stronger, meaner, armed in a dark alley. Add in a dash of rainy,
moonless night. Pile it on.
And then become him.
Being the Better Monster
So now you’ve built your better monster (complete with night-
vision goggles and a chainsaw—why not?). Everyone gets the
building up part—it’s easy—we’re all experts in that even before
174
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
we walk through the door to train. The question is, of course, how
does one go about being that better monster?
The short answer is: figure out why you’ve decided it’s going to
work for him. And remember what we’ve discussed: it’s not the gun,
or his size or speed. So cut all that garbage and really look at this
monster you’ve created. What exactly makes him so damn scary?
And the even shorter answer to that is: INJURY. But you already
knew that.
The long answer is: when you build the better monster you’ve
already decided that he’s going to do something to you that you’re
worried you cannot prevent. You assume that this is going to result
in a poor outcome for you.
We can pick that apart to find the salient points, the places
where you have recognized (consciously or not) several truths about
violence:
1. Heisgoingtodothingstoyou.
This has two important components—the recognition that
he has intent and resides in the cause state. You’re right: he is
going to do things to you (or at least, he’s going to try). This
is actually a powerful and empowering recognition—you’ll see
why in a moment.
2. Youcan’tstopwhatheisdoing.
This is recognition that blocking is a sucker’s game, that
being in the effect state is not nearly as effective as being in
the cause state. Again, it sounds like a negative thought (I can’t
stop him!) but it’s really just recognizing a truth: as long as you
remain a victim, you’re going to remain a victim. Common
sense, right?
3. Injurywillmakeyouhelpless.
This is the ‘poor outcome’ you fear—you get injured, go
175
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
down and get more injured in a downward spiral that can only
really bottom out with death.
The real trick to make this self-defeating process worth your
while is to flip it inside out. You’ve built your monster, you’ve
figured out why it’s going to work for him—now all you have to do
is put yourself in the position of this impossible person. Think like
the predator you are and resolve yourself to making the realities of
violence work for you instead of against you:
• You are going to do things to him.
• He can’t stop what you’ve already done.
• Injury will make him helpless.
Now you see how the two of you are interchangeable—the
driver’s seat of violence is up for grabs and belongs to the first
person to buckle in and romp on the gas. The other guy gets run
over and leaves a star on the windshield.
Which leads us, through the clumsiest of segues, to the fact that
no one is immune to violence, and what that reality does for him.
And can do for you...
People seek training because what they really want is immunity
from violence. It’s not the idea of doing it they find appealing, but
the idea of preventing it. I know this was true for me.
But then we give them an ugly, unpopular truth—nothing can
make you immune and you’re on your own.
You’re either going to injure him, put him down and savage him
on the ground or he’s going to do it to you. You’re not going to have
superior, ‘no can defend’ technique or superhuman abilities. It’s just
going to be you and your willingness to tear another human being
apart. You’re very probably going to take a beating in the process,
and you can, whether through inaction, miscalculation, or just plain
dumb luck end up on the receiving end of the tool of violence.
176
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
No matter how hard and long you train, you can be murdered.
This is the bitterest pill to swallow. It leads to all sorts of ‘well,
what’s the point then?’ questions. If I can end up just as dead with or
without training, why bother? This disconnect is the same one that
often occurs for people with firearms—they believe that somehow
the gun will ‘defend’ them, not realizing that they are going to have
to shoot the other guy to death to make it work... and it’s even worse
with knives. It’s going to be messy and noisy and scary well beyond
what you can imagine. But the end result is, after a fashion, ‘defense’
in that dead people can’t hurt you.
So why bother? Well, prior to training you were rolling dice. We
show you how to ‘play the game’ with loaded dice. So you end up
with an edge. You can still drown if you know how to swim, but most
people don’t say “why bother?” to that because they understand that
while drowning is possible for a swimmer, it’s much more likely for
a non-swimmer. This is the same scenario.
That edge is only going to mean anything if you accept the
inborn frailty of your body as you harden your mind to the task
at hand—you, crippling another man for life. There is nothing you
can do to make your body immune to injury; the only thing you can
change is the amount of intent in your head.
It’s going to work for him because he wants to cause injury and
throws everything he has into making that idea a reality. He has
intent.
It’s going to work for him because he is acting on the realities
of violence as they stand—he is going to use what works and get it
done first because he knows no one is immune. He is acting on the
fact that he can be taken. This is why he hits first, why he wades in
and goes for broke. He knows if he breaks you first, he is far less
likely to have any of it done to him. He knows if he waits he’s done
for.
This is why you fear him. It is also the key to unlocking the
177
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
power that causes that fear, the key to harnessing it and making his
super-scary power your own.
Turn it inside out and wear it instead of having it wear on you.
Be what you fear.
178
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Eight
Scenario-based Training vs. The Hard Knot
When people say ‘scenario-based training,’ they’re actually
using a code phrase for ‘all the crap that comes before the actual
violence.’ The yelling, the approach, the grabby man-dance.
Of course, once the violence starts it’s all the same old, same
old—injury, injury, injury. Pedestrian, predictable, and downright
boring.
All the stuff that comes before, all the stuff that people are
fascinated with, is, for our purposes, a waste of time. The lead-in
to violence for any given scenario is typically antisocial in nature.
The questions people have are ‘how do I deal with his behavior?’
and ‘when do I decide to injure him?’ You already have the skills to
deal with the former—talk him down, capitulate, or get the hell out
of there. As for when to tear into someone, that’s a personal call you
have to make in general terms ahead of time; in specific terms it’s
based on how you read the situation.
If you recognize a threat and you think you can’t live with it,
then get busy shutting him off. If you think it’s something you can
live with—merely antisocial in nature—then act accordingly. Use
your social skills, or set a new 100m dash record, or tear into him
as you will.
In other words, act according to your comfort level.
Keep in mind, of course, that a threat is a threat to your body—not
your ego. If you turn every challenge to your ego into an a socially
violent situation, you’ll probably get yourself arrested, if not killed.
No, we’re talking here about an implied or actual threat of physical
harm. If it’s less than that, you shouldn’t be using violence; if it’s
more, you’ll know it’s time to use violence. This is the gray area you
179
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
have to work out for yourself. This threshold point will vary from
person to person based on life experience. Some people can stomach
all kinds of crazy antisocial behavior; others will brook no threat
whatsoever. Either way, it’s a personal judgment call. This means
your response to that stuff is up to you to figure out, for yourself, on
your own time. We’ll hand you the tool—you have to decide when
you’ll swing it.
Another reason people want all the upfront stuff is because they
are not in a hurry to get to the wreckage. They’re afraid. They want
to stay in the semi-social realm for as long as possible and want to
hang onto the idea that they are the Good Guy. If we maintain an
attacker/defender dichotomy, e.g., ‘he came after me, so therefore
he’s the Bad Guy, which automatically dubs me the Hero,’ we
keep things nice and social. And for us sane humans, social equals
comfortable.
Remember, we have, as a species, a natural disinclination to
violence; society wouldn’t function if it were otherwise. Violence
turns our stomachs. People will go to great lengths to avoid
discomfort.
Do you really want to spend your precious training time working
within your comfort zone in contrived, antisocial scenarios with
only a small percentage given over to the actual work of violence?
Or do you want to work where actual change occurs, the point
where all violent acts become the same—the point of injury?
Look at it this way: I could waste your time by having you role-
play stage productions of Serpico such that for every 20 minutes of
floor time you only get two where you’re actually booting people.
Instead, I’d have you experiencing violence for the full 20 minutes.
Yes, half of that time is spent reacting for your partner, but you are
still working where the buzzsaw hits the bone, at the point of injury.
If you know what you’re doing you can actually learn more about
violence while reacting than when it’s your turn. Ask anyone who’s
180
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
been used by an instructor for a demo. It’s a difference you can feel
(sometimes unfortunately so).
Generic, open, ‘anything goes’ mat time is the only ‘scenario’
you want to train in. To maximize your skill you need to practice
that skill. In this case the skill is injuring people; it stands to reason
that you want to spend as much time as possible at the point of
injury. That’s what mat time is. It’s you, changing everything in
your favor, taking control of the man, the situation, through injury.
What came before is immaterial—it has no bearing on what you’re
doing to him. Did he yell? Or pull a gun? Did he grab you and knock
you down? His ruptured testicles don’t care. Neither should you.
Now, for all that, the single caveat: if your job is hallmarked by
common occurrences that lead to violence (as in law enforcement
or the military) then working those specific scenarios has merit. Car
stops gone wrong, room searches that turn up enemies pretending to
be friendlies; these scenarios are useful exercises for those who can
expect to encounter them—but they’re pointless for the rest of us.
Here’s what it comes down to: use mat time to wrap and entwine
the hard knot of skill within you, learn to use your mind as a weapon
and your body as a tool for violence. Then you can walk the Earth
free of ‘rehearsal anxiety,’ free in the knowledge that if your current
problem—no matter how it developed or came upon you—can only
be solved by shutting down a human being, you know where the
off-switch is. And once you reach for that switch, all violent conflict
becomes the same.
181
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
Chapter Nine
Kill The Unknown
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and
the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
²+3/RYHFUDIW
Fear is a biological fact. We are hard-wired for fight or flight—
remember, we’re the descendants of the ones who didn’t stop and
think when the lion was bearing down on them. We’re the kin of the
ones who literally ‘went ape’ and flipped out with either a rooster-
tail of dust to the horizon or by picking up a stick and getting busy.
But just because fear is a biological fact doesn’t mean that we have
to give into it; we don’t have to feed the fear, allow it to grow fat on
the shadows of our nightmares. We can recognize (and be grateful
for) the ass-saving properties of biological fear without bloating it
out into the grotesquerie of all-consuming emotional panic.
We do this by killing the unknown.
Most people have no idea what goes on in violence outside of
agony, mayhem and death. It is a Great Unknown; a bottomless,
black abyss wherein we are free to paint our own personal pictures
of horror with unthinkable outcomes. When you replace that
unknown with knowledge, with understanding, governing principles
and expected outcomes you take away the power of the unknown,
starve it back down to a manageable size. Fear of violence and the
unthinking, blind panic that induces becomes simple biological fear.
Flight means you get the hell out of there. Fight means you stomp
and tear and wreak horror upon the other guy.
There are two ways to make sure you’re filling in the blank
spots on the violence map, changing ‘here be dragons’ to ‘boot
to the groin.’ The first (and most important) is asocial mat time;
182
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
the other is simple visualization. Both of these are the same thing:
taking what is currently unfamiliar, frightening territory and making
it understandable.
Each session of asocial mat time is an expedition into that Dark
Continent, to lay bare its secrets, to find out that, indeed, there is
no such thing as a one-eyed ogre with three arms that hungers for
human flesh. Every single turn of asocial mat time is you answering
the question ‘what the hell goes on in here?’ Turn by turn you answer
that question, completely and with certitude: I crush his groin, I tear
out his eye, I break his neck. That’s what goes on in here. Mystery
solved.
If you’ve trained at all you’ve probably had the ‘zombie’
dream—the one where you’re tearing into this guy, breaking his
leg, stomping his throat and he keeps getting back up. So you do
it again. You do more. And still he rises and comes at you... Along
these same lines we’ve all seen people that gave us pause, for one
reason or another—he wasn’t just big, he was enormous; he had a
swastika tattooed on his face and looked like he was at the end of
his rope made out of a last straw; or, without knowing why, he was
just... scary. This is you remembering the tales of those one-eyed
ogres that used to keep you up at night, and you’re wondering if
maybe there was something to the myth, and that something’s right
here in front of you.
You know he’s human. He bleeds. And if he bleeds, you can
kill him. You just have to remind yourself of this fact by taking a
moment, whether right then and there or later (I recommend later
so you don’t set anyone off through body language), and imagine
yourself breaking that person. One injury after another, putting him
down and then ruining a perfectly good pair of shoes on him. Until
he’s a twist of flesh in the middle of a stain. Imagine it in slo-mo,
one broken thing at a time, or speed it up, watch your favorite parts
over and over. This is you, replacing a lie with two truths: you know
how to do violence, and no one is immune. This is you, taking the
183
PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action
time to remind yourself that there is no such thing as one-eyed ogres.
When violence is thoroughly mapped-out, option after option
experienced in real-time on a real person, you know what to expect.
There is no more ‘unknown’ to swallow you up in blind panic. As
we replace that unknown with knowledge, we starve fear down to
its biologic roots and inhibit its ability to grow unchecked through
your mind. Instead of giving in to it, feeding it, helping it, you’ll use
it for what it’s for—and put your boot in the other guy’s groin. And
after that the rest is academic.
184
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
185
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
PART FOUR:
THE LEGACY OF
VIOLENCE
- PEACE OF MIND
186
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter One
An Ounce of Prevention
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most
of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” —Theodore
Roosevelt
Traveling gives you a real perspective on how others view the United
States, and it’s interesting to see how U.S. citizens conduct themselves
in a foreign land.
We’ve all heard of the ‘Ugly American’ syndrome, but I’ve noticed
the ‘Ignorant American’ as being more prevalent. I’ve often said that we
in the U.S. live in a ‘Fantasy Island’ situation when it comes to violence.
Even though the world views us as a very violent nation we ourselves
have the illusion that staying in our neighborhoods gives us a safety
zone that allows us to be rude to each other.
By assuming we are dealing with others who fear getting sued as
much as we do, some people in the U.S. are emboldened to push their
verbal and nonverbal aggression to the max with little fear of facing a
physical beating.
It’s interesting how this U.S. approach can backfire when we project
our imaginary legal safety-net over other societies where the rules differ:
A friend recently told me of a caustic uncle who traveled to Corsica
for a vacation. He checked into his hotel and strolled over to the scenic
marketplace to buy some fruits and nuts for his stay. His 30-year-old
daughter (who was living there) was with him and warned him to not
cross the street until the traffic light was green.
He ignored her and promptly stepped onto the street and was nearly
run over by a nicely dressed man in an Audi A6. The uncle ran up to
the car that was now stopped at the light and started screaming at the
187
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
man with expletives flying. He then kicked the passenger door and
waved at him with ‘one finger’ (this ‘uncle,’ by the way, is a 62 year old,
distinguished looking attorney from Connecticut).
The response from the driver? He calmly got out of his car, walked
up to the now emboldened uncle (who continued to spew invectives as
the man approached) and without warning hauled off and smashed the
uncle above his upper lip with a hammer fist (pinky side of the fist),
instantly flooring the uncle and popping out five of his upper teeth. The
man then calmly walked back to his Audi and drove away. All of this
occurred in front of a large crowd.
The police took the report but chastised the now toothless old man,
saying that in Corsica, they don’t speak to each other that way unless
they expect to fight. His daughter knew that no effort would be made to
find the man in the Audi.
The uncle probably had responded to slights in his safe little enclave
in Connecticut like that numerous times throughout his cantankerous
life. Maybe his new dental work will be a reminder to be more civil. He
was lucky he just lost some teeth.
This story occurred to me while sitting at the Madrid Airport at a cafe
across from two U.S. soldiers. How do I know they were U.S. soldiers?
No, they weren’t in uniform, nor were they dressed like Americans. If it
weren’t for the fact that they both were sitting in broad daylight looking
at their Army Service records, no one else would have known they were
U.S. servicemen either. But every passerby took notice of the manila
folders these two soldiers were poring over aimlessly.
I had to bite my tongue not to chastise these young kids. You’d think
with the bombings and threats in Madrid over the past year they’d be
a bit more security conscious. They could easily blend in with their
civilian dress. But they just don’t think anything could ever happen to
them. It’s always the other poor sap.
These are just two examples of people needlessly exposing
themselves to potential violence. In one incident, violence occurred.
188
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
The other—so far, so good. When traveling it’s a good deal easier to
see lapses in judgment regarding personal security.
Ask yourself what risks have you taken in the last thirty days
in your little world. Leave your doors unlocked? Take a risky short
cut? Use an ATM after dark? Think a bit on that one.
Protecting Yourself and Avoiding Unnecessary Risks
Remember way back at the beginning of this book, we discussed
how knowledge of violence tells you when not to use it? The goal of
really understanding violence is a move away from social posturing.
We’ve stressed again and again that you should never use violence
unless you’re in a life-or-death situation. That holds true.
So take steps not to put yourself in life-or-death situations.
Living in the United States, we really do have a mentality of
“that could never happen to me.” We hear about violence going on
all over, but unless it’s right next door—unless it directly affects us
or someone we love—we continue to believe we’re sheltered and
somehow protected from criminal violence.
While it’s true that we’re fortunate not to live in a war-torn zone
or a military police state, we have to acknowledge that there are
criminal sociopaths running around out there, ready and willing to
use serious force to get whatever they happen to want.
With that in mind, there are a few simple steps you can take to
prevent violent encounters in your life:
• Lock your doors, including your car doors.
• Don’t flash money around. Avoid standing by an ATM
counting your cash.
• Don’t allow someone who is clearly unstable to draw you
into a violent encounter. Remember, it costs you nothing to
walk away. You don’t lose face by preventing a situation that
can only result in serious injury or death to someone.
189
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
• Avoid dark, isolated spaces, bars known for trouble, or
anywhere else you get an uneasy feeling. And encourage
your family to do the same.
• Don’t leave spare keys under doormats or in other ridiculously
obvious places.
• Remain vigilant: keep your eyes open for dangerous
situations and, whenever possible, avoid them.
As you can see, all of this comes down to a single statement:
USE COMMON SENSE. You don’t learn violence so you can walk
around posturing like an idiot, you learn it so you know how to
protect yourself when worst comes to worst. And if you can avoid
worst coming to worst, well ... so much the better.
190
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Two
Taking Control of Your Life
“What man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.”
—Thomas Alva Edison
I was watching an Instructor Class one night with one of my
great friends from the combat sports world and we discussed how
difficult it is to talk about fighting to most people.
This difficultly lies in the fact that my definition of fighting is
very different from what most people understand when they think
of “fighters.” When someone tells me they know how to fight,
that triggers in my mind numerous examples of specific methods
of inflicting trauma on the human body with the goal being the
destruction of other guy.
In the rare instance when I decide to speak about fighting in a
social situation, I usually regret doing so. Quickly I see that most
people are uncomfortable with my very calm descriptions of the
effective use of violence.
Most people get caught up in the surreal aspects of violence that
permeate society today ... the sport or video game fake violence
... as opposed to learning how to methodically deliver systematic
strikes to vulnerable parts of the human body with the goal being the
total destruction of the other guy.
People always comment on how friendly and approachable I
am—as well as my instructors. They are confused, I’d guess, because
most of the martial arts and combat sport world is dominated by
aloof personalities who seem more concerned with your recognizing
their rank than having your questions answered.
I tell clients all the time that the more trained you are to deal
191
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
with real violence, the more emotionally relaxed you become ... and
the more you get to enjoy life experiences and people.
There’s much less need to use false aggression in your demeanor
to give off that ‘FEAR ME’ message. That’s a fear-based protection
mechanism, an act born of insecurity, that’s mildly effective but
ends up being exhausting to maintain.
This is yet another reason to seek out competent training in the
use of violence. By facing the fact violence exists and learning how
to effectively use it, you truly free yourself from unnecessary fear in
your day-to-day living.
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
If a killer kills someone, no one is much surprised. Likewise, if
the killer is killed by his intended victim, it’s just ‘job well done.’
But if no one meant to kill anyone, and someone ends up dead, well,
then it’s cartoon exclamation points all around. Everyone, including
the newly-minted killer, is surprised. Cries of “How could this
happen?” and “But I didn’t want to kill him!” ring out. In the end it
gets labeled as an unfortunate accident.
But these ‘accidents’ happen often enough that when a new one
pops up I can still recall the last one I read about. Primates have a
territorial dispute, and begin vocalizing at each other to communicate
their displeasure, then aggression in a sideways request that the
other capitulate. When neither one backs down, it goes to blows,
again to run the interloper off. Usually, this works out fine, as nature
intended. But when it’s bodyweight + brain + concrete, one can end
up running their rival not just off their territory, but off this mortal
coil entire.
These things happen often enough that I would suspect you’re
more likely, on balance, to be involved in this sort of situation than
purely asocial violence. In other words, you’re much more likely to
get slapped at than outright murdered. Misery comes from confusing
192
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
the two.
If you train to kill and think that means you’re physically trained
to handle the antisocial, it’s the same as carrying a gun in case you
get into an argument.
If you train to kill and think that means you get to ignore the
antisocial, you’re setting yourself up to be ready for the most
unlikely event while ignoring the most likely. Chances are, you’re
going to get caught wanting.
Because we train to use our bodies to cause injury, it’s easy
for people to get the wrong idea—on the surface, martial arts and
combat sports look similar to what we do. And since martial arts
and combat sports do a great job of preparing folks to navigate that
antisocial fog-zone, then they tend to think we’re training for the
same thing, only in a ‘super effective’ way. That’s like pulling a gun
in a bar fight and ‘shooting to subdue.’ There’s no such thing.
Still, people get all eager to lock horns. It’s funny to me (funny
strange, not funny ha-ha) seeing as how we can still end up with
unintended fatalities. If you ask a gun owner, “How many gunfights
do you want to be in?” the sane ones will all tell you, “None.”
The sane ones understand what goes on in a gunfight, and would
never choose to be there if they didn’t have to. If they should find
themselves there, they will shoot to kill. But they don’t walk around
looking for gunfights.
Again, this is painfully obvious when we talk about guns. But
for some reason it’s less obvious with the empty hands. Why? It
comes down to expectations. We expect someone to die if a gun
is involved—that’s what the modern handgun is for, killing people
at close range. We don’t expect someone to die from a standard,
everyday session of monkey politics. And yet death is one of the
possible outcomes.
Me, I expect someone to die every time violence is used, and then
breathe a sigh of relief when everyone survives. I have absolutely
193
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
no interest in going physical with monkey politics. I don’t leave the
house looking for opportunities to use my skills.
My aversion to violence runs so strong that it makes me something
of a walking contradiction to my friends—I will do whatever I can
to avoid physical, antisocial confrontation and yet won’t hesitate
to stomp someone into the morgue in the asocial realm. I’m like
Gandhi with a nuclear weapon.
For those of you feeling eager, or emboldened by your training,
some advice:
You’re all set for the asocial. If someone wants to murder
you, you’re well prepared—knowledgeable, practiced, resolute.
But don’t forget to make sure you’re prepared for the antisocial—
sharpen those social skills, actively think about how you want to be
in those situations. Will you join in and play along? Throw fuel on
the fire? Push until he either backs down or goes for you? Or will
you go completely sideways on him, defusing the situation, seeking
to reduce his fear and channel his anger elsewhere?
Know where your triggers are and puts lots of padding between
them and the outside world. Work to recognize when you’re being
pushed into a corner. And remember that simply walking away could
save your life—or keep you out of prison.
As with the asocial, so with the antisocial: be prepared.
Chances are you’ll go your entire life without anyone trying to
kill you. I wouldn’t make the same bet about some jerk calling you
out.
A Final Word on Antisocial Violence
Whether it’s a drunken barfly demanding you pay for an
overturned drink or a posturing businessman, learn to recognize
antisocial violence and don’t let it control you. It’s true that antisocial
situations can become violent—but most of the time, they don’t.
194
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Learn to walk away.
Remember that you are in control. You know how to cause
serious injury and death, which means you have the responsibility
not to do so until no choice remains. Ironically enough, that actually
gives you far more control over your life than you’ve ever had
before.
Once you have the ability to:
• recognize and distinguish between social and asocial
violence
• respond with deadly precision to a real violent attack, and
• control any situation so that you walk away with your life,
you become the one in charge.
This is the best thing about learning how to use violence, and the
most compelling reason I can think of to recommend it, to have the
ultimate control over your own life. Initially to preserve it, and then,
once it’s yours, to simply live it as you will.
195
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
Chapter Three
Treat Everyone Like They Are Six Seconds Away from
a Killing Spree ... and Other Philosophies of Good
Neighborliness
As you probably know by now, I hold philosophy and violence
as separate entities. So while I used the P-word in the title, I am not
saying that those who know or practice violence should subscribe
to a single (or obvious) philosophy—I’m not saying “This is the
Philosophy of those who know violence.” Rather, I’m musing out
loud on some of the choices I’ve made (and general trends I’ve
noticed) in the way knowledge of violence changes the way people
interact. With that out of the way, let’s talk killing sprees.
As far as I’m concerned, the most important question that arises
out of violence is: does knowing how to use the tool of violence
inform your relationship with your fellow human beings?
There are really two angles to come at this question from:
knowing what violence entails (or ‘means’) and knowing how to
get it done.
In terms of knowing what violence entails, i.e., the terror and
ugly finality of it, the trend is clear: intimate knowledge leads
directly to avoidance. The more one knows about violence, the less
eager one is to get involved in it.
Resolved, yes—eager, no.
This has a great deal to do with the narrowness of the tool; the
fact that violence only does one thing—it shuts off a human being.
The vast majority of your daily social interactions do not require this.
It is unnecessary, therefore, to push social interactions in directions
that could result in violence.
196
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
It also has something to do with the fact that really understanding
violence removes the glamour. Once you’ve seen what the outcome
of real violence looks like, you’re not eager to play around with
it. While four-year-old might think it’s great fun to light matches
and throw them away, an adult who’s seen what fire can do will be
infinitely more cautious and respectful.
Personally, I found I’m much more likely to capitulate and
disengage by leaving the area, without a word, when confronted by
someone with an obvious chip on their shoulder who has chosen me
as the knock-off guy. Everybody wins—I sleep well and he doesn’t
get a broken leg just because he was having a bad day.
My brother, ‘T,’ tells a ‘hilarious’ story in which a man accosted
him by saying “Let’s fight!” and punching him (ineffectually) in
the head. T thought about what that would mean—he saw himself
breaking the guy’s leg and stomping a mud hole in him on the
ground and thought to himself, ‘He can’t want that.’ So he said no.
The guy persisted, again asking for a fight and punching T. (Again,
to no effect.) Finally, my brother had it and shrugged, thinking ‘I
guess that’s what he wants’ and proceeded to make the guy’s head
and feet trade places with a single strike. It wasn’t so much a ‘fight’
like the guy was asking for as it was a ‘single man-stopping injury.’
T knew that’s where it would go (and more importantly, that it could
go either way); knowing how serious it was made him uninterested
in going there recreationally—if he didn’t have to, he didn’t want to.
I find that I am possessed of a saint-like patience these days—
somehow, somewhere, I developed the habit of giving pretty much
everyone the benefit of the doubt. I do not begrudge those who are
curt and prickly their public anger and annoyance. I just figure there
are extenuating circumstances I’m not aware of and I have no desire
to be the next point on the down-trending curve of their bad day. I
do my best to treat everyone with patience and respect—and how
is that different, really, from treating everyone as if they were six
seconds away from a killing spree? I’d much rather be the control
197
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
rod in the nuclear reactor than the ignition charge in their personal
H-Bomb.
This gets us to the second angle—beyond mere knowledge of
violence and into confidence in how to get it done.
Nietzsche said that courtesy comes from a position of power. I
would say it comes from both the knowledge of, and confidence in,
violence. Politeness flows from a desire to avoid violence coupled
with the knowledge that if worse comes to worst, the skill is literally
in the palm of your hand. Socially, you have nothing to lose. People
who seem impolite are really masking fear: fear that courtesy is a
sign of weakness, that something is taken from them when they wait
their turn or let someone else go first.
Knowing how to get it done removes the uncertainty from the
extreme end of the scale—the answer to ‘but what if he goes off?’ is
‘I’ll break his leg and stomp a mud hole in him.’
And so I find myself in a the position of being resolved, but not
eager. If I don’t have to, I don’t want to. If I have to, I will.
Our detractors would have you believe that we train sociopaths
that our graduates are trained murderers ready and willing to kill at
the drop of a hat. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you know
about violence, the less you want to get involved with it. And the
more you trust your own abilities, the less you have to prove.
It’s not the strong and secure picking on the weak. It’s the weak
picking on anyone they think they can use to make themselves
feel a little bit bigger. Once you understand violence and you’re
comfortable with your own abilities, everything like that seems to
just fall away.
198
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Chapter Four
Living a More Peaceful Life
“I think that people want peace so much that one of these
days government had better get out of their way and let them
have it.” —Dwight David Eisenhower
In the end, the goal of all this training and hard work is not to
run around in a hypervigilant state looking for trouble, waiting, taut
with menace, for that guy’s eye to twitch wrong so you can skin that
smoke wagon and light the death-circuit or whatever.
The goal is to get to a place where you can forget you know this
stuff.
How many times a day do you remember that you know how
to swim? Unless you’re a lifeguard, probably not at all. If you had
to swim for your life, you would, and effortlessly so. But death by
drowning does not enter nor haunt your thoughts. In fact, you may
not have thought of it in a very long time, so long that the idea of it
seems slightly silly. Especially where you are now, reading this in
something resembling comfort and leisure.
That’s what knowing how to swim does for you—one less thing
to worry about. Let’s not forget, though, that this one less thing you
rarely worry about kills stadiums full of people every year. And you
get to not even think about it. That’s a Very Good Thing.
I’m here to tell you that the brilliant thing about knowing how to
kill a man with your bare hands is that you only ever think about it
when it comes up—whether you’re in the middle of it (an occurrence
about as rare as almost drowning) or when you’re training for it
(which can be seen as a ‘recreational’ use of the skill, akin to playing
Marco Polo in the pool with the kids). The rest of the time, it doesn’t
199
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
even occur to me. I get to relax completely, even in public. When
I’m not working, I can go weeks at a time ‘forgetting’ my expertise
and what it makes me. But it’s always there, silent and waiting, for
the proper context to rear it’s ugly head and bring it to the forefront.
“Oh, that’s right—gun means broken leg and throat-stomp.”
But the rest of the time I’m not worried in the least. The perfection
of the skill brings me peace. Ultimately, that’s why I’m here, doing
this work—so you can have some of that in your life, too.
It’s ironic to think that learning violence brings about peace. It’s
the age-old paradox: if you want peace, you must prepare for war.
If you don’t understand violence, if it’s a terrifying unknown that’s
only available to the criminal, you’ll find it in places it doesn’t really
exist. Worst of all, you’ll be stuck behaving like prey.
Understanding violence, and knowing when and how to use it
as a tool, makes you walk like a predator. This is not the swagger
and menace of acting like a tough guy; unconsciously you’ll relax,
breathe easier, and simply go about your business. Part of this comes
from recognizing those loud, furious primate displays as just that—
monkey politics. The rest comes from knowing that if things do veer
into the black hole of asocial violence, it’s your black hole, you’ve
mapped the territory and a part of you lives there.
Just as predators can smell prey, they can smell another predator
as well. When you walk around like you know what you’re doing,
paying attention but unconcerned, those hunting for easy prey will
pass you by. You may save yourself from a violent situation without
ever even knowing it.
And, given the choice, isn’t that the best way possible?
Living Without Fear
The constant violence around the world gets me thinking about
how we respond to the idea of violence in general. One of the great
200
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
things about really understanding violence is the fact that you get
to live a more peaceful life. You realize you can only control your
response to such events, not the events themselves.
Because you understand how to use the tool of violence, others
who use it no longer threaten you. You realize what they are trying to
do and that understanding goes a long way to deflating the intended
effect: uncontrolled fear.
This doesn’t mean these events don’t have the potential for great
violence but it does mean for the rest of us (who aren’t the immediate
targets of these acts of terror) that we may choose our response.
Some choose to alter their lives in hopes of avoiding violence.
While prudent in some obvious situations (dark alleys, using bank
ATMs at night, etc.) in other areas of your life such as traveling to
do business and enjoying the world in general it gives those using
the violence an unearned victory.
That’s why I’m such a big proponent of learning how to use
the tool of violence. In the military and law enforcement units I’ve
trained they’ve seen reduced instances of excessive violence in non-
life threatening events and increased effectiveness in putting down
asocial violence.
I find the results even more dramatic for my civilian clients. It is
a great first step towards reclaiming your life from unnecessary fear.
201
PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind
I strongly encourage you and those you love to start today and
learn to take back your life from those who want you to live a life of
fear. Seek out training in how to use the tool of violence.
There are many martial arts and combat sport instructors who
do an excellent job showing their particular art. Some of what they
teach is useful in the world of violence.
If you want the most direct path to using the tool of violence,
then it’s time to start applying the principles you’ve learned in this
book. This is exactly what it’s designed to deliver. Be smart about
violence, educate yourself, and make it back home alive.
Madmen and criminals will be with us always; their heinous
machinations will forever taint the symphony of civilization with a
background hum of fear and dread. While it can’t be ignored, tuning
into it, giving into it, allowing that disharmony to dictate how you
live and breathe grants them an unearned victory.
Don’t dance to their noise. Take back that unjust, unearned
victory.
After all, the second-worst thing you can do to them is have a
great day.
202
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Afterword
THE TFT DIFFERENCE
Training people to survive—and win—in violent conflict is
deadly serious business. We understand that if we’re wrong, people
die. This base assumption is the foundation for everything we do.
Not everyone feels this way, however—there is a wide variety of
training choices in the self-defense world, some better than others.
With all the advertising noise they generate it can be hard to figure
out which is which—who has your interests at heart and who
doesn’t; who can truly give you the skills to prevail and who could
be endangering your life.
To help you make an informed decision, you need to know
the things that TFT does differently, what sets us apart from our
competition and why. For starters, TFT is a team effort with nothing
to prove. Your success is our sole motivation, and to that end we do
our best to give you principles you can use, based on the observable
facts of violence. We listen to you and use your feedback to improve
our methods. This relationship benefits both of us equally—if we get
better at training you, you get more of what you need to survive—
and win.
A Team, Not a Guru
A single person can have some good ideas, but without editorial
oversight, or, more bluntly, ‘no-men,’ that one person’s vision will
tend to the myopic. They’ll see what they like to see, what’s easy
for them, personally, to do. Without other points of view to provide
critical challenge, that one guy is stuck with himself.
Where things really go to hell is when the cult of personality
forms around him and he starts to believe his own press. Now he’s
not just stuck with himself, but on himself. His point of view is set
203
AFTERWORD
in stone, and anyone learning from him is really just learning what
works for the guru. He may be able to pull it off because of his
unique set of physical attributes and skills, but the question is, can
you?
If you can’t, and he can’t show you how without changing
your physical attributes to match his (if only you were taller, faster,
stronger), then what’s the point? He may be able to survive violent
conflict, but if he can’t show you a clear path to that goal then you
end up being nothing more than a faceless number in his ego-stroking
throng. And that’s not the reason you got involved in the first place.
He may be brilliant and charismatic and impressively skilled but
if he can’t swallow his ego and work to make you better than he is
(or, at least, better than he was at your level) then he’s taking your
money, wasting your time and, worst of all, endangering your life.
And all you get in return is the opportunity to bask in his brilliance
and charm with the implied promise that maybe, just maybe, some
of it will rub off on you. If you’re lucky.
While not every guru is a charlatan, the above path is deeply
grooved and well-trod in the self-defense ‘industry.’ We’ve watched
good, caring people inadvertently fall into it and get stuck there. Even
those starting out with the best intentions can end up enthroned atop
a pyramid of well-meaning hero-worshippers. And that typically
spells the end of any kind of meaningful innovation or evolution of
thought, process and training. When this happens, the people on the
bottom are the ones who lose out.
This is why Tim made a conscious decision not to be a guru. He
founded the company, he leads the work and in that leadership role
he is the recognizable face and eloquent speaker for that work. As an
instructor he knew that his singular point of view and personal skill-
set would not be enough to cover everyone because no one person,
no matter how skilled, can. The seriousness of the work made that
unacceptable. He reached out to like-minded experts and gathered
a team of conscientious, highly-skilled instructors, some of whom
204
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
were also physicians, scientists, writers, and thinkers. People who
knew how to kill with their bare hands, and could communicate that
skill to others. A pack of no-men to provide critical insight and peer
review. A hundred years of experience instead of just a single point
of view.
As a group, we are able to combine all of our skills and
experience to make sure that you can survive—and win—in violent
conflict, and make it back home alive. Regardless of your personal
challenges, we can find a way to make sure you get the skill. And
you can rest assured that you’re not getting one person’s take on
what works best for them alone, but rather what will work best for
you—when it really, truly matters.
Nothing to Prove
We already completed full careers of doing this professionally
before Tim founded TFT. We literally achieved everything we
thought we wanted to do with this stuff. Tim trained elite military
groups all over the globe, federal agencies and law enforcement
units, corporate security teams, as well as thousands of civilians.
While I got a small taste of that, I really dove into the work of
producing qualified instructors, ending up with 44 to date, seven
of them Master Instructors with more than 10 years of experience
each.
We had accomplished and experienced enough to fill a whole
other book—a book of total awesomeness, if you ask either one of
us. Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Maybe.
After almost 20 years, we both thought we were done. I know I
sure was. I was in the process of hanging up my spurs and looking
for that ‘second act’ in my American life. Tim was, as well.
But this work has a way of pulling you back in. It’s a subject
that almost everybody wants to know at least a little bit about. Many
people were disappointed that Tim was calling it done; he began
205
AFTERWORD
getting requests from individuals and groups to come out and do
‘just one more’ training. But ‘just one more’ lead to the next one, and
before he knew it, he was pretty much full-time again. He pulled the
rest of us in, one by one, and TFT was born.
So what does any of this, as ‘impressive’ as it may be, have
anything to do with you? First off, it means we don’t have anything
to prove. We already got that out of our system. We’re over all the
chest-thumping, the posturing, the playing the tough guy with the
chip on his shoulder. In fact, the whole reason we felt done in the
first place is because we’d proved everything there was to prove. We
trained people, they ran into deadly violence and made it back alive,
whole—and victorious. Time and time again.
‘Nothing to prove’ means we can focus on you. You can be sure
we’re not out there to show off, or collect admirers, or find out if
what we’re doing really works. We don’t have to be here—we want
to be here. We want to be here for one reason, and one reason only:
we want to give you the skills you need to prevail in the face of
violence. Period.
The other thing you get is our experience. TFT is not a fly-by-
night start-up that’s experimenting on you. We’re not freshly-minted
black belts with a couple of years of teaching experience (which
turns out to be the same year just repeated a couple of times). Tim
and I have been doing this for more than 20 years each—every one
of those a unique experience—it’s never been the same twice. That
rich vein of experience is what we mine to bring you the principles
and methods you need to save your own life.
We have nothing to prove, and the only reason we’re still here
is because of you.
We Actually Care
We view training you for violent conflict as seriously as teaching
someone how to swim. On the surface the two might not appear
206
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
to be related—violence is far more dire than goofing around in a
swimming pool, after all. The common thread is this: if the instructor
fails to impart the skill, the client could die. In swimming, the end
result is a client who thinks they know how to swim while they really
can’t—a false confidence that can end in drowning. In violence, the
result is a client who thinks they know how to hurt people, but really
doesn’t—a false confidence that can lead to their own murder.
This basic assumption informs and drives everything we do in
TFT. In fact, it’s the reason we do it at all. We’re not in it for the
money, or the ego-stroke, or to be international superstar badasses—
we’re in it for you, to make sure you have the skills to make it back
home alive. When we train a group of 30 we don’t see it as a single,
anonymous mass; we see 30 individuals who each need to get it done
right, and right now. We know we’ll only have so much time with
you—we have to assume we’ll never see you again, that you’ll have
to rely on what we do at that moment for the rest of your life. We
make that time count for you.
When I’m instructing I have to look you in the eye and know
I’m not lying. I have to be sure that no matter how much time I get
to train you, you walk out that door knowing how to injure a man,
drop him, and make him stay there. Otherwise I literally can’t sleep
at night.
At the TFT San Diego Center, we thought it would be a good idea
to let people come in for a free, hour-long orientation session. The
initial concept was to get to meet each other, client and instructor,
and to allow people to see what it was we were up to, learn a little bit
about us, and experience a little bit of TFT physically. All to ensure
that anyone signing up for on-going training knew exactly what they
were getting into—and that it was exactly what they wanted.
It was just supposed to be a taste, not a full-blown training. It was
the free sample to help you decide whether or not to buy the whole
cake. People were not expected to be able to do anything at the end
other than make an informed decision on whether or not to sign up.
207
AFTERWORD
That’s not how it worked out.
Standing there, looking into their eyes, giving them ‘just a
taste’—enough to get into trouble but not enough to get back out
again—felt terribly wrong. So wrong that the sessions turned into a
one hour emergency crash course in TFT. The goal shifted off of a
free sample and found it’s way back to our core, founding principle:
make sure the client can get it done well enough to survive and
win. Can one hour make a difference? Well, it’ll be dirty, and ugly,
but if they do everything we told and showed them how to do in that
hour, then, yes, it can.
We wouldn’t sleep well if it didn’t.
Principles You Can Use
As instructors, what we can do in violent conflict—our own
personal skills and abilities—means absolutely nothing to you. The
fact that we know how to dislocate someone’s shoulder and break
their neck—after throwing them through the air—doesn’t make you
any safer. We’re not your bodyguards, we won’t be there when it’s
time for you to act. You’ll be on your own, and it will come down to
what you, personally, can do.
Showing you a fancy technique that relies on physical
conditioning, coordination and years of practice is showing off. It
may be impressive, and it may make the person showing it feel good,
but it’s not getting you any closer to surviving what could be the last
day of your life. Looks great, feels good and it’s of absolutely no
use to you.
At a three-day seminar in Dallas, one of our instructors showed
an awesome throw involving a shoulder dislocation. It was quick,
dirty and got the job done in a single motion—tearing the shoulder
out of the socket and dumping the guy on his head in one, easy
step. Or so he thought. Everyone present was duly impressed and
eager to get on the mats and try it ... and when they did, not a single
208
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
person could get it done. Now, that doesn’t mean some of them
weren’t close, but no one was doing it well enough for a life-or-
death situation. In other words, some of them might have been able
to pull it off—but not good enough to bet their life on.
In most training environments, the instructor would just tell you
to keep working on it. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea—as long
as you have plenty of training opportunities ahead of you. These
people had less than a day left. Six hours, and they’d be back on
the streets, back into the rest of their lives. And they needed to
be able to preserve those lives with what they could reliably do,
right now. The instructor immediately scrapped the frustrating
exercise and replaced it with a simpler, more direct and achievable
way to tear out a shoulder and dump the guy on his head. While
there were some who were disappointed that they weren’t doing
the ‘fancy’ technique, everyone could get the job done well enough
to absolutely wreck the other guy. The instructor had ensured that
when they walked out that door, everyone there could cripple a man
and put him down such that he couldn’t get back up. They could bet
their life on what they could do.
Understanding why a shoulder comes out of the socket and how
to make that happen are far more important than the thousands of
different movements you could use to tear it out.
Instead of useless techniques, we give you principles you can
use. Instead of an empty set of motions to mimic, we break out the
principles that make those motions useful—the principle reasons why
that motion causes an effect, how it achieves the goal of violence and
gets you the injury you need. We get to the root, underlying rules that
govern all violence and make sure you can get it done.
Facts, Not Opinions
There are an awful lot of different opinions out there regarding
what to do when faced with the realities of violence. Unfortunately,
a lot of those opinions aren’t grounded in reality—they fly in the
209
AFTERWORD
face of common sense, basic physics and physiology, and hard-won
personal experience. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and
that opinion may reflect their own experience and what works for
them. It’s when they attempt to extrapolate that opinion outward,
beyond themselves, and impose it over inconvenient physical realities
that they run into trouble. And if that’s the guy you’re learning from,
it can mean trouble for you.
Reality is awfully inconvenient. It has a way of steamrolling right
over flights of fancy—something that seemed like an incredible idea
at the time, logical and enthusiastic-nod-inducing ends up flattened
with all the best parts squirting out like a ruptured tube of toothpaste.
It may have been a great idea, but the actual execution just doesn’t
hold up.
When this happens in training for violence, you’re left with
a choice: you can ignore reality and pretend it works, or you can
swallow your ego and change what you’re doing. This isn’t an easy
thing to do. There were lots of times when we wished it wasn’t so.
When a training method or a really, really cool technique turns out to
be useless when compared against the physical realities of violence,
it’s a sad day. There are a lot of fun things we liked to do and train
that ended up being just plain wrong, like practicing elaborate knife
defenses. Working with the knife that way makes you feel really
good—as you would expect ‘not getting stabbed’ to do—but it
doesn’t jibe with video evidence of stabbings. Or police reports from
victims. Most people report never seeing the knife, or even knowing
they were being stabbed. They thought they were being punched. It
wasn’t until they saw the blood that they realized something else was
going on. This makes it highly unlikely that you’d even know you
needed to do a knife defense technique, let alone execute it.
That inconvenient reality brings up another issue: if you finally
realize (after being stabbed repeatedly) that a knife is involved, is
going for a knife defense technique going to make a difference at this
point? Or is it just going to get you stabbed more?
210
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
Realities like this challenged our assumptions and forced us to
make the choice: opinion, or the facts? We chose the facts. The fact
of the matter is you have to do what makes the stabber successful—
cause injury. That’s the only thing that’s going to see you through.
As cool as the knife defenses were to practice, and as comforting
the idea of not getting stabbed is, none of that holds up outside of
practice.
This is the process we used to winnow out the approaches that
actually work from those that are just nice ideas, but wrong. We
checked everything against videos of actual violence, police and
coroners’ reports, sports trauma medicine, and most importantly, the
experiences of people who have prevailed in life-or-death situations.
If it didn’t match up, we chucked it, no matter how much we didn’t
want to.
In the end, we’re left with a system that is internally and externally
consistent, based on facts that you can check for yourself. Don’t take
our word for it—opinions have a way of going in and out of favor,
but the facts remain the same. If you’re going to bet your life on
anything, it should be the facts.
We Listen and Adapt
Most importantly, we listen to our clients: what they find useful,
and what they don’t. What they want and need, and what they
don’t want to be bothered with. At every training seminar we hand
out questionnaires to find out how the participants felt about the
experience; we take their responses to heart and change our training
methods accordingly.
The most notable example of this was when a client noted that
a small, informal session highlighting a number of different ways to
access the eyes—different angles, body positions and with several
different tools—made a huge amount of sense. It was what allowed
them to finally ‘get it’ in a way that the preceding ‘technique-based’
211
AFTERWORD
part of the seminar had not. This forced us to confront the issue of
whether to train people the way we had learned it, or to train them the
way we understood the material now.
This one comment from a client changed our entire training
approach—we literally tore it apart and reassembled it from the
ground up. Instead of training techniques with a specific set of
movements (and then hoping the clients could pull them apart to find
the base elements), we trained targets exclusively, showing them
how to crush a throat standing, from the side, from behind, with the
man on all fours, and laying down, then with the client on the floor,
etc. The results amazed everyone, instructors and clients alike—what
once took three days to instill we could now do in one day. And then,
with a little more effort, half a day. Returning clients, those who had
trained with us before the methodology shift, were astounded at how
good the new people were in such a short time.
To this day we pay close attention to what our clients have to say
about their experience and progress—we never know when someone
will point out the next big improvement in our methods.
Our goal is to give you the best training possible—you’re the
reason we’re here and your success is all we’re really interested in.
TFT is the perfect intersection of the actual facts of violence presented
by people who know the subject cold and really just want you to get
it right. That’s what motivates us—knowing that after you walk out
that door you’re a little bit smarter, a little bit harder, and a lotta bit
better at using the tool of violence. Your success is your survival, and
having you make it back home alive is why we’re here.
212
HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
213
AFTERWORD
To Learn More About Target-Focus Training
To learn more about how Target-Focus Training enables you to
defeat anyone threatening you or a loved one in an unavoidable violent
confrontation, please visit our website at:
http://www.targetfocustraining.com or email us at:
tft@targetfocustraining.com
While on the site, sign up for Mr. Larkin’s highly regarded FREE
newsletter, “Secrets For Staying Alive When Rules Don’t Apply.”
You’ll also find DVDs, manuals and other Target-Focus Training
materials at:
www.targetfocustraining.com/all-products
Each year a limited number of live training events are scheduled.
Here you learn the complete Target-Focus Training system, in just two
short days—100% guaranteed!
To check availability or reserve your spot in one of these unique live
sessions go to:
www.targetfocustraining.com/training/live-training
or email us at: tft@targetfocustraining.com
For other questions, contact us at
The TFT Group
c/o Straitview Publishing
325 E Washington St, #207
Sequim, WA 98382
206-686-3469

Candid comments from readers of this new book
“Compulsory reading for every adult male on this planet. It is the most eye opening book I have ever read on the subject of self preservation. It’s so simple and clear you are left with no illusions about real violence and what is required to survive.” Lawrence Jooste, Gauteng, South Africa “It was really a game changer for me. There have been several times in my life when I felt I truly became enlightened about something and it forever changed my outlook – this book is one of them. I trained in college for Tae Kwon Do and became YHU\ HIIHFWLYH DW KLWWLQJ WDUJHWV 1RZ , UHDOL]H KRZ QDwYH P\ VHOI FRQ¿GHQFH KDV EHHQ I’ve been lucky! I started your book late the night I received it and could barely put it down to go to sleep.” Ed Hopwood, Warren NJ “Well-written and compelling, this book will quickly strip away your ingrained, IDOVH SHUFHSWLRQV DERXW KDQGWRKDQG FRPEDW DQG JLYH \RX FRQ¿GHQFH WKDW ZLWK DQ understanding of what is really needed for victory, you could actually defend yourself against any attacker, regardless of differentials in size, aggressiveness, or skill level.” Scott Nelson, Houston, TX “Never before have I come across a book that addresses the use of violence in the open and honest manner this book does. As a former soldier, we were taught WKH VLPSOH IDFW WKDW ZKHQ ¿JKWLQJ IRU \RXU OLIH LW¶V \RX RU \RXU RSSRQHQW ± DQ\WKLQJ goes. The authors of this book address this basic idea but delve much deeper into the difference between anti-social and asocial violence, and why “anything goes” may sometimes be necessary. They make it abundantly clear that although violence is very rarely the solution to a confrontation, when it is, it is the only solution. This is not a book about techniques; it’s a book about mindset – the mindset about when and why the tool of violence should be utilized to end a confrontation. It is this mindset that may very well save your life if ever faced with a truly violent encounter.” Tim Baguley, Las Vegas, NV “I couldn’t put it down. Read it in one sitting. It’s a brilliant study on the use of violence as a tool and its use in social, asocial, & antisocial settings. If you’re considering the purchase of any self defense tool or training I highly recommend you read this book before doing so. You won’t hear this caliber of truth ANYWHERE else.” K. T. Martin, Sacramento, CA

“I have been around combat in the Marine Corps, and with cops for most of my life. 7KLV LV WKH ¿UVW VHULRXV FKDQJH LQ KRZ ZH PXVW ORRN DW 6859,9$/ FRPEDW ,W LV QRW VR much technique as it is a mental frame of mind. It has been most refreshing to read.” P. Neskow, Barrington, IL ³,W ZDV WKH EHVW ERRN , KDYH HYHU UHDG RQ 6HOI 3URWHFWLRQ ,W JLYHV D  GHJUHH understanding of the subject. I possessed the physical side and understanding but I FRXOG QHYHU IXOO\ XQGHUVWDQG WKH PHQWDO SDUW 2QFH , ¿QLVKHG \RXU ERRN , UHDOL]HG , could get the job done if need be... without hesitation. The way you communicate so clearly on the subject, I can see you have survived violent encounters. A lot of people ZKR WHDFK 6HOI 3URWHFWLRQ QHYHU KDYH  LWV MXVW WKHRU\´ Shane Parisi, Mountain View, CA ³7KH 7)7 PDWHULDO KDV VKHG OLJKW RQ WKH JUH\ DUHD RI YLROHQFH 6R VLPSOH WR understand, anyone can pick it up and learn the truth about surviving an undesirable VLWXDWLRQ 2QH RI WKH PRVW VLJQL¿FDQW UHDGV ,¶YH FRPH DFURVV , KLJKO\ UHFRPPHQG LW ´ Justin Negrete, Madison, WI “Having survived a tour in Nam as a combat medic I can attest to the mental IRUWLWXGH QHFHVVDU\ WR FRXQWHU D YLROHQW EDWWOH 2QO\ ZLVK WKLV ERRN ZDV ZULWWHQ  years ago!” Dennis Aurilia, Parkland, FL “I always thought I had a good combat mindset, use of color codes in my everyday life, and an understanding of what I would do if confronted with a life and death situation. I had half a picture! This is a whole different world! The simplest and best explanation I have ever heard of why when violence is the answer it truly is the only answer.” Todd W. Carr, Marion, NY

SURVIVE
THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE
TIM LARKIN & CHRIS RANCK-BUHR

HOW TO

recording or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented. How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life by Tim Larkin & Chris Ranck-Buhr First Edition: 2008 Second Edition 2009 ISBN 978-1-61539-310-7 The TFT Group Straitview Publishing 325 E Washington St. without permission in writing from the publisher. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical.©2009 TFT Group. WA 98382 . including photocopy. except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine. Third Edition Printed in the United States of America. #207 Sequim. or broadcast. newspaper. All rights reserved.

. . . and to the memory of those who didn’t.Dedicated to everyone who made it back home alive .

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE iv .

Asocial Violence Chapter Five: When To Engage Chapter Six: Competition Vs. and Other Philosophies of Good Neighborliness 195 Chapter Four: Living a More Peaceful Life 198 AFTERWORD 202 v . Plateaus & Epiphanies Chapter Two: Training For Life Chapter Three: Learn To Fight or Work Out? Chapter Four: Dead Men Tell No Tales or. Destruction Chapter Seven: All The Reasons Why You Can’t Chapter Eight: Spiritual Enlightenment.. The Hard Knot Chapter Nine: Kill The Unknown ix 1 2 5 14 20 25 31 44 52 62 70 83 87 88 92 99 105 109 115 119 126 131 132 137 145 150 152 157 165 178 181 PART FOUR: The Legacy of Violence—Peace of Mind 185 Chapter One: An Ounce of Prevention 186 Chapter Two: Taking Control of Your Life 190 Chapter Three: Treat Everyone Like They Are Six Seconds Away from a Killing Spree .TABLE OF CONTENTS FORWARD PART ONE: Violence In Your Life Today Chapter One: The Unthinkable Happens Chapter Two: Surviving the Most Critical Five Seconds of Your Life Chapter Three: Inside the Criminal Mind Chapter Four: Antisocial vs.. Why You Can’t Learn Anything of Value From the Dead Guy Chapter Five: The Final Word in Context—MURDER Chapter Six: It’s Not About Naughty or Nice Chapter Seven: Time to Stop Lying to Yourself Chapter Eight: Scenario-based Training vs. Stupid Chapter Seven: Access the Meat Chapter Eight: The Hardest Lesson PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Chapter One: Roadblocks. Competition and the One-Way Street of Violence Chapter Nine: Stripping the Fat to Find the Bone— Reason in Violence Chapter Ten: Everyone’s a Badass Chapter Eleven: The Absence of Choice PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter One: Fight or Flight Chapter Two: Violence is About Injury Chapter Three: Why You Must Learn to Kill Chapter Four: Overcoming the Stigma of Violence Chapter Five: Violence as the Ultimate Survival Tool Chapter Six: Kill It Simple.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE viii .

the kind we all want to avoid. with rules and supervision agreed upon in advance. I don’t want to level the playing field. you’re doing what everyone else is doing— just learning techniques for specific situations. I’m not just going to give you a few techniques to ward off a local thug. and they’re great for getting into shape. you need to know something about the principles of what you’re doing. you’ll understand why that’s a recipe for disaster. That’s it. Find out where the enemy LV *HW DW KLP DV VRRQ DV \RX FDQ 6WULNH KLP DV KDUG DV \RX can and as often as you can. ix . If you’re training your body to participate in competitions. And that’s completely different from combat sport fighting. you walk away with your life. if “sport fighting” is your thing. I want to make sure that if you’re ever in a violent situation. however. It’s educating yourself about the facts of violence. I’m talking about real violence. I’m talking about learning to effectively deal with real life-or-death threats. And by the time you finish this book.” — *HQHUDO 86 *UDQW There are many different reasons you might start reading this book. You see. In other words. this book will not say a thing to you. I want to skew it in your favor. Combat sports can teach you effective tactics for fighting. But to do that. It truly amazes me how many people just stumble into various martial arts or combat sports never having once considered why they’re doing it. and keep moving on. then you’ll find numerous martial arts and combat sports that provide excellent instruction and challenging forms of competition. Without it. These give you the opportunity to exercise your abilities in a safe situation. Unfortunately.FORWARD Foreword “The art of war is simple enough. but the only reason to finish it is if you want to protect yourself and your family from violence.

I guarantee you’ll come to see the truth: There’s only one way you’ll ever be prepared to walk away from a life-or-death situation. you might be wondering why you can’t do both. The real question is. But this book addresses the place where social communication ends and real violence begins—places where you have no control over your opponent. In other words. You might not like what I have to say. will you have the ability to defend yourself and your family? Because in that moment. Maybe you’re thinking that’s why we have social institutions such as the police—to defend us and keep us safe from life-or-death situations. if you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in a life-or-death situation.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE At this point. nothing else will matter. But if you keep reading. this book addresses those situations we all try to pretend don’t exist. Or maybe you’re wondering why you should know how to fight at all. read on. If you want to know the truth about self-defense. —Tim Larkin x .

PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today PART ONE: VIOLENCE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY 1 .

and each guest was searched every time they reentered the hotel. One of my most significant trips occurred when I toured Asia. My hosts represented some of the most influential people in each of these regions. and you’re ready to do something about it. it means you’ve taken that acceptance a step further. and every step of the journey. Most of my hotels had a barricade. the specter of violence loomed in the background. I’ve traveled extensively. Since I started Target-Focus Training (TFT). But many men who are not cowards are simply unprepared for acts of human savagery. and they all welcomed my message: violence is the only way to combat violence. it means that you have the courage to accept that there are people out there who will act in unpredictable and irrational ways to get what they want—a fact many people blithely ignore. Manila. Jakarta. When they look right into the face of depravity and violence they are astonished and confounded. They have not thought about it (incredible as this may appear to anyone who reads the papers or listens to the news) and they just don’t know what to do. in honor. giving seminars on how to use violence as a tool for survival. In fact. Why? 2 .HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter One: The Unthinkable Happens “Any man who is a man may not. and Hong Kong. submit to threats of violence. Shanghai. And if you’re reading this book. I had the good fortune to travel to Singapore. all my cars were searched for bombs.” —Jeff Cooper It doesn’t make you a coward to acknowledge that you have no idea what to do in a life-or-death violent situation.

you may very well find yourself in a situation where using violence is your only answer. Whether you back the war or not. And they don’t just face the threat of criminal violence. terrorists. violence is what you use when every other choice has been taken from you. But when you’ve seen political assassinations over a mayoral election. when you’ve seen a political opponent’s entire family slaughtered. Political violence. I share this because rarely have I found my message so well received—ironically in a part of the world that was the birthplace of martial arts. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? There are two types of people who won’t find much to help them in this book: those who think violence is never justifiable. One thing that will become very clear over the course of this book is that violence is an extremely negative thing. In other words. kidnappers. and those who think violence is the answer to everything. So why can’t we all just get along? A perfect example occurs in the war against terror. These are clients who take a plan for asocial violence seriously. you realize there are those who are very comfortable solving any conflict with violence—and you realize that you’d better be ready if they ever come gunning for you. It quickly becomes clear that if you are unfortunate enough to get involved with people like this. I don’t recommend it as a solution to any but the most desperate of conflicts. It’s not that they’re violent people themselves or ever want to use the knowledge. Their commitment to their 3 . business rivals—all use violence as a means to solve problems. They don’t think twice about beheading civilians or sacrificing innocent lives— including their own—to make a point. our soldiers face a committed enemy who is willing to do whatever it takes to further its cause.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Because the people living in these cities live every day with the threat of violence entering their lives in a real and dramatic fashion.

is the nature of war. quite frankly. I don’t advocate responding to antisocial behavior with violence. but you have to accept it for what it is. You don’t have to like war. You can’t rely on running or blocking anymore than the military can use law enforcement guidelines to defeat a ‘kill or be killed’ enemy. law enforcement mentality. But this mentality is not just dangerous to soldiers on the battlefields of the Middle East.’ Against such an enemy you cannot afford to respond with a litigious. The same applies to you. But whether it’s a soldier facing a committed. fanatical enemy or a businessman facing an asocial recidivist criminal.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE cause is total and even the wounded will booby-trap themselves just to kill a couple more soldiers ‘for the cause. That’s why you must ask yourself right now. You cannot afford such a litigious mentality when faced with real. The cold. We cannot win by trying to ‘arrest’ the enemy. It is politically incorrect to point such facts out. “Do I really know how to use the tool of violence?” You simply can’t wait to ask it until asocial violence is imminent. hard fact is that we must kill the enemy in large enough numbers to break the back of the insurgents. nor do I believe violence will solve our social or political problems. By then the stakes are far too high. 4 . but that. but if he wants to survive—and if he wants his friends and family to remain safe—he has no choice but to respond to the enemy in kind. You must respond by injuring the other guy as fast as you can. asocial violence. A soldier overseas may not like what he has to do. the only response that will get the job done is to use the tool of violence.

and with more grace than the average person who learned as a kid and only ever gets wet in the shower. you’ll swim to the edge and get out of the water. that means you don’t have the luxury of time to think or take up a fancy kung-fu stance. And as in swimming. You get time only to act. knowledge. If you make it out alive. Superior physical ability. you swim to avoid death.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Chapter Two: Surviving the Most Critical Five Seconds of Your Life ³:KDW FDQ EH VXFFHVVIXOO\ ZLOOHG PXVW ¿UVW EH VHHQ DQG XQGHUVWRRG´ ²%ULJDGLHU *HQHUDO 6/$ 0DUVKDOO There’s nothing artistic about violence. it’s an instinctive survival tool.. utilitarian life skill. you did the right thing. 5 . neither of them will drown. if you fall into a lifeor-death situation in the water..” You just know that if you fall in. and continue to act. Violence is the same: a simple. further. Whether you’re an Olympic swimmer or an amateur. first I’d tread water. Once you’ve learned the basics. and five seconds is more than enough time to cause serious injury. the only arbiter of success is survival. Serious violent conflict rarely lasts more than five seconds. cause an effect. An Olympic swimmer who trains every day will always be able to swim faster. But under normal conditions. On the other hand. you’re set for life. then I’d follow that up with a couple of neat butterfly strokes. So why is violence so important to survival? Because violence works on everyone. You don’t walk around every day wondering what you’d do if you fell into a swimming pool: “Let’s see. like swimming. It doesn’t take much to put even the biggest man down.

She was stabbed twice in the neck and bled-out before the paramedics could arrive. In other words. the driver bum-rushed him. 262 lb very drunk driver got out to contest John’s decision to stop him. 6 . But is survival enough? Consider these examples: At the age of 32. John is a police officer with 12 years on the force and numerous defensive tactics courses under his belt. Before John finished the verbal warning he’d used a 1. John fumbled for his pepper spray while the driver laughed and repeatedly pounded John’s head against the pavement. everyone can do violence.000 times before. Surviving is not Enough Some people will argue that it’s not necessary to become familiar with the tool of violence—that it’s enough to know self-defense and be prepared for different situations. was attacked by a meth-crazed mugger in an unprovoked homicidal assault. There is nothing anyone can do to make themselves immune to the laws of the physical universe. Nerve damage to his right side is pretty severe. Well.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE experience. Following the techniques he’d been drilled in. the 6’5”. and no one is immune. He’s still on the force today but in an admin job. lifted him off the deck. On a bright August day he pulled over a ‘79 Chevy Camaro for a dangerous lane change while speeding. Jim. Bullets are not swayed by opinion or presence. and slammed him to the pavement. they are maddeningly impartial. and iron will are all trumped by the thumb in the eye. He’s still with us because his girlfriend attempted to stop the mugger. John lost consciousness as kicks to the head and torso rained down from the alcohol-fueled rage. I’m here to tell you that those tools might give you the ability to survive a violent situation. He was stabbed three times. As he approached. a man with years of martial arts training.

All of these people are survivors.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today His facial reconstructive surgery went well and surgeons think he’ll regain 90% control of his facial muscles. But are their lives what they were before the attacks? What they’ve suffered should be enough to convince you: survival is not enough. After 3 reconstructive surgeries. too. Jamie is a survivor. Most who respond with this answer feel the survivors’ training failed to develop the proper mind-set to survive and win these encounters. one she could hit as hard as she wanted. 7 . The board that reviewed the video of the incident stated John responded exactly as he was trained. They lived after a vicious. And yet she still fell victim to this violent attack. From there it got worse. She did everything the serial rapist asked. What Went Wrong? So what was lacking in the training of these three survivors? I’ve asked this question many times before. Hell. Mind-set is by far was the most popular response. she eventually recovered from the beating. Her self-defense training had great techniques and real life scenarios. eventually. John’s defensive tactics training was extensive. When she said she’d do whatever he wanted. it even had an instructor in a padded suit attacking them. unprovoked encounter with real violence. but not from the trauma of rape. he responded by punching her face and breaking her jaw. But the self-defense course she took never gave her a technique for the way this 234 lb brute held her on the floor of her apartment. and I always hear two responses: mind-set and will.

Besides. isn’t with the survivors: it’s with their training. Proper training develops everything needed to survive and win.’ And then there’s ‘will. they almost certainly had the will to survive. The problem is there is very little proper training offered to the general public. and when you’re faced with real violence. The problem.’ Some people stated that the three survivors lacked the will to do injury and this was a failure of their training. all three of these survivors were in desperate situations. Makes sense. large amounts of the training in all three of the survivors’ cases focused on developing proper mind-set and will. But neither was there when they needed it. right? There’s only one problem: no one knows what it really means. Most people still believe you need to be in a certain ‘state’ to be able to respond to violence. then. They’re buzzwords. they’re worse than useless.’ But neither mind-set nor will is what lacked in any of the survivors’ training. All the talk about ‘mind-set’ in this industry makes everyone sound the same. But how do you train will? Think about how useful will is when it comes to things like losing weight or working out.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Those that offer “will” as the lacking ingredient usually state that the training of the three survivors failed to provide them the “will” to use violence. Color charts are drafted and everyone feels good about how to get ready to ‘kick some ass. vicious attacks. The point here isn’t to belittle these three survivors. when you consider the situation. They did everything right according to how they’d been trained. In the midst of these horrible. That is because mind-set and will are not training objectives. 8 . In fact. A lot of people will lecture you on mind-set and come up with numerous drills to ‘instill the will to kill.

Do you want to survive a violent encounter. you’re probably starting to realize that proper training is the key to becoming comfortable with violence. then you’d better 9 . If you’re still with me. not just survive it—how do you decide what to do? How can you avoid a program that trains you in the same mistakes the three survivors above learned to make? When it comes to self-defense systems. it’s time for you to make a decision.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Making the Critical Choices At this point. there are a lot of choices out there. Picking a system that takes years to be usable. you won’t have time to consider mind-set. You’ve got everything from karate at the local Y to aggressive combat sports to ‘hardcore’ hand-to-hand combat types on the Internet. or do you want to win? Because in the moment when someone comes at you. it’s not going to do you any good next week. will. With all these choices. You’ll only have time to act. If a system won’t work for you until you’re a Black Belt. The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Picking a SelfDefense System So now that you’re ready to learn how to defend yourself—how to win a violent encounter. I don’t mean that you should look forward to or seek to engage in violent encounters. or any of the other things self-defense instructors commonly go on about. What I mean is. When I say comfortable. you need to be comfortable using violence in a violent situation the same way you’re comfortable swimming in a drowning situation: as a tool to survive. how is someone supposed to know what really works and what doesn’t? Here are the most common mistakes most people make when confronted with choosing a self-defense system: 1. let alone tomorrow. If it’s going to take you a couple of years to learn.

The only question you have to ask is. you want what he has: that ability. In a world that’s dangerous right now. no matter how long you go without doing it. look to the people who have the most experience with it: the common criminal element. he even broke a block of ice with his head! Naturally. When trying to figure out what to do in a violent situation. 3. that catlike grace. doesn’t it make sense that a self-defense system should work the same way? You might think: “But I’m not going to stop training!” Well. In violence it’s never about how it looks: it’s what it does that makes the difference.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE pray you don’t run into trouble until then. And let’s be honest: that time frame is just not realistic. It does you no good to learn something that requires constant upkeep. 2. that’s fine for right now. But you have to plan for all eventualities in the future. If you’re going to bet your life on a self-defense system. it better work the same way. when was the last time you saw a serial killer do anything fancy? Or what about in a prison riot? Nothing fancy there—just brutal simplicity. Sure. Picking a system that requires constant practice. The instructor puts on an impressive. Picking a system based on ‘cool’ techniques. Make sure your chosen system can tell the two apart 10 . spellbinding demo. doing all sorts of amazing and complicated things—heck. it’ll work great as long as you’re still training. They know you don’t need empty techniques that look ‘cool’ to get the job done. you need something that’s useful to you right now. but what about after you stop? What if it’s been a couple of years since you hit the mats? You’ll be more than rusty: you could wind up dead! If knowing how to swim means you know how to save yourself from drowning for the rest of your life. that power. You never forget how to ride a bike or swim. not five years down the road. He’s flying all over the place.

all it takes is a couple of years behind a desk.. by definition. all his senior students. no matter how tall. it’s not going to work so well for you. unfair. If all of your training is for fair competition.. or more cunning. Picking a system that doesn’t take into account all body types. There’s nothing quite like pitting yourself against another person to see who’s faster. 6. Whether it’s tall and lean with long legs at a Karate dojo or shorter and solidly stout in a Judo club. stronger. short. Violence is. you can bet that the system favors that body type.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today and show you how to get the job done. you can bet it’ll work for you. why don’t we fly 11 . Your best bet is training that fits any body type. you can’t afford to compete: the stakes are just too high. But when your life is on the line. I can guarantee that the criminal who has decided to stab you in the neck isn’t going to play by the rules. If you’re training somewhere where the instructor. small or heavy. to end up like the rest of us. Physical competition in and of itself is a wonderful thing. 5. and a couple of kids. There’s no high like besting others while basking in the camaraderie that skilled competition brings. Be honest: are you in the best shape of your life? Even if you are. you’re only going to do well there if you look just like them. If you see people of all shapes and sizes practicing. and while we’re at it. You’d be amazed how often this happens! Sure. 4. Picking a system based on competition. you’ve put yourself at an unfair disadvantage on the street. no matter what you look like doing it. Picking a system based on a hit movie. we’d all like to fight like Spiderman . If you don’t. well. and the best of the rest in the class look like a gang of clones.

9. by definition. and there’s no movie magic to save the day. Keep the fantasy in the theater and off the mats. It’s all a set-up: they had to do 800 takes and edit the crap out of it to get the final result that wowed you in the theater. Picking a system that doesn’t account for common. him. Nothing is more surprising than bringing a ‘spinning backhand’ to a gunfight. This can mean anything from competition (where the contestants are bound by rules) to training in prearranged patterns that never change. Every system 12 . and all his friends. guns). anything goes. This is the killer. Picking a system that only works when everyone agrees to play by certain rules. The problem with this kind of training is that in violence. Make sure any system you choose can show you how to deal with everyone who’s going to be there. Set patterns get shattered and that one scenario you trained and trained for will go down in the most unexpected way possible. you only get one take. Period. 7.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE like Superman. modern weaponry (knives. taking you completely by surprise. it’s not going to work off the mats or outside the dojo. Or expecting a stand-up boxing match only to get knifed in the process. 10. In real life violence. 8. Statistics show it’s much more likely to be you. sticks. If it doesn’t look like the violence you see on the news. The biggest fallacy out there is that violent assault is going to go down just like an episode of heroic single combat: you vs. Picking a system that doesn’t account for multiple attackers. Make sure any system you choose takes into account the chaos that exists naturally in violent conflict. Picking a system that doesn’t look like the violence you see on the news. fake. Anything you see in a movie is choreographed and computer-generated. him. too? Movies are.

Only a couple even bother to bring up the gun. no matter how many people you’re dealing with or what they’re packing. Fewer systems can show you how to deal with a stick or knife. 13 .PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today can show you how to deal with a single unarmed guy. You need to make sure you find the one that handles all of these things at once.

That means that a criminal not only won’t abide by rules of fair play. there’s a good chance he won’t even give them a passing thought. Sociopathy is a broad term that covers everything from people with personality disorders to psychotics. The idea of fighting like a criminal might not sound very appealing. They’ve done a lot for us—humans couldn’t have walked on the Moon without the rules to help us all work together. though: what matters is that this person’s brain isn’t working the same way as the normal. Your biggest problem is that you want to go in playing by the rules. we must also guard against policies that appear attractive but offer little real protection and may even impede our ability to protect ourselves. The main characteristic of a sociopath? A complete lack of awareness about morality and social behavior. Unfortunately. But don’t worry—it’s not your fault. differently. really nice. Your humanity is intact.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Three Inside the Criminal Mind “Although we must change the ways we protect our country.” —Richard Burr So now you know how not to train for self-defense. That doesn’t really matter to you. You’re sane. you want to have all the advantages you can get.. but believe me.. You’re civilized. The predators in our society look at life a little . or at the supermarket. next door. the best way to train for self-defense is to look to the people who are going to be perpetrating the violence: the criminals themselves. the rules are really. and heck. civilized people you meet at work. when you’re face to face with someone who’s ready and willing to kill you. You have to understand that this guy will not be worried about pulling dirty 14 . You’ve got empathy.

At first. you lose every time. but to worry that good people won’t. Until you can approach violence the same way. Isn’t It Dangerous to Put This Information Out There? One of the most common objections I hear from people is. You do understand about morality and fair play. the information is uncomfortable. you have to shut that awareness off and go after him—any way possible. “What if criminals get a hold of this information? Isn’t it dangerous to give them access to the kind of information they need to kill and maim other people?” Well. He has one thing in mind. They are the ones 15 . and the ends justify the means—even if the “ends” are nothing more than the ten bucks in your wallet or soothing his savage pride. But in the moment your life is in danger. My job is not to worry that the criminals will get a hold of this info. But they have no problem using violence to get what they want and they know the critical factor that makes violence work: intent! As I’ve stated numerous times in my newsletter and DVD products—to be successful with violence you need zero training but you must have intent. he will always have an edge.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today tricks. for some. Information I’ve released has created a fundamental change in the way good people go about truly protecting themselves. If you have years of ‘training’ and no intent. But it rings true. this would be an excellent objection except for one thing: They already know how to use violence to get what they want! Do they have all the principles and methods included in this book? No. playing fair. or shoving a knife through your eye. even shocking. Criminals don’t waste time learning to use the tool better—they rely on intent alone.

may not communicate well with adrenaline pounding through the system and blood retreating from the frontal lobes of the EUDLQ ZKHUH  \HDUV RI KXPDQ FLYLOL]DWLRQ OLYHV.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE who truly need this program. I represent criminals. such as a knife to the neck. my job is communication. An Inside Perspective This is a perspective on the criminal mind offered to me by a criminal defense attorney: “I am an attorney. They do not communicate from the same set of social beliefs. They do not communicate in the same way as we do. A person under stress. All a criminal would do is look at it and nod his head in agreement.

WR WKH FHQWUDO EUDLQ ZKHUH ¿JKW ÀLJKW RU IUHH]H OLYHV.

‘I’m a vegetarian. 3HRSOH EOXUW RXW WKH PRVW LQDSSURSULDWH WKLQJV 5HFHQWO\ D journalist was being kidnapped in Iraq. she wanted to say that she was a journalist.” .Kevin Jamison The key here is that the criminal is not operating from the same set of social beliefs you are. A detachment of Marines solved the problem. you believe that there’s a way to resolve your 16 . Deep down.’ The fact that she thought either phrase would help indicates that she did not understand the concept of the operation. socialized person. then one must work those words for DOO WKH\ DUH ZRUWK 0\ ¿UVW FKRLFH UHPDLQV WKH HTXLYDOHQW RI a detachment of Marines. If all one has is communications skills. You are a well-adjusted. instead she blurted out.

or drop into a fighting stance. happens somewhere out at the end of this progression. We tend to think of violence as a force continuum where if he yells at you. The problem is that it is not necessary to get ‘worked up’ or walk through all these various steps to get to serious crippling injury or death. We also believe that the worst kind of violence. then you can push him. 17 . As social. This is what the criminal sociopath knows. that which results in death. You don’t need to walk through the social dance one step at a time to get there. You don’t need to get ready. And the really scary part is so can you. in all places. if it gets pushed far enough. at a moment’s notice. sane people. You can swing the tool of violence whenever you wish. or give a verbal warning. you can yell at him. punching someone in the throat or stabbing them in the neck is readily available at all times. But what the criminal sociopath knows is that he can get there instantaneously. Violence is always available.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today problems without anyone getting hurt. then you can hit back. If he throws a punch. He can go from smiling and shrugging to stabbing in the amount of time it takes him to reach into his pocket. you just have to choose to do it. Can someone ramp up through all the steps and whip themselves into a frothy frenzy that ends in killing? Yes. A criminal doesn’t. If he pushes you. we tend to think of violence in social terms—either by framing everything as the school yard David and Goliath or by believing that if we take our social rules with us into the void place we can somehow hang onto our humanity and therefore not stoop to the criminal level. And this is exactly what you must to do in the face of asocial violence in order to survive.

Am I advocating that same approach? No. you’re going to get scared. it changes the balance of power. Violence 18 . you’ll give them anything they demand. loss or even death. and they know that if they use every violent means at their disposal. Instead of doubt preventing you from taking action. you’re going to freeze. instead of a threat from a violent stranger causing you to suffer pain. you’ll have the confidence to make the splitsecond decisions you need to stay alive during the most stressful seconds of your life. No part of the body is out of bounds and there are no gloves to soften the blows. certainly isn’t that they’re smarter. They understand how to use violence in order to cause the effect they want to achieve. You’ll understand that if you injure a man in a certain way. they’ll get it. you can precisely predict the result. It isn’t even that they’re stronger—many people who get beaten up and robbed on the streets every day are fitter and stronger than their drug-addicted assailants. resulting in his complete incapacitation. you will be able to cause serious injury to the man. you’ll have the power—the power to protect yourself and those you love. The reason muggers win is that they have power. Taking Off The Gloves In violent conflict there are no rules. If they threaten to kill you. When you are proficient in the use of this simple system. They know that: • • • If they pull out a knife. If they put a gun to your head. Learning how to use violence doesn’t turn you into a criminal.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Why are the Thugs Still Winning? The reason thugs are still using violence. They know what they want. When you’ve undergone this sort of training. and still winning.

how to keep a serial rapist at bay. the one causing the injuries. The criminal doesn’t succeed because he knows how to deal with violence. It’s easy to see why you’d want to know hundreds of different ways to keep someone from hurting you. They are committed to a radically different idea: injuring people.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today isn’t like the choreographed dance moves you see on TV shows and movies. Each side doesn’t take turns to swing and parry. the side that causes the first serious injury wins. Criminals are not in it for competition. 19 . how to break the hold and run away. how to keep the minimum safe distance. And usually. yet never cause debilitating trauma. the focus for the law-abiding citizen has been on learning how to keep violence from happening to us—how to deal with a violent attack. When you know how to use violence as a survival tool. you’ll be the one doing the striking. He succeeds because his specialty is dealing out violence. without the surety of success the criminal enjoys. Yet each and every technique you learn has you struggling to survive. One side strikes and the other side gets injured. In the society we live in. The myriad techniques available all claim to work.

and almost always emphasize the fear of the situation. In other words. When they choose to share the experience. and though many acted heroically. Asocial Violence “Though defensive violence will always be ‘a sad necessity’ in the eyes of men of principle.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Four Antisocial vs. No choice. it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men.” You’ll find yourself sitting through a play-by-play and listening to trash-talk about the other party. They dealt with it and moved on. These people also give the impression they are ready to participate again should they ever be called upon to defend their honor. often revel in retelling the exploit where “they kicked his ass. no retreat. Participants in social aggression. The first group rarely speaks about the subject. They make it clear that they were forced into action because they had no acceptable alternative. you’ll notice that they are usually brutally honest. you’ll quickly find that they fall into two distinct groups: those who have survived a true life-or-death confrontation and those who participated in violence as a kind of sport or game. 20 .” — 6DLQW $XJXVWLQH If you listen to people recount their experiences with violence. or a spilled drink after happy hour. a parking space. Why the different responses? The first group came in contact with that ultimate specter: unavoidable life-or-death violence. There is no gloating over their surviving the experience. the situation wasn’t fun. simply fight or die. They see themselves as fortunate to have survived and they hope never to be in that situation ever again. they don’t see it that way. however.

We’ve all talked our way out of a bad situation—you wouldn’t have made it this far in life if you weren’t good at negotiating. And quite frankly. Raw violence is not something I wish on anyone. a shouting match into a fist fight. it is often loud. Antisocial Violence The violence that comes from social posturing is avoidable. The important point here is that in social situations. They took a situation that was not life threatening and chose to respond with violence. The unavoidable use of violence produces a very different outcome: the desire to not participate in it ever again. It produced a base human reaction of control over another in the pecking order.” so to speak. and instantly recognizable. dramatic. 21 . you have a choice. Now. but I teach its use and methodology because when you need it you can’t have enough knowledge of the subject. If you don’t choose to (or cannot) leave. You get to see it coming. or that the situation couldn’t have escalated to a life-ordeath situation. the more competent I make you in that subject. these sorts of problems can be handled with the social tools we’re all familiar with. People choose to use violence when they let their egos rule the situation. We all know how to calm someone down. using violence as a response was a deliberate choice. And that means you can dodge it if you choose to. This group enjoyed using violence to gain dominance.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today The second group chose violence. But in this case. That’s why a victory is enjoyable—it’s an ego boost. the less likely you are to waste your time choosing to use violence in a social situation. We also all know how to act like a jerk and add fuel to the fire and turn an argument into a shouting match. We all know how to capitulate. that doesn’t mean the other guy wasn’t “asking for it.

It’s knocking a man down and kicking him to death. Confusing the Two So how do you know whether you’re dealing with antisocial or asocial violence? Once you understand the difference between the two. words are not going to deflect it. It’s one person beating another with a tire iron 22 . One involves posturing and ego. Does this mean you can’t be killed in a bar fight? Of course not. on the other hand. between antisocial and asocial violence. meant to be seen and heard by all those in attendance. or an argument over a parking space. You can get killed in a bar fight. suddenly. it’s really as easy as telling a peacock from a tiger. Asocial Violence Asocial violence. they’d probably think you were insane. cannot be handled with social tools and is far less survivable. If someone has decided to stab you to death. What I’m saying is that the death rate in the typical Saturday night punch-up is far lower than one would expect—and most fatalities are accidental. capitulation only makes their work easier. and unmistakably. or any other trivial social status confrontation. Asocial violence is brutally streamlined by comparison. the other is all about survival. The typical goal in a bar fight is not to kill anyone—it’s simply to best the other person and dominate them physically. Negotiating with a serial killer is like arguing with a bullet: if it’s coming your way.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Antisocial violence is also eminently survivable. The participants have no intentions of seriously injuring each other. It looks and sounds like it does because it is a display. Think about a bar fight. in fact. It starts quietly. It’s just highly unlikely. The big problem arises when we confuse the two—when we don’t know there’s a difference between competition and destruction. if you interrupted them and offered them handguns to shoot at each other.

Antisocial and Asocial Acts Once people understand these critical differences. though.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today until he stops moving. The Essential Differences Between Antisocial and Asocial Violence There’s a short and easy way to sum this up: Antisocial Violence: • • • Is avoidable Is survivable Can be solved using social skills Asocial Violence: • • • Is lethal Is unaffected by social skills Requires decisive action. that they may confuse antisocial and asocial actions. the very fabric of society itself. It’s the place where people kill and get killed. socialized person. That’s because you recognize them for what they are: asocial violence. 23 . If you’re a sane. It’s pulling the gun and firing round after round into him until he goes down and then stepping in close to make sure the last two go through the brain. There’s still the risk. they rarely confuse antisocial and asocial violence. It’s an awful place where there’s no such thing as a ‘fair fight’ or honor. It’s stabbing someone 14 times. The breakdown of everything we humans hold dear. those images make you physically ill. but there’s still the possibility of dealing with them through basic social skills. Antisocial actions are threatening and potentially dangerous. It’s the place where there are no rules and anything goes. the absence of our favorite construct.

in the crudest way possible. he wouldn’t bother telling you what he wanted. In other words. if it’s fight or die. the difference revolves around the idea of communication. he is still attempting. if at any time the situation devolves to physical violence. asocial. I’m sure you notice the qualifiers in there. He would simply take it. In this realm. There is still a possibility of resolving this situation without violence. Essentially. If you use your social skills towards antisocial behavior you may be able to diffuse the situation and essentially ‘make the bad man go away’ by giving him what he wants and then hoping he chooses to honor this questionable contract and leave. When you have no choice then it is asocial. “Give me your money” is still in the realm of communication.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Asocial actions. it ceases to be in the realm of antisocial and is in the realm of asocial violence. If it was a truly asocial act. you’re dealing with asocial violence. However. and that’s because there’s an inherent risk in trying to reason with someone in this situation. If this is how it goes down. on the other hand. then we would say this was a successful use of your social skills to handle antisocial behavior. If you have a choice whether to respond with violence. The goal is not to continue dialogue but to end the interaction. There are no gray areas in antisocial vs. holding a knife to neck and demanding your valuables). to communicate with you. then that situation is in the realm of social/antisocial. Antisocial behavior is in the realm of communication (albeit the bad end of communication). there is no communication—only action. The only way to gain control of this situation is for you to be the one successfully using the tool of violence. This means that though the other guy is threatening you (for example. Holding a knife to your throat and saying. The only way to be guaranteed success with this tool is to cause an objective injury on the other guy and continue to do so until he is nonfunctional. are kill or be killed. 24 .

” 25 .” “He engaged a ‘skinhead’ in a verbal altercation because the skinhead made a comment to one of his daughters. one of my Mastery students posted this sad story on our TFT Mastery Forum: “In Dallas we have a famous little nightspot called the Gypsy Tea Room.” —James Earl Jones The reason I spend so much time on the difference between social and asocial violence is because it’s absolutely essential to know what kind you’re dealing with. Some people think just because I train the use of violence as the ultimate survival tool that it means I advocate responding to any situation with violence. a father of two teenage girls decided to take his girls to an end-of-summer show before they left for college. And then the skinhead opened his ‘toolbox of violence’ first and pummeled the guy to the floor. Why?” “Needless social violence. Here’s a classic example of a trained reaction to avoidable violence. yelling. we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. “ “Recently. etc. Before the show was over he ended up having a severed spinal cord injury and can feel nothing from the neck down. Nothing could be further from the truth. etc. This led to male posturing. Matt. You can see acts like Ben Harper. Old 97’s. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Chapter Five When To Engage ³7KH ZRUOG LV ¿OOHG ZLWK YLROHQFH %HFDXVH FULPLQDOV FDUU\ guns. Edie Brickel.

choices. Thank you.” “TFT gives us a plan. All the while trying to look like a coward—the wimp. TFT.” “The father is a local high-end trim carpenter and has a home in a very wealthy part of Dallas. for the education that you’ve given myself and countless others in order that we may make the right choices when it come to violence.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE “As the father was on the floor the skinhead stomped down on his face and severed the man’s spinal cord somewhere between C1C5. This all occurred right in front of his two daughters. The skinhead fled to California and was arrested later that week. had a fund-raising 5k run for him this weekend. As cliché as it may sound. simply leaving the club would have saved this man a lifetime of paralysis and spared his daughters from witnessing this horrific act. more than likely. if the situation were going to become violent I would have made it very violent.” “Situations like this remind me of the many reasons I thank God TFT came into my life. But.” “Why?” “Most people would think that I would say this because if I were this father I would have kicked the skinhead’s ass because of my training. life is about the choices we make. The club that he was hurt in. and many tools to pull out of the toolbox.” “I firmly believe that the skinhead’s stomp to the face was merely intended to cause cosmetic damage not severe the man’s 26 . If the skinhead tried to start a verbal altercation I would have gotten my girls and myself out of the club immediately. along with the band.” “WRONG!” “Because of what I learned from TFT I would not have engaged the skinhead in any verbal altercation.” “Don’t get me wrong.

then you’re equally screwed (and may wish you were dead)! “So then I took my thumb and I dug his eyeball right out of his skull. or something you didn’t want to hear.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today spinal cord. how do I know when I should use what you’re teaching?” See. At that point. what a Master Instructor stunned participants with at a recent live training in San Diego after he’d repeatedly gotten the question. word-for-word. “. graphically illustrates a key point. This ‘stuff’ works far better than they understand. in all its horror.” 27 . if you don’t know how to use it then you’re screwed—and very likely dead! But since it rarely is the answer..” This story. take the situation you’re suggesting and add that phrase to the end of it.” “I am constantly amazed that we get the question ‘does this stuff work?’ from many of the students. Violence is at work everyday. But that statement is exactly. ³7KH GUXQN MXVW ÀLSSHG PH RII DQG WROG PH WR # P\VHOI so then I took my thumb and I dug his eyeball right out of his skull. Try it out with these two examples: 1. it’s the only answer. everywhere.” “The skinhead knew how to use violence as a tool but clearly did not understand targets and injury to those targets. if you don’t know when to use it. Some of you might think it’s unnecessary exaggeration.” Some of you might be cringing at the above statement. if you want to know whether the situation warrants extreme violence.. When violence is the answer.

But if you’re ever in doubt about whether you should use it or not. It’s the last resort. for sure. Hopefully. If you realize it’s possible to talk your way out of a difficult situation. If you can’t finish your “self defense” question with that phrase then it’s not a situation violence can help with. remember the advice from above. But you have to leave the romance on the movie theater floor and deal with the reality of violence as it’s practiced in everyday life.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 2.” It’s a limited tool. but it’ll cause a whole heap of other problems. Violence is what you use the moment you feel threatened. It’ll do the job. an 28 . When To Act It’s a romantic notion—using a combat sport or martial art to ‘better’ a bad guy—and one that’s far more seductive to think about than gouging the eye out of the socket of some guy who comes at you with a knife. Using violence to solve social problems is like using dynamite to open your car door. it’s pretty obvious which situation warrants the response. Often. Why? Because I teach how to do one thing and one thing only: how to completely shut off another human being. when communication isn’t an option and it’s injure or be injured. Period. so then I took my thumb and I dug his eyeball right out of his skull. Violence has nothing to do with communication. that should probably be your first choice. cutting me in the ribs. but one that’s necessary (and priceless) if your life is on the line. It’s what I mean when I say “using violence as a survival tool. you’ll never have to use the kind of violence I’m talking about. “As I turned. It’s not part of the negotiations that form the vast bulk of personal interaction. the gangbanger stabbed me.” Put that way.

they’re psyching themselves up for violence. but when it is the answer.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today aggressive person will put on a show to dominate without actually resorting to violence. Employing social skills to handle this type of scenario puts all the control of the outcome with the guy who has the knife to your neck. Leave if you wish to and if you can. Use violence when you have no other choice. 29 . Sometimes. they’re just trying to intimidate in the hope that you’ll back down. it’s the only answer. They’ll make themselves look bigger. “How well do I read minds?” Because you don’t want to get this one wrong! There is a big difference using social skills to assuage the ego of the guy you spilled a drink on vs. Sometimes. act immediately. you enter a gray zone in which it’s much harder to disengage and strike the first blow. That’s because if you start with the intent of causing injury. say nothing. When you enter into a conversation with a threatening person. trying to use them to deal with an individual who has no problem putting a knife to your neck. you’re not done until you finish it on your terms. Don’t look them in the eye or engage in conversation. This is where you need to ask yourself. scream obscenities or issue threats. You’re using violence as a tool to cause injury. And once you start. Once you decide to act. The Reality of Violence That’s what makes it so important to know when to use your training—that’s why you should only use it as an absolute last resort. You control the situation as long as you continue to injure the other guy until he’s nonfunctional. Violence isn’t always the answer. You aren’t trying to disable your opponent. If you don’t believe a problem can be solved with language and diplomacy. You’ll have to decide and act if you feel there’s a real threat. then you have a much better chance of changing the situation in your favor.

This by itself allows you to live a more peaceful. It is available to you right now! The main thing I try to point out to you is you have the option to use this tool. you end up avoiding a good deal of antisocial interactions. That’s because you have no question what to do when violence is the only answer! 30 . By learning the difference between antisocial behavior and asocial acts of violence. enjoyable life.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE You don’t need permission to use the tool of violence.

Everyone gathers around because it’s important to see who will be victorious. cheering for our favorite as the two fighters beat each other to the point of exhaustion. the status quo is not only maintained. If the bully loses. or stabbed repeatedly. kids will be less likely to hand over their lunch money. Destruction ³7KXV WKH PHWULF V\VWHP GLG QRW UHDOO\ FDWFK RQ LQ WKH 6WDWHV unless you count the increasing popularity of the ninemillimeter bullet. The bully. for example. we can watch a bloody and grueling title bout with nothing but excitement. you want to associate yourself with the winner and shun the loser. or kicked to death by a mob. really. The kid who bested him will be a hero and automatically rise above the bully in social regard. visceral reaction to the real thing. We have a primal. What’s going on here? It’s very simple. a schoolyard fight. is important to witness. 31 .PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Chapter Six Competition vs. he and his toadies will see their power eroded. Such an upset. is being challenged.” —Dave Barry We all know real violence when we see it: someone being shot in the head. If the bully prevails. It sickens us. such a potential drastic change in the playground pecking order. the kid will gain social status while the bully will lose status. Consider. The outcome of this event holds many repercussions for everyone in the social order. If the kid manages to cow the bully and make him cry. and has to do with the difference between social interaction and asocial violence. And yet. who occupies a position of power high up on the social totem pole.

It takes tremendous dedication and discipline to go through the ranks and compete against other world-class athletes in your chosen sport/art. Violence is about shutting 32 . Here you must harness the power of destruction. we instantly recognize that it has nothing to with communication and there will be no change in the social order. That’s because a shooting is inherently asocial. This is what I mean when I speak of a divide between social aggression and asocial violence. Competitions have rules. as a member enmeshed in this social order. Destruction is just about who gets it right first. And confusing one for the other can get you killed. What matters is. Think about it—how does what you use from (insert chosen combat sport or martial art here) compare against. winning tournaments. But what about a school shooting? No one gathers around to watch that. Another way of looking at it: one is a competition while the other is only about destruction. The problem of attempting to train for competition is that it severely affects your ability to cause destruction. it worked within the standard of violence. to witness the contest and its outcome. Once again. that is. There will only be mayhem. then wherever you got your info is irrelevant. that isn’t the case. and misery. But surviving asocial criminal violence is different. But most of the time. death. it’s extremely important. say. As such it holds no interest for the witnesses. a guy trying to brain you with a tire iron (violence)? If your response produced an injury. It worked and you survive! Who cares if it was learned from combat sport X or martial art Y. They are two very different interactions with very different expected outcomes. and bettering your athletic skills—competition is the way to go.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE but reinforced. it holds only terror. For the purposes of achieving ranks.

PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today down the human body. one ‘cheap shot’ could make it so a smaller. knocking them down and then stomping them on the ground.’ In the ring. untrained man could win. strength and heart. The thing that is so disturbing to the competition crowd is this: many highly skilled combat sport/martial arts athletes are murdered by less athletically skilled (and often untrained) individuals. 33 . groin kicking and other ‘low blows’ and ‘cheap shots. After all. the cool techniques? Why is it always one guy (or guys) doing it to another guy? Why doesn’t the guy taking the beating fight back? If the true nature of violence is one person doing it to another. Things that are against the rules are usually awful anyway: eye gouging. using everything allowed in the rules. the goal is to score points and get your opponent to submit. What’s important is understanding which method is appropriate to a given situation. You then continue this simple process until the other guy is nonfunctional. Why Violence Isn’t Competition Why is it that the violence you see on the news never looks like a sparring match? Where is the back-and-forth. throat stomping. You need to know the weak areas of the human body and how to use your brain to command the ‘tools’ you choose to destroy the target area and get an injury. Does that mean the competition crowd is “weaker” than the destruction crowd? No—they just are using different methods. because no one can handle losing an eye. not scoring more points or making the other guy submit. why does most modern martial arts and combat sports training look nothing like what you see on the news? The answer comes down to ‘The Rules.’ We can’t have these if we want to keep competition fair—if we want the winner to be the one with the most skill.

crippled. following the Rules the entire time. if not all.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE On the street. Here are the steps you need to take if you don’t want it to be you: 34 . and you’ll find yourself blackballed from combat sport competitions. The criminal. In fact. All he knows is that if you stab someone in the neck. learning new techniques and working very hard in the ring: in other words. on the other hand. The average criminal is just not interested in competition or ‘winning’ in the way we like to think of it. where there are no rules. the Black Belt is in serious trouble because he’s used to playing by The Rules. of his time training for competition. getting stronger. If you use destruction in a competition environment. The Rules have always protected him from harm. No one will want to train you or work out with you. When they meet each other on the street. This is why untrained criminals can take out highly trained Black Belts. they tend not to get back up. Someone’s going to get stabbed in the neck—and I bet you can guess who it is. use competition skills in a destruction environment and you have a good chance ending up maimed. however. don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the highway littered with the maimed. If you think you can somehow switch between competition and destruction. In the ring his opponent was never allowed to stab him in the neck. The average criminal is interested in only one thing: taking people out. you’ll be disqualified and have little chance of advancing in your chosen martial art or combat sport career. ‘low blows’ and ‘cheap shots’ are where people start—and finish —violence. crippled. But outside the ring. On the other hand. anything goes. And the only person who is used to that lack of rules is the criminal. or killed. didn’t train and probably couldn’t name a single rule. The Black Belt spent most. and killed who also thought that way. It’s as if they’ve thrown The Rules out the window and refuse to play by any rules at all.

There are a few exceptions (a few are iffy. remember that we are talking here about a life-or-death situation—one from which all other options have been removed. Eye gouging of any kind. most of the 31 UFC fouls are excellent guides as to what you should do in a violent situation. below. Hair pulling.’ Does your training cover all three of these? Be honest with yourself—lying about it can get you killed.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today • • • Make sure your training looks just like the news Make sure your training works when The Rules are not in play Make sure your training includes all the ‘low blows’ and ‘cheap shots. but in general. 35 . See 12. Before you cringe at the following no-holds-barred consideration of violence. at any time. If the answer is ‘no. these are the ones that stand out as a blueprint for what to do—and what not to do—in violent conflict: 'H¿QLWH <HVHV 1. Of the 31 fouls. If the answer is ‘yes. and two are flat-out wrong). to survive a violent situation. Don’t avoid this because some silly “rule” says not to. and you’ll do whatever it takes to live. 2. your goal is survival. you need to go against the rules. One of the three targets that do not require body weight to injure.’ you’ll do just fine in the ring—but what about everywhere else? Going Against the Rules: Using the 31 Ultimate Fighting Championship Fouls as the Basis for Operational Success in Violence Believe it or not.’ then you’re learning ‘effective self-defense’ that will work anywhere. At that point.

if I were going to use code I’d say something like ‘forcible removal of all future piano concertos. This is going straight for the central nervous system. As long as this is really code for ‘breaking fingers. 9. The last of the ‘Anti-Wrasslin Trifecta’. But if we take it to mean ‘rolling him over with his broken elbow’ then I’m all for it. 36 . The second of three that do not require body weight. 8. Serious. The point of the elbow is the smallest. grabbing the trachea. Striking downward using the point of the elbow. pinching or twisting the flesh. Personally. Striking to the spine or the back of the head. 7. this is just discomfort. 5. Such things are undesirable in the ring (that’s why they have a rule making it off-limits) but can mean the difference between life and death on the street. No body weight required to cause a serious injury. without limitation.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 3. hardest striking surface. like the spine or neck of a grounded man) and you have a guaranteed fight-ender. Line it up with a target (oh. Throat strikes of any kind.’ I’m all for it. Add it all up and you have people ‘accidentally’ doing an ideal strike. 4. By itself. By itself. This is contraindicated due to ‘accidental’ body weight transfer. this does not make the cut. Groin attacks of any kind. Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent. This changes it from a punch to a body-weighted strike. Small joint manipulation. using the elbow rather than the lower arm or hand means the removal of muscle power. Downward means gravity-assisted. life-long disability or death could result from head or spine trauma. which means falling body weight. including. Clawing. As an adjunct to something vicious (like a throw or joint break) it’s wonderful. as it’s simply painful.’ 6.

above. Falls under the aegis of 4. the ‘accidental’ inclusion of body weight. Your doctor would tell you to never. Engaging in an unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to an opponent. Stomping a grounded opponent. Kicking the head of a grounded opponent. By itself this is merely painful. 18. Again. Okay. 17. 9 out of 10 doctors scream ‘NO. 15. See above. Kicking to the kidney with the heel. 10.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today To the trained operator the human body is like a jumpsuit with handles all over it. Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent. bear with me on this one. brilliant in conjunction with a throw. Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck. I’m not joking. fight-ending injury. Grabbing the clavicle.’ Especially if by ‘canvas’ you mean ‘mall parking lot’. 12. 11. It only really becomes useful if you look at the clavicle as a handle on the battering ram you’re going to try to splinter the door with—if by ‘battering ram’ you mean ‘head’ and by ‘door’ you mean planet Earth. Useless in isolation. Again. 37 . A ruptured kidney is no joke— which makes it a huge advantage in a life-or-death situation. 14. 12 & 13. ever do this. Or into traffic. Could result in actual. driven home by leg-strength and front-ended by a part of your body that’s meant for rough business (your foot). 16. Except that the handles are all sewn into the bones. Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area. Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent. 13. I take it to mean ‘throwing into a not-nice place’ like a fire hydrant or a plate glass window. Goes without saying.

The danger of getting your fingers chewed on should dissuade you. Many hands make light work. Spitting at an opponent. I bet you can come up with something better. AKA ‘attacking unexpectedly’. Goes without saying. 27. Still. Can it work? Sure.. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee. 22. your mates are free to pitch in. Ask a Scotsman . It did make the perp let go. 38 . Can it work? Sure. IFFY 25. Biting. 24. 28. I bet you ten bucks you can figure out something better to do first. beholden only the physical laws of the universe.. You are free to do as you will. then maaaybe. This is anecdotal and your mileage may vary.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 19. But isn’t that the best time? 23. 21. Butting with the head. Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee. 26. Fish hooking. Typically employed when stomping or kicking a downed man. 20. If we mean the ol’ sand in the eyes trick. Interference by the corner. from a distance. Is it a good idea? Hardly. Violence is the time to jettison those pesky social mores. Holding the ropes or the fence. and all that. As an omega option. Yes. Adds leverage and improves follow-through. Attacking an opponent on or during the break. Three little words: BLOOD-BORNE PATHOGENS. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat. I actually know a guy who was in a headlock and went for the eyes and missed and ended up fish hooking the perp instead.

It’s great for competition and the dojo. This one’s iffy. Convincing them to quit. In fact. The point is. including. I take it to mean ‘social manipulation to gain advantage’ (see 2527. avoiding contact with an opponent. there is no communication. But that would only really apply in antisocial situations. without this. Not All Killers Are Quitters Most of what goes on in martial arts and combat sports works because people quit. 31. Any technique that isn’t about career-ending. the question gets asked often enough. sport becomes impossible without sickening ‘accidents’. They quit because it hurts. 39 . Throwing in the towel during competition. You quit. Timidity. wouldn’t it? FLAT-OUT NO WAY 30. about making the person submit. real violence isn’t a game. or because they’re exhausted. Using abusive language in the ring or fenced area. above). This is fine when the outcome isn’t critical. the dojo runs out of students as they succumb. with each blow. End of story. when what happens next is nice and social. one by one. without limitation. “Why don’t you just quit?” until they hit that personal threshold and just can’t take any more. Real violence breaks all the rules. or because they start to listen to the little voice that’s telling them everything will be a lot better if they’d just give in and give up. crippling injury is about compliance. More often than not it’s a combination of all these things. at once. too. That means you’d better be ready to break them. intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury. to the brutal endpoint of their training. Once you break that plane and cross over into violence.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today 29. you die.

the Pleasure of Predation A man approaches you on the street with a proposition: “See that guy over there?” He indicates a big. Even if it takes him a little bit of work to get you there. Going against a killer when the prize is your life is no time to hope for the best with a suitcase full of techniques you don’t fully understand—techniques that you hope will work but can’t articulate why they do.. Toughness. if he doesn’t care about pain. the result you’re going to get. The Terror of Competition.. superior technique—these things mean nothing in violence. he knows it’s not about making you quit. too. chances are you’ll be fine. and get it done first. or strength. But if he isn’t . well. and why that result occurs. ego. He knows it’s not about technique. He’ll go straight for those results. “He’s coming over here to wrestle you to the ground and choke you out for a million dollars. you’re out of your league when it comes to violence. breaking you. If you can 40 . Your only hope is to know how to get those results. shutting you down to the point where there’s nothing you can do—not even quit—he’ll remove choice from the equation and treat you like meat to be butchered. he’s going to kill you. Unless you know how to remove choice from the equation. to know why those results happen so you can make them happen every single time. or speed. He won’t waste his time engaging or setting you up. his 6’4” frame enrobed in 300 lbs. and he lacks that little voice that the sane call caution. If your would-be murderer is a quitter at heart.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Relying on your ability to make people quit. better conditioning and an indomitable will—to outlast your foe while working him to the point where he caves— will get you killed in the place where those things don’t matter. If he’s a killer. If you don’t know. to have a higher pain tolerance. strapping fellow. or how tired he is. It’s about results. he’s not going to quit. And in violence there are only two kinds of people: those who know what they’re doing—precisely—and the dead. bravado. of muscle. with surety.

and I’ll give you the million instead. “Doesn’t matter—he wants the million. How’s it feel now? Let’s try a different tack: Same set up.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today pin him instead. with someone who may or may not be a Nobel laureate in economics. you notice he’s a lot faster. You’re being asked to compete in such a way that is clearly unfair. the contest is sprung upon you.” And you’ll get the million. You’re being asked to perform at a level most of us can’t reach. we have experience with finances and money in general—and yet. too.” Feel any different? How about if we qualify that touch a bit—”All you have to do is break something inside of him. the idea makes me sweat.” “B-but. before an audience. he’s clearly way outside your weight class. and puts you at a disadvantage. and how it will stack up to his experience level? For all you know. everything 41 . you’re being asked to compete with the man’s physical size and athletic ability. “I don’t want to wrestle him!” The man sniffs. except the man says. We could just as easily set up a scenario where you are suddenly tasked with debating international monetary policy. are no slouch in the ring. And much. We’ve all got the basic tools. In the first case. much stronger. the components to compete in such a contest—we can speak out loud. I’ll give you the million. Here he comes—best of luck!” How does it feel to suddenly have this contest thrust upon you? To have to worry about your performance. yourself. he could be very good at wrestling—and even if you. “All you have to do is touch him. Most of us can expect to get hammered and humiliated. you’re not prepared. As he begins to sprint toward you.” you stammer.

In fact. nothing about the other guy factors into the equation) there is no dread or anxiety. or slam a car door.. that ‘touch’ can easily be used to break something inside of him.break something inside of him. even if he wants to wrestle us.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE we say twisted back on us with a sneer and derisive laughter from the audience. Everything he would want to do just pulls you in nice and close to those delicate anatomical features. It’s the worry that your meager skills will be outclassed. When we remove the competition and go instead to a win condition that is not dependent on unknown thresholds (e. as the absence of competition.g. Violence. And sure. The physics and biomechanics involved 42 . how anxious did you feel about merely touching the guy. In the second case where. Another easy win.”)? If the answer is yes.. We all know he can’t successfully wrestle you without you crushing his groin or gouging an eye at some point. has no performance anxiety component. did your anxiety increase when it was qualified as causing an injury (“. or break a stick on the curb.. then you’re still looking at violence as competition. It really is just touching. as in the slightly more difficult scenario. I know what you’re thinking—what about performance anxiety around getting violence done? Well.” there is no performance pressure—we can all reach out and touch the guy. All of the above highlights another distinct difference between competition and violence—that impending competition brings with it performance anxiety as you realize you will be required to pit your skill against unknown thresholds (what if he’s the better wrestler? or speaker?). “All you have to do is touch him. if we mean it in the same way that we would smash a soda can flat. above? Really? Outside of counting coup. there’s really no way you can lose—how can he wrestle you down & choke you out without you touching him at some point? It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. Now.

flinch. Any considerations beyond that are imaginary. applying themselves bodily to every problem presented them. The pressure’s off and you’re free to do as you will. The other guy is prey to be taken. a high-stakes one. predation is pleasurable. They behave as if they are fundamentally frightened of what’s going on. Those who still view violence as a form of competition. and only you. Which they are. the solution is mat time. if you will. is liberating. The other guy’s skill counts for absolutely nothing. Gone is the worry about being big enough. and rarely employ body weight. act hesitantly on the mats. hide and otherwise give poor reactions. they keep their distance (even when they think they’re penetrating). fast enough or strong enough. 43 . It’s all about you. It’s the second best place to learn that competition has nothing to do with anything in violence. You’re exercising your legacy as a predator—and by all accounts. speed and strength have no bearing on who wins and who dies. As with pretty much everything in this work. that size. The physical realization that violence is about a failure to compete. Those who have figured it out by physically burning the idea out of their heads with hours of mat time throw themselves into the work with great relish. meat to be butchered.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today are all the same. Hang ups. an end-run around competition.

and sanity. If you did. You come up with all the reasons you can’t engage in violence. all you’d have to do is run outside your house and punch the first person you saw in the neck as hard as you could. But there’s something more than basic humanity underlying your aversion to violence. The fact that you don’t go looking for it is a testament to your civility. What’s wrong is lying to yourself about it. you know the truth. and to paraphrase Eddie Rickenbacker. Everybody’s willing to cop to this. And there’s a problem with lying to yourself: deep down. one or two would result from civility and the others would all come from the same source: fear. All of those excuses come down to the same thing: you are afraid of violence. Now. Sometimes it takes an outside source pointing out those fears before your conscious mind jibes with your unconscious and realizes the truth. there is no courage without fear. So finally. collected in a single place (other than the inside of 44 . I’m sure that if you sat down right now and made yourself a list of the top twenty reasons you don’t want to get into a violent encounter. you can usually succeed in convincing your conscious mind that you’re telling the truth— that it doesn’t come down to fear but a host of other excuses. but what they really are is a smokescreen designed to protect your ego from becoming aware that you’re scared. You’re not actually saving your ego from anything. don’t take that the wrong way. because you know you’re lying to yourself inside. America’s top fighter ace in WWI. sociability. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid—a little fear is healthy.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Seven All The Reasons Why You Can’t No sane person wants to be involved in violence. But with a little effort and a lot of time. Getting involved in a violent act is easy.

here are all the reasons why you can’t—and the truth behind them! Physical Excuses 1.” If only you had more time in. I’m Not Coordinated! I hear it all the time: “I can’t move like you guys do!” Neither could Frank the Lawyer. the self-proclaimed Most Uncoordinated Person In The Universe. Scratch that excuse. And to quote him. a year spent lying awake at night agonizing over his personal safety. I Don’t Have Enough Training! “I take classes in selfdefense/martial arts/fighting. And the fact that most people who successfully use violence (incarcerated criminals) have little or no training whatsoever blows this one out of the water. I trained Frank for about a year. The sad part is you typically don’t get to pick when violence happens. “It was just like a movie. you’d be ready. 2. He was the most uncoordinated person I’d ever met. I’m not ready for this yet. 45 .” This was the guy who convinced me that if he can do it. Maybe next month. literally anyone can. pal. He had two left feet—and that was just his hands.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today your skull). ever be called upon to use his training. He was the only person I ever trained who I prayed to God would never. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop a criminal in his tracks and say. “Sorry. Can you come back in a few months?” You can’t. Fast forward five years and I get a phone call from him telling me how he took out two muggers. one of whom had a knife. so you’re as ready as you’re ever gonna be. but I don’t have enough days/months/years/belts/levels to be able to hurt someone. you have). Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (and if you’ve trained with me live. Maybe next year.

That guy you run into on the street isn’t all that scary either—in fact. These are all people I trained—and they were more than capable of getting it done right. a guy with one functional arm. but we work around them. you are. You’re born to it. Whether you like it or not. What’s your excuse? A bum knee? I got two of ‘em. blindness as a complete incapacitation and start seeing it as a hurdle to be overcome—just like a bad knee or a sprained elbow—you not only have what you need to start your training. built for it. Even if it’s as severe as the ones above. and the only reason you’re here is because all your ancestors did it to everything that got in their way. 5.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 3. the blind. It only slows you down if you want it to. for example. Sure. You might not think of yourself as particularly scary. I’m Not Cut Out For It! Not cut out for violence? Don’t be ridiculous. this is typically code for “Holy $#!& I had no idea people did that to each other and so I’m going to go unilateral for the peace-thing with the idea that if I don’t do it to anybody 46 . What do they all have in common? Not this excuse. So all you need to make yourself scary is—you got it—the exact same intent. What makes him scary is that he has the intent of hurting you. If you’re human. You have no excuse. Once you stop viewing. everyone’s cut out for the commission of violence. I Could Never Do That To Someone! Yeah. there might be some challenges. it didn’t slow anybody I know down. you have what you need to seriously improve your entire life! Mental Excuses 4. if you saw him begging in an alley. If we could bring back a Neanderthal I guarantee he’d piss his hides at the mere sight of you. but then you’ve forgotten that your kind wiped his kind out. you’d probably feel a combination of pity and revulsion. I’m Physically Not Able! The wheelchair-bound.

It’s not a game. that ego’s gonna get him killed. And for no good reason other than he was unwilling to admit a small. Seven to one. it’ll never matter. That’s normal. And statistics are on his side. in this case. He once dove on and singlehandedly fought with a formation of seven planes. If he ain’t lucky. but just valued fair play? Well. What he was really saying was that he was afraid. he was lying to himself. and if you try to observe the rules of polite society. What’s that? You think maybe he wasn’t afraid. Closed-casket funeral notwithstanding. by choice. as if I wouldn’t notice. A gentleman once openly scoffed at me and said. universal weakness. So this man’s statement isn’t about his morality. you’re not “valuing fair play”—you’re making an egotistical statement about how much better you are than that criminal. Rickenbacker’s quote startled me. If he’s lucky. and worst of all. But he was lying to me about it. it’s about his fear and egoism. Unfortunately. And he admitted to spending 47 . your statement won’t matter much to your grieving family at your funeral. Fear and Courage I have to tell you. A stone-to-the-bone killer.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today then no one will ever do it to me.” You’d be amazed at what you can do when the social security blanket gets stripped away and it’s just the screech and sparks of your life rubbing up against the steel deck-plate of reality. But the point I keep trying to drive home is that a real violent situation has nothing to do with fair play.” Really? Not even if they were down because they were picking up a gun to shoot you with? You really are very sporting about your own murder. As we all are. I mean. “I could never kick someone in the throat when they were down. he was the top American ace in WWI. we all do.

Train hard. Filthy Lies Every now and again something gets stuck in my craw. as he said. That’s not to say the average criminal is stupid. you’re saying you don’t want to. When asked to articulate what works in violence they’ll tend to speak to injuries—you know. You’re not saying you can’t. It’s just that violence operates where intellect stops coming into play—in other words.” So get over it. So can you. less well trained than you. from a gut level of what you have to do to survive. You have no excuse. jammed in there so tight that the only things that’re going to get it out are a tire iron and a liberal dose of bile. But then. they’d agree it was true. weaker than you. to the best of your abilities and know that it’s more than enough. And even that statement is too wordy. Well. Intellectual understanding of the material is key.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE most of his time terrified out of his gourd. And they’ve all made it back alive and well. even though if you said it to them. Who actually believes that a football 48 . not for doing. things like “What works? Knee ‘em in the groin/stab ‘em in the neck/shoot ‘em in the head. It’s served people who were smaller than you. when it counted most. “there is no courage without fear. But only if you quit with the excuses and get to work. none of us do. The criminal sociopath knows only one thing about violence—that the person doing it wins. That’s why you’ll never hear a criminal use the words I just did.” Intellectual discourse on the subject is an exercise for instruction. Here’s a dose of both for three things that got stuck in there recently—lies I hear people tell themselves and each other about training for violence: 1.

well. A subtle distinction? It has to do with how far into/ through the other man you’re thinking. technique is like obsessively polishing an empty gun. In other words.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today team would be better off if they spent every practice talking about football instead of actually playing football? Your best bet for getting good at violence is to practice doing it—not sit around talking about it. Knowing how to set up a specific joint break is not the same thing as breaking a joint. personal exercise that has very little to do with the Other Guy or even realistic results. it will take care of everything. knowing the precise ‘hand wave’ to ‘claw the eyes’ is not the same as causing a serious eye injury. there might be some value in the team meeting. Either you’re going to take care of it. to put it another way. A typical technique stops at the outer boundary of your skin—it’s a subjective. it won’t. Breaking out beyond technique means looking through an anatomical feature in him and converting it into an unrecognizable mess. where they have a 49 . Likewise. but because technique focuses primarily on hand waving and foot placement there’s really no way to be sure of the outcome. You should really only be sitting down and talking about it because you’re wiped out from practicing so damn much. techniques only work when they .. ‘Doing a technique’ is like throwing a hood ornament at someone—when what you really want to do is hit them with a truck that just happens to have a hood ornament bolted on the front end. work! To stick with the idea of the football team: sure. No. or nothing’s going to happen. Once the technique is automatic. What you want to do instead is study gunshot wounds and figure out how best to make those. It’s starting with the result you need—injury—and working backwards from there to figure out how to get that result. 2. Or. You know what it’s supposed to do..

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

brief discussion of strategy. But do they then go home and work through the motions of that strategy on their own? Of course not! They have a team practice, a scrimmage game, and put those principles into motion exactly how they’ll do it in the real game. That’s where technique falls apart and actual real-life practice takes over. 3. I can’t be expected to do it because I’m not ready. You’re half right. You won’t be able to do it until you give yourself permission to be ready. The only gatekeeper holding you back here is you. So why not take the time, like, right now, and decide that you can for a change? It’s shockingly easy to blind a man, make him barf his own nuts, bust his leg and stomp on his neck to end him. The only thing missing is your full force and effort, the physical symptom of a little something we call intent, and that’s just you giving yourself permission to do what your inner predator wants to do anyway. “I’m not ready” is kung-fu theater bullshit. It’s a responsibility dodge. What you’re really saying is, “I don’t want to be responsible for screwing up. I want to be able to blame the training.” You gotta wake up and own it. You gotta take responsibility for what you know and what that makes you. To do otherwise is to let yourself down—it’s participating in your own murder. Have you ever watched sumo wrestlers—you know, the huge guys who look like they’re wearing diapers? An actual sumo match is very brief, but the build-up can take forever. That’s because it doesn’t start until both wrestlers indicate that they’re ready by placing their knuckles on the white line. Sometimes for up to ten minutes, one or both wrestlers approach the line, squat down, get up, and walk away while their opponent patiently waits for that signal. That’s why sumo wrestling is not violence. No criminal will
50

PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today

patiently wait until you’re ready, and if you expect him to, you’re going to get yourself killed. To be honest, nobody’s ready; nobody wants to go there. But the last thing you want when you do end up there is to be dragging a big heavy sack of self-doubt along for the ride. Everything outside of the mechanical facts of injury—body weight driven through vulnerable anatomy—is an illusion.

51

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

Chapter Eight
Spiritual Enlightenment, Competition and the One-Way Street of Violence
Violence is eons older than polite society. It had long been the dominant tool of last resort before anything even remotely human strode the savannah. And that worked fine as long as we were dealing with animals with two primary objectives: survive and establish dominance. But once we were here, and began to pull together and organize against this hostile environment we call home, it became crucial to put limits on violence within society. After all, you can’t build a pyramid if everyone’s busy choking each other out. We added rules, decided society-by-society when it was appropriate and when it was not, who could do it to whom, and the state-sanctioned use of the tool on those who broke the rules. This is not a bad thing. This is the necessary order of history. Violence, then, gave rise to traditional martial arts, which in turn produced combat sports. Makes sense, right? It’s not so clear-cut to everyone. If I had a steel penny for every time I’ve heard someone refer to TFT training as being just like this or that martial art or a ‘really brutal’ version of combat sports, I’d be able to fire torpedoes full of cash down on Bill Gates’ head from my solid-gold orbital rail gun. (Do you have any idea how much it costs to get solid-gold I-beams into orbit? Neither do I). Because the family tree goes: Rock to the Head D &UDQH 6W\OH D Wrestling Match and not the other way around, this view is a funny one. TFT is not the next step in the evolution of modern martial arts; it’s a return to the root of the whole matter. ‘Back to basics,’ if you
52

PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today

will. In other words, I’m not trying to teach you anything new. In fact, I’m trying to work all of those newfangled (if you can count something society came up with a couple thousand years ago as “new”) rules and ideas out of your head and get you back to what your basic instincts already know: the primary, raw rush of violence in its coldest, most brutal form. Martial Arts: An Empty Bottle of Violence With a Child-Proof Cap Long ago, the martial arts were the initial attempt to codify and keep knowledge of violence to train elite troops. In other words, Asian societies used martial arts to train warriors. The original martial arts were limited to a select warrior elite, and they had one objective: to train people in the effective use of violence. As time went on, though, warfare stopped being about physical ability and became more and more about weapons. The warrior elite vanished and the martial arts began to open to anyone who displayed an interest. As the schools got further and further from that original purpose—training for war—the teaching was more and more diluted with philosophy and religion. As well it should be—it wasn’t necessarily a good idea to train the average person in the skills of total war. Instead, martial arts staked a claim to the foggy gray expanse of the antisocial realm—how to behave when dealing with social belligerents. Or, more plainly, how to be the best damn bar-fighter to ever sit a stool. This is the area that martial arts is famous for: how do I deal with a drunk? It all starts with a bunch of rules on social decorum—essentially a checklist of social tools to try and defuse the antisocial bomb. When all that has been tried, and failed, then comes the fighting stance and perhaps a verbal warning. This is the equivalent of the frightened cat arching its back and hissing in an attempt to look
53

things we couldn’t have imagined seeing fifty years ago are now readily available. Sane people cannot stomach real violence— we literally have a gut reaction to it... well. Movies that attempt to recreate real-world violence—with an unflinching eye and no stylistic embellishments—make people leave the theater. There is. With the internet. And if the situation truly is antisocial in nature. you can get all kinds of visual media. things that used to be forbidden or at least damn difficult to get your hands on— like video clips of unrestrained violence.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE threatening. Martial arts has taken ownership of the antisocial realm and worked very hard to give practitioners a road map to navigate all the pitfalls and mine fields. skill and will instead of maiming and killing. etc. however. work well. But still we’re sickened when someone actually breaks an arm. little interest in such things. 54 . I bet people would pay money to see that. joint locking. etc. that’s where martial arts start to lose their grip.. kicks. Combat Sports: Violence Made Palatable Thanks to the Internet. it works. But when we move from antisocial behavior to asocial behavior . blocking. In the sixties. though. it was astonishing to people to see a man walk on the moon. Then comes blocking. joint-locking. And it’s unpleasant. But what if we could make violence palatable? What if we could titillate and tease with just enough action to excite the predator within us all while maintaining enough padding to keep from scaring the higher-order functions? Let’s say we put rules on it and make it a contest of strength. For the most part. and ‘techniques’ designed to convince the unruly to quit: punches. kicks. And they do. punches.

it’s really a chilling distinction. they’re thinking of violence as ‘anything goes’ when really it’s ‘do your worst. and when left 55 . and we don’t expect actual injuries from a game. It’s back to basics. the human inside us knows that we’re playing by an established set of rules. When people think of violence as martial arts gone wild. We might think we’re witnessing violence. ‘Anything goes’ means you can do anything. That’s why we’re appalled when someone actually gets hurt: this is a game.’ While it sounds like pencil-necked semantics. Again. they are trying to drag an antisocial tool into the asocial realm. it’s like trying to use a can opener to change a tire on a car: wrong tool for the job. That’s because obvious.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today or loses an eye. Violence: Not Just ‘Anything Goes’ but ‘Do Your Worst’ What we strive to teach you with TFT is not just martial arts knobbed up to 11 or combat sports without the rules—it’s to get back to the genesis of all the rest of that stuff. and it reacts with shock and horror when those rules are violated. To be metaphorical. crippling injury is coloring outside the lines—it’s not social anymore. As long as we can all enjoy the sensation of watching the school-yard tussle without crossing over into the school-yard shooting. And that’s where combat sports come in. When people think of violence as combat sports ‘without the rules. we’ll pay to play. Everyone knows it’s fake. To be more concrete. Wrong tool for the job. it’s like putting out your hand and shouting “No!” to dissuade a sociopath from killing you. Want a prime example? Wrestling has been a ratings jackpot for decades now on prime time television.’ they’re also missing the point. indeed. but even while we get a vicarious thrill.

Dueling. Why. is ‘do your worst. Is it really any wonder. murdered. They are the tools you use. In violence you don’t best the man or even win—you do horrible. on the other hand. choose to scratch at the eyes rather than dig them out. does no one wax poetic for handguns? 56 . swordplay—all traditions deeply woven with aphorisms. awful things to him.’ as in ‘go to the end of the list and pick the most god-awful thing—and start there. exhortations. the horrible. No ifs. without hesitation and without stopping out of pity or horror. ands. then break his leg to drop him and stomp him like you’re making an apocalyptic vintage from the grapes of wrath.” you start with the worst possible injury you can inflict. or buts. no veering off from the socially unacceptable. outside of your own murder. rules and other philosophical constructs. that our ancestors sought to minimize and hobble violence with social constraints. Innate squeamishness will keep sane people away from the eyes. could be more ‘anything goes?’ Violence.’ It means you will start by taking the man’s eye. where people who were being strangled to death.” you start small and work up. martial arts. or the sickening. then. limits and rules? How Much Philosophy In A Bullet? People like to get philosophical about hand-to-hand combat.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE to their own devices people will choose non-awful things. then. And that makes the difference between pissing your attacker off and incapacitating him. What other situation. as in periorbital scratching. With “do your worst. You do them first. not ‘techniques. In point of fact those things are your stock in trade.’ The key difference here between “anything goes” and “do your worst” is this: with “anything goes. sickening.

Psychological distance. “How much philosophy in a bullet?” is none. Gimmickry in lieu of work 3.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Because there’s no philosophy in a bullet. and boatloads of philosophy. Asian martial arts were transmitted in toto.” More to the point. and. Mixing Philosophy With Violence and Other Alchemists’ Jokes People like to mix up philosophy and violence for a variety of reasons: 1. (It was not because they didn’t know how to hurt people—the initial Western practitioners were war vets). it can retard your ability to learn and execute violence. in fact. do people cling to it when seeking the same result by other means? Do you really need philosophy to break someone’s leg and stomp on their throat? The answer is no. And that’s an incredibly important distinction when you start thinking about real-life violence. Novelty/culture 2. Guns don’t need philosophy because shooting someone to death is violence. it provides a civilized layer between the act of 57 . then. The adoption of Asian martial arts by the West in the post-WWII era was primarily due to novelty: Westerners had nothing like them in their history or traditions. None of which are necessary to put fist to flesh. with all of their extraneous cultural elements intact: costumes. But for many people philosophy remains an integral part of training because it’s novel and “the way it’s always been done. Romance doesn’t stick to stone-cold physics. you don’t. Why. The answer to the question. rituals. you don’t need it to train for violence. There’s only shooting people dead. You don’t need it in the moment of violence.

And for many people. People often hunger for a feeling of moral superiority. They see it as a timesaving device. it’s role-playing. from the individual point of view. and all this takes is intelligently 58 . especially in situations where power is concerned. they’ll be better at doing whatever it is they’re avoiding. thinking that if their understanding is more advanced. harming another human being. It behooves you to make sure you can cause injury. People who are put off by or unwilling to do the hard stuff almost always want to engage in philosophical discussion instead.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE violence and its results.’ is it okay to sneak up behind him. just two human beings working really hard to injure each other. In it’s simplest form. for ultimate permission to violate social norms (or reasons to avoid this violation). that’s enough—no further work is required. and somebody’s going to get it right. from a purely bio-mechanical point of view. setting up an ‘attackerdefender’ dichotomy and then lauding one while disparaging the other. But seeing yourself in a certain role can hamstring you operationally—if you’re the ‘good guy’ and he’s the ‘bad guy. no black hats. The last reason is the most dangerous. once crossed. And that person is typically the survivor. and that is when people use philosophy as a buffer to gain psychological distance from what has to be done: you. allowing you to engage in some form of controlled violence without sacrificing your high human standards. but to make them feel superior. Not just to make one feel good. And there is nothing more powerful. Philosophy is often used as a gimmick that is clutched at and bandied about in lieu of actual work. knock him down and kick him to death? What if he’s begging for you to stop? Are you still a ‘good guy’ if you keep going? Where is the hypothetical line that. makes you bad? Instead of playing roles or choosing sides it is much more effective to accept the reality of the situation at face-value: no white hats. than the ability to take or spare life.

No matter how much you might wish it were 59 . Philosophy is: 1. And as we’ve established previously. It can exist before the trigger pull and then later in the hospital. The gun is the perfect tool to illustrate this. Accepting the biomechanical reality of it is far more important than any feeling of moral superiority. This is the crux of my argument. Where is the philosophy? Nowhere to be found. Problems with Philosophy from a Perspective Within Violence It’s actually very simple to sum up the problems with mixing philosophy and violence.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today guided practice. Subjective 3. it’s going to wreck it. Stapling the Mona Lisa to a supermodel improves neither). A social construct. 1RW SDUW RI WKH GH¿QLWLRQ RI YLROHQFH 2. it’s worthless. Much of the time I see philosophy used as a buffer between the practitioner and what has to be done. Once you know how to hurt people. if it’s not necessary for injury. The bullet is pushed out of the gun and flies away with a big. The stark white light of what is required—force and a target. but for the moment when the bullet cuts a trajectory through a target there is none. a bullet in a brain—burns away the extraneous junk. and cannot be overstated. fat load of kinetic energy—if it hits a piece of a human being. you’re free to think of it however you wish (although I’ve found that most people are unwilling to add superfluous adornments once they really grok what we’re up to. Only two elements are required for injury: large amounts of kinetic energy and human tissue.

momentarily. in my life. And yet. Violence is biomechanical. ritual expression—religion—typically inform a person about their place in the universe and what constitutes acceptable (and unacceptable) social behavior. The second case. It requires nothing—nothing—but force and a target. It’s more important that everyone develops their own approach that works for them. how we relate to the universe and how we relate to each other. I would expect what works for me to be meaningless to you. Philosophy is after the fact and typically involves a cup of hot cocoa. Anything between you and this fact is an obstacle that you must overcome in order to act. I will never tell you how I order the skill of hurting people for me. And a comfy chair. if you threw your boiling hot cocoa into someone’s face. Philosophy is purely subjective. padding. violence is asocial. we would alienate some percentage of potential clients right out of the gate. And I am not so egocentric to believe otherwise. What is profound and illuminating for one person is the inane natterings of the Cult of Hogwash for another. Period. informing the judge’s decision on whether or not to give you the gas chamber. Or. It would then come back into being again. 60 .HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE so. It would cease to exist. a philosophical stance cannot break a knee (or prevent your knee from breaking). If we had a standard TFT philosophical line. The first case is way out of bounds for this discussion. more simply. There is no good or evil in violence—only success and failure. blinders and earplugs. Sounds pretty damn incompatible to me. Philosophy is a social construct. Psychic Oven Mitts So what good is philosophy then? Philosophical precepts and their more formal. broke their leg and stomped on their throat. Anything that pulls you away from this reality is window dressing.

in fact. would seem to govern violence. the philosophy becomes a part of the tool rather than merely informing your use of it. The only thing we can show you how to do is hurt people. tainting the biomechanical purity of hurting people. how you think about it doesn’t change the reality of it. some prayers get answered and some don’t. but only before and after the act. You have to think of it this way: we all know that in any religion. Like a gun. No more than it exists in bullets. So would you rather see each bullet as a prayer to the Death God or as simple physics. quite frankly. 61 . Because. philosophy does not exist in the moment of violence. new or novel philosophy that is ungrounded in your religious or life experience will infect and insinuate itself into your training. But the skill-set is still the skill-set. Learn it in a philosophically sterile. It does nothing to bolster your chances of success in the moment of violence. I do believe that it is imperative that each practitioner come to grips with this in their own way—I especially recommend that they work it into their previously chosen ethical framework rather than making up or adopting new ones. Philosophy is for getting a handle on what your skill-set means to you: when and how to use it.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today how we relate to each other. It does. Once you got hurting people down cold. What serves you best is to view violence in purely biomechanical terms. look to your own heart to find what that means for you. In other words. kinetic energy striking matter? Philosophy can get you to the point of pulling the trigger and can help you order and understand what you’ve done after the fact. act as an impediment to success in both learning and doing violence. asocial environment. but it has nothing to do with the biomechanical realities of violence and can.

criminals. That’s because violence is a scary. well-socialized people want desperately to ascribe ‘reason’ to violence. brutal violence. personally. Being nice to people. random thing that they (typically) only ever think of as happening to someone else. sociopaths—in other words. then they think they can use their social skills to avoid it by: • • • Staying out of ‘bad’ parts of town. Not bad ideas in general.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Nine Stripping the Fat to Find the Bone — Reason in Violence Sane. mentally unstable people. Sane. well-socialized people see violence as insane. By saying you are willing to use violence as a survival tool you are also saying (in the layperson’s mind) that you are a card-carrying member of one of the groups above. They don’t understand that a tool is just a tool. hardcore. horrible events perpetrated by horrible. to bet the rest of your life on. When we hear about violence. Of course. Avoiding the insane. we’re usually talking about terrorists. Picking up and using a hammer to drive nails doesn’t mean you’re any more likely to run around the neighborhood smashing car windows than you were before you picked it up. when you say you’re willing to use real. And so. in their eyes you’ve just exposed yourself as a monster. The essential problem is that when the layperson looks at the idea of violence without reason they see (rightfully so) the very definition of a monster. the layperson sees an increased likelihood of vandalism simply because you picked up 62 . ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’ and all that. If they can hitch it to a reason. but hardly enough insurance for you.

you’re probably less likely to seek out ‘opportunities’ to use it now that you know. 63 . or there is no social blanket woven of rules thick enough to keep them warm against the shuddering cold void of the universe laid bare. passionate and evil. This is the stickiest point for most people—they assume that if you don’t have to be ‘worked up’ in order to injure people then you’re empty inside. in monstrous fashion. This is not a requirement for injury. There has to be reason behind it. what’s at stake. you are no more likely to use it inappropriately. than you were before you were trained. (Nobody’s willing to die for a parking space—unless you live in Southern California). right? For a sane. well-socialized person who happens to be trained in the use of violence as a survival tool. you’ve run through and exhausted all the other ‘social’ tools and arrived at the last one. In fact. Violence isn’t right or wrong—where and how you choose to use it is. killing with dispassion is the hallmark of the sociopath. If you’re injuring people. In fact. They suffer from an underlying assumption that there is reason and purpose to it—you only ever pick up a hammer to nail things.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today the tool. What they need to understand is that we use violence when our long utility belt of shopworn ‘social’ tools fail to get the job done. the final option in a long list of tools and techniques. It’s the end of the line. But it is this dispassionate. I do not use violence out of anger. That also scares people. know that it’s no more or less a tool than the hammer. rather than just viewing it from the fringes. too. glinting cold and hard in its ‘in case of emergency break things’ box. without ambiguity. The tool of violence is only good for one thing—shutting off a human brain. People who really understand violence. morally-neutral view of violence that is troubling to the average person. who think violence is an irrational act and should therefore be committed in an irrational state of mind.

If you’re in there to ‘fight for your life’ and he’s just in it to kill you. This one small thing is so monumentally important I worked it into the title of what we do—Target-Focus Training Splitting Hairs or Splitting Heads: The Semantics of Violence There is nothing sexy about beating a man to death with a tire iron. So I 64 . I had two very different (and yet not so) conversations about violence with two very different (and yet not so) individuals. ‘Crazy’ is also not a requirement for injury. The first one involved a grandmother and her very young grandson who just happened to be walking by a bunch of Mastery students savaging each other outside a Las Vegas seminar. You’re not injuring someone because of any extraneous reason—you’re injuring them to shut them off. The focusing of your entire will and effort onto one small thing at a time—destroying a single square inch of him. more like breaking people’ but she had asked with such hope in her voice. let’s rewind a little bit. as in. you’d still be you on the other side. the child even more so. This is what I mean when I say ‘intent. I wanted to say ‘no. either. If you were sane before you understood violence. The simple fact is that there is no reason to it. “It’s the intelligent use of violence as a survival tool. you’re probably going to get killed. “What is this?” she asked.” I replied.’ which is another way of expressing monomaniacal focus. The person with the clearest. cleanest and smallest achievable goal will tend to prevail. Okay. ‘I sure do hope this isn’t what my gut is telling me it is—please reassure me’. She looked extremely uneasy. eyes wide.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Violence is not insanity. “Like self-defense? Like when you’re in trouble?” I hesitated.

These were sane people after all.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today blinked and let it go. “except it’s not martial arts. to box me into a corner where I’d have to admit that what I meant was a sane. It turns out that I went to high school with one of the teachers. The metaphorical needle came off the record and the chatter in the room dipped a bit as people began to tune in to our conversation. and away from the idea of killing. He wanted me to veer back into something sane. Everyone in the room was listening now. and every single one of them was to try to get me to recant. cripple and kill at will. It’s all the same. I didn’t blink. “So you don’t use any weapons. “Sure we do—you can beat a man to death with a tire iron or stab him to death with a kitchen knife. I was my usual courteous. informational self— 65 . It wasn’t what the awful knot in her gut said it was. and when he realized this he Googled me to see what I’d been up to for the last twenty years. “So. approachable.” His eyes widened and heads began to turn.” Her face flushed with relief. “Yes.” I said.” That did it. defensive use of force to disarm or disable an ‘attacker’—not the wanton misuse of power to maim. “It’s exactly like that. you’re still doing that martial arts thing?” he asked. Everyone had questions. “So it’s like self-defense?” “No—more like beating a man to death with your bare hands.” I nodded. The second conversation occurred at my son’s weekly piano lesson. the hopeful inflection in the voice. “Yeah.” Once again.” He frowned. I gave it to him straight. righteous.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE but something tells me future conversation at music class will be strained. I’ve written previously about how well-socialized humans like to fall back on euphemisms to distance themselves from the ugly. brutal reality of what has to happen in violence—namely. But the ridiculousness of that sentence shows it ain’t so. when I’m attempting to explain what it is I do. I’m accused of splitting hairs.. intrinsic understanding that if everyone’s playing by the same rules. Often. This social parsing of violence then takes the next step up to seize the moral high ground where we all have permission to behave badly. etc. Witness the ‘attacker/defender’ dichotomy. on the wind-swept mountain top. operating at the debased level of the thug—in a word. Describing it in these terms causes (dare I say) violent reactions in lay people as they instantaneously judge you to be adrift without moral compass. and it comes as soon as you encounter someone who isn’t playing by those rules.’ When someone defies convention and steps out of bounds (‘beat a man to death with a tire iron’). or even an enemy. self-defense. beams of blinding righteousness 66 .. you seriously injuring another person. Not interacting with him as a person. Maybe I should have told them it was all about timeshares . in pretty much everyone’s mind. you are cleared.’ That one man’s self-defense is another man’s tire iron murder. But there’s a problem with that philosophy.). The moral high ground is also a cool place to be seen. People parse killing in socially acceptable terms (martial arts. Not stopping when he begs you to stop. to show other socialized people that they are not ‘bad. to brain the attacker. insane. the strong reaction comes from an unconscious. we’re all okay. but as meat to be torn to uselessness. There you are. told that it’s ‘all just semantics. If you are the defender.

especially if there’s a weapon handy. There are only naked humans. Guess what? Those are nice lies we tell ourselves to feel better about what it is we’re training to do.” So how do we talk about it? Let’s look at some of the most common terms. when was the last time reality was comforting? And that’s the problem: in most people’s minds. And I promise it’ll be a live psychic grenade. Identical physical constraints and powers. We each possess the most dangerous weapon in the universe. There is no animal schema. Not comforting in the least. Having a black belt in martial arts impresses friends. a human brain. You’re one of them. MARTIAL ARTS This term really only works in the ancient Greek sense. The protectors and the helpless. Maintaining righteousness in the face of simple killing takes a lot of mental gymnastics. Being ready and willing to do so is another thing entirely. exactly the same on a level playing field. Many people try using Animal Farm-esque stand-ins to try to illuminate roles to be played. We all have the same set of advantages and disadvantages. no predator and prey.’ 67 .’ This sense has been completely lost in the modern day (think of the Olympic Decathlon). It’s super sexy with a double side order of pizzazz. milling about on an infinite gray plain. and everyone else is stuck there with you. regardless of which one you think you are. there’s no difference between saying. “I am able and prepared to kill someone if necessary” and saying “I’m a psychotic killer and you probably shouldn’t be alone with me. Knowing how to kill a man is less cool in most circles. Everyone. and then I’ll toss mine in. and whatnot. White hats and black hats. as in ‘the skills required by warriors to make war.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today radiating from your head. but then. and I doubt anyone out there thought of ‘maintaining and operating a cruise missile launcher’ when they read the words ‘martial arts.

That’s great. On the high end you can fight for your rights.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE More likely than not you thought of your local Karate school. 68 . your spouse. it will remain a misnomer for what it is I do. on the low end you can fight for the TV remote. and your attempt at incapacitation goes wrong? When given the choice between self-defense and survival. Beating a man to death with a tire iron probably isn’t allowed in self-defense. ‘Cuz you’ve got the moral high ground and that awful attacker had no right to be doing these things to you. Murders don’t. You can fight with your sibling. and your boss. but to temporarily incapacitate your attacker long enough for you to get away. and remember this comforting fact: you are in the right no matter how it all works out. let’s all pick survival. it requires you to be second-banana in physical terms (as the lowly. or nine. Good luck. Self-Defense This is the next logical step. And until that kind of training is necessary for serial killers to ply their hobby. yet beloved defender). but—funny how the universe works—it may be just the thing that has to happen in order for you to survive. And yet. Do any of these uses make you think of stabbing someone in the neck—other than the one about the TV remote? Fights can have rules and referees. but don’t sweat it. or three. isn’t it? Except what happens if there are two attackers. ‘beating a man to death with a tire iron’ tends to strain the definition of self-defense beyond the breaking point. We can’t call violence self-defense because when most people hear that term they assume you’ve been attacked before you did any violence of your own—and then that violence is designed not to injure. shall we? Fighting This term doesn’t work because it’s too wide open. Self-defense requires an attacker. And that’s where the term breaks down.

So what is it I do? What words can ever truly communicate the essence of it? At a recent seminar someone asked a question about an extremely accomplished combat-sports champion. it’s still lacking. in your face. tit-for-tat. Hand-to-hand carries with it the connotation of back-and-forth. The question was.” And that’s it exactly. This champion is big and tough and skilled.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Hand-to-Hand Combat Here we are—down to the hard nuts. ‘how would you defeat so-andso?’ To which I replied. rendered as precisely as words will allow. without hesitation. 69 . XXXTREEEME!!! term. The question you have to ask yourself is: “Do the people who are best at violence in our society (the criminal sociopaths) truly engage in hand-to-hand combat?” I’ll let you answer it for yourself. Most people would not readily apply the label to a man being beaten to death with a tire iron. While on the surface it would seem to be the one we want. “I’d start by hiring someone to shoot his father.

For our purposes I’m going to define ‘intimidation’ as the antisocial process of going out of your way to make someone afraid of you. and wouldn’t that feeling be a very useful thing to project? Doesn’t it seem like the perfect solution? After all. fear most. Most people take this a step farther. and a hairtrigger willingness to do violence are eternally impressive to us. not stopping at mere fear but going headlong into humiliation. When we are intimidated. in reality. 70 . We feel it. musculature. awe. and we want to make others feel those things. Hence the rise of the “anti-hero” on television and in movies—the hero who. especially height. Your brand new badass attitude is probably going to get that bad ass kicked. We all desire what those attributes grant the possessor: respect. they will typically push it and rub it in to humiliate the affected person. Intimidation is like juggling 13 double-edged swords and playing with fire simultaneously. too.. Once they realize they’ve made someone afraid. would be a pretty dangerous guy you wouldn’t want to meet. Obvious personal power. if you’re scary enough. Most of all the gut-snarling fear. it’s a common truth that people who use intimidation as a social tool will do the things that would intimidate them—they will project the behaviors that they. no one’s going to mess with you. and perhaps fear. As an interesting aside. right? Unfortunately.. themselves. that’s not the case. but makes a compelling fantasy. We feel it and realize we don’t want to confront the intimidating person . we feel all those things acutely.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Ten Everyone’s a Badass Human societies are fascinated with strength and power.

If he’s the kind of guy who responds to threats with physical action. you made him feel afraid. knee him in the face and stomp on his head until he’s nonfunctional. who will take it as a threat and work to destroy that threat. or they 71 . he made you feel afraid. How do you respond? If you know how to handle the physical side..PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Why is intimidation so dangerous? Because whether you fail or succeed at it. the people who get set off by this are the worst kind. the sane. Or maybe you knock him down. in effect. If you fail to intimidate the man.. usually while making even more noise than before. Maybe you just feel socially embarrassed and walk away. In other words. it can get you killed. So you make him feel afraid. unimpressed. Mission accomplished. They may go off instantaneously. right? The problem is. Maybe even made you feel afraid for your life. the worst out there. I know—it’s a rhetorical question. Most people will back down and disengage. normal people are the ones who will get scared and back down. or are carrying a gun. then it’s on. sociopaths. So who are you left with? Criminals. right? You put him in his place. you have just escalated the situation—saying. you can take it there in a blink of an eye and shut him off. Who can say? It’s going to be decided on a case-by-case basis. You just called it down upon yourself because you wanted to be a badass. “Do you want me to hurt you?”—and now. you showed him (and everyone in earshot) who’s boss. Most of the time it’s not going to be a problem—if the badass thing went physical all the time very few people would do it. But there are some. Let’s say you succeed in intimidating him. he’s calling your bluff. Let’s flip it around: he succeeded in intimidating you. murderers. How could that possibly go wrong? Yeah. and I hope I don’t have to tell you that choosing to escalate a screaming match to a life-or-death situation is asinine.

Let’s make a quick clarification here: the opposite of being intimidating is not the same as appearing meek. In the asocial arena treat everyone like meat. So. Some of you believe that if you’re not the intimidator. use your social skills. It’s a sucker’s game. succeed or fail. be social. a ‘pushover’ or smile at daily human ugliness. But it’s a lot less harrowing than running around being intimidating. you’re prey. months. I’ve got news for you: you’re not a cat. elusive. Looking like you know what you’re doing and know what’s going on. and you think you should do the same. In the long-term case. And for many people. you’ve got the NO SOLICITING sign out without being a jerk about it. you probably won’t have the luxury of seeing it coming.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE may simmer for hours. You can project the confidence that you can handle yourself without threatening anyone. weak or helpless—it’s simply not registering as prey. the hard part 72 . Don’t confuse the two. And if you truly terrified them. A high order social skill? Probably one of the highest. Of course. and treat everyone like people. which is exhausting and scary at the same time. It can be as simple as biting your tongue instead of spitting fuel on the fire. It doesn’t mean you have to be everyone’s friend. days. they’re going to want to do things to even the odds —things like coming back with accomplices and firearms. That is.” When in the social arena. intimidation can get you killed. I think of it like this: “Go out of your way to get to the rest of your day. is more akin to being socially remote than a badass. I can just hear you getting up in arms. You point to the wild and demonstrate how a lion puffs out its chest and roars to frighten off its competition. and yet assuming a comfortably unconcerned air. Appearing unimpressed and unafraid is not the same as being intimidating.

Don’t pull any punches. how do you use violence in the antisocial arena? The sad answer is. and they’re not. you can be subject to serious legal (and lifechanging) consequences down the road. etc. These consequences are the reason I do not recommend using violence in antisocial situations— wrong tool for the job and all that. There are a couple of important ideas you need to understand. 73 . pretty much the same way you do in the asocial arena. You need to break things inside of him so they don’t work anymore. Fat lot of good that does you. to disengage and get the hell out of there. You can only ever be aware of the trouble you’ve caused. But we don’t live in that world. You’ll never even be aware of the trouble you’ve dodged. and in a perfect world. Those ‘unintended consequences’ cut both ways—say he just wants to ‘kick your ass’ and you end up brained on the sidewalk as a result. after all: 1. things should be so clear-cut and easy. every time. And that’s why I’ll never tell you to hold back and take a beating.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today is if you’re successful. Violence in the Antisocial Realm The use of violence can have unintended consequences. Tearing into someone physically can end up killing them. and keep in mind. his life is ruined. to smash it beyond functionality. in a target. you’ll never know it. You have to strike him as hard as you can. So the question is. It’s far better. if you’re going to use that stick of dynamite to open your car door. And if it later turns out that the circumstances didn’t justify that killing. You cannot ‘go easy’ on him just because this started out as an antisocial situation. it was all a terrible mistake. and he’ll cry in court about how he didn’t mean it. even when you didn’t mean to. That’s all well and good. Everyone ends up sad. in the short and long term.

You probably don’t want to start things off with a fist to the throat. And together with that. that’s the best way to avoid killing someone. though . Flesh grows back. immediately. you have to finish it on your terms. be sure to use tool configurations that change the nature of the injury (an open hand to the throat instead of a forearm. Anytime you enter into a physically violent situation. 74 . Sure. If it gets to the point where there’s a knife sticking out between someone’s ribs. You haven’t given the situation time to escalate. You can’t afford to screw around—the only way his ribs are going to break is if you make every effort to break them. that’s another story altogether. This all-or-nothing approach will save your ass—it gets him to nonfunctional so rapidly and efficiently it’s over before you know it. He may not be so kind to return the favor if given half the chance. This is where you have to take it. The best you can do is limit those chances by not doing anything you know for a fact will kill him. you broke his ribs. a forearm to the side of the neck instead of a knee drop). take control of the situation and end it on your terms now. 3. really. you won’t.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 2. If you don’t want to hurt him. In general. don’t worry. there’s the possibility of someone dying. Or a knife through the solar plexus. as soon as you decide it’s on. Go for non-lethal targets. Or a stick to the head. You cannot afford to get drawn into any back and forth—you need to injure him. Broken bones heal... But let’s be brutally honest here—don’t be fooled into thinking this changes anything. you’re going to want to stay away from targets and striking profiles you know to be lethal. Ironically enough. you will get less than effective results. *R LQ  GHGLFDWHG WR WHDULQJ KLV KHDG RII If your intent is anything less than full-bore.

Betting your life in order to win it back will always make sense—that is. lose control of him and give him an opportunity to. If you’re going in with less than everything you’ve got. you need to know what you’re getting yourself into and enter into that decision with full knowledge of the pitfalls and possible outcomes. sometimes you are forced into a position where it’s either that. Those last two issues—the fact that he could die regardless of how ‘careful’ you are and the fact that your crossing into the physical plane can get you killed—are the chief reasons I don’t recommend using violence as a tool in antisocial interaction. shoot you dead. in advance. Don’t assume you know who his friends are. chances are you’ll screw up. The above issues are what you need to be aware of. 75 . be aware that he may have allies who may come to his aid—be fully prepared to have to injure pretty much everyone in his vicinity. Perhaps he was only thinking of ‘teaching you a lesson. The same guys who found him an embarrassment when he was spouting nonsense might be willing to kick your butt for laying a hand on him.’ but now he’s afraid for his life and willing to defend it with lethal force (pulling a tool or otherwise ‘getting serious’). in essence. and carving a path of destruction through him when you’re not. his take on what’s at stake may change dramatically. Whether the situation has turned or spiraled out of ‘social tool’ control or other factors lead you to act. should you decide to use the tool of violence in an antisocial situation.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today 4. Also. What I will recommend is being smart about such things and hewing always to the idea of exhausting all options when given the luxury of a choice. More often than not. your life (losing it or changing it forever) just isn’t worth whatever it is you’re ‘fighting’ for. what the asocial is all about. for argument’s sake. While I will never expressly recommend it. Understand that once you go physical with him. or take a beating (or worse) that risks your own well-being.

” as you try to go out the door after a party. If you decide to work it out with social tools. Waiting 76 . the mugger could go either way depending on your personal read of the situation. If you want to go physical and start injuring him. or even cocking back to hit you. but has let it be known to you. Now what? This is where the judgment call starts. we’re going to assume you are right to do it—that your impression of the situation is such that you believe inaction on your part will get you (and/or others) seriously injured or killed. overtly or not.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Mechanics of the Sucker Punch Disclaimer . But what if the man hasn’t ‘crossed the line’ physically. and the jerk at the party is even less clear cut. taken slightly aback by the seemingly social interaction—he spoke to you with arms crossed. For the sake of this discussion on the idea of the sucker punch.There are serious legal and moral problems with injuring someone who isn’t trying to injure you or hasn’t otherwise threatened you with serious harm or death.” and all the way down to a simple. or otherwise taking people out from behind or when they don’t know it’s coming. I wouldn’t recommend it with the terrorist (as we now know all too well). “You’re not leaving here. or even laying hands on you at all. “Give me your wallet. rather than hitting you. You may stand there a split second. it’s best to dive in and get it done as soon as you make the decision. then repeat until satisfied. that violence is in the offing? This is everything from a terrorist telling you to sit back down on an airplane to a mugger making his demand. To injure or not to injure? We all know what to do when someone comes after us—get in there and cause an injury. then go for it.

This is how it will probably come to you. predators read it and go looking for the stragglers in the herd. Because you’re not out looking for it. Almost by definition.” The rest of the story you know. When you’re walking around with your head up. (I’ll give you a hint: the guy survived to tell his version of the story). When you walk like you know how to break a leg. When you least expect it.’ Let’s backtrack a little and take a look at the realities of violent conflict for the average law-abiding taxpayer. this is how it goes—”There I was. Or at least can guess. I’m not talking about 77 . or otherwise encumbered. the more in charge he is.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today around to see how it develops gives the man more traction. you send an unconscious message. you’ll crush his testicles or gouge his eye (or maybe some of both). or it’ll all go to hell for him. prowling for victims. Out of the blue. If you take him as soon as you realize it’s a bad situation. This is where he’ll either get everyone to capitulate. on the hunt. the most critical portion is first contact with the potential hostages. you’ll typically know it’s on because someone is trying to do it to you first. he never gets the opportunity to assert social dominance. Your part in this is easy—if you can still think and move. The longer it goes on. minding my own business. “So I look up from the ground and see his knee as he’s stepping in and I rolled into him and broke it. and confidence over the situation—this is how one man with a blade can take over an entire room full of people. In all reality. when this guy comes out of nowhere and punches me in the head. control. For any kind of hostage-taker. when you’re sick or tired.” The next part of the story is about looking at a target and wrecking it. It’s your job to punch his ticket and get him to tell Charon you said ‘hi. you’re probably going to be the one getting sucker punched. Anecdotally. bristling with vigor. So most of the time you’re avoiding bad situations by simply looking like you know what you’re doing.

you’re already on the wrong track. the third one’ll get you. The one doing it got it done. For every two you block. You can throw out all pretense and concepts of technique and simply go for your target. strike for block. the scariest people are the calm.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE being a ‘badass’ or walking around like you’ve got an attitude— everyone can see right through that (except maybe white suburban kids).” If you choose violence at this point. yeah. so why worry? So what about that weird middle ground—the halfway point between getting sucker punched and the complete wave-off? We’re back at the party and the guy at the door crosses his arms and simply says. That’s not to say there aren’t some interesting tactical considerations to take in executing an initial strike—there are. So. Or stabbing. It’s a sucker’s game. Or whatever. none of it—exactly zero—had anyone ‘defending themselves’ successfully. The successful party was always—every single time—the one who did the beating. then. They’re putting on an act the same way many prey animals try to look like predators in nature (there’s a kind of caterpillar that has eyes on its butt so it looks like a small snake. Instead of worrying about what he’s going to do. that’s what will happen. and 78 . for example). if you’re worried about what he’ll do. Like lie down and hug his shattered knee. If you just wade in to beat him broken. Any defensive moves on his part are moot as long as you don’t play that game—if you’re going to compete with him. This is why I try to get everyone off the idea of waiting. make him do something. If you go to a truly rough part of town the scary ones aren’t the jumpy. Nothing hunts them. and blocking. he stands a chance. No. The one trying to stop it got done. is there a ‘best way’ to get into it? As detailed above. looking. Why are they so damn calm? Because they know they’re the apex predators. Period. quiet ones. Out of all the video footage of violence I’ve seen. the best way is now. tit-for-tat. theatrically hardcore types. “You’re not leaving.

We’ll assume that other details of the scenario have led you to believe you are in danger (that’s why you were leaving. We’re back at the party. Even if it seems ‘beneath you’ in its simplicity. Alright. If he’s looking you in the eye. The first is the fact that when you look straight ahead while standing. And here’s where we get into some advanced targeting because if you look down at his groin before you strike him. he won’t see the boot to the groin until it’s too late. He just told you you’re not leaving and now he’s staring right at you. striking targets in all kinds of orientations). as well as strikes to the groin using hands/arms or knee/shin.’ Stick with what works because it works. There are two limitations of human vision you can exploit. Don’t get caught in the trap of ‘fancy. This blind spot is created by the lower part of your face. this one’s obvious. Just pick a target and wreck it. Your targeting needs to be good enough that you know how to triangulate your foot into his groin based on where you can see his head is. The man is standing between you and the door. first and foremost. This is why uppercuts work so well. (This ability grows from lots and lots of floor time with another human body. How to strike when he is looking. you’ll tip him off. especially the cheekbones. 2. Any low body shot will work. you can’t see your own feet. 79 . after all) and you want to get through him and out the door now. thick arms crossed over his barrel chest.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today we’ll be looking at them in detail. daring you to defy him. So he can’t see anything that comes up inside a 45˚ angle off his cheekbones. How to strike when he’s not looking. But everyone here already knew that. below—it’s just that they are minor and completely subordinate to the idea of wading in and causing injury. 1.

Laterally. we’re not so good at. and intercept it.) So if he’s looking at you. What this means is that if you throw a big roundhouse motion.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE The second limitation of human vision has to do with the fact that we are all predators. (As a side note. Trying to play this stuff like chess at 90 mph will get you hit by the freight train of violence and send game pieces flying everywhere. As an example of manipulating both limitations. clock it. like a John Wayne-style haymaker or other large overhand motion that breaks your silhouette and travels across the static background behind you. not from the far outside like an open hand slap. Coming straight at us. There are specific receptors in your eyes to detect motion across a static background. don’t break your silhouette—use straight moves that go into the target from inside your outline. and we peg it. It is incredibly difficult for us to judge the speed something is going when it’s coming dead-on. 80 . this is one reason people get killed by trains. • • • And just to reiterate the Important Stuff: It doesn’t matter if he knows it’s coming or not—get him. look at a claw to the eyes. every human being on the planet is hardwired to see it. Today it could be for him to simply get his hands up over his face and muck up your strike. Folks walking on the tracks routinely misjudge the amount of time they have until the train is upon them—and the error typically kills them. across a static background. There’s wetware in your head that is specifically wired into these receptors to gage rate of travel and predict where the motion is going. In the old days it would be to hit a bird with a stick. Stepping in and driving your fist into his solar plexus (with your elbow in nice and tight at your hip) fills the bill. It should come up from underneath his vision and inside your silhouette.

PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today • • It’s not a game. This may be morally rough ground we’re on at this point. “how can I keep from getting taken by these tricks?” The big one is to trust your gut—people trying to hide something look like they have 81 . for example. It’s a popular tactic of muggers to approach their victim and ask what time it is. the mugger strikes.” to simple body language. Everyone who met him said he was singularly charming. drop him. When they look down at their watch. Manipulating Social Conventions This is even more morally problematic. Then break him. A more advanced. Ask a question and point. Or a combination of the two to get you in close enough to strike while getting him to lower his Defcon level. most cunning sociopaths are very. It can be everything from talking to him. I know people who have done this. he typically used contrived social devices to lure victims into range (wearing a fake cast on his arm. “It’s cool. palms up. I give up. so don’t try to ‘play’ it. Get him to close distance to shake hands. and it works great. Of course the big question in everyone’s mind right now is. or walking on crutches). and as he looks.” or “Okay. having manipulated the situation to regain surprise. Injure him now. The most basic use would be the ‘false capitulation. as we are now delving into the use of social tools to maneuver people into position for asocial opportunity. This is what the top-end. You can also talk to him to get him to look away. version is using your social tools to befriend him. very good at—like the American mass-murderer Ted Bundy. but the misuse of social tools is brutally effective. and insidious.’ This is where you pretend to give up to get an opportunity to injure him. you got me. arms spread.

or other uneasiness. or not. To wrap up. If he knows it’s coming and can see it’s coming that awareness will only work in his favor if you’re playing by rules—if you are in competition mode. Ask questions later. Trust your gut and act on it. Then it will be a tit-for-tat exchange.’ Queasiness. If you wade in simply to beat him toothless and unconscious. Your unconscious will then attempt to communicate with you by giving you a ‘gut reaction. butterflies. or disregard you as a threat. look away. there are some interesting tactical considerations you can exploit when going in first—when the situation is teetering on the razor’s edge between social and full-blown asocial. You can exploit the limitations human vision to ‘hide’ a strike and you can use social tools to manipulate people to your advantage—getting them to move. This may manifest itself as small. consciously undetectable ‘tells’ that you will pick up unconsciously. then that’s what’s going to happen—whether he saw it coming. But all of these things pale in comparison to wading in now and injuring him. 82 .HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE something to hide.

to be sure. Once you break that wrist. this means you get to choose whether or not to be involved. I’ve walked away while dodging ego-withering epithets and slurs to the accompaniment of the loud and obvious sound of my social standing peg being taken down a notch. and how deep your involvement will go. Once you cross that line.’ The reason I say that is because once you commit. but it’s not worth my time. I did this gladly because I was handed the luxury of choice and. clean delineator between violence and Everything Else. I’ve walked away from situations where I was legally and morally in the right and no one present would have objected if I’d laid the jerk out. when to stop— but none of them involve ‘unviolencing’ him. 83 . I just didn’t feel like it. Make the choice you can live with. There are.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today Chapter Eleven The Absence of Choice Violence starts where choice ends. and then having to do it to all his friends while getting punched in the head three or four times. Not to mention having to look over my shoulder every time I stop to take a piss. For social and antisocial interactions. making bail. This gives us a nice. ‘It’ being the stomping. you can never go back to just holding hands. maybe getting stabbed or shot or killed. the screaming. you’re in it ‘til you finish it. your choices dwindle dramatically. or arrested and spending the night in jail. Be man enough to be called a coward. you won’t have that choice. to be quite frank. the answer is probably ‘no. As you’ve heard me say time and time again: if you have to ask. On the asocial side. All that crap is worth my life. small choices to make—which target to wreck next. paying a lawyer and then getting sued.

They’re the ones who interpret every sideways look as a challenge to fight. Asocial means you have no choice. everyone else can go hang. Just remember that: 1. For some people. without preamble. Especially if the choice he makes is to take it into the asocial and get to the work of injuring you. and when to stop. One minute you’re worried about which curry joint to patronize and the next you’re getting stabbed. or your life. Because it’s hallmarked by a lack of communication. like lightning out of a clear blue sky. or freedom. pain compliance. And your Plan B better be really. you’ve handed all the power of choice to the other guy. it’s really simple. like which target to wreck next. the difference between antisocial and asocial is really problematic.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Social standing is a manufactured illusion. All of your sundry come-alongs. From a purely mechanical point of view. the choice is something decidedly unchoosy like ‘kill or be killed. all well and good. and beating someone up (or breaking his ribs) isn’t going to change that. If he decides you ‘got him’ and gives up. on the other hand. If he decides the pain in his wrist doesn’t matter. everybody picks that one. you have one choice left: give it your all or play games. joint locks and submission holds fall into this category. You know what you’re capable of. For you. You don’t have to worry about saving your pride. you might want to take another 84 . well. asocial comes on without warning. If you choose the latter. too). or rather. You’re down to those small choices. now you’re stuck holding the tiger by the tail. And if your friends are people who lose respect for you because you choose not to start breaking heads. If your friends are truly your friends they will remain so. well. really sharp. losing it is nothing compared to the loss of an eye. in social and antisocial situations he gets to choose whether or not a technique works.’ (Which one would you pick? Yeah. Once you’re out of choices.

until there is absolutely no chance of walking away. 85 . this has become a kill-or-be-killed event. 3. you have to remove all aspect of choice from his life—at least for the time being. Why? Because if you want to be the one walking away. but it’s not going to matter one whit. He has no say in whether or not his eye comes out of his skull or if his throat crushes. The physical laws of the universe. He has no say in how his body will move next. once you enter that asocial sphere. The mechanics of the asocial. The moment you stop thinking “Should I hit this guy?” and start swinging. You’re both in there hardcore. If you’re asking if you should. and how well you’ve employed them. you shouldn’t. Or. That’s where you do have a choice! 2. and he’s just along for the ride. you could choose to take things into the asocial arena. you’re not the only one who loses the luxury of choice. and your single goal is to give it to him first and hard. and they can become asocial. that’s when you’ve stepped into the realm of violence. have the power to defuse this bomb and make sure no one gets hurt. giving it your all. interaction can be summed up in a single word: injury. If you did it right. are the only arbiters here. But like I keep saying. Period. Violence is the absence of choice. Injury removes choice from the equation. He may wish double-plus hard on a falling star it wasn’t so. you’re still in the antisocial arena. Just hope you’re not dealing with someone who’s going to hunt you down and pay you back in kind—or worse. You. Antisocial interactions can seem asocial.PART ONE: Violence in Your Life Today look at y our friends. For both you and him. everything breaks. When No Choice Matters Fortunately for you. violent. and often you alone.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 86 .

PART TWO: The Principles of Violence PART TWO: THE PRINCIPLES OF VIOLENCE 87 .

you would quickly either fight if you had a weapon or run (flight) if you did not. Yes. Fight-or-flight is a viable response. If you are walking through the woods and a Kodiak bear starts to rush you. you can use the other two responses but for the most part the meeting of two different species results in fight-orflight. So what are the other two responses? What sets a violent humanto-human encounter apart from a violent interspecies encounter? The Four Horsemen of Response When two members of the same species meet with one side posing an imminent threat. imminent threat of physical attack. 88 . but only when the threat occurs between two different species. As a lifelong student of violence I constantly research sources from the academic and literary world that deal with this very controversial subject.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter One Fight or Flight “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. Some of my research has led me to see fightor-flight as a fallacy.” —Edmund Burke People often ask me about the “fight-or-flight” response when it comes to responding to a violent. or run. the other can respond as follows: 1.The challenge is assessed and the target decides to evade the threat. Fight .The challenge is assessed and the target decides to ¿JKW EDFN 2. When I tell them that there are actually four responses to this type of threat I usually get a confused looked. Flight .

That is a classic example of the Posture Response. This is a dangerous gambit for both participants because it delays the fight option and often wastes valuable opportunities to end the situation with the Fight Response. you’re getting the aggressor to expose vulnerable areas of his body to attack by your feigned capitulation. The next response to explore is the all too common Capitulate Response. lie down. However. You rely on their moral code to respect your capitulation and have that be a sufficient way to satiate their desire to aggressively dominate you. and hope that by submitting s/ he will appease the aggressor. understanding how to use capitulation as a fighting tactic can be 89 . First of all. Posture . Most are familiar with the first two options. How many times have you seen a person issue a threat and move towards someone aggressively. This response is very dangerous when used to avoid getting harmed because it literally puts you at the mercy of an aggressor. when used properly the Capitulate Response can be an extremely effective manner to get your aggressor into a vulnerable position to execute the Fight Response. with verbal threats and aggressive postures used to convey dominance.The challenge is assessed and the target decides to freeze. Basically. Why is this important? There are three reasons. but let’s explore the latter two. This is where an aggressive threat is met with complete and immediate submission to the threatening party. Often the real objective is to get one side to back down.The challenge is assessed and the target decides to feign or posture aggressively with the ultimate goal being WR DYRLG KDYLQJ WR ¿JKW RU ÀHH 4. Capitulate .PART TWO: The Principles of Violence 3. Very risky. threatening stance? This is very common in social violent situations where there is much posturing for dominance. only for the person to respond by yelling back and striking an aggressive.

When a man steps out of the shadows holding a knife. or to get ready. If that training was to wait and see. the simple facts that govern the effective use of violence as a survival tool are well known to them. then. Acting in the Face of Fear For too long fallacies have held sway while common criminals exploit fear and ignorance. Instead of being shocked and frightened into submission. but with practice it won’t control you. Know. Fear is a powerful human emotion. Many people fear that they will be overwhelmed by fightor-flight and behave irrationally or ‘freeze up’ and be incapable of acting. When you know how to ‘swim in the pool of violence. it’s essential that you not rely on “fight or flight” as an excuse to avoid learning what you need to know in order to defend yourself. or an intruder pulls open the curtain in your shower. You can take decisive action in the face of fear. These are natural reactions. which cannot be avoided— nor should they be. you’ll do what you’ve trained to do. This is the fight-or-flight survival instinct that allows you to focus completely on destroying your enemy or to get the hell out of there. The first reaction in any violent situation is that most primal emotion of fear. That’s what will really matter in a violent situation. your adrenaline immediately starts pumping and your heart beats faster. you can’t enter a violent situation expecting your fear to drive you away. your reaction will be slightly different.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE extremely useful. successfully socialized citizen. 90 . these simple facts and let your power increase: 1. But more importantly. Moreover. but that will be tempered with the knowledge of what to do next. believing you have no choice but to submit. you may have already lost.’ however. and denied to the law-abiding. You will still experience the biological fact of fear.

While all violent acts have injury in common. with stereovision for hunting prey and teeth for ripping and tearing flesh. You are a predator born. Violence is your birthright.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence If. your ancestors didn’t get you here by laying down and giving up. ‘Nuff said. Defense wounds are found on corpses. Violence is available to everyone. the person walking away is typically the one who did it. they also share another trait: at the end. The average human body is an awesome engine of destruction. The one getting the violence done to them tends to get injured. You are a member of the only species that makes an art of war. This is the definition of the effective use of violence. They made the losers do that. the descendant of winners. You are a survival engine. 3. Violence is one person injuring another person. driven by the most dangerous thing in the known universe: a human brain. that training is for violence—for causing injury— then that’s what you’ll do. however. 4. 91 . 2. The one doing the violence tends to prevail.

It’s not really good for anything else. it’s only good for one thing. it is. This may make violence seem kind of useless in your everyday life. While you can predict how he will react physically to being struck. You’re going to kick him when he’s down. assume that he is prepared to go all the way. you’re not going to stop until you’re done. but it’s better to assume the other man is in it to kill you than to assume he’s not and leave your family to mourn your mistake. others may choose to kill you for daring to defy them. In violent conflict. By now. then use it to throw him. but rather tend to reduce them to the same state. you should be ready for that message. You might be wrong. Violence is a very narrow tool. always assume that your life is on the line. Some people may panic and run. 92 . and that’s shutting off a human being. You’re going to break his arm. violent physical passions do not in themselves differentiate men from each other. If you’re going to pull it out and use it. After you land your first blow. you’ll never be able to defend yourself effectively.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Two Violence is About Injury “It is by no means self-evident that human beings are most real when most violently excited. then employ it to full effect. ‘Going easy’ on someone who wants to murder you or otherwise screwing around in violent conflict can get you killed. how he reacts psychologically will vary from individual to individual. This means you have to be merciless. vicious and methodical. Until you accept this basic fact. And no matter what.” —Thomas Elliot All acts of violence come down to the same thing: injury. If you’re living right.

Violence Begins and Ends with Injury Violence is purely about injury. the arbiter of success in violence. Effective violence is hallmarked by serial injury: injuring him. Owning injury. injury is the portal through which you pass into the rest of your life. your hesitation could cost you your life. and again to put him down. these simple facts and let your power increase. Injury is the only thing that means anything in violence. It’s the goal and end-result. with ever-increasing severity (stomping on a man who’s down is easy for you and devastating for him). It defines the violent act and finishes it. (Employing violence to it’s fullest has an added benefit. stomping him when he’s down and whatnot. taking advantage of that injury to do it again. even those you might normally regard as ‘out of bounds. the vanquished more so than the victor. Anyone you need to pay attention to will make themselves known by closing distance and coming after you. Put one man down and you’ll find out who his accomplices are. you consider eye gouging to be beyond the pale and your only target is his eye. As things go bad—he pulls the gun—your 93 . It defines the act and brands the participants. Know. like innocent bystanders. then. Violence literally starts and ends with injury. When you get in and break him with brutal efficiency. Remember that people flock to a social fight and flee from actual violence.’ If. gives you a distinct advantage over those whose understanding is dim and instinctual. Injury Changes Everything in Your Favor In violent conflict.) The Injury Manifesto There is a single key feature that is present in every successful use of violence: injury. anyone not involved. will take off running. for example.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Every technique and every target is must be exploited.

You could trip and fall. that person may be functioning just fine psychologically. a universe of choices spreads before you. He can’t ‘walk it off. but they’re not going to be grabbing and picking anything up anytime soon.’ Injury is Physics and Physiology Meeting Badly Excessive force plus vulnerable anatomical target equals injury. Injury is Objective Disinterested third parties can all agree that an injury has occurred. it’s permanent across the course of the encounter. Neither of these matters. It will require medical attention in order to heal. is the key turning in the lock on the rest of your days. But note that in the case of the missing limb. all by 94 . Different people have different pain thresholds.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE options narrow to a single question: ‘action or passivity?’ In a way. you are at the end of your life: if he shoots you dead. for others a torn off limb goes unnoticed. The thumb in the eye. for some. Injury is Permanent That is. There is nothing in this equation about pain or the psychological state of the recipient. it’s over. however. Injury is Independent of Technique All we need is force and a target. A broken leg does not get better on it’s own. A broken leg just plain doesn’t work. Injury gives you options. a torn fingernail drops them into dramatic paroxysms of agony. Injury Decrements Body Function It will alter the normal functioning of his body in a negative way. A broken leg is obvious from across the street. Injury is opportunity.

specific movements. regardless of how it occurred (with technique or without. meaning that a boot to the groin elicits the same basic response in all humans. Note the conspicuous lack of a hoppedup emotional state. This fact is why technique without injury is a parlor trick.’ etc. The threshold switch that decides whether or not to reflex is in the spinal cord. And again. Rock to the head. not the brain.. Injured People Move in Predictable Ways The body responds to injury through the somatic reflex arc (spinal reflexes). Just physics and physiology. The best target? The one you just wrecked.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence yourself. The most artless injury will always be superior to the fanciest technique. or even another person. 95 . These reflexes are injury-specific. triggered by a large stimulus (like ruptured testicles). and injury. There is no conscious choice involved. anyone? All Injuries are Equal This is another way of saying all targets are equal. and get an injury. This means you can predict how he’ll move when you injure him—and be there to take full advantage of it. All injuries are equal when you know what to do next—how to take advantage of the fact you injured him. ‘accidentally. they cannot stop you from injuring them again.) will always be more effective.. And again. These are pre-programmed. a technique. Injured People are Helpless For the short moment of time they are in the throes of their spinal reflex.

But what is injury after all? And is there a simpler way to think of it. Is he faster than you? Not with a broken knee. damage. Every time you touch him. a gun. Is he far more dangerous than you. Violence Begins and Ends with Injury Anything you do in a violent situation that does not cause an injury is worthless to you. to the body. says: ‘Hurt or loss caused to or sustained by a person or thing. What is Injury Really? It’s the only thing that means anything in violence. and keep on injuring him until he’s nonfunctional. and an indomitable iron will? Funny how a broken neck takes all the scary out of him. detriment. It’s also shorthand for ‘a broken knee can cause head trauma. you need to break something inside him. 5th Ed. esp. The answer to every question in violent conflict is: injury. as beating an injured man is easy work. You’re not done until you’re sure he’s done.’ This is a good start. relate to it and thereby better relate it to others? We’ll start with the dictionary definition of the word—The Shorter OED. an instance of this. now. harm. you need to make a part of him cease normal function. experience. drop him. with scads of training. Injure him.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Injury Begets Injury An adjunct to the helplessness above. or at least that’s what we’re always saying.’ Injury Trumps Speed. Every time you touch him. Strength and Resolve Is he stronger than you? Not with a crushed throat he isn’t. but it’s not quite as serious and stunning as I 96 .

For some it is tearing a fingernail or stubbing a toe. even with torn skin and spilled blood. they’re right. and you’re just plain not going to win over any converts 97 . eliciting an involuntary VSLQDO UHÀH[ UHDFWLRQ¶ This is great for two reasons: it reinforces the universality of violence (as this effect can be achieved with any judicious application of kinetic energy.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence would like. There are plenty of people out there. for example. detriment. Period. others won’t declare it until blood is spilled. but I dare say no two will be alike. it’s still a little bit vague on the overall effect we’re gunning for. But no one—NO ONE—can sustain injury the way we mean it and keep going. It’s not easy to remember. While ‘harm. The difference between the definitions of a lucky person unused to pain and a trauma surgeon is going to be vast. I dare say no two people’s definition of ‘injury’ is going to be exactly the same. who believe that they can sustain ‘damage’ and keep going. minor lacerations. for me. we are not at a workable definition. We all can. The TFT ‘textbook’ definition reads thusly: µ7KH GLVUXSWLRQ RI KXPDQ WLVVXH LQ D VSHFL¿F DQDWRPLFDO IHDWXUH such that normal function is obviously impaired (and can only be regained through medical intervention). a ‘tightening up’ of ambiguities. And still. from fist to stick to bullet) as well as being specific enough to rule out hangnails and messy. damage’ are all good synonyms for what we’re up to. These ambiguities flourish and grow into their own chaosgardens in the minds of the average person. And. but ultimately ineffective. So even the dictionary leaves something to be desired. of course. The only problem is that for all its precise ‘lawyer-ese’ it’s quite a mouth—and mind—ful. It’s a lot like saying the word ‘dog’ out loud to a roomful of people: everyone will see a dog in their mind’s eye. it doesn’t roll of the tongue.

it’s the only measuring stick that divides success from failure. It is the simplest way to think of injury. This is a definition of injury you can take as your personal violence mission statement. even the ambiguities work in your favor. This is the way the sociopath approaches the problem. It’s thorough but clunky. It’s all you want to do. the way the Saturday night slugger thinks when he wades in to deliver a beat-down. Does ‘they’ refer to the people or the things inside them? Hey. 98 . easy to do. Anything that gets in the way of your understanding needs to be retooled—like carving steps into an insurmountable cliff face. either one or both: I’m good with all of it. Easy to think. This gets us to my current favorite way to think of injury: Break things inside of people so they don’t work anymore. It paints a picture that’s easy to parse. easy to say. By seeking to be clear it loses its clarity and becomes next to worthless to you.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE with it.

is not what’s going to get the job done. no getting ready. Violence is the void oblivion in which 99 . But I Don’t Want to Become the Bad Guy! When confronted with the realities of violence. in and of itself. A total dedication of will tends to manifest itself as a total dedication of body mass. The time has come to point out a harsh truth: the biggest fear most people have is realizing they actually can be every bit as brutal—and effective—as the most heinous thug walking the street. You have to go in willing to injure and even kill the person who’s trying to kill you. There is no hesitation.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter Three Why You Must Learn to Kill “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!” —Emiliano Zapata If you were uncomfortable with the last chapter. if necessary. So what is intent really doing? What lies between intent and injury? Body weight in motion When one has intent. You have to have that intent. I won’t sugarcoat it: you must go into every violent situation with the intent to cause serious injury and. The obvious difference between a slap-fight and a murder is one of intent. It contains some things that are hard to take but have to be said. There is only rapid. no waiting to see what will happen next. But unless you have scary psychic powers or you really can throw daggers with your eyes. death. The knife punched through ribs. sane. wellsocialized people recoil. they apply themselves totally to causing injury. again and again. brutal motion. intent. you’re not going to like this one very much.

these fighters were amazing physical specimens and tremendous competitors.” This Guy’s a Killer During my time in Las Vegas. it is a hellish monospace where things like communication. or you can do a back flip and then hit him in the head with a rock. But then a secondary reaction occurs. I met a number of Mixed Martial Arts competitors from various “No-Holds-Barred” events like the UFC and Pride. Occam’s Razor says: “Forget fancy—the tire-iron to the head trumps all. Tim’s a ‘killer. 100 . the fighters I met were all very good-natured guys. It is a space defined by the absence of all we hold dear.’ He likes to teach you how to stab people to death or beat their brains out with a tire iron. Then the fighter asked if I taught how to “defend” against knives and guns. he gets a head trauma. At one event I was introduced by an MMA friend of mine to one of the top competitors. desperately. the mind recoils and then seeks. and caring are not just absent. It is Nietzsche’s Abyss. my friend (who had a couple of beers in him since he was not on this fight card) smiled and said. You can hit a guy in the head with a rock. For the most part. love. To build a wall of easy ideas in order to maintain a sanity-safe distance. Their skills in the arena were impressive and fun to watch. And surprisingly. You’d like his course!” (It’s always great to have friends give this kinda PR “help”). It is natural. they never were. and indeed ‘good’ in a social sense. for the mind to recoil from such a thing. to fill in the gap between itself and that awful space. my friend “answered” for me saying “Oh yeah. Before I could answer. through his interpreter.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE nothing save injury exists. if I was an MMA competitor. Either way. Remember. “Nah. Again. and this fighter asked.

permanently wrecking the functioning of that area. The fighter is good at kicking someone’s ass. its prison riot training!” (Again. I doubt I could have done much better. He said he felt bad because he truly couldn’t give his cousin (who survived the attack) any tips on how to “fight” people with knives. very “helpful” stuff. speed and skill. But his words got me thinking about the difference between a fighter and a “killer:” • • • The fighter competes to better his opponent. I mean. too. for all my skills in the ring. the “killer” knows how to irreparably injure vulnerable areas of the human body.” We exchanged info and he got the dates when I’d be training in Europe that year. The fighter’s skills work best in the controlled environment of the ring. it’s so different. The fighter seeks to score points or force a submission. By now. I know how to kick someone’s ass on the mat but on the street. The fighter relies on superior strength. the “killer” is effective anywhere violence is necessary. the “killer” gets his results using stealth and the action of violence. I’m sure the interpreter’s really wondering about me!) Then the fighter told of his cousin being assaulted and stabbed by two men in his home country. “Quite frankly.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence and more than one attacker. absolutely wrecking his opponent). The fighter’s skills deteriorate once his competitive years 101 • • • . the “killer” focuses solely on ending the other person. the “killer” seeks to shut down the other’s brain. Then he was off to prepare for his match (which he easily won that night.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE end. “How will I apply my martial arts or combat sport training?” ‘Cause if it’s in the random chaos found in the world of real violence then you hamstring yourself with rules and skills that work mainly for the young. You need the skills to kill. understand the big difference between a “killer” and a murderer. but you see the pattern. you better believe he’ll do it. Finally. but true. Despite your likely repulsion at the term. it’s the skill set of the “killer” that not only prepares you to survive. but if some psychopath comes running at him with a knife. Is your moral stance against killing strong enough that you’ll let some sociopathic murderer end your life for no reason? If the answer is no. then killing is in order. these skills are easily learned and can last your entire lifetime. Face-to-face with the later. you’d better be prepared to use lethal force when you have to. Strange. and if it’s clear that it’s life or death. Here’s the point: you must always ask yourself. and strong. Lethal Force No cop wants to draw his gun. the “killer” retains his skills often for a lifetime. When it’s your life or his. The severity of the situation can be surmised 102 . It can actually give you the advantage. I realize. That’s why I challenge you to explore the world of the “killer” (even if you’re pursuing a competitive MMA career). And we’re not even addressing whether the other guy plays by your rules (wanna guess how much time most murderers spend worrying about your competitive standards?). But most important is the by-product of learning this—you get to live a far more relaxed and peaceful life. fast. I could go on. you have to be ready to make a choice.

This can mean one or more of three things: • • • Incapacitation Unconsciousness Death Incapacitation is everything from a single shot to the ribs that drops him and makes him go fetal and quit to a broken knee and two broken collar bones that make it impossible for him to get up.). that are telling you he’s not serious.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence in many different ways (hostage situation in which other hostages are being killed right in front of you. and then proceed to rendering him nonfunctional. ultimately it’s your call. Once you do go in. ‘oh my God’ feeling—you’re picking up those same unconscious cues but this time they’re lethal. If you don’t think it’s a particularly bad situation you’re probably picking up unconscious cues from body language. safe. firearms. and associated threats of imminent death. modern airline hijack. How far you take it will depend on what you need to feel done. If you feel serious apprehension in your gut—that queasy. And your best guideline is to trust your gut. etc. etc. 103 . go in full-bore. and primitive parts of your brain are trying to let you know by making you feel sick. and we can’t tell you how you should think and feel. facial expressions. It’s all up to you. to tear his head off. Just make damn sure you feel comfortable turning your back on him. For all of that. but ultimately it’s going to come down to a personal call on your part. and able to turn your back on him and walk away. We can’t build every possible scenario you could ever be involved in. you have to live or die with your decision. He means to kill you.. Every use of violence must start with serious injury. At what point you’ve reached incapacitation and can stop is your personal judgment call.

breaking his neck. Killing the man by stomping on this throat. or stabbing him in the heart is reserved for the most extreme circumstances only. It’s obvious when you’ve achieved it. He’ll be down. 104 . You need to think a great deal about how you feel about his and make your choices ahead of time: you don’t want to get caught hesitating when what’s required is decisive action. motionless. possibly with his jaw slack and eyes rolled back in his head.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Unconsciousness is just that: he’s out cold and down for the count. Once you’ve got this it’s safe to say you’re done. Situations where you realize or believe that you or others will be killed if you do not act.

” —Jim Morrison Hopefully. and they’re afraid of being the one to do it. Using that knowledge to bully and intimidate others is a far cry from using that knowledge to protect yourself and your family. you have to accept violence as a tool—not good or evil and of itself. there’s only one way to survive it. If you go into a room full of people and start talking about gouging eyes. 105 . But something does lie underneath. But when it becomes your only option. I don’t think violence should ever be used to get what you want. and if you ever encounter it. We live in a society that’s safe on the surface. People are afraid of violence. it’s a last resort.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter Four Overcoming the Stigma of Violence ³9LROHQFH LVQ¶W DOZD\V HYLO :KDW¶V HYLO LV WKH LQIDWXDWLRQ with violence. and I think in all situations. and no one wants to think about what lies underneath. Knowing how doesn’t make you a bad person. And in order to do that. by now you’ve come to realize that I don’t endorse using violence for the reasons a criminal sociopath would. They’re afraid of experiencing it. you have to be ready to act. Bludgeoning someone to death with a claw hammer can be murder in one instance and justified homicide in another—but in both cases someone bludgeoned someone else to death with a claw hammer. and as such it takes on the moral color of the user—but only after the fact. but a tool that can be used for good or evil depending on who gets a hold of it and how they’re swinging it. Violence is a tool. they’re going to freak out.

The conditions were sufficient to get an injury. The perfect storm usually consists of luck-factors like the injured man moving into the strike (increasing penetration & body weight effects) and/or being caught off-guard and flat-footed. but almost always hardly optimal. But what about the times when he’s moving away from the strike? Or ‘rolls’ with the punch? In that case sufficiency fails to result in an injury. and now you can see how this is sub-optimal. Society would really rather that you meet force with like force.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE How Much is “Too Much?” Most people are willing to accept that violence can come in handy. “I know how to kill people. and in a real life-or-death encounter with asocial violence. That’s great— as long as he doesn’t get the ‘kill’ idea before you do. if he just wants to push.’ I find it hilarious. Now.. if he just wants to slap and you break him. There’s no such thing as ‘excessive force’ when it comes to hurting people—violence is the art excess.” you’ll get a very different reaction than if you say to someone. generic term. you’re allowed to slap and choke .. But in pretty much every such video circulating on the Internet. Of course. There are lots of examples floating around of precision knockout blows—restrained force that results in a successful attack or defense. people will call that ‘excessive. But you should know how to do it. That’s 106 . “I know self-defense. I’m not saying you should go around bragging about knowing how to kill people—that’s just stupid. you’re allowed to match him in kind. Sometimes you get a knockout and sometimes you don’t. and if he wants to kill you. if he just wants to slap and choke. you’re allowed to push. and you shouldn’t be ashamed of the fact.” But the first is an empty. It shows a basic misunderstanding of violence itself. it’s not going to see you through. we see the results of a perfect storm: there was just enough penetration and rotation through a target to get the desired outcome. If you say to someone.

as anyone who’s earned that merit badge can attest.’ It can take all day. anyone? Maximizing penetration means that even if he’s moving away or ‘rolling’ with it he’s going to get overrun: you’re going to get a good three feet of follow-through through the target—with your entire mass behind it. So with so-called sufficient force. We can optimize our situation by firing a flare gun into a ruptured gasoline tanker truck. Look at it this way: blowing on some embers you made by rubbing two sticks together in a heap of dried pine needles is sufficient to start a fire. and that’s the point. The body 107 . we get the knockout (or whatever injury we’re gunning for) every single time. the result of excess. ‘sufficient’ doesn’t mean ‘every time. Penetration and rotation through a target. Your job is to figure out what is sufficient to cause the injury. but you can’t bet your life on such things.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence fine and dandy in the ring. and only luck (and unusual circumstance. Now that’s gonna make a big BOOM every single time. Maximizing rotation is you taking full advantage of that three feet you bought yourself with the penetration: you will make the target bounce off of the tool. and then optimize it to ensure that you get exactly that set of circumstances every single time. we catch him with just the right amount of ‘snap’ at the end of that punch to give him a concussion: so out of ten wild swings we get the one that connects and gets the job done. Again. by definition. like you screwing something up) is going to prevent it. if we get lucky. if we’re lucky. With optimal. rather than the other way around. Injury in violence is. Overdoing it? Yes. but.

every time. and methodical thoroughness. While it could work every time. that’s only good in theory. Optimal means it will work every time. brutality. Optimal recreates that storm. 108 . if you will. through excess. Sufficient hopes for a perfect storm.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE only breaks when it is subjected to forces that exceed the elasticity of human tissue. And while there are those who will tell you that sufficient is ‘just enough’. in practice it often doesn’t. Call it precision brutality.

Chuck went on to say that if it were just a “thumping contest”— ”Ya know. Chuck said he was glad that Tony knew TFT but that it really didn’t prove he could fight. a former NFL Defensive Lineman. Chuck was impressed that Tony survived both incidents unscathed and then commented that the three attackers were all larger than Tony. The results were that he survived two unavoidable criminal attacks using principles and methods from the TFT Seminar. The conversation drifted towards my training and he was giving me some feedback from a mutual friend who attended a TFT seminar. Tim.” then the bigger. Tony faced multiple attackers in one incident and a knife in the other. and that in a “fair fight” Tony would have lost. as was the knife wielder. Our friend Tony loved the training and. He pointed out that if Tony hadn’t used all that “unfair stuff” he got from my seminar he never would have “won”. since he travels to some of the more dangerous parts of the world.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter Five Violence as the Ultimate Survival Tool “One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards” —Oscar Wilde The reason it’s so important to view violence as a tool for survival came to me during a conversation with a friend of mine named Chuck. a real fight. Chuck has definitely mellowed over the years and is much easier to be around these days—but old habits die hard. has unfortunately had to use his training. stronger guy would 109 . Chuck had a reputation in college as a brawler and never missed an opportunity to use his fists to answer any disagreement.

You might think that.. “Yeah. They’ll just use violence in the only way it should be used. That’s fine in terms of competition.. it’s just. a real fight involves two people pitting their strength against each other.” Chuck blurted out. They want me to respond by giving some perfect technique that handles their particular imagined scenario. They don’t like to hear the truth—that violence is 110 . it proves nothing about how good a fighter you are. By choosing to use violence in a social situation.” In addition. that proved it wasn’t a “real fight. I know what Chuck was trying to say and it’s sad when I see anyone like him that has never gone beyond using violence to dominate a social situation. the fact Tony effectively used deception to disarm his attackers before he attacked really disturbed Chuck. a criminal doesn’t think that way. People often ask me for the best way to “protect” them in some imagined criminal assault. although you understand the necessity for some people to understand TFT’s methods. “That’s not fighting.. stronger guy.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE always win. Unfortunately. as a survival tool. A “Fair Fight” Isn’t About Survival Some of you might agree with Chuck. To Chuck.. They’re often disappointed at first when I don’t respond the way they want me to. He was disturbed by the fact that Tony had to crush the throat of one of his attackers and actually kill the guy who tried to knife him. guys like Chuck always run the risk of bumping into someone who won’t bother fighting a bigger. He has absolutely no desire to make sure the fight is “fair”—only to make sure he wins.” “Violence?” I suggested.

They put a shackle on the baby elephant’s leg with a short chain that is held in the ground by a very long spike. It’s the reason you don’t kill the obnoxious jerk that steals your parking place. even though the adult beast could pull the spike free with no more effort than you and I use to remove a thumbtack from a 111 . cripple. and our legal system that if we want the benefits of living in a society like ours.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence random and thinking only in terms of “techniques” to use against a random act is a good way to get yourself killed. or “kill you now” violence—is seriously flawed. The baby elephant tugs at the chain attempting to break free. and you don’t shoot the neighbor’s Labrador for digging up your rose garden. you wait patiently for the light to turn green at an intersection. That’s because when it comes to violence. When it comes to the subject of violence. We are taught early on by parents. Later on. And obviously. teachers. The problem with practically everyone’s approach to dealing with violence is not that they’re incapable of learning techniques. then we need to constrain our violent impulses when things don’t go our way. the productive. that same method is used to control the now full-grown elephant. It’s that they don’t understand this way of responding to violence— real asocial. we are controlled by society much like circus elephants are controlled by their handlers. After a short while the elephant breaks the skin around the shackled leg and gives up. law-abiding members of society) live lives of assumed constraints. we (meaning you and me. But the pain of attempting to break free is never forgotten. maim. this is a very good thing. These trainers know the most reliable way to handle an elephant is to “condition” it when it is very young.

The sad part of assumed constraints is that most martial arts. We may threaten to use this tool but we really don’t want to since that shackle is still firmly attached. Because the real threat to society is when we run up against some “rogue elephant” that has never been “shackled” and has no problem using violence to get what he wants. you don’t ‘win’ in violent conflict—you survive it. 112 . violent threat: it is the only way. A Tool For Survival In the end. Remember first and foremost—violence is rarely the answer to most situations. it’s the only answer. And imagine how easy it is to fight someone if they have their leg shackled. later in ours schools. and finally at our workplaces. This is not the best way to survive an asocial. When faced with violence. combat sports. but when it is the answer. I learned long ago the first order of business is to teach my clients how easy it is to break those assumed constraints when the threat warrants such an approach. We are “shackled” at a very young age—first at home. Once you understood that you then must be able to rip off those assumed constraints and free yourself so you can utilize the tool of violence when required. We attempt to communicate with our attacker in hopes of avoiding the use of violence. and. even most “reality fighting systems” teach you to respond—while still shackled! It doesn’t work.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE corkboard. yes. And the same approach is taken with all productive members of society regarding the tool of violence. most of us respond socially.

When you destroy a target and make him react. and in its place is the stone-cold truth: you’re responsible for you. it’s all about skill and ability. and of the other man. the one who’s walking away is the one who was doing the violence. You can see the people who still have their heads in the sand and the predators who stalk among them taking advantage. But learning how to use violence as a survival tool means that disadvantage is gone. it’s destruction. and the best way to survive violence is to be the one doing the violence.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence It’s not competition. You have to put him down and keep him there. The Golden Rule Of Violence: Injure Him Now The best way to survive violent conflict is to be the first one to cause an injury. Before you know how to grab the tool of violence in both fists and swing it hard and sure you are at a disadvantage. The survivor gets to walk away. in any way possible. you will have the time and the opportunity to injure him again and again and again. but when it’s the only alternative.” But survival situations aren’t a fair fight. And far more often than not. It’s only going to work out in your favor if you get in there and injure him. either you’ll get the job done or you won’t. Knowing how to use violence as a survival tool—and being willing to do so—puts you on nice. You will be in control of the situation. all alone. It’s not something to be used lightly. even and equal with the worst of humanity. In a competitive fair fight. Either you can rely on yourself or you can’t. You have to throw out the rules and combine instinct with intellect. or you can be resolved. You have a choice: you can be afraid. The other guy doesn’t. A violent situation is about survival: injure the other guy as fast and hard as you can. Do unto others before they do unto you! All of this flies in the face of a “fair fight. flat terrain. In these situations survival is the only thing that matters. it will save your 113 .

And in that situation. 114 . you have to be able to slip them off and unleash the killer within. you may one day find yourself facing a situation where they don’t apply. while these constraints are useful in 99% of everyday situations.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE life. It’s time to accept that. You have to ditch the social constraints and shackles before you’re in the situation.

that is. Accepting the simplicity of violence is an unpalatable dose of hard reality. Even if you yourself aren’t one of the trained. How is it that untrained people can prevail over trained people? Because for all their blissful naïveté the victorious untrained have a firm grip on the tool of violence. 115 . To learn that you are never immune and that someone who is completely and conspicuously untrained can murder you is acutely unsettling. are what keep us happy. The idea that violence is difficult and requires years of training— and that years of training will protect you from the untrained— are comfortable.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter Six Kill It Simple. Even depressing. How simple is it? We can answer that with two more questions: 1. the small untruths that shape our subjective realities. it provides comfort to know that unless someone’s had years of training. Sit back and relax. comforting thoughts. they aren’t really going to be able to damage you. Doesn’t that feel nice? I read somewhere once that the little lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis. That the people who see the world and themselves as it all ‘really is’ are the clinically depressed. This fact stands because violence is much simpler than people would have you believe. it’s much simpler than you want to believe. Stupid Violence is simple. They are society’s buffer. you’re a blood-bucket-is-half-empty kind of person. How can untrained people prevail? 2. If.

If violence is so simple that even the untrained can use it and survive. even. they can’t hurt you. I spent a lot of time teasing out the common elements of violence and finding ways to communicate them to you. I’m guessing it’s interesting to you.. and what is the rock to the head but a big hunk of kinetic energy driven through a vulnerable target? Everything else is just detail work.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE I like to look at it from the other side—the blood bucket is half full. if you think that because someone’s falling-down drunk. an exploration of all possible combinations and configurations for using your body as a human tissue wrecking machine. we’re only ever really talking about the rock to the head . then even a little bit of training is going to make you really. I like to talk about it—to break down those social walls that pretend this stuff doesn’t exist. But for all that. But you already knew that. Violence is much simpler. With a little bit of training you could know far more about wrecking people than a serial killer does. what the serial killer lacks in technique he more than makes up for with a monomaniacal will to get the job done. I know you’ve seen them—they’re everywhere. too. Let’s be honest: I have a lot to say. and I’m going to use him to fill it the rest of the way up. with and without snap-on tools. and if you’ve read this far. if you think you need a black belt before you can seriously injure someone. 116 . Violence only seems complicated if you buy into the hype. The only thing that could possibly hold you back is a lack of intent. Come on. than I present it to be.. This stuff is interesting to me. It comes across as a ton of material that people mistakenly believe they must master before they can be effective. Let’s look at it this way: close your eyes and think of the most stunning martial arts action movie sequence you’ve ever seen. really good at it.

hesitating.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence and they make violence as intricate and beautiful as some sort of dance. right? So in other words. turning. Now think about the end result of that complex series of leaps. It looks impressive. or making a bad mistake. It’s not about showing off or practicing your coolest moves. jumps. survival means causing more damage 117 . throws. But we’ve all seen the flip side. that means you’re not focusing on what violence is really about: hurting people. Because violence is never about competition. it sounds impressive.. and movements. When you focus your energy on techniques. flipping. that beautiful build-up is exactly that: a build-up. If you shout a lot. And if you’re dealing with a normal person. and doing every martial arts move known to man . hopping. And if that violates your personal philosophy. none of it matters. It was a guy down on the ground. too: the moment in an action movie where some guy comes up twisting. then you haven’t really listened to a word I’ve said. every single movement should be directed at a single cause: injury. You are the bull in his anatomical china shop. your whole focus has to be on survival—and in this case. and down he goes. Remember. That’s a slightly more realistic assessment of how violence works. It’s throwing yourself at him to break things inside of him. Save that stuff for the arena.. until our hero punches him in the face. execution. technique won’t save your life. So forget everything you think you know about how it should go down: violence is you injuring people. counters your techniques. it might be enough to scare them into backing down. physical injuries. or seems unsporting. dead or injured. It has absolutely nothing to do with causing actual. in a life-or-death situation. the Enola Gay to his Hiroshima. When we start talking about life-or-death violence. Hops and yells. When the chips are down. and style. throws and flips. It’s you violating every tenet of polite society and destroying the only thing that any of us ever really own.

It’s simpler than you think because it has nothing to do with thinking. 118 .HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE to him than he does to you. Violence is all in the doing.

and prowess. once said: “I’m the most cold-blooded sonofabitch you’ll ever meet. You have to keep in mind that sociopaths are not insane. In an online dating profile. they’re just using the violence the same way they’d use a pencil to write with. they’d list “murder” as a hobby. they aren’t even thinking about your pain or humiliation. regardless of personality. Sociopaths look at everyone this way. calm. In a worst case scenario. I just liked to kill. superiority. skill. In a best case scenario. you start to understand why they don’t differentiate between victims. or ability.QWHUDFWLRQ LQ 9LROHQW &RQÀLFW One of the key features of the sociopath is that he sees everyone as essentially the same—a piece of meat to be butchered. It never occurs to a sociopath that he’ll get caught. Like Ted Bundy. they pride themselves on being cold-blooded sonofabitches. But that’s what’s so chilling about many serial killers: they are completely sane people who made rational. Pleading and talking won’t have much effect on these people because they like what they do. or that someone might be able to stop him. America’s most notorious serial killer. I wanted to kill. And knowing that. cold-blooded decisions to rape and murder and do whatever else they came up with.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence Chapter Seven Access the Meat &KRRVLQJ WKH /HYHO RI . Sometimes they claim to be in an effort to lower their sentence.” Does that sound like someone who didn’t know what he was doing? The other thing to remember is that sociopaths see violence as a useful tool. they’re actually getting a charge from your helplessness—enjoying the sense of power. Ted Bundy. Sociopaths are more than twice as likely as any other criminal to be 119 .

they like what they’re doing too much to stop. their eyes yield to equal pressure. or the big strong guy’s black belt-level skill. The sociopath disregards the things that set them apart. This is a duel in which the most skilled practitioner will typically win. Eventually. Someone might get hurt. It’s where most people would like to keep the situation. he will not interface with their personalities. The sociopath understands that both their skulls open the same way. The Four Levels of Interaction 1. As a person—social This is trying to change behavior. In order to use violence successfully. They not only don’t think they’ll get caught. It is ‘civilized violence’ and seen as ‘fighting fair. He will only concentrate on the things that they are both susceptible to. 2. So do combat sports: wrestling. A big strong guy with a black belt looks the same to them as a sleeping little girl. of showing respect for the person. or motivation. School yard fights almost always involve antisocial interactions.’ Some bar fights look like this. Don’t get caught in the sucker’s game of interfacing at higher levels. or his massive muscles. mood. and in our Happy Place. but not 120 . As a skill set—antisocial This is trying to outwrestle him. or out-technique him in a 90 mph chess game. martial arts. boxing. in order to have an equal chance of survival. especially if they’re between drunken friends. so must you. every human being looks the same to them: a piece of tender flesh to be brutalized as a means to an end. Go straight for the meat. able to talk a serial killer out of his crazy tree. his skills or physical power.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE a repeat offender. this is where everyone would want to be. and they both die when their throats are cut.

While an antisocial fight can be somewhat good-natured. the other parties would be horrified. This is seen as brutish. Interfacing with his skill-set is almost always done at a pace away.” If someone in this type of interaction was seriously injured or died. trying to outmaneuver or outlast him. no one’s going to die—at least. the skill. a distance from trouble where most people feel safe (they can always take off running if it gets out of hand).PART TWO: The Principles of Violence badly. Kids would run for a teacher. stamina)—antisocial This is pitting your strength against his. an animalistic fight is serious. speed. that’s not the idea—but this isn’t your typical schoolyard brawl. Two lions fighting for dominance of their pride might look like this. 3.’ 4. They are out to prove who is the best specimen. This typically looks pretty brutal and ugly. It’s all about giving yourself enough room to see what 121 . In all likelihood. feinting and parrying and otherwise dancing around. As a piece of meat—asocial This is regarding him as a physical object beholden to the natural laws of the universe. with the contestants circling to get a feel for the other guy’s skill level. No one is really meaning to seriously hurt someone else. not stand around watching. Paying no heed to the person. desperate and decidedly ‘uncivilized. they might try to “teach him a lesson. This is seen as almost universally ‘bad’— people who do this naturally are classified as ‘evil’ in a social setting. It’s interesting to note that these four levels correspond to different ranges and comfort zones: Interfacing with the person can be done from across the street. going blow for blow. Both combatants are taking this seriously. At worst. This is interfacing with him as a thing that can be broken down and rendered non-functional. or the ability. As an animal (via strength.

Interfacing with his physical abilities is done skin-to-skin. but that’s as deep as it goes. I’m constantly interacting with people of various sizes. They’ve yet to realize that what they’re training for is the type of violence that can’t be avoided. Your instincts will tell you. What-ifs. How can you tell if he wants to hurt you? You’ll know. What’s interesting isn’t so much the physical configuration of the person I’m training. The ‘Socialist’ The person who is uncomfortable with the whole idea of conflict will ask questions that dance around the issue from across the street. ages. Buts and Maybes As a trainer. like. Most people are used to the social sphere. They accept the antisocial sphere as sometimes necessary. and that’s as far as they ever want it to go. genders. The kinds of questions people ask during training can tell you a lot about where their head is at and at which level they’re stuck on. They come up with all sorts of questions to avoid confronting the truth. Most people start out here. Getting them to move beyond that to the asocial can be an incredible challenge.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE he’s doing and try to counter it. and skill-levels. but the things they ask me. then take it. If you have the option to run away. Interfacing with the frailties of the flesh is done beneath the skin—true injury is about disregarding the sanctity of the body and simply destroying it. What they’re actually looking for is some kind of warning system that will tell them when they should get away. There’s no “how can I tell” involved. It’s obvious that they never want to engage in actual violence. And at the 122 . “How can I tell if he wants to hurt me?” and such. But the important thing to note is that none of their worries have any impact on injury whatsoever.

The Duelist People trained in martial arts usually get hung-up on interfacing with his skill. faster adversaries. big. Sociopaths & Butchers Almost no one shows up comfortable with injury as a starting point. Both are equally problematic. If someone came in excited about hurting people. They’ll ask the most what-ifs. does. I would be very worried. less athletic people it manifests as worry about how they’ll fare against bigger. 250 pound man. Whoever gets it right. you won’t think about it because it won’t matter. first. These are the tacticians. A five foot tall. Trying to explain to them that they have to leave the technique behind is difficult because it’s been so carefully drilled into their heads. they have a technique to address it. The Animal Untrained people who can come to terms with the idea of conflict usually end up fixated on physical attributes. like. 100 pound woman is just as capable of gouging your eyes out as a six foot tall. Violence isn’t about prowess. stronger. 123 . strong folks have the opposite problem—they typically believe they cannot be defeated by ‘lesser’ beings. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking the stronger party prevails.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence time. “What if he throws a spinning back kick?” “What if he counters my joint lock?” and “What if he’s holding the knife like this?” They are also overly concerned with blocking—both in doing it and worrying about having it done to them. They want to lay out every scenario beforehand so that when it happens. For smaller. These people are also concerned with keeping things at the social level. It’s about injury. They never want to move outside the world regulated by rules and fair conduct.

go strength-to-eyeball). Duelists are another thing entirely. or they go straight from where they are to injury (though sometimes with a short stopover at the animal level). conceptually. They’re pretty close. His skill bothered them before. now they’ve transferred that worry to his physical abilities. Seek out photos of sports injuries (for broken joints and twisted. If the idea of going after a trained Goliath makes you sweat (more than the usual. healthy amount. It is often very difficult to wean them off of the idea that they need to respect and/or thwart his skill before they can be effective. (As opposed to those who went straight from social to injury. Animals are easier to nudge into interfacing directly with the meat of the matter.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Progress Another interesting thing to note is that progressing through the levels is not linear. Those who have taken the long walk from skill to animal to injury are typically the most evangelical about the whole process. Autopsy reports 124 . (Instead of going strength-to-strength. non-functioning limbs). Socialists don’t usually walk through the others to arrive at injury. So where are your hang ups? What are you stuck on? Are you worried about what he’ll do if he’s skilled? Or bigger-stronger-faster? Be honest with yourself. it’s usually with a long stopover at the animal level. ever cross the street. If you’re reading this I’m going to assume that you don’t have a problem with violence in a general sense. They usually don’t see the whole experience as that big a deal). that you’re not hung up on the social aspects from across the street. and they just need to be shown how to direct their efforts away from strong points and into the weak ones. If they do move on. You’re letting yourself down if you lie—you’re not going to get any more effective that way. They go one of two ways—either they dig in their heels and cram their heads into the sand and will never. I mean) then you need buckle down and study up on injury.

Essentially. 125 . Troll the internet for videos of prison fights and violent muggings. You’ll be repulsed and comforted simultaneously. look for anything where the survivor is interacting with the other person as a piece of meat.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence from non-firearm killings—especially where the victim was beaten to death—are illuminating.

and yet we have very little real information on how to function in violent conflict. or surprising—if anything this incident was just everything we’re always saying and doing anyway. Everyone wanted my take on it. What changed my mind? To a large degree it was the back channel chatter I got—phone calls. 126 . The straw that broke the camel’s back was one in particular who pointed out what a difference it made. and instead focus on problems within American society itself that. this is a lot like living on boats and aggressively plying the seas while not actually knowing how to swim. PMs from pretty much everyone who knows what I do for a living. I didn’t want to write about it because I did not wish to inadvertently speak ill of the dead or laud a mass murderer. To me. and the comments of an Israeli lawyer. I didn’t want to write about it because nothing I could say would be novel. in my opinion. Not the day it happened. knobbed up to 11 and turned on a mass of hapless innocents. I really didn’t want to write about it. But mostly. emails. Never. But more on that in a moment. I’m going to skip the obvious dissection for the reasons stated above. It comes down to two things that together make for a tragic oxymoron: we live in a society that is voyeuristically obsessed with violence. for them personally.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Eight The Hardest Lesson I’ll be honest with you. when the Virginia Tech shooting first happened. when I spoke to the point on the 9/11 attacks the day after they occurred. make it possible for one man with a 9mm pistol to slaughter more than 30 people. That. and not the next.

this is a natural. the mechanics of knocking out or killing an armed person are very straightforward. I fear that what allowed this murderer to work so efficiently was the same thing that allowed the 9/11 attacks to succeed: individual fear of a tool. In other words. music. Knowing the mechanics of this sort of action. then only madmen will have access to the tool. we’re suddenly madmen. You would not believe the amount of static I get for being honest. response. The psychological element is not. and attempting to educate people in this matter. and training with them. He asked. Even something as simple as deciding. On the other we recoil from any attempt to confront the realities of violent conflict. when the ‘hero’ kills a ‘bad guy’ they are seeing the school yard fight we often talk about. as a society. But the moment one attempts to realistically address violence.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence On the one hand. forthright. The mechanics that make handling the situation are simple. our culture celebrates violence in video media. it would make perfect sense if we lived in a perfect world. “Why didn’t they just rush the gunman?” He further commented that this was the ‘tactic of record’ in Israel. sane. that we’ll all rush and overwhelm a gunman—having that plan ahead of time—goes a long way toward mitigating individual. 127 . I believe most people view portrayals of violence in media through an antisocial lens. Did they try that? I don’t know. paralyzing fear. That brings me to the comment from the Israeli lawyer. Knowing what to do is its own kind of confidence. And therein lies the problem: if only madmen are allowed and/ or expected to use violence. helps the psychological side immensely. made to a colleague of mine. Making yourself get up and get in there—overcoming the terror and chaos in your head—is not. and indeed our literature. Of course. and train for it.

Don’t Look Away—Learn You’ve heard me say that the one doing the violence prevails. But none of us really know anything about violence. it’s best to get out before the first card hits the table. in many places. as the sucker. if you’re not the most dangerous person in the room. the power to kill. it’s you. Instead. in spite of our constant exposure to it. So what’s really being said here is that one student who had the power to kill could have made a difference. In violence. any amount of real information as to what to do when suddenly dropped into this situation could have made a difference. 128 . If we don’t change the way our society processes violence only one person is going to learn anything from all this—the next shooter. If you find yourself there.’ Another student with a gun could have affected the outcome because he or she would have held. let’s tease out the ‘why that works. While they are right. that a single student armed with a firearm could have made a difference. there was only one person there who had access to the tool. due to the way our society processes violence. In fact. see the truth of it stitched across the entire swath of human history. Whether that power comes from a device or from knowledge of how to do it with their bare hands is immaterial. None of us are comfortable enough to know how to kill when the situation arises. But have you ever really thought about what that means for you? In poker they say that if you sit down at the table and don’t know who the sucker is.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Realizing you have no idea what to do can only fuel the terror and give the murderer the time and space he needs to work. you’re a potential victim. Don’t Flinch. in their hand. It’s already been said. You buy the logic of it. and you’ve probably seen this adage in action (hopefully only on video).

you need to be the most dangerous person there. Who do we know of who pulled off this trick recently? That’s right—the Virginia Tech shooter. You want to be the center of the storm. Here comes the hard part. The One person who. it’s how you roll. I already told you that I don’t want to applaud this guy. no matter who you’re surrounded by. if you were to be caught on video doing violence. 129 . That’s you to a ‘T. Hell. every last millisecond. all time on the mats. I don’t want you to think that I approve of what he did. crippling and killing people. His use of the tool of violence was stunning in its base utility—it was textbook. because violence has nothing to do with being dedicated to living—it has everything to do with being dedicated to hurting. would stand out for directness. making everyone else want to get away from them—and breaking people at will. The One who would make even a casual observer blanch and crap their pants. So much so it is now your required reading. With being The One person there who wants to do those things more than anyone else in the room. You got it. The One obvious person in the frame who is in control. I’d like to not lay it out like this at all. but then the question becomes ‘when?’ There will never be a good time. Right now you’re all nodding in agreement.’ It’s where you live. this is nothing new. the end-goal of all training. Wherever you go. ferocity and brutality. the hardest lesson. because you’re dedicated to living an embarrassingly long life and dying in bed surrounded by your geriatric great-grandchildren with your third baboon heart beating in your chest. so like a nasty-tasting medicine we’re just going to get it over with. even reading this book is to become the most dangerous person in the room. Period.PART TWO: The Principles of Violence So really.

Because if you walk into the room and you don’t know who the most dangerous person there is. You would nod. Sickened by the idea. or where exactly is the spleen target or not knowing enough joint breaks. then that’s your biggest problem with training for violence—not how good or bad your technique is. you’d think it was pretty cool.” Kind of puffs you up. the one you were nodding enthusiastically to just a moment ago. That’s why it’s the hardest lesson. it sure as hell isn’t you. delivering multiple injuries per person. Feels different now. making everyone want to get away from you rather than go after you. You’d think. makes you feel like a 007 agent.” The center of the storm. It’s not only hard to learn—most people don’t want to learn it. the most dangerous person in the room. 130 . See. If you’re having trouble with it. Now you’re wrestling with it. but not enthusiastically. Because what you’re really saying is “I’m like the Virginia Tech shooter. “I’m The One. it’s kind of cool to whisper to yourself. doesn’t it? If you really got it.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE He was everything I laid out in the above paragraph. If you had read the preceding paragraph before I mentioned Virginia Tech. “That’s me. dropping them and then making sure they don’t get up. with unflinching intent. You’d do it with a grim determination. it wouldn’t feel different at all. The reality of that statement ain’t so nice—or socially acceptable.” But not now. if you really understood what we’re up to and up against here.

PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action PART THREE: PUTTING THE PRINCIPLES INTO ACTION 131 .

I probably wasn’t a lot of fun to work with. and was acutely interested in countering whatever it was he had in store for me and being able to get in.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter One Roadblocks. by extension. and so approached the new material as merely a ‘super-rugged’ martial art. I should say. Phase 1: Approaching the material from a fantasy angle. My mat time reflected my thinking. We all bring our own appetite to the table. I was sure that the real-deal would go down like the climax of a Schwarzenegger film. Or all martial arts crammed into one. Or. as my understanding became more simplified and streamlined. I originally came from a martial arts background. What exactly would happen in there? I had no real idea. so did the way I trained. 132 . an all-in-one approach is what I was seeking on my martial arts Vision Quest because that is what I’d been led to believe was required when someone wants to kill you. Plateaus & Epiphanies In thinking about how it felt to learn and process the tool of violence for my own use. I wanted to look cool with all kinds of whippy-spinny crap. As my understanding grew. And then coolly declaim a pithy one-liner. I realized there were five distinct phases in the evolution of my thinking and. I went fast and slapped my reaction partners around. I was looking to square off and trade blows until I could pull out a really cool technique and impale my foe on a protruding fuel rod from a nuclear reactor. Really. But I did have the fantasies. the way I trained changed. I was also well ‘informed’ by the mass media. I wanted to train for a duel. my training focus.

because now you 133 . unassailable superiority as a palliative to my anxiety. Any triumph usually comes with new challenges. It happens to kids graduating from junior high school: it’s a huge accomplishment to pass grade nine and head over to that big brick building. trying vainly to cover every ‘what-if. I realized that movies and comic books were crap when it came to useful instruction in violence—they require violence to be dramatic and climactic for effect. it’s absolutely terrifying. I sought to prepare for all contingencies. brutish. All that realization did for me was make me aware of my own insufficiencies. It’s a huge victory. At the same time. but not quite. toughest kids in school to the youngest and smallest. though. harder opponents. Now you’ll go from fighting guys at your level to much tougher. You’ve finally overcome years of social programming and seen the truth. and short. in contrast. ever fancier joint breaks and throws.’ I sought ultimate. When you realize that “real” violence is nothing like what you see in the movies—that it’s brutal. Real violence. by the way. but you’ve just gone from being the biggest. This was a huge breakthrough moment.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Phase 2: A more realistic angle.. and usually over in an instant—that’s one of those moments. tough.e. you might know the feeling: you finally move up a level. just to make things more fun. I worked over scenario after scenario in my head. If you’ve engaged in combat sports. both triumphant and terrifying. was often nasty. you’ve gone from king of the hill to bottom of the barrel. I worked hard on ‘advanced’ techniques. This phase could also be called minor paranoia. and you feel a huge rush of pride together with a twinge of fear. scary. i. in a single moment. That’s a human condition. it made me overly troubled by what the other guy was up to.

It’s completely natural that. I had a better grip on what was up but I was still plagued with nagging concerns over what he might be up to. with and without tools. Injuring the man. That way you can go through your moment of shock and fear. My mat time started to get ugly in the good way. as an idea before you meet it on the streets. but what if. and throws. that leads to this kind of frantic training. We get used to living without people we love who have died.. Phase 3: Realizing he’s not my problem—I’m his problem. you have to encounter it. Let’s face it: people can adapt to almost anything. real violence. a desperate desire to make sure you know how to handle what you might come up against.. were all the same thing. Of course. It’s great to say it—it’s another thing entirely to live it. I knew it was true. and be fully prepared for what you have to do when you meet violence face to face. It was a lot of ‘okay. we’ll get used to the truth. This 134 . The whole point of this book is that we want you to encounter violence. we get used to wars and starvation and just about anything else. sooner or later. before you get used to anything. I overcame the shock of my initial realization about the true nature of violence and began to deal with it.’ This was the first time in my training where I began to concentrate on injuring the man as a priority above and beyond what he was doing or what I thought would look cool. the transition ended. This is where it all came together.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE know what’s out there. In other words. This is where I realized that all the seemingly disparate elements of violence were really just aspects of the same thing—all strikes. I got that. joint breaks. but I was still not comfortable owning that ideal. Phase 4: Arriving at the singularity of violence. And if you’re anything like me. get over it.

and I was never sorry again. pedestrian money shot to the groin is worth 10. from nine years of teaching. I don’t think of myself as a sociopath. But it also came from anxiety fatigue. Eyes and mouth wide. you have to look it the same way a sociopath would. A solid. I began to own and live the truth that all targets are equal. either. That’s the only way you’ll ever stand on even ground. as are all injuries. While dispatching the ‘bad guy’ with flair and uncounterable aplomb is a nice idea. “Are you sure you got me?” Then I grabbed them by something unexpectedly fragile and dragged them screaming into my serial injury cave. The possibilities for fatal screw-ups were infinite.000 of the fanciest techniques. I laughed with unrestrained pleasure when people tried to grapple me.’ And it only took me 11 years! This change came. 135 . I was tired of getting all wrung out in knots over every little thing that might could go wrong. Phase 5: Approaching the material from a sociopathic angle. I realized I was my own worst enemy and decided to chuck it all and become the thing I feared most: A person so narrowly dedicated to destruction that only death could stop me. It was all about me all the time. in the end it was just easier to let that all go and focus on breaking the man. my workouts slowed and became inexorable. Most people would probably prefer not to be classified as sociopaths. it’s nowhere near as good as walking away with your life. to a large degree. fingernails splintering on the stones as they vanished into darkness. I taunted them openly as they tried to pin me. predator-to-predator.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action is where I made the shift from ‘fighting’ into ‘injuring. That’s fair enough. I simply took what I wanted. But in order to understand violence. I was tired of worrying.

Instead of reinventing the wheel. all you have to do is grab a body and hit the mats. I’m here to give you the end result. I’m here to tell you different. Instead of making you relive every second I spent. So what’s this mean for you? It took me 11 years to get to this point because there was no one there to tell me any different. You get the benefit of every last second I spent on the mats. 136 . to give you the tools to make it work and show you how to swing those tools.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE The moral of the story? In the end. it’s just as simple as this: It’s not about what he’s got or what he wants to do—it’s about getting over there and breaking him. every last second I spent thinking about it. I’m here to tell you how it goes down right now.

” —Zig Ziglar Something we frequently hear is. What you can realistically expect as the survivor is to limp out of there alive. whacked and shot—whether you’re the ‘winner’ or not.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Chapter Two Training For Life ³3HRSOH RIWHQ VD\ WKDW PRWLYDWLRQ GRHVQ¶W ODVW :HOO QHLWKHU does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily. Accepting the reality of the situation ahead of time will save your life. it would be a central part of our training. primarily ‘take the eye.’ And then you get stabbed. nobody does. Any other outcome—like walking through it and putting your man (or men) down without getting a scratch on you—is pure luck. It’ll keep you from quitting right at the point where things are at their worst.’ Well. The truth about violence is that you’re going to get punched. kicked. I get this whole violence thing. but what if—” followed by some hypothetical situation you’ve come up with that might go down on the streets. This is code for ‘I don’t want to get hurt. stabbed. If this were something that you could reliably choose to avoid.’ Look at the difference there. You’ll be thinking about the result of your mistake—‘I’m going to die!’—instead of what you need to be thinking to survive. But it isn’t. We have an abstraction versus a concrete action. Let’s say you are trained in ‘knife defense. “Okay. Which one do you want coming out of you when your life depends on it? You’ve heard it said that there are no atheists 137 . Your first though will be ‘I screwed up’ which will lead to the result of ‘screwing up’: death.

You understand that real violence is asocial. and the other guy beneath the blade. you’ll look to reality for your training cues. you’re going to act like the survivors. How do you go about doing that? 138 . there are no philosophers in a knife fight. Well. and let the other guy worry about waiting and seeing. and deadly.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE in a foxhole. You are going to do your best to model the efforts and behaviors of those who are successful at violence. Not live ones. Rather than accessing violence the way you wish it worked. scary. This is a huge leap into uncomfortable places. If you have a choice—and you do—then train to put yourself in the driver’s seat. Reality is a smog-belching bulldozer with the elves and fairyfolk of nice ideals all broken and snarled up in its iron treads. He can wait and see what you’re up to while you do it to him. anyway. and you know that you have to train to be prepared to attack and kill. You’re going to start at the point of injury. you’re going to train the way it is. And so should you. Instead of training the way you wish it were. You’re obviously not going to act like the dead (that goes without saying). nor are you going to model behaviors and action that you might wish were present. It’s also important to note that the people who are best at violence completely ignore the ‘what’s he up to’ side of the equation. Three Common Training Mistakes Let’s assume for the moment that you’re with me. They wade in and get it done. to the exclusion of all else. they simply put all their effort into making violence one-sided and keeping it that way. Success is your benchmark. In short.

You’ll be excellent at handling the one guy. cut themselves. This means as I take out my current victim I’m aware of my surroundings and hunting for my next victim If you’ve never really trained for multiple guys then you’ve never trained for life-or-death confrontations. Most of my clients understand this principle in applying trauma to the body. sit on the floor in a cross-legged position while ten students attempt with ‘all their might’ to push the master over. I’ve hammered home the importance of the cold hard fact: “you do what you train. put 139 . Wasting time “conditioning” your body. You must always treat every confrontation as having multiple guys. They are careful to insure that they strike with a tight fist or make sure that they complete the rotation of their body to deploy maximum force upon the given target area of the other guy. Don’t make that mistake. And the simple fact is. I’ve seen television shows where they bend spears with the hollow of their neck. 2. even for the criminal sociopath. In TFT. and a variety of others who could pass needles through their skin without bleeding. you won’t be prepared to face more than one opponent. then ‘miraculously’ stop the bleeding. all fighting is against multiple guys even in a one-on-one training session. first let’s talk about how not to do it—these are the three most common training mistakes practiced by many self-defense and martial arts experts: 1. However. You need to be instructed how to be a 360˚ fighter and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Training for one-on-one combat.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Well. even if you do all this.” Anything you do in a training environment is exactly how you are conditioning yourself to respond in a life-ordeath situation. Martial artists are amazing. but add in another and watch the meltdown occur. They can do extraordinary things. People tend to attack in groups. there’s safety in numbers.

. For the guy bending the spear with his neck—step behind him and shin kick him to the groin. and chaos reigns. strength. there are over 70 anatomical areas of the human body that provide some 200 specific targets that cannot be ‘conditioned.) You can’t condition the body for real violence. To the guy putting a sharp object in his eye—offer to do it for him (just be prepared to stab him in the eye). “Why?” you ask? Simply because violence is so unpredictable. you get injuries regardless of the other guy’s size. any single one will do if you know what to do with it. conditioning the body to take a hit is also a complete waste of time. More importantly. Don’t be impressed with parlor tricks. etc.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE sharp objects in their eyes. Finally. all right. The point is this: the human body can be trained to handle trauma to a specific area under controlled conditions. the sword swallower—I guarantee if you take your fingers and jam them down his throat. Unfortunately. With proper targeting.’ As you can see. Take away the controls. on the other hand. This has nothing to do with creating injuries. etc. (Really. I can almost guarantee that the area of your body you chose to ‘condition’ will not be the area attacked in a real situation. and neither can those people listed above. speed—or 140 . That’s why attempting to control the uncontrollable is a very poor use of your time. then watch how easily the spear pierces his throat! For the guy sitting cross-legged and having everyone attempt to push him over—take your fingers and dig them straight up under his chin and watch him topple over. it’s very easy to injure the human body just by knowing a small number of these 200 options. he will gag and puke just like everyone else. It’s impressive.

3. This is true for competition training—but training for competition is not the same as training for violence. In the late 1980s I remember reading a very interesting interview with a former San Diego police officer. but what struck me was what he told the interviewer midway through the article. He noted there was different ‘timing’ on the street and people ‘moved when you hit them. He said that prior to joining the department he had been a boxer and really enjoyed going to the boxing gym.’ What you had to learn 141 . But he found that the more he dealt with criminals on the street the more his boxing worked against him. In this interview the officer tells numerous stories of putting down riots and engaging in all methods of hand-to-hand combat in order to ‘do the right thing. They may agree that a bag can’t take the place of a live partner. thereby developing strength. Relying on training tools. He loved sparring and working out on the heavy and speed bags. The interviewer was stunned by this statement and questioned him further.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action ability to bend spears with his neck. Many people firmly believe in training tools like punching bags.’ It got to the point where he had to stop boxing because it made him slower on the street. but they point out that you can hit a bag harder and more often than you can a human being.’ That was all very entertaining. The officer then elaborated saying that it was a lot easier to hurt people when you didn’t have to ‘box. Remember: the best way to survive a violent encounter is to be the one doing the violence. and stamina. speed. He started his career in the 1920s when San Diego still retained some of its ‘Wild West’ reputation (and the problems associated with that ‘reputation’). Such aids are counterproductive when your focus is violence.

They are: Violence Basics • • • • Work like a sociopath in a life-or-death confrontation— maim. There are no rules in violence—remove any such boundaries or you will suffer the consequences.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE instead was to stay on top of them as you hit them. knife. Principles of Target-Focus Training I received an excellent breakdown of TFT’s training principles from a client one day. then doing a joint break.. I remember one example where he told how easy it was to break a neck after you hurt a man as long as you moved past him while doing it (remember this was the ‘20s). Focus on taking out his weapon (brain)—simply taking away the tools and leaving the other guy functional may cost you your life.. He demonstrated how he did this to the interviewer saying it was a great way for a couple of cops to quickly put down a riot. Your only weapon is your brain. Hmmm . Everything else is a tool. The bad habits ingrained with such products can rob you of opportunities to end the situation you find yourself in NOW. cripple or kill. In violence. all using penetration and rotation—where have you heard that one before? Bottom line: Competition training aids like heavy bags are poor preparation for doing violence against another human. sounds an awful lot like getting your first injury. instead giving the other guy time to recover and do violence on you. They’re worth sharing with you now because these are exactly the things you need to keep in mind when you’re training for real life—not the boxing ring. or club). never focus on the other guy’s tools (gun. 142 .

Always assume multiple persons in a violent confrontation. Always strike. but if it is asocial then there is only one option: violence.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action • Violence is not give and take—make it one-sided. never block. miss small. a pretty good primer for violent conflict. If you can use social skills to avoid violence do so. Always ask yourself “what is available to me” NOT “what is being done to me?” Social vs. Doing Violence • • • • • • • • • Be the one doing the violence. Always strike as hard as you can. Don’t try to ‘teach someone a lesson’ or you may get schooled. I was glad to see our training had made sense to him and sunk into a deep enough 143 . Training for Violence • • Be brilliant at the basics. Asocial • • • • • Don’t use violence to solve social situations. Walk away from ego-based confrontations—there is no threat. with your entire body. Aim small. All in all. Always focus on striking targets. Don’t ever posture with violence. You do what you train: make sure you train for the real world. Have a first strike mentality: don’t hesitate. Never quit until the other guy is nonfunctional.

You can’t go wrong with any of it. 144 . His list made it obvious to me that he’d taken ownership of the material—that he had the tool of violence firmly gripped in both fists. and how you can be. it’s a to-the-point distillation of why criminals are successful. What he’s unrolled here is a great blueprint for anyone to get started building the tool for themselves. for his own use.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE level that he was able to order the basics in his own words. too.

If it is not channeled and understood. But that slap also woke me up out of the dream state I was in as I watched the performance. Literally you would be watching a fight scene you’d swear was pitting two highly trained fighters in mortal combat when all of a sudden one of the guys would move differently . For those of you that aren’t familiar. Especially when they try to train 145 . maybe slap the other guy in the face like the Three Stooges used to do. choreographed to perfection... Everyone would laugh. Wushu is a Chinese martial art that is delivered via a stage performance. students could mimic the formerly difficult routine. then take a break. The result was that by memorizing the steps and combining the moves. I realized that this was exactly the method in which most martial arts or combat sports are instructed. The program showed a group of students following the instructor step-by-step to learn some pretty complex moves.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Chapter Three Learn To Fight or Work Out? “There is a great streak of violence in every human being. As I watched the team practice it was interesting to note that whenever someone wanted to screw around all they had to do was execute a move different from the routine. It reminded me of watching a Wushu team practice their show. it will break out in war RU LQ PDGQHVV´ ²6DP 3HFNLQSDK I saw a commercial for one of those dance instruction programs that guarantees you’d be able to dance as well as any member of the most popular boy-bands. The fights are very elaborate and it takes a great deal of practice to put on a convincing show.

But we all know things never go exactly as planned. Understand this concept and you’ll always be prepared .. however. The only difference to the fighter is the fact he can now strike with full power. That’s where you face an imminent attack. That’s because the well-trained fighter never sees himself as ‘training’—he’s always fighting. Fighting is no different—whether you are on the mat at your training center or on the street locked in mortal combat with the other guy(s). Why? Because they were never taught how to fight! Nope. Such training is coordination training. just at a pace your partner can handle. Memorize those responses and you can look pretty impressive. they could do okay. you can easily fall victim to the “now-it’s-for-real” syndrome. cripple or kill. But what happens if you vary the attack? Most students freeze. not fighting. as your brain tries to accept the fact that “this is for real..HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE for self-defense. If you don’t know the difference. You still target and simulate those exact strikes.” Contrast this to the well-trained fighter who simply sees all this as merely fighting and proceeds to: a) find his targets and b) strike. Basically there are set patterns you memorize in response to various staged attacks. you are learning nothing but a ‘dance’ move. If. The only variation is that when you fight with your training partner you don’t actually maim. you’re operating in a ‘training’ mode where you are memorizing a ‘set’ response to an attack.. 146 .. no matter what the situation. they basically were taught to dance—and as long as everything went according to the routine. yet hesitate .

” Now. not injure him and leave him nonfunctional. At one point one of the instructors asked Charles about how to improve his workout regime to get a better body composition. Physical conditioning can often be the defining factor in such contests. but I understand what he meant—using violence as a survival tool and staying in shape have nothing to do with each other. That’s because the emphasis isn’t on “working. the goal is to better your opponent skill-wise.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Fighting is Fighting. speed. There are obvious health and lifestyle benefits to being in good physical shape but that is not a condition for effectively using violence to injure an asocial criminal. You have to model asocial conditions to recognize when to act. especially with two equally skill opponents. He’ll never tell you he’s going to “workout” when he heads for a training session. Not Getting In Shape I meant what I said: the well-trained fighter sees everything as a fight. That’s the realm of combat sports and martial arts where being in shape is important. This allows you to bypass the need for good physical conditioning to be able to create injuries on any human body regardless of the size. there’s no motivation to get big. my friend (and world class Olympian strength coach) Charles Staley was hanging out and watching. While I was shooting a new video series. Violence is achievable by everyone—not just those in good shape. Rules hinder your ability to use violence effectively and when competing. 147 . Effective targeting allows you to maximize the use of violence. The instructor made the comment. Using violence requires intent.” it’s on the fight itself. “What sucks is once you know how to take people out. and physical strength of the other guy. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

My point is that violence is available to everyone regardless of physical condition. TFT helps you to learn how to use violence most effectively ... but you don’t have to know TFT to use violence to protect yourself. Again, the prisons are full of ‘untrained’ murderers who already understand this point. Don’t use the excuse you need to get in shape as a reason not to understand the tool of violence. Worry About What Matters Some people come to TFT looking for an exercise program. When I tell them to work on targeting, it baffles them. I tell people over and over the best way to hit harder is first hit your targets. I also give people a simple drill: to constantly look for targets throughout their day as they see people in the streets, malls, grocery stores, etc. The best way to improve a skill is to constantly practice it in non-stressful settings. That way under stress the brain naturally seeks out this familiar skill set. Professional athletes throughout the world use this visualization method—and the better they are at it, the better their performance. Yet over and over, I get confused looks and people saying, “Ok, I’ll do that, but what type of workout should I do?” They want me to give them a weight-based workout to improve their power and (most won’t admit) their body composition. I laugh to myself and wonder why they even asked for my advice. Since I told them to first work on their targeting, perhaps they should ask themselves why I advised that course of action. The answer? Well, nobody likes to hear it, but it’s because their targeting sucks. The biggest improvement they could make in their fighting at this stage is simply improving targeting. Period. After that is accomplished I can then assist them in improving their physical
148

PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action

dynamics to increase the trauma they deliver to those targets. If you want an exercise program, go to the gym. I’m not recommending against that, either; I think it’s a great thing to get in shape, and I encourage everyone to maintain physical fitness. But this is a completely different issue from using violence as a tool. Your physical fitness levels are literally nothing compared to your ability to hit a target.

149

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

Chapter Four
Dead Men Tell No Tales Or, Why You Can’t Learn Anything of Value From the Dead Guy
When we see an act of violence, we feel it in our guts. Our eyes turn to the hapless victim, desperately trying to defend himself, and a part of us is there, suffering with him. This is what sane, socialized people experience when they see violence—empathy. Keep in mind again here that I’m talking about real violence. Yes, people will cheer and jeer at a barroom brawl or a schoolyard spat, but no one cheers when they see a man stabbed in the neck. We can imagine the pain and we empathize with the plight of the victim. This is normal and natural and good. It’s what makes society tick along and keeps us from tearing out each other’s throats at the drop of a hat. If you spend any time at all worrying about things like violence, that knee-jerk empathy morphs into questions: What could the victim have done differently? How can I keep that from happening to me? You have a natural tendency to identify with the victim because, let’s face it, that could have been you. You’re not the one prowling the streets looking for trouble. You’re much more likely to be attacked than to be attacking. So the fantasy is that if only you could learn from his mistakes, then what happened to him can’t happen to you. A neat idea, but much like the dead guy, full of holes. The only piece of (almost) useful information we can learn from the dead guy is to not be there. I say ‘almost useful’ because it’s stupid-obvious. It works okay when you’re presented with a clearcut choice—do I escalate or disengage? But it’s stupid when you think about scenarios like workplace shootings: “I’m not coming in today—I feel a shooting coming on.”
150

PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action

Anything you think you could learn from the dead guy’s performance—if he’d just gone for the eye or not stepped back—is pointless because it’s all pretend. It’s make-believe. It didn’t happen that way. Someone else in the picture was doing something. Something that worked. Something that got the job done. Something that made the dead guy dead. He’s the one you’re going to want to look at if you want to learn what works in violence. Is this a nice, comfortable idea? Hell no. The vast majority of violent video footage also happens to be criminal. And you, not being a criminal, will find it naturally difficult to empathize with the person doing the violence. But that’s the only place where there is anything useful to be learned. Why? Because it is a record of what works in violence. It’s not pretend, it’s not coulda-woulda-shoulda—it is. When we shift focus off of the dead guy and onto the survivor we leave the world of conjecture and land squarely in the realm of fact. If you’re going to bet your life on something, I don’t recommend you bet it on a bunch of opinions or armchair quarterbacking—bet it on the facts. The person doing the violence is using the facts to his advantage. Pay attention to what he’s up to. The only thing the dead guy can show you is the end result of those facts. And that’s information you already had going in.

151

I have to tread carefully so I don’t make people think I’m training them to become sociopaths. The only thing that makes you any better is getting the mechanics down pat—how and where to cause injury. Violence is the same. There are deep-seated biological. That seems pretty clear152 . This might feel like I’m flogging a dead horse. It’s like trying to learn how to fly from a book and then declaring yourself a qualified pilot. psychological and societal reasons for this confusion— and so it is perfectly natural for this confusion to persist—but as an instructor it frustrates me because treading back and forth across this well-worn rut doesn’t make you any better at doing violence. I encounter confusion about what it is I do—confusion that I am. getting a reaction partner and hitting the mats regularly. You may be book-qualified. You think you’re working while avoiding doing any of the real work that will make you better at doing violence—namely. but my goal is to flay it to the bone (or finally sell it off if you take the original meaning). and how to best take advantage of the last injury you caused. but I sure don’t want to get up in a plane with you until you’ve got a few hours of actual on-the-job instruction under your belt. tired of hashing and rehashing. which is what you need to do when someone wants to murder you. quite frankly.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Five The Final Word in Context—MURDER Every time I discuss Target-Focus Training or my take on violence. “So where’s the confusion?” you ask. Every time I start a new session. Everything else is just mental masturbation that feels important because it tastes like philosophy with a little bit of work mixed in. logical conclusion beyond which there is no more jaw-flapping: What we teach is violence. I want to take it to its absurd.

a pipe. It’ll go far deeper. the primeval predator level. It’s only natural. etc. but you don’t. You want to believe. Watching one person kill another with a firearm won’t ping your monkey brain. down into the lizard-level. wrecking it So. But then the questions start: Why would I ever need to know how to kill someone? Won’t I get in trouble if I use this in a bar fight? But what if he’s got X and/or Y and he’s coming at me like so? How do I do it to someone who knows what you guys know? What if he does it first? Or any one of an infinite number of variations.. if only in a generic sense. a boot. a shin. you see monkey politics. too. It’s all Great Apes working out dominance and submission. When fists and feet are flying. You see competition. And that’s what I think. All of these questions tell me one single thing: you don’t really believe that bigger-faster-stronger doesn’t matter. it doesn’t matter what as long as it’s doing the work that a bullet does. and you’re looking at it through the wrong mental porthole. You’ll see it for what it is —killing. And now we have the perfect model to work backwards from. Keep the killing context. keep the wrecked anatomy in mind and now look at other ways of affecting that outcome: kinetic energy delivered through anatomy.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action cut. So now if we line up a series of killings and look at them 153 . Which is why I want to start the violence conversation off with one guy shooting another guy to death. If we look at the underlying mechanics we have all it really is: kinetic energy delivered through anatomy. Where does all the confusion come from? It arises because you think you know what you’re seeing. Don’t feel bad—you’re hardwired to recognize and respond to this. a fist. etc. wrecking it..

but they still believe it. underlying principles that govern all of these equally and immutably. Everyone knows a gun can kill you. Almost no one 154 . People die from punches to the head. And that’s exactly where your skill will go. then of course he can ‘handle’ it when you’re trying to do it to him. Let’s face the facts: people get stabbed to death. a bludgeoning. of course. All clear. I don’t mean that they object to using them. or shin. a shooting. I’m trying to teach you how to kill murderers. Everything that fits that narrow model benefits you. right? No. and downright scoff at the fist.” This is the ultimate in hubris and sends you down a negative feedback spiral: if you can ‘handle’ a punch.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE side-by-side. but people think that a knife gives them an element of chance—and they know they can avoid getting killed by a punch if they’re careful. You’re pissing in your confidence reservoir and your training will look hesitant and spotty. getting hit by a car—we should be able to see the clear. Just because a guy doesn’t have a gun doesn’t mean you should take him lightly. That’s why ‘murder’ is the final word in context. Learning how to wield these principles is the ‘getting the mechanics down pat’ I mentioned earlier. Why? Because they read it with their monkey politics filter and think there’s something they can do about it: “I can’t dodge bullets but I can block a punch. I’m talking about learning to see them as threats. You’re thinking that you’re fighting when we really want you doing something completely else. but they feel iffy about the pipe and the knife. a knifing. What they know is wrong. Anything that sounds out of place or silly in that context is nothing but crap. boot. And the converse of that is true. You can beat a person to death. too: just because you don’t have a gun doesn’t mean you can’t take him down. back to the confusion: everyone gets the gun and the car.

How do I do it to someone who knows what you guys know? Injured is injured.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action knows what to do when that’s what’s up. regardless of talent or 155 . Armed with this ‘new’ context. you will. :RQ¶W . why learn how to swim?” No one learns to swim and then thinks. “Great! Now I can go get myself in a stupid situation. hood ornaments or boots that did it. You hope you’ll never have to use it. and use this swimming ability!” No. dead is dead. ‘Fighting’ and ‘defense’ are worthless in that arena—remember that defense wounds are found on corpses and tell the coroner that person ‘fought for their life’. 2. the swimming is a safeguard for something you hope will never happen. Why would I ever need to know how to kill someone? If that someone is a murderer. Yes. XVH WKLV LQ D EDU ¿JKW" Yes. So why should you? 4. Would you ask the same question with a firearm or a steering wheel in your hand? Of course you laugh. It’s like asking. but a crushed throat and a gouged eye don’t care if it was bullets. nearly drown. The ability to kill is the same. But if the situation comes up. But what if he’s got X and/or Y and he’s coming at me like so? [Cue sarcasm] Then you should act enraged and execute a bluff charge and pray he’s playing by the same rules—that he’s spoiling for a fight and not a murder. You’re not going to fight anyone for your life. let’s look at the common questions: 1. 3. then ipso facto. the skill is there to save your life. “If drowning can kill me. JHW LQ WURXEOH LI . You’re going to kill a murderer. You don’t run off to try it out.

If it’s competition. how to do it.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE training. It doesn’t matter. You won’t be thinking about that at all—you’ll just be looking for an opportunity. then it’s immaterial and meaningless in the context of killing a murderer. in ‘fighting?’ Be honest with yourself. After that it’s on you to hit the mats with a partner and take ownership of it. 6. Most criminals do know what I know. your doubt. your worry rooted in the mechanics of injury or is it stuck in monkey politics. that’s one reason why he’s successful. Bigger-faster-stronger? The murderer doesn’t care who’s the biggest. You kill them. try to best or even fight with murderers. show you what to do. I can work on that. or strongest—in fact. Here’s the bottom line: check yourself and stick with what matters. And that should inform your thinking on the subject. or has anything to do with communication or changing behavior. monkey politics. and moving on. fastest. :KDW LI KH GRHV LW ¿UVW" Then you have nothing to worry about. This is back to the bigger-stronger-better thing. Is your question. 156 . causing an injury. If it’s the mechanics. Because you don’t talk to. 5.

you don’t want to kill him. but teaching him a lesson. It’s the idea that you can choose to hit someone with. There are many ways to hold back: • You can wait and see to try and suss out what his intentions are. If he’s a little more serious. so I’ll dial my Spidey-power down to 50%’ and then sock him hard. It’s being able to look at an impending ‘fight’ and say ‘well. say. throat and so on. he said that if the other guy just wants to ‘kick your ass’ you kick his ass back. and he isn’t. And God forbid you think he’s 60% serious when he’s giving it 100.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Chapter Six It’s Not About Naughty or Nice It’s about what works & survival. one that deserves a fantasy name: I often refer to this idea as ‘dialing in your Spidey-power. 60% of what you’ve got—and that you’ll only ever hit someone with 100% when your life depends on it. Here’s the problem: holding back can get you killed. well. right? Of course. but not too hard. that’s the only time you’re going to use certain techniques and targets like eyes.’ (With many apologies to Stan Lee). This idea illustrates a fantasy disconnect between ‘fighting’ and violence. because. not really hurting him. after all. this method strongly relies on your latent psychic abilities to figure out the guy’s intentions in the split second when he’s rushing you. Period. I was recently reading an article on ‘self defense’ in which the author was speaking of violence as if you could pick and choose the level of seriousness of the interaction. then so are you—and if he wants to kill you. For instance. 157 . because you’re going to hold back. he’s not really serious.

‘Holding back’ reduces the chance of injury. he figured that in a real worst-case scenario a magical transformation would occur—that even though you’d been neutering and watering-down your training by waiting. poor results. Always— as hard as you can. not his. It’s wasted motion that lets him know it’s on. You see. well. In fact. it’s never a good time to find out. you don’t) or know the evil that lurks in the hearts of men like the Shadow does.. If you’re unlucky. You’ll know he wants to kill you because. wait for it . If you’re lucky. he’s doing it. he did allow for killing... • Any one of these leads directly to reduced effectiveness. then you’re screwed.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE • You can make certain targets ‘off limits’ because wrecking them is awful (you’ll never hear me say otherwise)—like the eyes or breaking a knee. You will stop. and in the worst case. it means nothing. and delivering nonspecific ‘light’ trauma that is neither a persistent injury nor spinal reflex inducing. You can ‘go easy’ on him by not striking as hard as you can. Remember the author of that article? Don’t worry. pissing people off. making targets off-limits and slapping at them you could suddenly rise to 158 . And try to get restarted. If you don’t have psychic powers (and my guess is . crippling disabilities.. You always want to strike the man as hard as you can.” and while he’s doing it definitely comes under the heading of worse. right? But there’s “bad” and “worse. The idea that you can suss out his intentions is a fantastical delusion. the opportunity is gone and you just got shot/stabbed/whatever (perhaps again) and you just better hope he got it wrong. death—yours. That is not the time to find out. Making targets off limits ahead of time (‘I’ll never take the eyes’) will give you a hesitating hiccup if your next—and only— opportunity is that target. both permanent. Now we’re into the realm of slapping each other around.

Let’s say you start out by breaking his jaw at the Temporal Mandibular Joint. to that point. That’s a neat idea. This sequence could have been different at each node of injury— you break his jaw and he spins around three times and lays down. out cold. start kicking a ‘helpless’ man on the ground) covers. your read on him is ‘done.’ You also know how to carry it to a more final conclusion with 159 . You come back with a shot to the groin and get a huge reaction: he goes down face-first and tries to curl up in a fetal position.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action the occasion of your impending murder by crushing the throat or tearing out an eye with full force and effort.e. You get the minimum expected reaction—he turns slightly. you stop after breaking the ribs because as far as you’re concerned. Let’s put it this way: the ‘worst-case scenario’ encompasses and includes all other possible scenarios. that we only train for the worst-case scenario. Injuries matter.’ So. put the man down and then pile it on (i. you stop when he goes fetal after the groin strike. going in purely to cause serious injury. At this point you recognize that he is nonfunctional (to your satisfaction) and stop. but it flies in the face of ‘you do what you train. You’ll typically do this the moment you recognize that he’s nonfunctional. somehow keeps his feet. knocking him unconscious. how does the way we train serve you? It would seem. You break his ribs and then strike to the side of his neck. But the real beauty is that you can stop at any time. Notice that I didn’t mention any techniques or tools—that’s because they don’t matter.. that to use what you know in any other situation would be like using dynamite as a can opener. handles and takes care of anything and everything he may have wanted to do to you. on the surface.

replicating it into non-functionality. a neck break. dirty. All violence is the same. you can still operate because you know where the line is. you will kill him. So what does this mean for you? First and foremost it means you understand that violence is not a plaything—you won’t goof off with it any more than you would with a loaded firearm. as a conscious choice. You’ll strike him as hard as you can to cause injury. If killing is what will see you through. and not after having been trained that it is ‘wrong’ or morally less-than. unfair and very probably illegal somewhere. This is going to save you tons of wear and tear. etc. you’re going to use it the only way you can be sure it works—with no artificial social governors restricting what you can and can’t do. a stomp to the throat. This was the essential thesis of the self-defense author. This is healthy.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE a stomp to the neck.’ And what a bullet does is the purest expression of everything we’re ever talking about. And you’ll take full advantage of that injury. It means that when you do use it. But the question you have to ask yourself is are you going to bet your life the other guy is playing by the rules? If he is. If killing is not appropriate. If we view this through a social lens it is savage. well. You also know how to start right off with throat-eyes-neck break. But always as an informed choice—not out of desperation. brutal. You can’t make guns shoot ‘nice. not to mention legal troubles. It means you’re going to be smarter about when to pull it out and use it. aren’t you? 160 . It means you won’t get sucked into stupid shenanigans (antisocial) thinking you can use what you know without any negative repercussions. This is because you are trained in the totality of violence. then you’re a jerk. but again. understanding it for what it is—a single-use tool that does not have an intensity dial on it.

or mere wounding.. with no such thing as ‘blank’ fighting. It’ll be the last thing you ever know.. you’re dead.. It’s like the balance of power between nations: the last thing you want is to 161 .. Now you know the stakes. At that point the information will do you no good. Let me put it this way: you really don’t want to know the stakes. behind-the-curve way to find out. But when the knife or the gun comes out. Knowing the stakes and acting accordingly. and you think the stakes are different and suddenly want your performance to reflect ‘how serious’ you believe situation has become. Sometimes you think it’s just social status at stake. The reason we have to keep coming back to it is because a lot of the time you don’t treat it as equivalent. The concept of the universality of violence is a key idea that we come back to time and time again. that’s how. You never want to find out if it was life or death.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action If he isn’t. and want to act accordingly. knife fighting. because you know how you’ll know? When he’s killing you. ground fighting. for example. e. I call bullshit. then it’s different. that is.g. Knowing the Stakes and Acting Accordingly Ah. The moral of the story is: screw around with violence the same way you’d screw around with a firearm—don’t. yes. stick fighting. That’s a stupid. right? Now you’re playing for keeps. is a ton of crap. we treat all violence as equivalent.. . and so you have to get all serious. add a firearm. Let me rewind a little bit. etc.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE realize your enemy has nuclear missiles because they’re launching them at you. or a knife—because he just might be armed with something worse. right? Everything changes. If you know ahead of time. you’ll act to prevent that possibility. react. they’re with me constantly. there is no way to know ahead of time—so you have to proceed on the assumption that the worst is true. (Actually. The victim doesn’t get the opportunity to do much of anything other than get injured. You know what you’re really doing? You’re training to get yourself killed. Every time you yank out the failsafes and go off on him it’s serious.’ Treat him as if he has a firearm. Then. a murder. a brutal. you might think I’m being funny or losing my mind and to that I would ask that you review any video of inhuman savagery you can find—as sickening as it is—of killing in war. ‘get serious’. You need to take every turn you get in training as the ‘real deal. and get torn apart. now it’s on. If your mat time is focusing on the idea that he’s ‘empty-handed’ and so the stakes are a mere beating. But then. or a sheepdog. there is no escape. when you add a firearm into the mix. a wolf. But when you’re in an actual asocial violent situation. fall. something much. Every time you go physical it’s for keeps. the first thing I think of it that I’m a Homo Sapiens. Every. you’re probably being sloppy with distance and penetration—letting him have too much of the former and not doing enough of the latter. Now. He might be carrying what I carry: A steel bear trap and a pack of wolves. Notice that once it starts. Time. much worse than any of the above. This is what I think of when someone asks me if I’m a sheep. a human being. In fact. etc. Single. you have to tighten up. one-sided mugging. we’re all human and probably far 162 . I never leave home without them.

Throw out the idea that the stakes are variable. And once that trap is sprung. a bear trap and a pack of wolves. Remember. or. Once you start. He gets to do nothing but react.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action too close to it to see just how incredibly powerful an animal we are. He doesn’t get to stagger back. Be the steel bear trap and the pack of wolves. So. there is no escape—after the steel jaws of the initial strike splinter bone and sunder flesh. fall. Get inside and stay there. it’s all about you. right on top of him—the maximum distance between the two of you should never be greater than one step/strike. Once you realize you won’t be using this stuff in bar fights but against criminal sociopaths. Treat every turn on the mats as if he has a knife. Why does good training look like this? Because I know the stakes ahead of time. and get torn to pieces. 2. It’s all or nothing. if you actually get into an asocial violent situation it’s because everything else has failed. The trap set. Ideally. there is no escape. every time. He doesn’t get to roll away. powerful springs straining beneath a hasty cover of leaves and forest detritus. Hands-down the apex predator of the entire ecosystem. or a firearm. Once the trap is sprung. and a pack of lean. the wolves are free to tear the crippled man to pieces. But I digress). tawny wolves circling in the shadows. Make ‘there is no escape’ 163 . the psychological part gets remarkably easy.” You have to assume the worst and deal with the consequences later. here are three things you can do to get there: 1. you’ll be pretty much torso-to-torso the entire time. Starting right now. if I have to pick a different animal. I’ll pick the way it feels when I’m on the mats—like a steel bear trap and a pack of wolves. Don’t get sucked into situational ethics and “what-ifs. worst-case-scenario.

The obvious. 3. you’re missing the point when it’s not there—it means you’re not taking any of the rest of it as seriously as you should. focus and free fight to make the tool truly immaterial—get the job done so that it really doesn’t matter what he has. Every training session should feel the same—guns. It’s just one thing. naked. (Think about how dangerous you are. It has a single use. Violence is not a bunch of disparate things all duct-taped together into an unwieldy Frankenmass. 164 . It’s a singularity. if it feels stressful or ‘more real’. As dangerous as a steel bear trap and a pack of hungry wolves. even if it’s a bear trap and a pack of wolves. Work on making universality a reality for you. Buckle down. If it feels different with the gun. sticks or not. knives. You do not inflict it upon the ‘unarmed’ man any differently than you would an ‘armed’ one. ‘go easy’ or be nice. projected intent of the firearm is taking you where you should be all the time when you’re on the mats.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE your personal violence motto—and then make it a reality. perhaps?) You need to walk into every free fight session with these three things in mind because you need to act identically in every violent situation—spring the trap and maul at will. You can’t dial it up and down. With nothing but your bare hands and intent.

no. So why are they so calm about it? When you have the mechanical ability to cause injury (which you all do) and couple it with the driving motivator of intent. You don’t walk around brandishing it high over your head. Without intent. Should the need arise. sociopaths. The question. They understand that it’s kill or be killed. (I should note that I’m not talking about a ball of twine here—in my mind it’s an infinitely folded tessellation of agony. This is the ultimate goal of every aspect of TFT training: to create a hard knot of intent. it’s not much better than yoga. You simply cultivate the skill. everything throttles back and gets calm and easy—you’re not out spoiling for a fight or giving yourself an anxiety disorder by obsessing violently over every human being who brushes up against you. yes. without the implacable will to wield the knot. and the will to use it. you pull out the knot and brain people with it. of course. a world-heavy fist-sized sphere from which no light can escape). ready to pull out and use when the situation calls for it. Physically challenging. and violence lurking around corners. is why? After all. 165 . A survival skill. (As an aside. raging reservoirs of intent). these are the people who have no illusions about the criminals.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Chapter Seven Time to Stop Lying to Yourself Experienced instructors are some of the most relaxed people I know. it’s critically important to remember that the criminal sociopath has very little training—a deficit they more than make up for with vast. and then sit back and relax into the rest of your life. Then you tuck it back where it belongs and get on with living. mad-dogging all comers with a halo of purple lightning dancing about your enraged features.

The natural disinclination toward violence Not wanting to physically hurt people is healthy.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE So why do people have such a hard time with intent? And most importantly. they worry about what the other guy will do. so let’s look at them one at a time. 1. for that matter). and get to its absence. and they think violence is mechanically difficult. Worry about what other guy will do Let’s be blunt. what can you do about it? People have a hard time with intent for a number of reasons. and raging at your partner (or his targets) is still communication. 2. If you’re working with your ‘war face’ you’ve kicked the social but are busy reinforcing the antisocial. These all seem like valid reasons. I’m talking about dispassion. You need to get over the idea that anything we’re up to here is social in nature. but ultimately an impediment to survival when someone poses the question to which violence is the answer. I’m not talking about getting fired up and ‘hating’ your partner. The only time you should be looking at a face is if you’re taking an eye out of it. Every injury after that is like busting apart a side of beef with your boot heels. Ask anyone who’s done it. They ‘suffer’ from a natural disinclination toward violence. What you really need is to get off the any-social. That void space is the psychic storage shed of the knot. This is also why they won’t hesitate to be the first one doing it. This is why it’s so critically important that your free fight time is as asocial as possible—no talking. The first injury converts a fully-functional person into a gagging meat-sack. sane. Injured people are completely helpless. no nervous laughter. This is why experienced instructors are so damned relaxed (and courteous. I drill this truth home time and time again: 166 . no checking your partner’s face for feedback. Lose the emotional triggers—you’re not there to communicate.

Choosing to put yourself in second place is not the best strategy for a win.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action injured people can’t hurt you. about how when you cause one. it makes perfect sense. You’re doing it because you’re nice. now. In an asocial situation. And you’re going to put him there. Empathizing with him when we’re all trying to decide who the dead guy’s going to be means you’re it. What’s he going to do? He going to break and behave like an injured person. On this same topic. In any violent conflict there’s going to be. the underdog is the hero. at least one person doing it to another. or is it him? 167 . that’s all that matters. In violent conflict your social skills and mores do nothing but prevent you from surviving. you need to get off the whole ‘attacker/ defender’ merry-go-round. He’s going to go to the worst place he’s ever been. The question you have to ask yourself is will you worry about what he’s going to do or will you make him worry about what you’re going to do? (Hint: pick the one where you survive). you’re doing it because you’re sane. Bottom line: decide who has the problem. you’ll know it because what you see next will stick to the inside of your eyelids for the rest of your life. In a ‘fair fight’ or a contest. by definition. he’s dead. If you have to think in terms of there being an ‘attacker’ then it’s you. and every time from now. Be that one person. Decide it’s you. In violence. no matter how much we may venerate the underdog. In a social context. and they can’t kill you. It’s the ugly truth that no one wants to talk about—about how people really respond to injury. Empathizing with the dead guy at the funeral is sane and normal. Quit empathizing with the dead guy. Out there it’s always your turn. Is it you.

and it’s over so fast you won’t even have time to break a sweat or even breathe hard. no safety net. (Personally. We’re all predators. always. mechanically it’s all the same. Thinking that violence is mechanically difficult (and thereby trying to give yourself an ‘out’ so you don’t have to face your own intent problems) is akin to thinking that swimming in the deep end is any different than swimming in the shallow end. you don’t have to take care of him. That would make the street the deep end—no back-up. Just remember. Stop feeding the phantoms and just swim. really easy. So everyone thinks mat time is the shallow end. violence is really. it’s the same—swimming is swimming—so the difference is all in your perception. The rest is academic. that no matter where you’re swimming. It’s your choice whether you prefer living with the guilt of seriously damaging another human being. In the shallow end. you can always ‘stand up’ when you get into trouble. you can touch bottom and can save yourself from drowning by standing up. Violence is as easy as going from where you are to where he is and putting a single injury in him. Mechanically.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 3. Giving yourself the permission to survive. In the deep end you’re on your own—it’s sink or swim. there’s no risk. I’ll grant all of that as true. You get to strike as hard as you can. or not living at all so a sociopath can have your ball cap. your drive to get it done— 168 . Intent—your will to cause injury. %HOLHYLQJ WKDW YLROHQFH LV PHFKDQLFDOO\ GLI¿FXOW Outside of the psycho-social issues. I vote for me every time). we’re all physically built for killing. just swim or die. The idea that there’s a difference is an illusion that takes effort on your part to make a reality. The only hard part is giving yourself the permission to be inhumanly brutal. How easy is it? General consensus says: easier than training.

all you care about is causing injury. Intent is being focused on injury to the exclusion of all else. pass out or die as you see fit. 169 . and get what you can out of it: Intent is single-minded. Intent Means As Hard As You Can Intent is what makes people scary. I can only show you how to mechanically take someone apart—pulling the trigger on it is up to you. From the moment you perceive a threat to the moment that threat is gone. never hesitating until you get what you want—an injury. Intent is making violence one-sided as quickly as possible and keeping it that way. You will find your targets and smash them. Throw some sunshine on the cloudy facets and get them to sparkle for you. You need to start thinking about it now. and you alone. into yourself. gaze into it. ever-shifting gem shrouded in a halo of mist. really? It’s far too slippery to hold in the mind’s eye. I’ll try to get it to hold still for a moment.. Intent is about what you are going to force him to do. personally letting go of the things you’ve kept between the ‘you’ you love because he’s a lovable ‘good guy’ and the ‘you’ that can stomp the throats of screaming men. It’s what you instinctively feared in the criminal. an amorphous. never stopping... I’ll do what I can to stabilize the whole thing. And what good is that to anyone? If you’ll bear with me. But what is it. you are on target acquisition and destruction. And once you get that first one.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action is completely up to you. you’ll pile them on until he physiologically buckles under the mass of trauma and you make him capitulate. It’s what society breeds out of we domesticated humans. From the moment he pulls up his shirt to show you a gun or from the moment you hit the ground face-first. goal-oriented focus.

Intent is how hard you swing the bat. Here’s a nifty fact that I like to bring up at training seminars: the 170 . as it stands. Thinking that there’s nothing you can do. In violence. over and over again. Intent is how much of yourself you’ll put into getting it done. If I ask you to kick a soccer ball. not on all possible outcomes. Intent is a self-realizing prophecy that cuts both ways: if you think you can do it. your performance will suffer even more. and your performance will be a reflection of that reluctance. If you believe that the ball is filled with lead shot. One target. it’s just that out of all the myriad possible things you could do you are going to pick one (injury) and you’re going to get it done to the exclusion of all else. how hard you kick it will depend on what you expect to happen. the reality you want is the one where he’s injured. you won’t. Focusing on things that may or may not be true. Your preoccupation with a negative outcome will sabotage your efforts. Repeat until it doesn’t make sense to continue. is the ‘feeding of phantoms’ that we discussed previously. In fact. Your mind will not be focused on the task at hand. or are demonstrable falsehoods. then you’ll expect it to hurt and won’t kick it as hard as you can. one injury. if you think you can’t. If I tell you that if you don’t kick it over the fence I’m going to shoot you in the head. You’ll be worried about living and dying while simultaneously trying to succeed. or that you cannot injure him. In a word. Everything you do must get you there by the shortest possible route. Why put your efforts into your own defeat? It does nothing to aid you in shaping the reality you want.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE It’s not an emotional state—you’re not enraged or Hulked-out or seeing red. or that you’re going to die are all outright lies until proven true. you’ll be very reluctant to kick it at all. To consider failure is to aid in your own destruction. you will. it’ll suck. Focus on reality.

drowning. Only instead of kicking soccer balls we’re kicking people in the groin. This is what we are attempting to do here with TFT. whether it’s a crash. I’ve never heard a survivor say ‘and then I quit and waited to die. Believing you can do it. onto that single vulnerable target. Survivors believe they can alter the outcome. then anything I do to train you is for naught. gets you what you want. Survivors report time and time again that when they reached the lethal decision point—am I going to live or die?—they all unequivocally. So. You sabotaged yourself before you even set foot on the pitch. and your body will follow suit. expecting to get it done. The circumstances are immaterial. fire.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action one thing that all survivors have in common is that they believed they could survive. and then tell you that our goal for this training session is to see how far you can kick it. steadfastly chose to live. wilderness.’ (Okay. They believed they could. back to the soccer ball. Intent comes down to wanting to cause an injury more than anything in the world. 171 . I have heard some say that—but they were saved by others who refused to give it up). or that you are incapable of kicking a ball very far. If you show up with false assumptions. Negative expectations lead to diminished results. If I hand it to you so you can feel how light and eminently kickable it is. Focus your mind in that direction. to be fair. or violence. All because of the simple belief that you can do it. believing that even though you felt the ball and it was indeed light and bouncy it will still hurt when you kick it. You will plow your entire mass through his throat and crush it. then you are free to work on the mechanics of running up and kicking it with your whole being.

I stab the knife. I’m sure this idea would make serial killers shrug as well.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Building a Better Monster Invariably. What they ignore is that though he may have more human tissue than you. More often than not people build a monster in their head around a single overarching fear. So why the hell does this make a difference if he has a tool and I’m using fists and boots? It just means you’ll beat him to nonfunctional instead of shooting or stabbing him to nonfunctional. but now we’re getting to the super-secret fear that is hidden at the core of all these questions—these questions are all saying: I’m afraid he has intent to do what I won’t. And meat can be butchered. Or it would be if that’s what they really meant. 172 ... This typically comes from people who are worried about ‘getting in. But what if he’s armed? Well. I get all that violence stuff—but what if he’s bigger/faster/stronger/(your favorite celebrity masher here)/has a knife/stick/gun/three guns?” That’s a great question. stronger man what they’re really registering is his potential ability to generate power. professionals who use violence in their day-to-day are conspicuously unconcerned with ‘getting in.’ This is particularly funny as I’ve never seen a prison murder where the participants had any difficulty ‘getting in’ on each other. And that fear is— Not to be revealed until the end.’ And so should you be. He could pick you up and throw you across the room. In the meantime. we get questions along the lines of “Okay. he’s still made of meat. if I have a knife and he has a knife. Ah. let’s take a look at some specifics: When people look at a larger. right? Of course not. he could probably pick up and throw a Volkswagen. right? Heck. Fast and skilled fall into the same category—the desire for a duel. In short.

The tool. You know. They’re not even consciously aware of it. Superior intent. really this time? The recognition that this just might be so. now that’s different. all the building of better monsters is just dancing around this issue—what if he’s really here to kill me? I mean. And then become him. Add in a dash of rainy. If you’re just there to posture and look the part—if you’re just there to duel and teach someone a lesson. intent-wise. well now he’s showing superior intent—intent you’re worried you can’t match. They’ll deny it when pressed.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action Everyone builds a better monster around the idea of superior intent. Being the Better Monster So now you’ve built your better monster (complete with nightvision goggles and a chainsaw—why not?). The dull toll of fear echoing in the intent gap is what I hear whenever anyone asks one of these questions. meaner. armed in a dark alley. stronger. Pile it on. Everyone recognizes. and you can’t or won’t match it. That’s what everyone’s afraid of. then what the hell is he up to with that man-mangler? We all know the answer to that. My advice is to build your better monster—bigger. Everyone gets the building up part—it’s easy—we’re all experts in that even before 173 . The bigger/faster/stronger smokescreen is just worry that he’s turned up willing to deliver a serious beating that ends in a brutal curbing while you’re just there to look the hard boy or have a manly slap-fight. though. the kind where no one really gets hurt. All the sideways questions. that the armed man is displaying intent they don’t have. When he pulls out a laborsaving device whose sole purpose is to rend meat and break bones. is the core fear that everyone harbors. on a visceral level. moonless night. faster.

What exactly makes him so damn scary? And the even shorter answer to that is: INJURY. This has two important components—the recognition that he has intent and resides in the cause state. He is going to do things to you. how does one go about being that better monster? The short answer is: figure out why you’ve decided it’s going to work for him. right? 3. 2. it sounds like a negative thought (I can’t stop him!) but it’s really just recognizing a truth: as long as you remain a victim. The question is. of course. This is actually a powerful and empowering recognition—you’ll see why in a moment. that being in the effect state is not nearly as effective as being in the cause state. he’s going to try). So cut all that garbage and really look at this monster you’ve created. Again. This is recognition that blocking is a sucker’s game. You can’t stop what he is doing. You assume that this is going to result in a poor outcome for you.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE we walk through the door to train. We can pick that apart to find the salient points. or his size or speed. Injury will make you helpless. the places where you have recognized (consciously or not) several truths about violence: 1. The long answer is: when you build the better monster you’ve already decided that he’s going to do something to you that you’re worried you cannot prevent. you’re going to remain a victim. This is the ‘poor outcome’ you fear—you get injured. Common sense. You’re right: he is going to do things to you (or at least. And remember what we’ve discussed: it’s not the gun. go 174 . But you already knew that.

The real trick to make this self-defeating process worth your while is to flip it inside out. And can do for you. but the idea of preventing it. You’ve built your monster. and you can. I know this was true for me. Which leads us. through the clumsiest of segues. You’re not going to have superior. You’re very probably going to take a beating in the process. Think like the predator you are and resolve yourself to making the realities of violence work for you instead of against you: • • • You are going to do things to him. The other guy gets run over and leaves a star on the windshield. Now you see how the two of you are interchangeable—the driver’s seat of violence is up for grabs and belongs to the first person to buckle in and romp on the gas. It’s just going to be you and your willingness to tear another human being apart. 175 . to the fact that no one is immune to violence. put him down and savage him on the ground or he’s going to do it to you. But then we give them an ugly. He can’t stop what you’ve already done.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action down and get more injured in a downward spiral that can only really bottom out with death. or just plain dumb luck end up on the receiving end of the tool of violence.. miscalculation. unpopular truth—nothing can make you immune and you’re on your own. whether through inaction. you’ve figured out why it’s going to work for him—now all you have to do is put yourself in the position of this impossible person. and what that reality does for him. It’s not the idea of doing it they find appealing. ‘no can defend’ technique or superhuman abilities.. People seek training because what they really want is immunity from violence. You’re either going to injure him. Injury will make him helpless.

after a fashion. So you end up with an edge. ‘defense’ in that dead people can’t hurt you. He is acting on the fact that he can be taken. But the end result is. This is why he hits first.. It’s going to work for him because he wants to cause injury and throws everything he has into making that idea a reality. why he wades in and goes for broke. It is also the key to unlocking the 176 . If I can end up just as dead with or without training.. He knows if he breaks you first. It leads to all sorts of ‘well.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE No matter how hard and long you train. He has intent. what’s the point then?’ questions. There is nothing you can do to make your body immune to injury. but most people don’t say “why bother?” to that because they understand that while drowning is possible for a swimmer. That edge is only going to mean anything if you accept the inborn frailty of your body as you harden your mind to the task at hand—you. crippling another man for life. and it’s even worse with knives. It’s going to be messy and noisy and scary well beyond what you can imagine. So why bother? Well. This is why you fear him. why bother? This disconnect is the same one that often occurs for people with firearms—they believe that somehow the gun will ‘defend’ them. This is the bitterest pill to swallow. We show you how to ‘play the game’ with loaded dice. This is the same scenario. You can still drown if you know how to swim. He knows if he waits he’s done for. the only thing you can change is the amount of intent in your head. prior to training you were rolling dice. it’s much more likely for a non-swimmer. he is far less likely to have any of it done to him. not realizing that they are going to have to shoot the other guy to death to make it work. It’s going to work for him because he is acting on the realities of violence as they stand—he is going to use what works and get it done first because he knows no one is immune. you can be murdered.

Turn it inside out and wear it instead of having it wear on you. Be what you fear.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action power that causes that fear. 177 . the key to harnessing it and making his super-scary power your own.

in specific terms it’s based on how you read the situation. that’s a personal call you have to make in general terms ahead of time. of course. If it’s less than that. Keep in mind. if not killed. The questions people have are ‘how do I deal with his behavior?’ and ‘when do I decide to injure him?’ You already have the skills to deal with the former—talk him down. injury.’ The yelling. Pedestrian. or tear into him as you will. or set a new 100m dash record. As for when to tear into someone. and downright boring. you’ll probably get yourself arrested. Use your social skills. injury. If you turn every challenge to your ego into an a socially violent situation. once the violence starts it’s all the same old.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Eight Scenario-based Training vs. then get busy shutting him off. The lead-in to violence for any given scenario is typically antisocial in nature. The Hard Knot When people say ‘scenario-based training. predictable. all the stuff that people are fascinated with. All the stuff that comes before. for our purposes. that a threat is a threat to your body—not your ego. capitulate. the grabby man-dance. Of course.’ they’re actually using a code phrase for ‘all the crap that comes before the actual violence. is. a waste of time. the approach. If you think it’s something you can live with—merely antisocial in nature—then act accordingly. In other words. you shouldn’t be using violence. act according to your comfort level. you’ll know it’s time to use violence. If you recognize a threat and you think you can’t live with it. No. or get the hell out of there. This is the gray area you 178 . we’re talking here about an implied or actual threat of physical harm. same old—injury. if it’s more.

so therefore he’s the Bad Guy. which automatically dubs me the Hero. I’d have you experiencing violence for the full 20 minutes. half of that time is spent reacting for your partner. at the point of injury. Some people can stomach all kinds of crazy antisocial behavior. We’ll hand you the tool—you have to decide when you’ll swing it. If you know what you’re doing you can actually learn more about violence while reacting than when it’s your turn. Do you really want to spend your precious training time working within your comfort zone in contrived.g. This threshold point will vary from person to person based on life experience. the point where all violent acts become the same—the point of injury? Look at it this way: I could waste your time by having you roleplay stage productions of Serpico such that for every 20 minutes of floor time you only get two where you’re actually booting people. If we maintain an attacker/defender dichotomy.PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action have to work out for yourself. Either way. People will go to great lengths to avoid discomfort. social equals comfortable. Ask anyone who’s 179 . others will brook no threat whatsoever. but you are still working where the buzzsaw hits the bone. Another reason people want all the upfront stuff is because they are not in a hurry to get to the wreckage.. And for us sane humans. as a species. antisocial scenarios with only a small percentage given over to the actual work of violence? Or do you want to work where actual change occurs.’ we keep things nice and social. ‘he came after me. Instead. a natural disinclination to violence. Yes. Violence turns our stomachs. for yourself. on your own time. They want to stay in the semi-social realm for as long as possible and want to hang onto the idea that they are the Good Guy. we have. This means your response to that stuff is up to you to figure out. it’s a personal judgment call. society wouldn’t function if it were otherwise. They’re afraid. e. Remember.

It’s a difference you can feel (sometimes unfortunately so). you know where the off-switch is. the situation. these scenarios are useful exercises for those who can expect to encounter them—but they’re pointless for the rest of us. it stands to reason that you want to spend as much time as possible at the point of injury. learn to use your mind as a weapon and your body as a tool for violence. And once you reach for that switch.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE been used by an instructor for a demo. That’s what mat time is. changing everything in your favor. 180 . Here’s what it comes down to: use mat time to wrap and entwine the hard knot of skill within you.’ free in the knowledge that if your current problem—no matter how it developed or came upon you—can only be solved by shutting down a human being. open. Car stops gone wrong. Then you can walk the Earth free of ‘rehearsal anxiety. all violent conflict becomes the same. ‘anything goes’ mat time is the only ‘scenario’ you want to train in. What came before is immaterial—it has no bearing on what you’re doing to him. Neither should you. To maximize your skill you need to practice that skill. It’s you. Did he yell? Or pull a gun? Did he grab you and knock you down? His ruptured testicles don’t care. In this case the skill is injuring people. taking control of the man. for all that. Generic. the single caveat: if your job is hallmarked by common occurrences that lead to violence (as in law enforcement or the military) then working those specific scenarios has merit. room searches that turn up enemies pretending to be friendlies. through injury. Now.

PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action

Chapter Nine
Kill The Unknown
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” ²+ 3 /RYHFUDIW Fear is a biological fact. We are hard-wired for fight or flight— remember, we’re the descendants of the ones who didn’t stop and think when the lion was bearing down on them. We’re the kin of the ones who literally ‘went ape’ and flipped out with either a roostertail of dust to the horizon or by picking up a stick and getting busy. But just because fear is a biological fact doesn’t mean that we have to give into it; we don’t have to feed the fear, allow it to grow fat on the shadows of our nightmares. We can recognize (and be grateful for) the ass-saving properties of biological fear without bloating it out into the grotesquerie of all-consuming emotional panic. We do this by killing the unknown. Most people have no idea what goes on in violence outside of agony, mayhem and death. It is a Great Unknown; a bottomless, black abyss wherein we are free to paint our own personal pictures of horror with unthinkable outcomes. When you replace that unknown with knowledge, with understanding, governing principles and expected outcomes you take away the power of the unknown, starve it back down to a manageable size. Fear of violence and the unthinking, blind panic that induces becomes simple biological fear. Flight means you get the hell out of there. Fight means you stomp and tear and wreak horror upon the other guy. There are two ways to make sure you’re filling in the blank spots on the violence map, changing ‘here be dragons’ to ‘boot to the groin.’ The first (and most important) is asocial mat time;
181

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

the other is simple visualization. Both of these are the same thing: taking what is currently unfamiliar, frightening territory and making it understandable. Each session of asocial mat time is an expedition into that Dark Continent, to lay bare its secrets, to find out that, indeed, there is no such thing as a one-eyed ogre with three arms that hungers for human flesh. Every single turn of asocial mat time is you answering the question ‘what the hell goes on in here?’ Turn by turn you answer that question, completely and with certitude: I crush his groin, I tear out his eye, I break his neck. That’s what goes on in here. Mystery solved. If you’ve trained at all you’ve probably had the ‘zombie’ dream—the one where you’re tearing into this guy, breaking his leg, stomping his throat and he keeps getting back up. So you do it again. You do more. And still he rises and comes at you... Along these same lines we’ve all seen people that gave us pause, for one reason or another—he wasn’t just big, he was enormous; he had a swastika tattooed on his face and looked like he was at the end of his rope made out of a last straw; or, without knowing why, he was just... scary. This is you remembering the tales of those one-eyed ogres that used to keep you up at night, and you’re wondering if maybe there was something to the myth, and that something’s right here in front of you. You know he’s human. He bleeds. And if he bleeds, you can kill him. You just have to remind yourself of this fact by taking a moment, whether right then and there or later (I recommend later so you don’t set anyone off through body language), and imagine yourself breaking that person. One injury after another, putting him down and then ruining a perfectly good pair of shoes on him. Until he’s a twist of flesh in the middle of a stain. Imagine it in slo-mo, one broken thing at a time, or speed it up, watch your favorite parts over and over. This is you, replacing a lie with two truths: you know how to do violence, and no one is immune. This is you, taking the
182

PART THREE: Putting the Principles Into Action

time to remind yourself that there is no such thing as one-eyed ogres. When violence is thoroughly mapped-out, option after option experienced in real-time on a real person, you know what to expect. There is no more ‘unknown’ to swallow you up in blind panic. As we replace that unknown with knowledge, we starve fear down to its biologic roots and inhibit its ability to grow unchecked through your mind. Instead of giving in to it, feeding it, helping it, you’ll use it for what it’s for—and put your boot in the other guy’s groin. And after that the rest is academic.

183

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

184

Peace of Mind PART FOUR: THE LEGACY OF VIOLENCE .PEACE OF MIND 185 .PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence .

but I’ve noticed the ‘Ignorant American’ as being more prevalent. some people in the U. His 30-year-old daughter (who was living there) was with him and warned him to not cross the street until the traffic light was green. you wouldn’t sit for a month. It’s interesting how this U. citizens conduct themselves in a foreign land.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter One An Ounce of Prevention “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble. We’ve all heard of the ‘Ugly American’ syndrome.S. approach can backfire when we project our imaginary legal safety-net over other societies where the rules differ: A friend recently told me of a caustic uncle who traveled to Corsica for a vacation. He ignored her and promptly stepped onto the street and was nearly run over by a nicely dressed man in an Audi A6. and it’s interesting to see how U. I’ve often said that we in the U. live in a ‘Fantasy Island’ situation when it comes to violence.S.S.” —Theodore Roosevelt Traveling gives you a real perspective on how others view the United States. The uncle ran up to the car that was now stopped at the light and started screaming at the 186 . are emboldened to push their verbal and nonverbal aggression to the max with little fear of facing a physical beating. By assuming we are dealing with others who fear getting sued as much as we do. Even though the world views us as a very violent nation we ourselves have the illusion that staying in our neighborhoods gives us a safety zone that allows us to be rude to each other. He checked into his hotel and strolled over to the scenic marketplace to buy some fruits and nuts for his stay.S.

PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence . they weren’t in uniform. I had to bite my tongue not to chastise these young kids. His daughter knew that no effort would be made to find the man in the Audi. This story occurred to me while sitting at the Madrid Airport at a cafe across from two U. All of this occurred in front of a large crowd. He was lucky he just lost some teeth. If it weren’t for the fact that they both were sitting in broad daylight looking at their Army Service records. It’s always the other poor sap. The uncle probably had responded to slights in his safe little enclave in Connecticut like that numerous times throughout his cantankerous life. servicemen either. nor were they dressed like Americans. saying that in Corsica. But every passerby took notice of the manila folders these two soldiers were poring over aimlessly. In one incident. no one else would have known they were U. The police took the report but chastised the now toothless old man.Peace of Mind man with expletives flying. instantly flooring the uncle and popping out five of his upper teeth. soldiers? No.S. You’d think with the bombings and threats in Madrid over the past year they’d be a bit more security conscious.’ by the way. But they just don’t think anything could ever happen to them. they don’t speak to each other that way unless they expect to fight. How do I know they were U. is a 62 year old. They could easily blend in with their civilian dress. These are just two examples of people needlessly exposing themselves to potential violence. soldiers. 187 . The response from the driver? He calmly got out of his car.S. walked up to the now emboldened uncle (who continued to spew invectives as the man approached) and without warning hauled off and smashed the uncle above his upper lip with a hammer fist (pinky side of the fist). He then kicked the passenger door and waved at him with ‘one finger’ (this ‘uncle.S. Maybe his new dental work will be a reminder to be more civil. The man then calmly walked back to his Audi and drove away. distinguished looking attorney from Connecticut). violence occurred.

Protecting Yourself and Avoiding Unnecessary Risks Remember way back at the beginning of this book. it costs you nothing to walk away.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE The other—so far. You don’t lose face by preventing a situation that can only result in serious injury or death to someone. there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent violent encounters in your life: • • • Lock your doors. ready and willing to use serious force to get whatever they happen to want. including your car doors. That holds true. Ask yourself what risks have you taken in the last thirty days in your little world. 188 . Remember. While it’s true that we’re fortunate not to live in a war-torn zone or a military police state. We’ve stressed again and again that you should never use violence unless you’re in a life-or-death situation. When traveling it’s a good deal easier to see lapses in judgment regarding personal security. we have to acknowledge that there are criminal sociopaths running around out there. we discussed how knowledge of violence tells you when not to use it? The goal of really understanding violence is a move away from social posturing. Leave your doors unlocked? Take a risky short cut? Use an ATM after dark? Think a bit on that one. With that in mind. Don’t flash money around. Don’t allow someone who is clearly unstable to draw you into a violent encounter. we really do have a mentality of “that could never happen to me.” We hear about violence going on all over. So take steps not to put yourself in life-or-death situations. Living in the United States. so good. Avoid standing by an ATM counting your cash. but unless it’s right next door—unless it directly affects us or someone we love—we continue to believe we’re sheltered and somehow protected from criminal violence.

all of this comes down to a single statement: USE COMMON SENSE.PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence .. so much the better. you learn it so you know how to protect yourself when worst comes to worst. avoid them. • • As you can see. You don’t learn violence so you can walk around posturing like an idiot. well . Remain vigilant: keep your eyes open for dangerous situations and. bars known for trouble. And if you can avoid worst coming to worst. isolated spaces. whenever possible.Peace of Mind • Avoid dark. And encourage your family to do the same. Don’t leave spare keys under doormats or in other ridiculously obvious places. 189 . or anywhere else you get an uneasy feeling..

because most of the martial arts and combat sport world is dominated by aloof personalities who seem more concerned with your recognizing their rank than having your questions answered.. as opposed to learning how to methodically deliver systematic strikes to vulnerable parts of the human body with the goal being the total destruction of the other guy. the sport or video game fake violence .. I tell clients all the time that the more trained you are to deal 190 . that triggers in my mind numerous examples of specific methods of inflicting trauma on the human body with the goal being the destruction of other guy. Quickly I see that most people are uncomfortable with my very calm descriptions of the effective use of violence. man’s character can control. I usually regret doing so.” When someone tells me they know how to fight.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Two Taking Control of Your Life “What man’s mind can create. I’d guess.” —Thomas Alva Edison I was watching an Instructor Class one night with one of my great friends from the combat sports world and we discussed how difficult it is to talk about fighting to most people. Most people get caught up in the surreal aspects of violence that permeate society today . This difficultly lies in the fact that my definition of fighting is very different from what most people understand when they think of “fighters. People always comment on how friendly and approachable I am—as well as my instructors.. They are confused. In the rare instance when I decide to speak about fighting in a social situation..

PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind

with real violence, the more emotionally relaxed you become ... and the more you get to enjoy life experiences and people. There’s much less need to use false aggression in your demeanor to give off that ‘FEAR ME’ message. That’s a fear-based protection mechanism, an act born of insecurity, that’s mildly effective but ends up being exhausting to maintain. This is yet another reason to seek out competent training in the use of violence. By facing the fact violence exists and learning how to effectively use it, you truly free yourself from unnecessary fear in your day-to-day living. Stupid Is As Stupid Does If a killer kills someone, no one is much surprised. Likewise, if the killer is killed by his intended victim, it’s just ‘job well done.’ But if no one meant to kill anyone, and someone ends up dead, well, then it’s cartoon exclamation points all around. Everyone, including the newly-minted killer, is surprised. Cries of “How could this happen?” and “But I didn’t want to kill him!” ring out. In the end it gets labeled as an unfortunate accident. But these ‘accidents’ happen often enough that when a new one pops up I can still recall the last one I read about. Primates have a territorial dispute, and begin vocalizing at each other to communicate their displeasure, then aggression in a sideways request that the other capitulate. When neither one backs down, it goes to blows, again to run the interloper off. Usually, this works out fine, as nature intended. But when it’s bodyweight + brain + concrete, one can end up running their rival not just off their territory, but off this mortal coil entire. These things happen often enough that I would suspect you’re more likely, on balance, to be involved in this sort of situation than purely asocial violence. In other words, you’re much more likely to get slapped at than outright murdered. Misery comes from confusing
191

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

the two. If you train to kill and think that means you’re physically trained to handle the antisocial, it’s the same as carrying a gun in case you get into an argument. If you train to kill and think that means you get to ignore the antisocial, you’re setting yourself up to be ready for the most unlikely event while ignoring the most likely. Chances are, you’re going to get caught wanting. Because we train to use our bodies to cause injury, it’s easy for people to get the wrong idea—on the surface, martial arts and combat sports look similar to what we do. And since martial arts and combat sports do a great job of preparing folks to navigate that antisocial fog-zone, then they tend to think we’re training for the same thing, only in a ‘super effective’ way. That’s like pulling a gun in a bar fight and ‘shooting to subdue.’ There’s no such thing. Still, people get all eager to lock horns. It’s funny to me (funny strange, not funny ha-ha) seeing as how we can still end up with unintended fatalities. If you ask a gun owner, “How many gunfights do you want to be in?” the sane ones will all tell you, “None.” The sane ones understand what goes on in a gunfight, and would never choose to be there if they didn’t have to. If they should find themselves there, they will shoot to kill. But they don’t walk around looking for gunfights. Again, this is painfully obvious when we talk about guns. But for some reason it’s less obvious with the empty hands. Why? It comes down to expectations. We expect someone to die if a gun is involved—that’s what the modern handgun is for, killing people at close range. We don’t expect someone to die from a standard, everyday session of monkey politics. And yet death is one of the possible outcomes. Me, I expect someone to die every time violence is used, and then breathe a sigh of relief when everyone survives. I have absolutely
192

PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence - Peace of Mind

no interest in going physical with monkey politics. I don’t leave the house looking for opportunities to use my skills. My aversion to violence runs so strong that it makes me something of a walking contradiction to my friends—I will do whatever I can to avoid physical, antisocial confrontation and yet won’t hesitate to stomp someone into the morgue in the asocial realm. I’m like Gandhi with a nuclear weapon. For those of you feeling eager, or emboldened by your training, some advice: You’re all set for the asocial. If someone wants to murder you, you’re well prepared—knowledgeable, practiced, resolute. But don’t forget to make sure you’re prepared for the antisocial— sharpen those social skills, actively think about how you want to be in those situations. Will you join in and play along? Throw fuel on the fire? Push until he either backs down or goes for you? Or will you go completely sideways on him, defusing the situation, seeking to reduce his fear and channel his anger elsewhere? Know where your triggers are and puts lots of padding between them and the outside world. Work to recognize when you’re being pushed into a corner. And remember that simply walking away could save your life—or keep you out of prison. As with the asocial, so with the antisocial: be prepared. Chances are you’ll go your entire life without anyone trying to kill you. I wouldn’t make the same bet about some jerk calling you out. A Final Word on Antisocial Violence Whether it’s a drunken barfly demanding you pay for an overturned drink or a posturing businessman, learn to recognize antisocial violence and don’t let it control you. It’s true that antisocial situations can become violent—but most of the time, they don’t.
193

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE

Learn to walk away. Remember that you are in control. You know how to cause serious injury and death, which means you have the responsibility not to do so until no choice remains. Ironically enough, that actually gives you far more control over your life than you’ve ever had before. Once you have the ability to: • • • recognize and distinguish between social and asocial violence respond with deadly precision to a real violent attack, and control any situation so that you walk away with your life,

you become the one in charge. This is the best thing about learning how to use violence, and the most compelling reason I can think of to recommend it, to have the ultimate control over your own life. Initially to preserve it, and then, once it’s yours, to simply live it as you will.

194

The vast majority of your daily social interactions do not require this. This has a great deal to do with the narrowness of the tool.. So while I used the P-word in the title. yes—eager. I hold philosophy and violence as separate entities. therefore. the less eager one is to get involved in it. 195 .Peace of Mind Chapter Three Treat Everyone Like They Are Six Seconds Away from a Killing Spree . the fact that violence only does one thing—it shuts off a human being. In terms of knowing what violence entails. As far as I’m concerned. The more one knows about violence. let’s talk killing sprees. to push social interactions in directions that could result in violence.. It is unnecessary. no. I am not saying that those who know or practice violence should subscribe to a single (or obvious) philosophy—I’m not saying “This is the Philosophy of those who know violence.e..PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence . With that out of the way. i. I’m musing out loud on some of the choices I’ve made (and general trends I’ve noticed) in the way knowledge of violence changes the way people interact. the terror and ugly finality of it. the trend is clear: intimate knowledge leads directly to avoidance. the most important question that arises out of violence is: does knowing how to use the tool of violence inform your relationship with your fellow human beings? There are really two angles to come at this question from: knowing what violence entails (or ‘means’) and knowing how to get it done. Resolved. and Other Philosophies of Good Neighborliness As you probably know by now.” Rather.

I just figure there are extenuating circumstances I’m not aware of and I have no desire to be the next point on the down-trending curve of their bad day. I developed the habit of giving pretty much everyone the benefit of the doubt. an adult who’s seen what fire can do will be infinitely more cautious and respectful. when confronted by someone with an obvious chip on their shoulder who has chosen me as the knock-off guy. It wasn’t so much a ‘fight’ like the guy was asking for as it was a ‘single man-stopping injury. My brother. my brother had it and shrugged. T thought about what that would mean—he saw himself breaking the guy’s leg and stomping a mud hole in him on the ground and thought to himself. Personally. While four-year-old might think it’s great fun to light matches and throw them away. ‘T. thinking ‘I guess that’s what he wants’ and proceeded to make the guy’s head and feet trade places with a single strike. ‘He can’t want that.’ tells a ‘hilarious’ story in which a man accosted him by saying “Let’s fight!” and punching him (ineffectually) in the head.’ T knew that’s where it would go (and more importantly.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE It also has something to do with the fact that really understanding violence removes the glamour. again asking for a fight and punching T. (Again. to no effect. I do my best to treat everyone with patience and respect—and how is that different.) Finally. I find that I am possessed of a saint-like patience these days— somehow.’ So he said no. Once you’ve seen what the outcome of real violence looks like. he didn’t want to. I do not begrudge those who are curt and prickly their public anger and annoyance. Everybody wins—I sleep well and he doesn’t get a broken leg just because he was having a bad day. I found I’m much more likely to capitulate and disengage by leaving the area. somewhere. The guy persisted. that it could go either way). knowing how serious it was made him uninterested in going there recreationally—if he didn’t have to. you’re not eager to play around with it. without a word. from treating everyone as if they were six seconds away from a killing spree? I’d much rather be the control 196 . really.

Knowing how to get it done removes the uncertainty from the extreme end of the scale—the answer to ‘but what if he goes off?’ is ‘I’ll break his leg and stomp a mud hole in him. People who seem impolite are really masking fear: fear that courtesy is a sign of weakness. and confidence in. Politeness flows from a desire to avoid violence coupled with the knowledge that if worse comes to worst.Peace of Mind rod in the nuclear reactor than the ignition charge in their personal H-Bomb. In fact. the opposite is true. I would say it comes from both the knowledge of. that something is taken from them when they wait their turn or let someone else go first. Our detractors would have you believe that we train sociopaths that our graduates are trained murderers ready and willing to kill at the drop of a hat. the less you have to prove. This gets us to the second angle—beyond mere knowledge of violence and into confidence in how to get it done. violence. The more you know about violence. Once you understand violence and you’re comfortable with your own abilities. everything like that seems to just fall away. Socially. I don’t want to. If I have to. you have nothing to lose. Nietzsche said that courtesy comes from a position of power. It’s the weak picking on anyone they think they can use to make themselves feel a little bit bigger. I will. but not eager. 197 .PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence . the skill is literally in the palm of your hand. If I don’t have to. the less you want to get involved with it. And the more you trust your own abilities. It’s not the strong and secure picking on the weak.’ And so I find myself in a the position of being resolved.

That’s what knowing how to swim does for you—one less thing to worry about. and effortlessly so. And you get to not even think about it. That’s a Very Good Thing. that this one less thing you rarely worry about kills stadiums full of people every year. for that guy’s eye to twitch wrong so you can skin that smoke wagon and light the death-circuit or whatever. akin to playing Marco Polo in the pool with the kids). you may not have thought of it in a very long time. How many times a day do you remember that you know how to swim? Unless you’re a lifeguard. reading this in something resembling comfort and leisure.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Chapter Four Living a More Peaceful Life “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it. Let’s not forget. the goal of all this training and hard work is not to run around in a hypervigilant state looking for trouble. Especially where you are now. though. so long that the idea of it seems slightly silly. taut with menace. If you had to swim for your life. But death by drowning does not enter nor haunt your thoughts. probably not at all.” —Dwight David Eisenhower In the end. it doesn’t 198 . In fact. I’m here to tell you that the brilliant thing about knowing how to kill a man with your bare hands is that you only ever think about it when it comes up—whether you’re in the middle of it (an occurrence about as rare as almost drowning) or when you’re training for it (which can be seen as a ‘recreational’ use of the skill. The rest of the time. The goal is to get to a place where you can forget you know this stuff. waiting. you would.

furious primate displays as just that— monkey politics. given the choice. you’ll find it in places it doesn’t really exist.PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence . It’s the age-old paradox: if you want peace. and knowing when and how to use it as a tool. One of the great 199 . And. When you walk around like you know what you’re doing. you’ll be stuck behaving like prey. Ultimately. that’s why I’m here. it’s your black hole. The perfection of the skill brings me peace.” But the rest of the time I’m not worried in the least. It’s ironic to think that learning violence brings about peace. paying attention but unconcerned. Just as predators can smell prey. even in public. Worst of all. When I’m not working. “Oh. If you don’t understand violence. I can go weeks at a time ‘forgetting’ my expertise and what it makes me. unconsciously you’ll relax. This is not the swagger and menace of acting like a tough guy. too. makes you walk like a predator. for the proper context to rear it’s ugly head and bring it to the forefront. Understanding violence. and simply go about your business. breathe easier. you’ve mapped the territory and a part of you lives there. But it’s always there. they can smell another predator as well. those hunting for easy prey will pass you by. you must prepare for war. I get to relax completely. You may save yourself from a violent situation without ever even knowing it. The rest comes from knowing that if things do veer into the black hole of asocial violence. isn’t that the best way possible? Living Without Fear The constant violence around the world gets me thinking about how we respond to the idea of violence in general. doing this work—so you can have some of that in your life.Peace of Mind even occur to me. that’s right—gun means broken leg and throat-stomp. if it’s a terrifying unknown that’s only available to the criminal. Part of this comes from recognizing those loud. silent and waiting.

I find the results even more dramatic for my civilian clients. While prudent in some obvious situations (dark alleys. others who use it no longer threaten you. using bank ATMs at night. etc. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of learning how to use the tool of violence. not the events themselves.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE things about really understanding violence is the fact that you get to live a more peaceful life. This doesn’t mean these events don’t have the potential for great violence but it does mean for the rest of us (who aren’t the immediate targets of these acts of terror) that we may choose our response. You realize you can only control your response to such events. Because you understand how to use the tool of violence.) in other areas of your life such as traveling to do business and enjoying the world in general it gives those using the violence an unearned victory. Some choose to alter their lives in hopes of avoiding violence. 200 . You realize what they are trying to do and that understanding goes a long way to deflating the intended effect: uncontrolled fear. In the military and law enforcement units I’ve trained they’ve seen reduced instances of excessive violence in nonlife threatening events and increased effectiveness in putting down asocial violence. It is a great first step towards reclaiming your life from unnecessary fear.

giving into it. While it can’t be ignored. Madmen and criminals will be with us always. Be smart about violence. their heinous machinations will forever taint the symphony of civilization with a background hum of fear and dread.PART FOUR: Legacy of Violence . After all. Seek out training in how to use the tool of violence. the second-worst thing you can do to them is have a great day. unearned victory. educate yourself. There are many martial arts and combat sport instructors who do an excellent job showing their particular art. Some of what they teach is useful in the world of violence. then it’s time to start applying the principles you’ve learned in this book. 201 .Peace of Mind I strongly encourage you and those you love to start today and learn to take back your life from those who want you to live a life of fear. and make it back home alive. If you want the most direct path to using the tool of violence. This is exactly what it’s designed to deliver. Don’t dance to their noise. Take back that unjust. allowing that disharmony to dictate how you live and breathe grants them an unearned victory. tuning into it.

Where things really go to hell is when the cult of personality forms around him and he starts to believe his own press.’ that one person’s vision will tend to the myopic. A Team. more bluntly. They’ll see what they like to see. With all the advertising noise they generate it can be hard to figure out which is which—who has your interests at heart and who doesn’t. however—there is a wide variety of training choices in the self-defense world. His point of view is set 202 . Not everyone feels this way. some better than others. people die. you need to know the things that TFT does differently. or. Not a Guru A single person can have some good ideas. We understand that if we’re wrong. To help you make an informed decision. Now he’s not just stuck with himself. TFT is a team effort with nothing to prove. We listen to you and use your feedback to improve our methods. who can truly give you the skills to prevail and who could be endangering your life. Your success is our sole motivation. based on the observable facts of violence. Without other points of view to provide critical challenge. and to that end we do our best to give you principles you can use. This relationship benefits both of us equally—if we get better at training you. what sets us apart from our competition and why. you get more of what you need to survive— and win. that one guy is stuck with himself.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Afterword THE TFT DIFFERENCE Training people to survive—and win—in violent conflict is deadly serious business. to do. personally. For starters. but on himself. what’s easy for them. This base assumption is the foundation for everything we do. but without editorial oversight. ‘no-men.

When this happens. better than he was at your level) then he’s taking your money. the people on the bottom are the ones who lose out. some of whom 203 . can. and he can’t show you how without changing your physical attributes to match his (if only you were taller. the above path is deeply grooved and well-trod in the self-defense ‘industry. He reached out to like-minded experts and gathered a team of conscientious. but the question is. caring people inadvertently fall into it and get stuck there. but if he can’t show you a clear path to that goal then you end up being nothing more than a faceless number in his ego-stroking throng. faster. If you’re lucky. endangering your life. He founded the company. he leads the work and in that leadership role he is the recognizable face and eloquent speaker for that work. no matter how skilled. And all you get in return is the opportunity to bask in his brilliance and charm with the implied promise that maybe. worst of all. highly-skilled instructors.AFTERWORD in stone. While not every guru is a charlatan. As an instructor he knew that his singular point of view and personal skillset would not be enough to cover everyone because no one person. He may be able to pull it off because of his unique set of physical attributes and skills. then what’s the point? He may be able to survive violent conflict. at least. The seriousness of the work made that unacceptable. And that typically spells the end of any kind of meaningful innovation or evolution of thought. some of it will rub off on you. He may be brilliant and charismatic and impressively skilled but if he can’t swallow his ego and work to make you better than he is (or. stronger).’ We’ve watched good. and anyone learning from him is really just learning what works for the guru. This is why Tim made a conscious decision not to be a guru. process and training. wasting your time and. Even those starting out with the best intentions can end up enthroned atop a pyramid of well-meaning hero-worshippers. can you? If you can’t. just maybe. And that’s not the reason you got involved in the first place.

As a group. Of course. we are able to combine all of our skills and experience to make sure that you can survive—and win—in violent conflict. I’m being sarcastic. ending up with 44 to date. A hundred years of experience instead of just a single point of view. Regardless of your personal challenges. Maybe. as well as thousands of civilians. I was in the process of hanging up my spurs and looking for that ‘second act’ in my American life. We had accomplished and experienced enough to fill a whole other book—a book of total awesomeness. seven of them Master Instructors with more than 10 years of experience each. Nothing to Prove We already completed full careers of doing this professionally before Tim founded TFT. truly matters. and thinkers. But this work has a way of pulling you back in. After almost 20 years. if you ask either one of us. I know I sure was. Tim trained elite military groups all over the globe. While I got a small taste of that. but rather what will work best for you—when it really.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE were also physicians. People who knew how to kill with their bare hands. Many people were disappointed that Tim was calling it done. and make it back home alive. We literally achieved everything we thought we wanted to do with this stuff. A pack of no-men to provide critical insight and peer review. and could communicate that skill to others. I really dove into the work of producing qualified instructors. corporate security teams. writers. It’s a subject that almost everybody wants to know at least a little bit about. scientists. as well. he began 204 . And you can rest assured that you’re not getting one person’s take on what works best for them alone. we both thought we were done. Tim was. federal agencies and law enforcement units. we can find a way to make sure you get the skill.

whole—and victorious. the whole reason we felt done in the first place is because we’d proved everything there was to prove. it means we don’t have anything to prove.AFTERWORD getting requests from individuals and groups to come out and do ‘just one more’ training. We’re not freshly-minted black belts with a couple of years of teaching experience (which turns out to be the same year just repeated a couple of times). as ‘impressive’ as it may be. On the surface the two might not appear 205 . So what does any of this. the playing the tough guy with the chip on his shoulder. and before he knew it. We’re over all the chest-thumping. or find out if what we’re doing really works. the posturing. and the only reason we’re still here is because of you. We already got that out of our system. We don’t have to be here—we want to be here. ‘Nothing to prove’ means we can focus on you. have anything to do with you? First off. they ran into deadly violence and made it back alive. But ‘just one more’ lead to the next one. and TFT was born. The other thing you get is our experience. Period. You can be sure we’re not out there to show off. In fact. he was pretty much full-time again. That rich vein of experience is what we mine to bring you the principles and methods you need to save your own life. one by one. Time and time again. We have nothing to prove. and one reason only: we want to give you the skills you need to prevail in the face of violence. Tim and I have been doing this for more than 20 years each—every one of those a unique experience—it’s never been the same twice. We trained people. TFT is not a fly-bynight start-up that’s experimenting on you. He pulled the rest of us in. We Actually Care We view training you for violent conflict as seriously as teaching someone how to swim. We want to be here for one reason. or collect admirers.

and make him stay there. The initial concept was to get to meet each other. At the TFT San Diego Center. or the ego-stroke. It was just supposed to be a taste. In fact. anonymous mass. it’s the reason we do it at all. When I’m instructing I have to look you in the eye and know I’m not lying. I have to be sure that no matter how much time I get to train you. the client could die. drop him. client and instructor. hour-long orientation session. Otherwise I literally can’t sleep at night. In violence. 206 . or to be international superstar badasses— we’re in it for you. after all. This basic assumption informs and drives everything we do in TFT. We make that time count for you. and experience a little bit of TFT physically. We’re not in it for the money. People were not expected to be able to do anything at the end other than make an informed decision on whether or not to sign up. It was the free sample to help you decide whether or not to buy the whole cake. learn a little bit about us. The common thread is this: if the instructor fails to impart the skill.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE to be related—violence is far more dire than goofing around in a swimming pool. and right now. When we train a group of 30 we don’t see it as a single. but really doesn’t—a false confidence that can lead to their own murder. to make sure you have the skills to make it back home alive. and to allow people to see what it was we were up to. the end result is a client who thinks they know how to swim while they really can’t—a false confidence that can end in drowning. we thought it would be a good idea to let people come in for a free. All to ensure that anyone signing up for on-going training knew exactly what they were getting into—and that it was exactly what they wanted. the result is a client who thinks they know how to hurt people. In swimming. we see 30 individuals who each need to get it done right. you walk out that door knowing how to injure a man. We know we’ll only have so much time with you—we have to assume we’ll never see you again. that you’ll have to rely on what we do at that moment for the rest of your life. not a full-blown training.

Principles You Can Use As instructors. we won’t be there when it’s time for you to act. You’ll be on your own. and ugly. So wrong that the sessions turned into a one hour emergency crash course in TFT. It may be impressive. it’ll be dirty. It was quick. feels good and it’s of absolutely no use to you. founding principle: make sure the client can get it done well enough to survive and win. Can one hour make a difference? Well. and it may make the person showing it feel good.. but if they do everything we told and showed them how to do in that hour.. personally. easy step. Showing you a fancy technique that relies on physical conditioning. and when they did. not a single 207 . but it’s not getting you any closer to surviving what could be the last day of your life. Looks great. The fact that we know how to dislocate someone’s shoulder and break their neck—after throwing them through the air—doesn’t make you any safer. it can. The goal shifted off of a free sample and found it’s way back to our core.AFTERWORD That’s not how it worked out. coordination and years of practice is showing off. one of our instructors showed an awesome throw involving a shoulder dislocation. Everyone present was duly impressed and eager to get on the mats and try it . At a three-day seminar in Dallas. can do. yes. Standing there. what we can do in violent conflict—our own personal skills and abilities—means absolutely nothing to you. looking into their eyes. and it will come down to what you. giving them ‘just a taste’—enough to get into trouble but not enough to get back out again—felt terribly wrong. We wouldn’t sleep well if it didn’t. Or so he thought. dirty and got the job done in a single motion—tearing the shoulder out of the socket and dumping the guy on his head in one. then. We’re not your bodyguards.

how it achieves the goal of violence and gets you the injury you need. The instructor had ensured that when they walked out that door. The instructor immediately scrapped the frustrating exercise and replaced it with a simpler. Six hours. right now. more direct and achievable way to tear out a shoulder and dump the guy on his head. but no one was doing it well enough for a life-ordeath situation. everyone there could cripple a man and put him down such that he couldn’t get back up. underlying rules that govern all violence and make sure you can get it done. back into the rest of their lives. And they needed to be able to preserve those lives with what they could reliably do. everyone could get the job done well enough to absolutely wreck the other guy. Unfortunately. These people had less than a day left. Facts. While there were some who were disappointed that they weren’t doing the ‘fancy’ technique. Not Opinions There are an awful lot of different opinions out there regarding what to do when faced with the realities of violence. a lot of those opinions aren’t grounded in reality—they fly in the 208 . the instructor would just tell you to keep working on it. some of them might have been able to pull it off—but not good enough to bet their life on. we break out the principles that make those motions useful—the principle reasons why that motion causes an effect. Understanding why a shoulder comes out of the socket and how to make that happen are far more important than the thousands of different movements you could use to tear it out. that doesn’t mean some of them weren’t close. Instead of an empty set of motions to mimic. In other words. Instead of useless techniques. They could bet their life on what they could do. In most training environments. Now.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE person could get it done. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea—as long as you have plenty of training opportunities ahead of you. we give you principles you can use. We get to the root. and they’d be back on the streets.

logical and enthusiastic-nod-inducing ends up flattened with all the best parts squirting out like a ruptured tube of toothpaste. and that opinion may reflect their own experience and what works for them. really cool technique turns out to be useless when compared against the physical realities of violence. Or police reports from victims. is going for a knife defense technique going to make a difference at this point? Or is it just going to get you stabbed more? 209 . let alone execute it. you’re left with a choice: you can ignore reality and pretend it works. it can mean trouble for you. or you can swallow your ego and change what you’re doing. And if that’s the guy you’re learning from. They thought they were being punched. Most people report never seeing the knife. Working with the knife that way makes you feel really good—as you would expect ‘not getting stabbed’ to do—but it doesn’t jibe with video evidence of stabbings. It has a way of steamrolling right over flights of fancy—something that seemed like an incredible idea at the time. It wasn’t until they saw the blood that they realized something else was going on. When a training method or a really. like practicing elaborate knife defenses. it’s a sad day. When this happens in training for violence. There were lots of times when we wished it wasn’t so. or even knowing they were being stabbed. There are a lot of fun things we liked to do and train that ended up being just plain wrong. It’s when they attempt to extrapolate that opinion outward. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. basic physics and physiology.AFTERWORD face of common sense. This isn’t an easy thing to do. beyond themselves. but the actual execution just doesn’t hold up. and impose it over inconvenient physical realities that they run into trouble. This makes it highly unlikely that you’d even know you needed to do a knife defense technique. Reality is awfully inconvenient. It may have been a great idea. and hard-won personal experience. That inconvenient reality brings up another issue: if you finally realize (after being stabbed repeatedly) that a knife is involved.

It was what allowed them to finally ‘get it’ in a way that the preceding ‘technique-based’ 210 . body positions and with several different tools—made a huge amount of sense. and what they don’t. none of that holds up outside of practice. As cool as the knife defenses were to practice. and what they don’t want to be bothered with. In the end. If it didn’t match up. but wrong. but the facts remain the same. we take their responses to heart and change our training methods accordingly. we chucked it. we listen to our clients: what they find useful. We checked everything against videos of actual violence. If you’re going to bet your life on anything. Don’t take our word for it—opinions have a way of going in and out of favor. or the facts? We chose the facts. This is the process we used to winnow out the approaches that actually work from those that are just nice ideas. The most notable example of this was when a client noted that a small. The fact of the matter is you have to do what makes the stabber successful— cause injury. That’s the only thing that’s going to see you through. and most importantly. it should be the facts. based on facts that you can check for yourself. At every training seminar we hand out questionnaires to find out how the participants felt about the experience. and as comforting the idea of not getting stabbed is. What they want and need.HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE Realities like this challenged our assumptions and forced us to make the choice: opinion. no matter how much we didn’t want to. we’re left with a system that is internally and externally consistent. police and coroners’ reports. sports trauma medicine. We Listen and Adapt Most importantly. the experiences of people who have prevailed in life-or-death situations. informal session highlighting a number of different ways to access the eyes—different angles.

instructors and clients alike—what once took three days to instill we could now do in one day. half a day. That’s what motivates us—knowing that after you walk out that door you’re a little bit smarter. TFT is the perfect intersection of the actual facts of violence presented by people who know the subject cold and really just want you to get it right. To this day we pay close attention to what our clients have to say about their experience and progress—we never know when someone will point out the next big improvement in our methods. Your success is your survival. The results amazed everyone. 211 . with a little more effort. a little bit harder. Our goal is to give you the best training possible—you’re the reason we’re here and your success is all we’re really interested in. And then. then with the client on the floor. Instead of training techniques with a specific set of movements (and then hoping the clients could pull them apart to find the base elements). we trained targets exclusively. or to train them the way we understood the material now.AFTERWORD part of the seminar had not. etc. from behind. those who had trained with us before the methodology shift. Returning clients. and laying down. were astounded at how good the new people were in such a short time. and having you make it back home alive is why we’re here. from the side. This forced us to confront the issue of whether to train people the way we had learned it. showing them how to crush a throat standing. and a lotta bit better at using the tool of violence. with the man on all fours. This one comment from a client changed our entire training approach—we literally tore it apart and reassembled it from the ground up.

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MOST CRITICAL 5 SECONDS OF YOUR LIFE 212 .

“Secrets For Staying Alive When Rules Don’t Apply.targetfocustraining. in just two short days—100% guaranteed! To check availability or reserve your spot in one of these unique live sessions go to: www. please visit our website at: http://www.com/training/live-training or email us at: tft@targetfocustraining. sign up for Mr. #207 Sequim. contact us at The TFT Group c/o Straitview Publishing 325 E Washington St.com/all-products Each year a limited number of live training events are scheduled. Here you learn the complete Target-Focus Training system.targetfocustraining.com While on the site.com or email us at: tft@targetfocustraining.targetfocustraining. Larkin’s highly regarded FREE newsletter.” You’ll also find DVDs. WA 98382 206-686-3469 213 . manuals and other Target-Focus Training materials at: www.AFTERWORD To Learn More About Target-Focus Training To learn more about how Target-Focus Training enables you to defeat anyone threatening you or a loved one in an unavoidable violent confrontation.com For other questions.