Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Aspie and Autist Guide to Self Defense, Part I: Introduction

No, this isn't how to karate-chop ten ninjas into oblivion and finally get the girl. And no, we won't be putting Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris out of work anytime soon.

Self-defense, rightly understood, means not getting hurt or killed. And what's even better than presence of mind in front of an assailant? Absence of body. As I once overheard a young woman summarize her self-defense class' three main points: "Don't be there. Don't be there. Don't be there." If you don't get into a fight in the first place, it's kinda hard to get hurt in one.

As Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, pointed out in essence: The greatest fighter is not the one who wins all his battles, but the one who subdues the enemy without fighting at all.

Does this mean peace at any price? Of course not. Once in a blue moon (a bit more often in certain lines of work which seem a lot more glamorous than they are), you may actually have to fight. But most fights - like most traffic accidents - are avoidable.

World-renowned self-defense expert Marc "Animal" MacYoung understands this. He teaches fighting techniques, for when you have to fight, and conflict-avoidance techniques for the other 99% of the time.

And these days, we're going to have even more trouble. The economy is going downhill fast. And as MacYoung points out, when times are bad and people are either losing their jobs, businesses or portfolios or afraid of that happening, more people react badly to stress. When times are tight, there's more tension in the air, more people start fights over things they'd have otherwise ignored and more people are going to get hurt. (And yes, this goes both ways - you could just as easily end up reacting badly to someone else's [perhaps innocent] provocations as the other way around.) We really need to learn how to de-escalate situations before they explode.

MacYoung emphasizes a nuts and bolts approach; he doesn't just say "Trust your gut" or "Be Careful," but rather tells us what specific things to look for and how to deal with them. That we can appreciate, since it's difficult for us to pick up on cues until we've been trained to look for them - then our attention to detail serves us well.

For example, he warns that if you see several toughs leaning against a wall at not-too-wide intervals, either walk back the other way (and call the authorities) or choose a different path. Do not go right past them - if you do, once you pass the one closest to you he will follow you and block your escape and the one furthest out will step into your path too. Of course, any toughs in the middle can then set upon you right then and there. You'll be surrounded and that's a recipe for being beaten, mugged...or worse.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise on this day 67 years ago - but it didn't just happen out of the blue. And neither do most assaults and fights. In this series, we'll learn more about how to see them coming in time to stop them. As the Latin saying goes: praemonitus praemunitus - forewarned is forearmed.

What do you think?


Stat Mama said...

Excellent post, I look forward to the rest of the series.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, this is a fantastic idea for a blog series. I'm eagerly awaiting the next post!