Saturday, March 31, 2018

Violence Dynamics Break Down II - Conflict Strategy

Previously on Budo Blog...
We discussed a violent encounter that was documented in a news story out of Minnesota, focusing primarily on the how and the why of the criminal activity.

If you haven't already, you should read that first by clicking HERE

This post will focus on what can be done about it.

The difference between a fighter and a tactician is a fighter, no matter how skilled is reactionary and influenced by emotion, where as a tactician can plan and adapt as necessary.

In order to do that it is helpful to have a rough strategy in place that is easily adaptable to the circumstances.

Conflict Strategy - Choosing the least bad option left available to you.

It is better to AVOID than to run
It is better to RUN than de-escalate
It is better to DE-ESCALATE than fight
It is better to FIGHT than die
   - Rory Miller

Lets look at the incident from the last blog using the conflict strategy framework.

Violence happens at places.  Generally places where crowds, especially crowds of men gather to have their minds altered.  If you don't have to be there, don't be there.

The the elderly female could not avoid this location.  From what could be seen on the video, she had to be there.  Either because the train is her means of transportation, or she is dependent on the train station for shelter, or both.

It is entirely possible she is homeless, which puts her at increased risk.  She fits several victim profiles, including these criminal's profile of a shocking victim for a status seeking show.

Places that individuals on specific victim profiles can't avoid provide "hunting ground" for criminals seeking that demographic.

If you can't avoid, or chose to be there, you must approach with a higher level of awareness.

There are places in your life you have to go, that is just life.  Also if you want to go where crowds, especially crowds of men gather to have their minds altered, that is fine, that is your choice.  Those places are a lot of fun.  That is why people gather there.  No one is saying you have to live you life isolated from the public like some sort of monk.

Just understand, that if you have to be somewhere, or chose to be somewhere your first line of defense is now gone so you have to be more alert and you have to be prepared to use you other lines of defense.

Like the song says - "If you don't like what you see here get the funk out"
If you have to be, or chose to be somewhere, and things are going south - GET OUT!

This is the preclusion portion of self defense.  If the physical altercation occurred because you refused to leave a situation where you had no necessity to stay, making the argument that force was justified becomes much more difficult.

If you leave and the threat attempts to stop you or follows you, the need to use force for self defense becomes much easier to articulate.

The the elderly female from the news story tried to escape.  You can see on the video that she got up and was walking out when the criminal grabbed her jacket, used that jacket to whip her down on the concrete floor, then began to fondle her breasts.

There are legitimate reasons to stay.  The threat may prevent you from leaving.

If that is the situation you find yourself in , now your first and second  lines of defense are gone. You are in it.  This is a confrontation.  You have to be prepared to use the lines of defense remaining to you.

You can't de-escalate the threat unless you de-escalate yourself first.
Recognize the symptoms of emotion / adrenalization.

This is another reason why violence dynamics is so important.  Recognizing the type of violence you are facing.  Verbal skills that work for one type of violence will escalate other types of violence.

You can't de-escalate a status seeking show.  Anything you say will be used as a hook to justify further violence.

You can see that to some extent on the video with the taunts of blue eyed devil, European, and Caucasoid.

If de-escalation is not a viable option, what communication skills are useful.

Yell, scream, bring attention to the situation.  Predatory violence requires privacy, so generate witnesses.

The the elderly female from the news story yelled for help.
Unfortunately, her assailants wanted witnesses.  The criminals chose a hunting ground where yells for help are largely ignored and the people that may notice are unable or unwilling to do anything about it.  "Cowardly and superstitious" - the risk of being stopped or damaged is low.

One brave man stepped up, others were pulling the elderly woman's clothing off and taking her belongings.

Well shit, your first three lines of defense failed. You are being assaulted.  There aren't many remaining choices available to you.

When things go physical  there are really only four things you can do.

This is a priority self defense option.  Even after things have gone physical, fighting your way to safety has the highest probability for success.

Really only makes sense if you are professional paid to restrain, or if you are in a situation where you have to physically control someone you care for and don't want to damage them.

Inflict enough damage that the threat can no longer hurt you.  Stop the brain from sending signals to the body (impact / strangulation / cervical dislocation).
It may be necessary to disable in order to achieve the other legitimate uses of force (escape / control)


Sometimes the only way out is through and you just have to accept what is happening and do what you can to survive

In a status seeking show situation some sort of "shock and awe" high level of force (disabling) to at least cause the threat to pause and create an opportunity for escape is required.

What is an untrained elderly female supposed to do?  What is she capable of doing?
In this case acceptance was the only option left to her.

Are you pissed off?  Are you scared?  It is an infuriating and scary situation.
What can be done about it?

I purposely did not use the term victim to describe the woman that was attacked.
She did the best she could do with the resources she had.  I just wish she had greater resources.

The reward can never be lowered enough.  No one is too poor to rob, no one is too repulsive to be assaulted.

You can't lower the reward far enough.  There is no too low.
That leaves one option...The risk has to be raised.

The term victim, especially when used in women's self defense limits affordances down to basically two options.

Women who have been victims and women that will be victims.

What if a different approach was taken? What if instead of being viewed as victims, women embraced their inheirent strengths and powers?  What if they were viewed as dangerous?

1 of 500

What if the risk of not only being caught, but of being damaged, of getting your ass kicked was high enough that the criminals from the news story would have to find a different way to gain status in their group?

You can't lower the reward far enough.  There is no too low.
The risk has to be raised.

Can the risk be raised?  If so, how?

No one can do that by themselves.  We are going to need an army...

The Budo Blog will return next week with "Raise an Army - Raise the Risk"

Train hard, train smart, be dangerous

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Violence Dynamics Break Down

I came across this news article recently.  It made me mad.  Being mad accomplishes nothing.  So instead let's try to learn from it. 

Wesley Martin & Deondre Jackson

An article from the Star Tribune

Two men have been charged with first-degree aggravated robbery in the video-recorded assault of an elderly woman at a south Minneapolis transit center that investigators called "appalling."

Charges say Wesley N. Martin, 21, of Blaine, and Deondre R. Jackson, 20, of Minneapolis, participated in the assault on Feb. 12 that was posted on Facebook the next day, according to the allegations filed Tuesday.

A court filing Tuesday said the victim was heard on the video yelling, "Help me!" yet "there are many people in the shelter who do nothing."

"The video is appalling," transit police officer Michael Leubner wrote in the complaint.

According to charges:

Police reviewed surveillance footage from the shelter, which showed the victim sitting on a bench inside the Chicago-Lake Transit Center.

Martin, Jackson and an unnamed accomplice approach the woman and yell at her. She ignores them at first, then tries to get up and is repeatedly shoved back onto the bench.

Martin steals a liquor bottle from the woman's jacket. When a bystander tries to intervene, Martin pushes her aside. He then gropes the victim, who tries to escape as the two hold and take her jacket.

Jackson can be seen holding a cellphone "and records the brutalization of victim," the complaint read. Martin groped her as she lay on the ground while Jackson used his phone to get a close-up of her face.

"Jackson can be heard on the video yelling racial epithets about Victim and commenting that 'that lady like a hundred years old,' " the charges read.

An older man stepped in and pushed Martin away. Martin and the man fight, with Martin kicking and punching the man in the face while he's down.

Jackson records the fight while the unnamed accomplice holds the woman to the ground and tears her shirt off.

Records show Martin is on probation for an assault conviction from last month. Jackson has 2016 convictions for robbery and terroristic threats.

Prosecutors said they will seek a stiffer sentence than called for under the state guidelines, citing the victim's age and vulnerability, the "particular cruelty" of the offense and as well as the video recording.

Both remain jailed with court dates pending.

Here is the video that they posted

Are you pissed off?  Are you scared?  It is an infuriating and scary situation.  However, it can be made less scary if you understand it better.

This will be a two part blog.  The first breaking down the situation from the criminal's perspective.  The second going through the conflict strategy model in dealing with violence.

Let's start by examining what type of violence this is.

It seems to me that this is primarily  social violence in the form of a status seeking show.
There are asocial elements in the form of resource predation, (they stole her alcohol and jacket)
and process predation (she was groped).

You maybe asking yourself, Kasey how can something be both social and asocial?

A status seeking show is social for the perpetrator.  However, it can be predatory for the victim. So it has properties in common with asocial violence.

What is a status seeking show?
In criminal subculture, you don't really have friends.  You have associates that will prey on you if and when the opportunity presents itself.

In that environment being "hard" or "loco" - having a reputation of being too crazy to fuck with can be very valuable. 

To earn that reputation you disregard the social violence norms.
So instead of selecting someone of similar status that you think you can take, like a typical monkey dance for status within the group, the threat will choose someone they perceive as higher status, say the biggest / toughest guy in the room, and go berserk.  This attack won’t follow the monkey dance rules, and because it doesn't, maybe they’ll catch him off guard.  What do they have to lose?  If the tough guy wins BFD he is supposed to win.  If the threat wins, he just punked the toughest guy in here.  Either way the threat develops a rep of being too crazy to fuck with.

However, clearly this has risks.  The threat could get severely injured.
How can the threat get a reputation for being too crazy to be fucked with, without the risk of being maimed?

Choose a victim you perceive couldn't possibly hurt you and do crazy things to them.
A savage beating, knifing, or killing serves the purpose of seeking status by showing how crazy you are.

As was the case at the train stop. 

So this is social for the perpetrator.  The purpose of the violence is to improve their status within their group.
The violence requires an audience.  In this case not only the other two  perpetrators but they also also broadcast the assault on Facebook live and now it is available on YouTube. 

It is asocial or predatory for the victim.  The damage is much greater.  

I believe this case was a status seeking show, that did predatory actions to show how crazy they are.
The victim was from a totally different group / tribe, and was not only assaulted, but robbed and sexually assaulted.

To help understand this type of violence further, let's do a logic of violence exercise and look at the asocial aspects of this attack through predator eyes

Who (Victim Profile):
This victim was clearly from a different tribe.  On the video you can here the criminals further "other" the victim calling her "European" and "Blue eyed devil"

An area where the the people that fit the victim profile gather, that also provides an opportunity to isolate the victim.
People gather at train stops, but train stops are isolated from the rest of the city

Isolation Method:
A crowd was needed, but a specific crowd ether unwilling or incapable of intervening.

The Attack:
Blitz - harder, faster, closer, and more sudden then most training accounts for.

Why do Wesley Martin and Deondre Jackson need to engage in a status seeking show?
Because clearly they are pussies, when an elderly man a foot shorter than tough guy intervened he could barely handle him. So of course they needed to attack an elderly woman, fondle her breasts and steal her booze on Facebook live to earn a reputation.

This covers the how, and the why.
Next week we will discuss what can be done about it

Train hard, train smart, be safe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Demystifying Violence

"You always fear what you don't understand"

Humans give weight to words.  Sometimes that weight prohibits understanding.

Violence is one of those words.  For many violence has an "evil" connotation.

This was highlighted not all that long ago in a discussion among instructors.  One instructor took great strides to make a distinction between "violence" that bad guys use and "force" that professionals use.   Wrapping the justified application of violence in flowery language, romanticizing it.

100% disagree

The discussion of violence today is not all that different than talking about sex in the 50's
Aunt Susan is pregnant...We don't talk about that.
Clearly sex is happening.  It is a natural biological behavior.  We are here today because it happened.

But we don't talk about it.  Because we don't talk about it we don't understand it. always fear what you don't understand.

Make love

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

If the word violence makes you feel icky.  So icky that you can't use the word.  How are you going to be able to use actual violence.

If you vilify violence (violence is something only bad guys use)  You are building glitches into yourself and the people you train.

Violence is a tool.  Its application can be just, or evil.
If you make it something it is not, if you make it evil in and of itself, then you take that tool away from the just.

You always fear what you don't understand.

How do you make violence less fearful?
You develop an understanding of how evil people use violence.

How do criminals use violence?

Questions are free...Answers cost.

Bruce Wayne traveled the world and became a criminal to understand how criminals use violence.

You don’t need to travel the world

You don’t to need to actually commit crimes

You do need to put yourself in the shoes of a criminal.

The best way I have seen to do this is through Rory Miller's Logic Of Violence presentation.
You can attend live, by clicking HERE

To supplement that experience you can buy this video...

... by clicking HERE

Developing defenses against criminals (people that use violence for evil) makes no sense if you don't understand how criminals attack.

Batman said, “Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot.”

A predator will use tactics he has developed to get what he wants from you in the safest surest manor.  This is in no way a “fair fight”.

The predator will take every advantage using speed, surprise and ferocity to prevent you from responding in any way that could be effective in stopping him.

Ritual and rhythm - The hind brain is concerned with survival.  What ever you are doing hasn’t gotten you killed yet  - keep doing it. Modus Operandi (MO)

This is also exactly the way the professionals use "force"

Criminals are human just like the rest of us.
When you come up with your own answers to questions criminals face you begin to see the logic behind their actions.

When their actions make sense they are far less fearful.

Violence is a tool.  Its application can be just, or evil.
Don't let words limit your survival responses.  Be a friend to the wolf, and find the light within the darkness.

The Japanese have a phrase for this as well
Satsujinken - Katsujinken
Life taking sword - Life giving sword
The sword that kills is the sword that gives life

Satsujinken is the "Murdering Sword" which takes the lives of the weak, propagates evil, and eventually destroys one's humanity

Katsujinken is literally the "Life-giving Sword" and embodies all that is righteous: protecting the weak, destroying evil, and cultivating one's own spirit. 

Katsujinken does not mean the absence of killing but "to kill only in the last instance, to eradicate evil and protect the weak". 

It is just a sword, how it is used is entirely up to you.  However, if we allow the narrative to label all swords as evil there will be no sword that gives live. 

Train hard, train smart, be safe...use violence judiciously when necessary, don't let public narrative limit your response

Sunday, March 4, 2018

When the going gets tough

In any physical confrontation there are four factors:

  • You 
  • The Threat
  • Luck
  • The Environment
Personal protection training can be boiled down to improving and mitigating these factors to increase your probability for success.

Looking at the YOU factor, there is an entire industry built around personal improvement.  No particular need for another voice in that field.
However, the Violence Dynamics Team consistently receives questions on mental preparation.

How can I become mentally tough?  How can I prepare for the mental stress of interpersonal violence.

These questions along with some challenges I am facing, got me thinking...

What do you do when things suck?

Things are going to suck from time to time.  That is just life.  However, as the Rabbi in the above video suggested I feel things are supposed to suck.  The suck has a purpose.  The Universe is telling you things need to change.

That suck sensation is instinct.  The Lobster needs to expand.  It is a natural stimulus to change.  
How does one become mentally tough?  Embrace the suck.  The Japanese have a term for this Shugyo 

To ignore the suck, to become comfortable with circumstances that are not right is settling, stagnation.

Stagnation is just a slower form of death.  Which reminds me of my favorite Wolverine quote.

“The key isn’t winning — or losing, it’s making the attempt. I may never be what I ought to be, want to be — but how will I know unless I try?

Sure, it’s scary, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation – A safer, more terrible form of death. Not of the body, but of the spirit.

An animal knows what it is, and accepts it. A man may know what he is — but he questions. He dreams. He strives. Changes. Grows.”

Inspirational memes have their place, but they don't get things done.
How does one become mentally tough? What does one do when things suck?
Stimulus - The Suck Sensation
"A man may know what he is — but he questions."  - Why does this suck?
What can be done to improve this?
  • Develop a plan
  • Work the plan
  • Assess the plan - is this working?
    • If yes continue
    • If no adapt
      • Develop an improved plan
      • Repeat as necessary 

How does one embrace the suck?  How can the suck, suck less?

Stress management:
  • Exercise
    • Not only will this help burn off negative emotions, it will increase positive feelings with the release of endorphins, and you receive all the positive benefits that working out provides

  • Train
    • My new number one new student demographic at the Dojo has become people with high stress life styles that walk in the door because they have an interest in personal protection, but stay because of they grow to love the stress relieving effects of choking folks.

If I didn't have that outlet I'd be lost
  • Eat & Sleep
    • Make sure you body has everything it needs to repair damage and grow.  To be the best version of you while you are facing a challenge.

  • Celebrate small victories.
    • You've made a plan to change.  That plan has steps.  It's a long road.  Allow yourself to be human, celebrate the successful completion of those steps.

    • Don't start down the slippery slope.  When things suck it can be easy to justify drinking, smoking, snorting, eating that negative stimulus away.  Numb the pain.  Like the Rabbi said if the Lobster popped a Percocet every time it felt discomfort, the suck, it would never grow.  Celebrate success, don't try to kill the suck with chemicals.  Its still going to suck the next day.

  • Count your blessings
    • Embrace and cherish the things that don't suck

Without these guys and their mom I'd be lost.

Not everything can be improved.  If the suck sensation continues and no improvements can be made to change that, I believe that is a signal to find a different area to succeed in.

Everyone has gifts and talents.  If a fish has to climb a tree, there is very limited probability for success.  That is going to suck for that fish.  If the fish has a vested interest it can work hard to develop the mechanisms that would allow it to climb a tree, and would be better off for having gone through that process.  However, that fish might just  be better off finding where swimming is needed to succeed and being a super star!

Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson wanted to play basketball.  He got hurt, that sucked.  When he was in physical therapy he discovered that he was very strong and had a natural aptitude for strength sports.

Last week he won the title of the world's strongest man

No one knows the name of a mediocre basket ball player from Iceland.
Everyone knows "The Mountain"

Train hard, train smart, be safe...embrace the suck until its done