There’s been a lot of hoopla in the news about the “knockout game” and how horrible it is. Fred asked me on my Facebook Page for some tips on how to defend against it and I thought it could make for an interesting post. So here goes.
First, a couple of points about the knockout game itself and then I’ll get to the self-defense part. I’ll state upfront that some of you will probably not like what I have to say. I understand why that might be so, but I don’t see the point in watering down what I believe is accurate information to please everybody’s world view. It’s not possible to to cater to everyone’s feelings, nor should it be. Bear in mind that this is also just my opinion, I could be wrong. That said, before you dismiss this article wholesale, think about the consequences for you and your family should you be on the receiving end of this knockout game. Imagine it’s your butt on the line. With that as a given, what would be your solution?
This caveat is now out of the way, so let’s start.
What is the knockout game?
Here are the points I wanted to make first:
- Nil novi sub sole. The knockout game isn’t new, not by a long shot. Here in Europe, they called it “happy slapping” and it’s been going on for years. It usually hits in waves and then simmers before coming back again. The same goes for the US and other countries. For some reason it’s all over the news again now, but it’s been going for ages. It used to be a street gang initiation rite: you had to KO/beat-up or even kill a random person to get in. Sometimes the thing they did was slashing some stranger in the face with a knife. Other times it was just a slap across the face. The details change but the essence stays the same: an unprovoked attack on an innocent passerby.
- Youtube or it didn’t happen! The last few years, the trend was to make a video of the attack and then share it on Youtube or Facebook. This mainly started when cellphones got to the point where the quality of the videos you make with them was getting good enough. Now, almost every cellphone has a camera more than capable of capturing such an attack. For whatever reason makes sense to them, the idiots who play that knockout game often put such videos online for all to see. I’ve seen lots of them where they comment, cheer, laugh and egg each other on. There’s stupid and then there’s stupid. By doing so, they admit to committing a crime/being an accomplice to one and provide the DA with evidence for when he drags them into court (which is fortunately increasingly the case.) It’s stupid when a guy like Renzo Gracie does that, it’s just as stupid when some 18-year old punk kid does it.
- You see it in all layers of society. Right now, there’s a lot of push to blame young black men for this trend. For sure, it’s certainly a factor in that group of society. But it happens just as well with rich white kids. So don’t dismiss a group of white kids when they walk up to you, it would be a mistake.
- Why do they do it? The pundits on the news give all sorts of reasons: those kids are bored, don’t know any better, it’s the fault of violent video games and movies, the economic crisis, global warming (just keeping you on your toes…). Personally, I see bad parenting and a lack of knowledge about violence and its consequences as the root cause. But that’s just me and my pet peeve. The thing about senseless/random violence is that it doesn’t make much sense. Trying to find a reason for it is usually fruitless.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what does the knockout game look like?
Here you go: Read More→
I have some thoughts on my mind and want to share them here, but it’ll take some time before I can put everything on the table. So bear with me while I do that. I’ll try to let it all make sense in the end, even though it might not seem that way in the beginning. Here goes.
First, please read this article if you haven’t done so already. It has become a classic in certain circles, primarily those of self-defense advocates and practitioners, gun rights advocates and many more. Please note that I am not disparaging these groups. In many ways I’m a part of them. Nor am I critiquing the article, I understand the intent behind it and agree for the most part. Even more, I believe On Combat and On Killing should be required reading for everybody.
Second, there are all sorts of people in these groups. Some are men and women who have a certain mindset and belief system that values human life and thinks preserving it is important. Even if that means using violence. I get that. In essence, I agree with it (depending on certain conditions, which is a long article in and of itself.) and applaud them for it. I have nothing against those folks, on the contrary. If only there were more of them, I believe the world would be a better place.
Unfortunately, those groups also have a bunch of douchebags and assholes in their ranks, just like all other groups. People who use the belief system I just described as a punch line. Others do it to make themselves look tough/cool/smart/whatever. A final portion of them just doesn’t know any better and spouts nonsense out of ignorance. It’s those people I am talking about for the most part in this article. I’ll add a second group later.
Third, I’m generalizing with all this, I know. Here’s the thing though: I’ve consistently seen the behavior I’ll describe here below for years on end. So to me, it’s real. If your experience is different, then I’m happy you haven’t encountered the assholes I have.
Fourth, the sheep/sheepdog/wolves analogy works. It’s simple to understand and it gets the point across well enough. My only issue with it is that “sheep” inherently has a negative connotation. In most cultures that I know of, sheep are regarded as “dumb” animals. So comparing people to them isn’t really like giving them a compliment. Even though Lt. Col Grossman clearly states he doesn’t mean it in a negative way, it’s hard to see it as a positive term.
And that brings me to my point: Read More→
(Update: The video has been removed from Youtube, I’ll see if I can find it elsewhere and repost. Fingers crossed…)
One of the common problems with teaching somebody self-defense is that their views on violence are not realistic. I’ve already covered the reasons why many times before, but here I’d like to point out a specific problem. That of sticking your head in the sand when violence comes your way. All too often, people live their lives as if violence can’t or won’t happen to them. When trouble does start brewing, they act as if they have immunity from harm. This then leads to all sorts of tactical mistakes and next thing they know, they wake up in the hospital. Or not at all.
Case in point:
We don’t know what happened before the video started, what set the guy in the black t-shirt off. But he is royally pissed, we can see that. I don’t want to focus on him right now, the guy in the plaid shirt is the key figure for now.
- When black T-shirt takes off at first, the guy in the plaid shirt just looks at him.
- When black T-shirt comes back shouting “Come on! You!” and closes in fast, he just stares at him.
- When he gets popped in the mouth, plaid shirt still doesn’t react.
- When black T-shirt calls him out, his only response is walking forward slowly, pointing a finger.
- When black T-shirt rushes in in an aggressive manner, he doesn’t react.
The result of all this inaction is that he gets knocked out, hard. I have no idea what happened after the video ends but I hope the guy’s alright.
Here’s the thing: Read More→
It’s been a while since my last book review, so here’s another one: “Meditation for Warriors: Practical Meditation for Cops, Soldiers and Martial Artists” by Loren W. Christensen.
Some background first.
I’ve practiced mediation in one form of another for almost 25 years now. I started very young and practiced it on and off for long periods. Nowadays, it’s a part of my daily routine, even though it doesn’t take up much time anymore. I experimented with many different ways and have now arrived at a hybrid method that works well for me. It was interesting for me to read how “my” method was both similar and different to the ones presented in this book.
Let’s take a look at it now.
“Meditation for Warriors” starts with a brief introduction and some information on Loren’s background. This is the kind of thing most people gloss over but I think it’s critical. First, because then you know Loren was a soldier and cop for decades and practices martial arts to this day. So let’s just say he knows what he speaks of. Second, because he explains the purpose of his book clearly: giving you simple, practical, how-to information to help you meditate. So if you’re looking for a long, scientific treatise on meditation or the latest new-age fad, this book isn’t for you.
The next chapters tackle some of the common myths about meditation, why warriors need it and some nuts and bolts. If you have no experience meditating, or you just started, these chapters will definitely help you focus on the methods that yield results quickly. Read More→
I’m not a big proponent of resisting arrest, never have been. I just don’t see the point in it as you’re already going to the precinct with charges against you, might as well arrive there in one piece and with minimal discomfort. That said, I have to give it to this guy. He’s just hilarious.
Kudos to the police officers for not cracking up.
One of the recurring issues I have when teaching self-defense is that many people have trouble understanding their inner dialogue. In particular, how it goes off track and leads them into trouble. There are all kinds of reasons for that, I’m not going into it today. Suffice it to say that it’s something you see all around you, every day, in varying degrees. You see it in the asshole who cuts you off in traffic, almost causing you to run over a pedestrian. Or the idiot who bumps you into an elderly lady because him being late for a meeting is just so important and you barely manage to catch her before she falls (and breaks her brittle bones). We’ve all met those guys.
Funny thing though, if you point out how rude they are and how their actions endanger others, they get all self-righteous on you and somehow you’re the unreasonable one and they’re the victim. As in, how dare you even speak to them like that!
Truth be told, sometimes we’re that guy. Be honest now, you’ve sinned in this department just as I have. There’s a difference though: reasonable people eventually realize they are messing up and become ashamed of their own behavior. Then they try to change their ways. Assholes don’t care, they just keep on going with the bad attitude.
The problem with not caring about anything but yourself is first of all, you’ll eventually start believing your own bullshit:
- You are so much better than everybody else.
- Those losers are so stupid, they’ll never get it.
- Nobody can touch you, you’re so awesome.
- Anybody who tries, you’ll kick his loser ass.
And so on.
The thing these guys don’t understand is that it’s not because people don’t speak back to you or don’t beat the crap out of you for being an egotistical asshole, that they don’t want to. Regular folks don’t always fight over stupid arguments, but they can sure feel like it.
If you scare them a little by turning on your mad monkey vibe, they’ll probably back off. It works, you win. If that happens enough (it often does; being aggressive works very well), then this becomes your reality. You feel it is the natural order of things that you can flip somebody off when they annoy you and never suffer any consequences for it. Why? Well, because the last fifteen times you did it, they cowered and went away. So in your experience, that’s how the world works and you’re absolutely right: in your experience that is certainly the case.
But now we come to a favorite quote of a scientist friend of mine: Read More→