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Assaults and Civil Society

A couple of years ago, a Krav Maga instructor offered a workshop at a studio in Toronto. At one point, he focused on defending against an attacker who has you pinned against a wall.  The situation he described was dire. The attacker was intent on abduction and possibly murder. In short, a life-or-death situation.


The technique involved the defender pushing their thumbs into the attacker’s eyes.  


I’m not doing that! One participant said, shaking her head. But he is going to hurt you. The instructor said, Or worse. I’m not doing it. She insisted.  It’s not right. It’s too aggressive. There must be another way! 


Actions like eye gouging, kneeing someone in the groin, biting, or various others are indeed aggressive. But here is the crux of the problem. The person assaulting you is not abiding by your sense of civility. He is not concerned with the ethics or consequences of his actions. As Dr. Stanton E. Samenow points out in his very readable book Inside the Criminal Mind, “Rarely do criminals think about the impact of their behaviour.” (126) They “shut off consideration of conscience to do whatever they want and experience no lasting remorse. (128) In other words, your appeals to civil conduct are futile. If he is already choking, punching, and dragging you into a vehicle, the time for civil discourse has long passed.


During our training, we always stress prevention and de-escalation. Avoiding or defusing a potentially violent situation is the best self-defence. However, when we cannot avoid or de-escalate against a violent attacker, the choice is simple. You can fight without inhibitions (focused aggression) and protect yourself, or you can abide by your standards of civility and let the whims of your attacker decide your fate. 


Your choice. Choose to survive.  


Works Cited

Samenow, Dr. Stanton E. Inside the Criminal Mind. New York: Penguin Books, 2004

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