Be Safe.

In the COVID era, this is the refrain that one can expect to hear from those who have spent the last year paralyzed by fear over the possibility of contracting The Plague.

Interestingly—even if, for reasons that I won’t bother delving into here, not at all surprising—those who are most fearful for their safety vis-à-vis a virus don’t seem to be remotely as fearful of falling prey to human predators.

Yet just as we have been treated to fear porn over exploding virus “cases” and deaths for over a year, so too are we daily treated to nightly newscasts featuring violence—including particular brutal, unimaginably horrid beatings, rapes, tortures, and murders—not just in far off places, but right here in American cities.

It is indeed true that, thankfully, the average person’s chances of being subjected to any of this violence are statistically slim.  However, it is also true that the average person’s chances of dying from COVID, or in a car accident, or in a plane crash, or upon being struck by lightning, or by way of any number of other causes are also slim—and yet most people agree that it’s not such a bad idea to appropriate at least some cautionary measures with respect to such potentially hazardous things.

This being the case, it’s odd that more decent people don’t make it a priority to train for self-defense.

Of course, it’s true that millions and millions own guns.  Given that guns exist for no other purpose but that of killing and that, because of this, they are the great leveler, the great equalizer, it is a good thing indeed that they are available for those who would otherwise be vulnerable to the evil machinations of violent scum.  This being said, I must confess to being just a bit concerned for the well-being of those gun owners, like some of my friends, who, while perhaps accustomed to shooting at stationary targets, have minimal to no martial or combat training.

I’m concerned that they either won’t be able to access their weapons when they need to do so. Or, even if they do get to them, if they are confronted by a sufficiently ruthless attacker, or multiple ruthless attackers, they will not only fail to defend themselves and their loved ones; their weapons may be used against them.

To give oneself, and one’s loved ones, the best chance of prevailing over HINOs (Human-In-Name-Only), i.e. those who make of themselves the enemy of God and humanity by victimizing innocents, it is imperative that every person who is genuinely interested in “staying safe” train to make him or herself as strong and capable a warrior as possible.

Yet one must make sure to train in a genuine martial art, and not just any system that styles itself a system of self-defense.  Truly, the overwhelming majority of human beings, including violent criminals, thugs, and even the practitioners of almost all pugilistic and martial arts, have been conditioned by countless thousands of hours of entertainment, of both the Hollywood and sports varieties, into thinking that “a fight” can only occur within the restrictions (yes, restrictions!) in terms of which it is invariably framed by these pop cultural references.

In other words, there is a conventional wisdom about “fighting” just as there is everything else. And, as is the case in all other instances, the conventional wisdom regarding fighting is essentially wrong.

For starters, the classical martial arts, pugilistic sports, and even most “real world” self-defense, combat systems are predicated upon a technique-based training modality.  While techniques are not only unobjectionable, but essential to combat, the manner in which a technique is treated and taught in these arts and systems is, at best, problematic.

Techniques, fundamentally, are bodily movements.  And since there are, literally, innumerable movements that are made by a person within the course of any physical activity, there are, literally, a potentially innumerable myriad of techniques.  Yet all techniques exist within movement.  This is, as the philosophers would say, their ontology.

Most, virtually all, technique-based arts, however, subvert this ontology.  They turn it on its head: first, they select a relatively tiny set of the potentially infinite array of physical arrangements that human beings can make within their bodies; then they abstract this set from the continuous flow of movement; and, finally, they privilege these arrangements by making them most foundational.

This approach is equivalent to treating a cook book as more fundamental than the art of cookery that made its composition possible, or treating the cliff notes to Plato’s Republic as more fundamental than the Republic itself.

Technique-based arts put the cart before the horse.  They make the last first and the first last.  They are short-hand notes that, like all abbreviations, inescapably omit the variety of details—the nuances and fine distinctions that are too numerous to explicitly recount and many of which, in themselves, defy express articulation—that constitute the dynamic that transpires between psychosomatic beings, i.e. human beings, mutually engaged in battle.

The problem with the ontology assumed by technique-based arts runs even more deeply:

They refuse to recognize that because the activity of what, for simplicity’s sake, we will call “fighting” is a human activity, it must be located on the map of all human activities if it is to be fully understood and mastered.  After all, the intricacies excluded by the Reader’s Digest ontology of the technique-based arts are just those that comprise the historical framework of the art itself as well as the neurological, physiological, psychological, and cognitive constraints within which all human beings are limited in whatever it is they do.

There is still another obstacle built into the cake of all sport/competition-oriented arts, surely, but also the vast majority of “real world” combat/self-defense systems that makes it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for students in search of the ability to defend themselves to achieve, to fully achieve, their goal.

To put it simply, most martial arts have ceased being martial arts: Their practitioners do not train to kill the enemy.

More precisely, they do not train students to kill the enemy unapologetically, with moral conviction and all of the satisfaction that always accompanies the knowledge that one has acted rightly.

Of course, this is blatantly true when it comes to all “combat” sports.  Yet it as well the case that those combat arts that emphatically distance themselves from sport fighting fail to make students as good as they can be, for even if it is nothing more than stressing “survival” as the ultimate aim of a violent confrontation, the problem is just that: They stress nothing more than survival.

This is no trivial point.  Words have meanings, and their meanings are both denotative and connotative.  Denotatively speaking, survival is the rawest, the most primal of instincts for all living organisms, from the weakest to the strongest.  Because of this, associated with the term “survival” are connotations that we ordinarily needn’t any difficulty recognizing.  “Survival” connotes a goal that somehow lies beyond—below, actually—the moral and spiritual domains.  It implies survival at any costs, i.e. at the cost of those measures that the survivor could otherwise find repugnant and over which he or she may continue to carry some degree of shame.

“Survival” as the end of combat is base.  The attitude is something like: “I will do whatever I need to do, however immoral or Godless I believe it to be, and however degrading to myself, if it means prolonging my existence just one moment more.”

Survival, at least connotatively, presupposes that life, this Earthly life, is an unqualified good. And, in so doing, it presupposes that human beings are, ultimately, qualitatively indistinguishable from rats.

This perspective excludes morality entirely, for its message is one that could resonate with the lowliest of insects and rodents.  Yet in precluding all moral considerations, it precludes even the slightest possibility that it can make of its students warriors, for the Warrior is nothing if not a moral prototype.  “Survival” precludes honor and all other character excellences that have always defined the Warrior.

But in order to genuinely train for self-defense, it is imperative that one train to become a warrior.  This is unequivocally non-optional.  How so?  Well, presumably a decent person who embarks upon training in a combat art intends to use his training, his martial prowess—his aptitude and will for violence—only in the event that he must in order to prevent harm from befalling either himself, his loved ones, or other innocents who are physically imperiled in his presence.  He is certainly not training for purposes of sport.  Nor does he train for the proverbial bar-brawl, the street slugging-fest, or any other type of violent confrontation that he could easily avoid.

A decent person who only wants to live and let live doesn’t train for the sake of fighting some loudmouth, shit-talking, eye-fucking asshole.  He trains in order to be able to kill, with as much ruthless efficiency as he is capable of mustering, the most dangerous two-legged predators walking the planet.   The only reason that the decent individual commits his resources in time, energy, and money to training in a martial art is not, is never, so that he can become a douchebag by squaring off with some other douchebag in some kind of macho, dick-measuring contest!

Rather, the only reason that the decent individual trains is so that his sword will prevail in battle over the swords of the bloodthirsty: gangsters, terrorists, assassins, serial murderers, and any and every other conceivable criminal type who lives to victimize the innocent the decent person trains to crush into non-existence in the event that he must.

As Bradley Steiner, a lifelong martial artist and legendary self-defense instructor memorably remarked, “Self-defense is war in microcosm” (emphasis mine).

The decent person who trains for self-defense trains for war.   Thus, he must train to become a warrior.

This in turn means that he must train, not for survival, but for victory, for glorious, unconditional victory over the enemies of God and man.  And this, make no mistakes about it, is a moral victory no less than a physical one, a victory the satisfaction of which only a person, and not a rat, could enjoy.

The irony is that the technique-based arts that purport to teach students how to “survive” don’t even really teach them this much, for the goal of survival, as we’ve seen, has the paradoxical effect of impeding students from becoming as efficient, physically and mentally, in self-defense as they need to be.

There is, however, one art that has got all of this correct.  Not coincidentally, it is called Warrior Flow Combatives.  More will be said about it in the next installment of this series.






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