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Rudeness is the weak man's
imitation of strength
                  Eric Hoffer

Do I have what it takes?

On this page:
Killer Instinct | Making a beast of self | Ridding yourself of your fear of fighting | Those who ARE the best vs. those who say they are | Selling the macho myth | What it really takes | A story in closing | Attracting bullies' attention | Further Resources

I cannot tell you the number of people who have told me that they always wonder if they "have what it takes."

The answer is: Probably not...

Which means that they are not psychotic, selfish, twisted or sociopathic enough to make a good streetfighter. To which I say: Congratulations, you passed the humanity test.

You might not have what it takes to be a streetfighter, but that being the case, you definitely might just make it as a good human being. And believe me when I tell you *that* will serve you much better in this life than being a streetfighter.

Killer instinct
In recent years there has been a rash of so-called "self-defense experts" promoting the idea of unleashing your "killer instinct."

Personally I rank that idea right up there with getting kids hooked on heroin when it comes to destroying people's lives.

And like heroin, every year thousands of people flock to the idea thinking that it will make the fear and pain go away. But like "horse" the problems that it causes for those glorious moments free of pain, fear and self-doubt are long lasting -- and never worth it.

The number one problem with this idea is in order to solve a short term problem, you create a long term one. And that is once you wake up the "beast" never goes back to sleep.

I liken it to having a dragon inside your head.It is not a pet, it is not a slave, but a permanent roommate. It is an independant being with instincts of its own and the capability to ignore your wishes and do what it wants to do. And the more you try to control it, supress it or treat it like a slave, the more it will turn on you. Like a junkyard dog, the meaner you are to it, the meaner it will be to you.

Which is why once you have awakened it, trying to stuff it back into the cave sets you up for a lifelong battle. As so many war vetrens who suffer PTSD, alcoholism, depression and drug addiction can tell you. And while we are on the subject, let us never forget the countless veterans who solved the problem of having the beast within them by suicide.

That's what most often comes of waking your killer instinct. It doesn't solve emotional problems, it magnifies them.

Human pyschology is amazingly complex. There are reasons why there are several professions and disciplines dedicated to understanding how it works. Therefore amatuer tinkering with what is in its depths - especially in the hope that waking a potential moster will make you feel more confident - should really be viewed with caution. Return to top of page

Making a beast of yourself.
"He who makes a beast of himself, rids himself of the pain of being human"

Now who exactly said that first is a hotly debated topic. But whoever said it had a pretty good understanding about human behavior. Because that is exactly what a lot of people try to do.

Unfortunately originator of the quote didn't exactly know about the realities of pain.

Because simply stated making a beast of yourself to avoid pain is like having your clothing on fire and trying to put it out by pouring gasoline on yourself. It makes it worse, not better. The more you make a beast of yourself, the more painful behavior you will engage in. But now it is no longer anyone hurting you, it is you hurting yourself.

As stated on the "difference between fighting and self-defense page," self-defense is doing what you have to do to survive an unprovoked attack, whereas fighting means you are part of the problem. You are an active participant in and adding to the conflict.

And a person who makes a beast of himself, while not always the sole cause of the fight, usually will be actively adding to the conflict by being an asshole. Just like the other guy. And when all else is said and done, the cops will want to bust them both. Return to top of page

Ridding yourself of fear of fighting
In case you haven't noticed fighting is dangerous.

Furthermore, mother nature was pretty smart about how she designed us. She included fear within us as a way to help us survive - not to hinder our survivial efforts. Fear is based on recognizing a "known" danger. In otherwords, that which we have come to associate with danger, pain and hurt.

And that quite simply means that there are parts of you that recognize exactly how stupid fighting is. And while you can tell yourself anything you want, this part knows it.

And if you are there to "win" a fight, it is going to be arguing like hell for you to do something else reflecting commonsense run. And this is going interfer with your ability to fight.

Don't think of this as an impediment towards winning (it is, but that is beside the point) Think of it instead as a part of you that is trying to keep you from doing something really stupid.

A man without fear is a walking deadman.

That is because he is so busy thinking he knows it all that he will never see the truth about the danger he is facing. His confidence about "what he can do" will blind him to the danger of what the other guy can do. His cockiness will make him blind to the fact that he is no longer doing those things that will work to save him. And it is through that blindness that his death will come.

So you damn well better be afraid. Because if the other guy didn't have something up his sleeve that can - and will - fuck you up, he wouldn't be there in the first place. Return to top of page

Those who ARE the best vs. those who say they are
It is interesting to note in the primate world that most of the fighting, display and aggressive behavior occurs, not among alpha males, but among betas who are seeking advancement in the hierarchy.

Meanwhile the alphas tend to spend more time among the females, relaxing.

However, when alphas do fight, it tends to be far more serious and ferocious. Also, it is most often oriented towards other goals than advancement. While challenges are indeed a part of it, it is the alphas who protect the group from danger, outside mauraders and territorial infringement. In otherwords the intent of fighting changes from selfish reasons to an orientation other than self.

It is very important to recognize the difference between true alpha behavior and what we think it is. And the same can be said about fear and being in a dangerous situation.

In my youth, I was ashamed of the fact that I was afraid. I was in fact so ashamed that I became counterphobic. If something scared me, then I would charge it. I felt that there was this magical place that I would reach one day where I wouldn't be afraid. This lead to me fighting quite a bit.

The thing was, like the demon from the movie the "Fallen" my fear kept on transferring itself onto other people. If I saw a guy who I was afraid of and I fought him and beat him, then that fear wouldn't go away, it would just transfer to someone else. And usually the next person was tougher, meaner and more dangerous than the last one. I chased that fear for years. Hoping in vain that one day I would no longer be afraid. And in this quest to "conquorer my fear" I put myself in worse and worse, more dangerous, more terrifying situations.

Then one day I found myself sitting among a group of "real heavy hitters." By this I mean these guys were professionals who had survived incredible shit. To the point that they were the sort of people who movies are made about. We were sitting in a room relaxing - away from the public - and they started talking freely about some of the things that they had survived.

I was absolutely floored.

The one thing they all admitted was fear. And they did it not to the laughter of derision, but to knowing chuckles of "Oh yeah" and supportive comments about the "pucker factor" of the situation.

There was no macho posturing about "no fear." There was no blustering about how they wouldn't have been afraid. But more importantly there was no shaming of each other for feelings that went against how they "thought" tough guys should act. And the absolute last thing they were interested in was telling each other how tough guys should act.

The reason they didn't have to tell each other how tough guys act is that they were real tough guys. These guys were the best. And they had gone up against - and survived - some of the best. And they knew that the reason that they were still alive is that they had long ago let go of what they thought "tough" was and figured out what it really was.

I'll let you in on a little secret, most of what you think of as toughman behavior isn't how tough guys really act.

And it will, in fact, get you killed if you have the bad luck to cross a real badass. Return to top of page

Selling the macho myth
The reason I am not more successful in this business is that I am not selling a macho myth about streetfighting. Such people are cashing in on your misconception of what is "toughman behavior." They are selling you a lie based on your illusions.

And it is a dangerous lie.

You cannot open a martial art magazine without finding countless ads about "fear no man", "ultimate fighting system""undefeatable streetfighting style""real fighting" "SEAL combat system" or having some so-called streetfighting expert glaring at you from a puffed up pose that is supposed to convince you how tough he is.

If you 'maddog" someone like that in the street (to glare aggressively at them) you had better be expecting to be either dodging bullets - or sending them at the person you were glaring at - in the next few moments. Because that is the common result of such behavior when you are facing dangerous people. If they can, they will kill you for such bad manners.

And that is where many so-called experts (and their senior students) fall down. They themselves are engaged in arrogant behavior or promoting the delusion that with their program you will have "no fear." This sort of arrogant swaggering behavior only convinces the people who don't know how "heavy hitters really act" that this person is as good as he says he is.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what proves that they are not the real thing. Because fear and caution are very much a part of surviving the "real thing." And that especially applies to how you act around those who can hurt you. Putting it simply: If you're wanting to stay alive, don't be an asshole to someone who can - and will - blow your head off.

I have a long standing observation: You can tell who has been there by how they treat - and how they are treated by - who other have been there too.

In conclusion, training yourself away from fear, or trying to replace fear with another emotion, such as anger or contempt for your enemy is not a viable survivial strategy. But is exactly what people who don't want to be afraid anymore are going to be willing to pay money for. And it is what way too many "self-defense" experts are cashing in on. Return to top of page

Attracting bullies' attention
Have you ever wondered why bullies pick on some people but ignore others? There is an entire complex set of behaviors and signals that are going back and forth. Unfortunately, many people who think that they are showing the bully why the bully should leave them alone are sending an entirely different message. A message that instead of warning him away, attracts the bully over to get in your face.

What it really takes
So what does it take?

The answer is three fold.

The first thing it takes is knowing the difference between fighting and self-defense. Once you know that you know the difference in your goals. If you go into an altercation with any other goal than ending it NOW - whether that is running like hell or dropping the guy ASAP before he blows your head off - then you are going in with the wrong mindset.

And under those circumstances your fear will be fighting you. And it can and will cause you to freeze and hesitate at the wrong moment.

The second part is having something that is more important than yourself.

By this I mean that if you fix your sites on something that is bigger and better than yourself and your pride you will be able to avoid most problems. That will keep it from only being focused on you. For example I have my wife and kid. These are people who love and rely on me. If I give into selfish whims or my neurosis about being insulted and get into a fight because someone said something that hurt my little duck feelings, then I am putting myself above them.

What happens to me affects them. Even if I "win" a fight, I know that the cops will be knocking on my door the next morning and that I will be facing both criminal and civil charges. If I am hurt or killed in a fight, it will harm them as well. With this in mind, it is easy for me to walk away from potential conflicts. Not because I don't want to rip some asshole's head off, but because there are things in my life that are more important than my pride and ego.

If it is all about you, your fear, your pride, your feelings, your self-esteem or your perceived prestige, then you are being a selfish little prick. And you will be finding yourself in altercations over and over again.

The third part is being willing to live for those you love.

In the old days I would get seriously offended if someone tried to kill me and my retribution would be horrible. However, as dangerous as I was then, I will kill now another human being faster than ever before...but for far more important reasons.

And that reason is my family. Nothing is going to hurt my family.

I have to survive to be with them. And anybody who tries to take me away from them I will stop -- whether it be by running like hell, snapping their necks like a matchstick, ramming a knife in their heart or blowing their brains in a fine pink mist, it doesn't matter. What matters is I will be alive when it is over. And while I will have to live with what I have done for the rest of my life, that's okay. I will live with the guilt and shame with my family.

In the same vien, try to hurt my family and I will rip your throat out with my teeth. Even if such a person were to kill me they will have failed because I will have gone down keeping them from hurting the ones I love.

It's not about if you have what it takes to be a streetfighter...because unless you are a sociopathic asshole, the answer will be no.

The real question is: Do you do have enough love in your heart to keep those who you love from being hurt?

And that's a question you shouldn't even need to ask yourself.

Ask a mother protecting her young.

A more in-depth look into what real "toughness" is, as opposed to Hollywood macho

A story in closing
Many years ago I was sitting with a friend in a hot-tub discussing life the universe and everything. I had just returned from another state and a disastrous break up with my girlfriend of eight years. I had taken a job doing high risk bodyguarding were a bad day at work meant someone died ... and that someone could very well be me. While that may sound exciting I was once again risking my life because I was financially strapped, starting over in my mid 30s with nearly no personal belongings and zero stability.

My friend owned his own travel agency,  was married, had two kids and was well respected in international circles. (His friends often joked about him that there were only two kinds of people, those who had met him and those who would meet him). Even though he was by all standards successful, he pined for other things. As we were talking he mentioned that he had always respected my bravery when it came to facing violent people.

There was something about his wistful tone that outraged me.

I found myself staring at him and I unexpectedly blurted out. "Don't you ever fucking say that again. Of the two people sitting in this tub you are far more brave than I have ever been. Facing someone trying to kill me is easy in comparison to what you do every day. You get up and go to a job you hate because you have people who love you and depend on you to provide for them. You have a sense of duty  and responsibility  that I never had. You have a sense of bravery that I don't. I couldn't do what you do day after day. Someone tries to kill you and it's a short term problem, you take care of it and it's over. Your job of being a father, a husband and provider is never over. That takes more balls than I have. Don't you ever tell me that you aren't brave, you have more courage and dedication than I do"

That was nearly fifteen years ago. He's still married, his kids are nearly grown, granted he's changed careers but he's still doing his quiet act of daily bravery. I too am married and I raised a step-daughter, after a life-time of violence, carnage and chaos, I finally found the bravery to do it too. But I still stick with my original contention, it's a hell of a lot bigger act of bravery than fighting.

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