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How do you beat trained killers? And what
style do you learn to even have a chance?
                           A question I was asked by someone whose
                               friend had been hospitalized after attempting
                           to fight alone against an unknown number
                  of military personnel at a strip club

Training To 'Win' In The Unwinnable Situation

On this page:
Surviving Ragnarok | Do The Math | Con Artists and Their Fighting Systems | How To Tell

Let us start with the fact there are situations where you CAN'T 'win.' There are situations where your only hope of survival is to run fiercely.

And yet, there are people who are pathologically seeking an 'answer' that would allow them not only to survive, but also that would allow them to 'win.' In their fertile little imaginations, they envision horrific scenarios (or they encounter a raw reality like what happened to the friend in the strip club) and they fixate on how to WIN in those situations.

Not survive, not avoid, but 'win.' And to do so with absolutely no serious damage to themselves

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but what they really do is freak out. Their limbic systems just go into a total uproar over this perceived danger. This is what leads them into their search for <begin Wagner-esque chorus> THE ULTIMATE FIGHTING SYSTEM! </ chorus > (1)

There's no such animal.

However, that doesn't stop con artists (whether martial arts or reality based self-defense gurus) from selling 'THE ANSWER!" to these people's fears.

And that's exactly what they are selling -- an emotional balm for the fears created by your own imagination. What they are NOT selling is an effective defense system. But they will gladly take your money to make you feel like you've addressed the problem.

This page is going to show you two things. First is the kind of thinking that makes you susceptible to these con artists.

Second, how to spot when you are dealing with someone whose fears, imagination and fantasies about violence has far outstripped their actual knowledge. In short, someone who has drank the Kool-Aid about the ultimate fighting style he knows.

Surviving Ranarok
In case you slept through Mythology class, Ragnarok is the Norse 'Armageddon' It is the end-of-the-world battle of Good vs. Evil. It is also where all the Viking gods die defeating evil. Their eon-long feud with the Ice Giants comes to a head and BOTH sides get slaughtered.

Now mind you, these are Old School Gods. Gods that not only loved to fight, but were the best at it. And they were backed up by the souls of the greatest warriors from an age where being 'battle glad' was considered a good thing (pacifists need not apply). But even with all this firepower, Ragnorak is such a huge and nasty battle that everyone who shows up for it, dies(2). Thus is the nature of titanic battles, your chances of getting out intact are slim.

We use the term 'Surviving Ragnorak' as an introduction to what a certain type of person is looking for. First, they imagine themselves in a desperate battle. A battle incidentally that they have NO choice but to engage in. In fact, in the fantasy, they are trapped and have not option but to unleash their deadly fighting system. A'la the fantasy, circumstances have developed that
     a) they are trapped in a blind alley confronted by 27 ninjas with uzis
     b) they are facing a slavering horde of bad guys who will chase them if
        they run.
      c) they are with:
             1) wheelchair/walker bound grandparents
             2) children
             3) a woman in need of protection
             4) some of the above
             5) all of the above

           These people cannot run,so our hero must valiantly defend them.      
       d) it is their 'responsibility' (NOT job mind you) to confront the bad
       e) they cannot abandon their property
       f) if they run 'everyone' will think they are pussies
       g) and this one is unspoken -- their pride demands they 'stand up for
        themselves' and NOT retreat.

Keep these issues in mind because they show a bias towards thinking in 'absolutes.' These are not reasons to stay, they are rationalizations. We say 'rationalizations' because they are fantasy scenarios that the person is developing to justify NOT extracting himself from a dangerous situation.

What we are saying that by focusing on these rationalizations, the person won't even consider NOT fighting to resolve ANY conflict. Going physical is his FIRST choice. What's more, this kind of pre-deterministic thinking will manifest itself in assuming that ANY conflict is about to become Ragnarok.

In case you missed what that previous paragraph meant, you're talking about someone who's ready to go off on someone over anything. Because in his mind any conflict is a holocaust that he must battle for his life.

Can you say 'loose cannon on deck?'

The second point is many people aren't just looking to survive Ragnarok. What they want is to WIN! Forget just surviving with serious wounds and potential life-long disabilities. Using their ultimate fighting style, these guys want to come through Ragnarok with nothing more than a movie hero's band-aid. Well, maybe they'll go so far as accepting a flesh wound ... but only if it's in the leg or on the arm. But that's it. Heroes WIN! And without too much physical damage to themselves.

Take a look at the quote at the top of the page. After I told the kid "You don't," he wrote me again and asked what was the "BEST all around style" for fighting in that situation. Stop and think about how unrealistic that is.

Here's a kid who's looking for a martial art/ reality based self-defense/ combative program that will allow him to defeat multiple, in great physical shape, aggressive, military-trained opponents!

Let's Do The Math
In fantasy-land there is no such thing as a "No Win Situation." In real life there are. But people who are looking for a way to 'win Ragnarok' refuse to believe that.

Below is my answer to the kid
Short answer to the question of 'how do you beat trained killers?' -- you don't.
Any one of them would be tough enough to take out alone. In a group: Ferrget it.
Let's do the math. Hypothetically, it takes 100% to 'win' against a guy who is well trained. Most people only fight around 50% because they are afraid of getting hurt. In those cases 'victory' goes to the guy who has the highest percentage (say 60%). Against someone who knows what he is doing though, you need that 100% to even be in the game. And since he's probably doing 100% too, it's a crapshoot at the best of times.
Now what about 3 of them? That means combined, they bring 300% to the game. Even if they don't go full out you're still in deep trouble (e.g. even at 50%, their sum total is 150 against your 100). You simply cannot muster enough 'juice' to take out three trained guys all-at- once-and-by-yourself. If you try, you're going to end up like your friend.
Have I gone up against multiple opponents? Yes. But ONLY because a) I really did have absolutely no choice, b) they weren't all committed to getting me and c) they weren't all equally trained and competent. In short I got away with it because I knew that in THOSE circumstances I had a slim chance.
Your friend 'engaged' in a situation where he had NO chance. Hell, I would have run from/backed down/talked my way out of it/called for reinforcements in those same circumstances.
Your friend found himself in a 'no win' situation and he went forward anyway. That's why he got hurt. No win situations exist and anyone who tells you that they have a way to WIN such a situation is lying to you to get your money. ***********************

That's a mathematical reality break about going up against multiple opponents. Now if only one of them has a weapon, increase him to 200%. If they are ALL armed figure it's 600% against your 100%.

Forget winning in the these circumstances. You'll be lucky just to survive if you don't run like hell. And survival will involve a long hospital stay.

And yet, what these people are looking for is a way to 'win' no matter what. They want some system that will magically endow them with 1200% fighting prowess so they can walk out of ANY situation the victor.

In case you also slept through math class it is mathematically impossible for there to be more than 100%. So there is not going to be anything that can boost you up to 300%, much less 1200%.

The reality is that 99.9% of the time, the single person is going to lose against multiple dedicated attackers -- no matter what 'ultimate, reality based, combative, street fighting, proven scientific, deadly fighting, warrior tradition you know.

Con Artists And Their 'Fighting Systems'
A number of years ago there was a particular 'scientific' combat system that advertised itself as 'guaranteed.'

Upon reviewing his system I concluded two things.     1) the basis of this system was rudimentary martial arts (allegations were
        it was revised San Soo)
    2) the 'success' of the 'system' was primarily based in someone in good
        physical shape, charging straight up the middle with full commitment.

The simple truth is that in a majority of 'fights' this is a very effective strategy. In fact, in most 'fights' between unskilled/untrained participants size, strength and with this kind of determination IS WHAT 'WINS' THE FIGHT!

On the other hand, it is also a strategy that loses half the time too.

We say this because in an overwhelming majority of the times where this strategy 'works' it is against a smaller, weaker and less committed opponent. Oh yeah, one more thing. That smaller, weaker and less committed opponent is using the exact same strategy. He's charging head on too!

Either that or he is trying to back-peddle down the same line of bigger, more aggressive person's  charge.

That's the strategy most of these guaranteed, ultimate, reality based self-defense, combative, street fighting, combat proven scientific, deadly fighting, warrior traditions are selling you. That and the belief that if you do it hard enough, fast enough and are in good enough shape you will be "unbeatable."

People who are looking to win at Ragnarok eat this BS up with a fork and spoon.

Does this strategy work? Yes. In fact, because most violence is over social dynamics, the strategy works in an overwhelming majority of violence between two people. At least, it works if you're the bigger and stronger party. The difference is that most violence ISN'T about killing the other person.

When those are the stakes, it's a totally different dynamic. A committed head-long charge against someone with a knife will get you gutted like a fish. It also will fail if you are facing someone who uses a strategy specifically designed to defeat someone with the "Hey Diddle Diddle! Straight up the middle!" strategy. Such strategies tend to cause more damage the harder and faster you come up the middle.

Those people (who imagine every conflict is going to be Ragnarok) base their fantasies about 'winning Ragnarok' on what they think they know about violence! What that means, is they believe works is putting "Hey Diddle Diddle. Straight up the Middle" on steroids. It's all about getting into better shape, having a bigger-badder-kick-ass attitude and having some super-sekret, never fail tactic that usually starts with the word "THE ..."

Once you have drank the Kool-Aid, paid the instructor thousands of dollars to learn his ultimate fighting system, had months of 'true believers' chanting dogma at you about how the system works for 'real violence' and had countless carefully crafted drills/scenarios(3) -- you'll start believing that you can not only survive, but 'win' Ragnarok.

When in fact, what you have is extrapolated  -- from success in a limited environment -- that you are now prepared to handle anything.

The fallacy of this thinking can be best revealed by the question of "What does your style teach you about how to handle someone hiding in the shadows with a shotgun waiting for you?"

That isn't hyperbole. That's a very real issue when it comes to violence. This is especially true because this strategy is common with certain people who you handed a beating to. When the guy knows he can't take you head on, he'll hit you from another direction.

The fundamental flaw of most of these systems ISN'T that they don't work. In fact, given limited and specialized circumstances, these systems do work. There are many so-called combat systems out there that will prepare you to kick butt in your next bar fight.

Except that bar fighting isn't self-defense. And what's more, it's illegal.

The bigger problem is that crime and violence are vast and complicated subjects. In other words, crime and violence don't always come in the nice neat package of two guys in a bar fight.

So you may be prepared for your next bar fight by knowing some reality based, killer ninja, ultimate streetfighting, military martial art combat system, but that isn't going to help you
   a) confronting Drunken Uncle Albert at a family reunion
   b) save you from a wolf-pack
   c) save you from armed criminals who are ready to shoot you at the first
       sign of resistance.

Unfortunately, many of these systems -- which are predicated on one-on-one, empty-handed conflicts -- will have cockamammy scenarios and drills to convince you that you can still use the same strategies when facing other situations (like multiple and armed attackers). Since you are not rushed to the hospital after attempting these strategies in the school, you can easily convince yourself that they would work. Because, after all facing a fellow student with a rubber knife IS the same thing as having someone try to kill you ... isn't it?

Well that's what both the instructor and the other students of that system will tell you.

Oh by the way, it should also be noticed that the 'guaranteed fighting system' we mentioned at the beginning of this section had ... imagine our surprise ... all kinds of fine print conditions on that 'guarantee.' Not the lease of which was you had to use it EXACTLY the way he taught you. In other words, if you got your butt kicked it wasn't the fault of the system. It was because YOU didn't do it right.

How to Tell
So how can you tell when you've walked into a place where the motto is "We can WIN at Ragnarok!"?

Well first of all, look at where they are focusing. More specifically: How much time do they spend dealing with the before and after of violence?

Before: How much time do they spend on learning how to avoid, de-escalate and understanding what causes violence to happen? Or do they take more of a "Violence should be avoided, but if you can't HERE'S HOW TO SNAP HIM IN HALF!!!!" approach? In other words: How fast are they to get to HAVING to use force?

After: How much time is spend addressing issues like 'reasonable force,' 'use of force continuum,' 'immediate threat,' 'excessive force,' making statements to the police and legal repercussions? And how much do those issues effect what you're being taught?  In other words is the attitude  "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by six" the excuse/rationalization to go berserk on someone with this deadly fighting art?

Because if that's the attitude, the next 12 you will be facing are the 12 guys raping you in the prison showers.

Second, is the definition of 'self-defense' some what vague?

More specifically, is the term constantly thrown around but never clearly defined manner. That is to say is it used more in a 'everyone knows what self-defense means, so we don't have to bother to define it' manner?

Not to rain on anybody's fantasies (oh who are we kidding?), but self-defense is a LEGALLY defined term. That means it doesn't matter WHAT you think it should mean, you are going to be held accountable for your actions according to THAT standard.

Third, is aggressiveness applauded?

Is the person's aggressiveness in the ring a major contributor to his social standing in the gym? Are stories about leaving one's own property to go down the street to confront troublemakers 'ooohed and ahhhhhhed' over? Are stories of past sadistic brutality treated the same way? Is 'smacking down' someone with a dissenting opinion or difficult question (instead of addressing the issue) how the group operates? Is everyone jockeying for a higher position up the ladder?

Fourth is there some strategy that is lauded above all

Return to top

1) Wilhelm Richard Wagner (Pronounced Vaugh-ner) was a 19th century composer whose works are what most people think of when they think of  opera. By this we mean thunderous music and heroic (and overblown) singing -- including the line "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." His later works were based in Nordic mythology, The Ring Cycle (4 operas running 15 hours) is where the clich?of the singing fat woman wearing a horned helmet and hubcaps over her breasts comes from.
Wagner himself is a very controversial figure. While he both transformed and advanced opera (the 'movies' of the time), in his lifetime his political ideology and behavior often got him into trouble. But, at the same time, he also inspired fanatical devotion and/or deep hatred. In the 20th century his Teutonic idealization and anti-Semitism made him a favorite of Adolph Hitler who felt his thunderous music expressed the Aryan ideal. In a very real sense, Wagner's music became the soundtrack for the Nazi philosophy. Return to Text

2) Okay, so 5.5 gods survived (the .5 was a popular god who got killed but was later revived). The two humans who survived did so by hiding in a tree. Seven survivors out of a 500,000 combatants isn't a good survival rate. The point is that all the gods who didn't survive were the BEST fighters. Being as they were the best, they were in the thick of it. Return to Text

3) A huge problem is the very human tendency to 'confuse the map with the territory.' Specifically when people begin to think that 'drills' are the same thing as doing. It's not, a drill is a simulation of a possible event. No matter how well drilled you are, it is NOT the real thing.
The second issue is what is left out of 'drills?' Drills are designed to develop a certain attribute that is useful in a situation. It first isolates and then develops a trait/skill-set/attribute. Both students and instructors tend to forget this. What they forget MOST is that no matter how good the drill, critical aspects are missing  Therefore they convince themselves that drills contain everything they need in order to succeed. The third issue is a little known fact about scenario-based-training. This 'new' training tool has become the holy grail of proving that what you are doing works under adrenal stress. What people DON'T realize about this is the bulletman/attacker is under strict orders ... the defender ALWAYS wins! No matter how 'intense' the scenario, you are guaranteed victory because the attacker is controlling how much force he is using.
The fourth and final issue is that drills, sporting contests, aliveness training and 'rolling' are ALL done under strictly controlled conditions. Conditions that are designed for the safety of the participants. In short, nobody is trying to hurt each other. In fact, afterwards you go out for burgers and beer with your training partners. Yet, in the participant's imaginations they were doing the 'real' thing. These are just some of the reasons why 'drills' can serve as the source of false confidence. And yet, you HAVE experienced success using these drills in safe conditions. It is very easy to think -- that because you've had success in these carefully controlled and crafted drills -- you really are an experienced and bad assed streetfighter. Return to Text

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