**I’d like to send some initial credit to Kris Wilder at The Striking Post for exposing me to the video in this post. He and I share some similar ideas in our analysis as well, so credit to him and his commenters for a thoughtful discussion.**
As society continues to grow and mature, there is more and more emphasis on anti-violence. This, of course, is good in theory. In a perfect world there would be no violence thrust upon anyone and no need for anyone to know violence.
We don’t live in a perfect world though and the struggle to balance violence against non-violence is messy.
Interestingly, we are told (as proper citizens) to not take matters into our own hands. We are prompted not to fight back and instead seek out authority figures who are authorized to deal with bad situations. Furthermore, as technology and communication increases, it is expected that we be in quicker contact with the authorities (and thus have less reason not to rely on them).
In an effort to drill violent behavior out of the minds of children, schools have enacted severe rules and regulations both for students who fight and for students who defend themselves. Frequently if two youths get into a fight they are both punished equally, regardless of circumstance. Teachers are put into an equally awkward position as laying a finger on a student, even if trying to break up a scuffle, can potentially land them in hot water. Children and teachers alike are often resigned to become watchful bystanders.
Bystander freeze (similar to the bystander effect) extends to more than just schools – people everywhere understand the trouble with getting involved in a violent altercation.
When all of these factors come together, you end up with situations like in the following video. A young girl spending time in a Metro Bus Tunnel gets attacked. Meanwhile, three security guards who are literally five feet away do nothing to intervene, and neither do any bystanders.
On an individual basis, it was probably “smart” for people not to intervene because now they can’t be held liable. Imagine if you pulled the attacker off the other girl and hurt her in the process. Let’s assume you have martial arts experience and she has a semi-decent lawyer. You can bet you’d be in trouble for assaulting a minor, using excessive force, etc etc.
This is reality and it is a part of our culture. That’s why it has never been more critical to develop high levels of self defense skill. You need to rely on yourself for protection as bystander freeze is a strong phenomenon. Even security and authority personnel are not immune.
I also recommend people learn non-fistic forms of self defense in addition to percussive striking. From a legal standpoint, closed fisted strikes are often equated with willing violence and receive repercussion, but controls/locks/subtle-strikes are less obvious.
Of course you also need to make sure you have the ability to cause destruction quickly. As Shaka Zulu (the martial artist) said: “I will start with the mindset that I am going to kill you. Then, if I don’t have to, I will de-escalate”. I believe it’s necessary to have the ability to both maim and control, and have it be a naturally integrated form of self expression.
It is possible to look passive and yet be devastating.
Everybody has to decide for themselves what they are willing to risk to defend themselves, their loved ones, and complete strangers. But it’s wise to understand the possible ramifications of relying solely on others for that protection.