“. . .You Don’t Always Want To Kill Somebody!”

IN a recent conversation with a student of self-defense whose orientation is heavily saturated with the “non-injurious” or “non lethal” philosophy of personal protection, we had the following objection to the American Combato philosophy and curriculum raised:

“I don’t agree with how vicious and how damaging your techniques are. Your reaction to an attack is always severe, and after all Brad, you don’t always want to kill somebody!”

Florence Nightingale was a wonderful woman and her philosophy remains exemplary for all in the field of medicine. However, when applied to self-defense "Florence Nightingalism" falls short of providing what is needed to save innocent lives.

Florence Nightingale was a wonderful woman and her philosophy remains exemplary for all in the field of medicine. However, when applied to self-defense "Florence Nightingalism" falls short of providing what is needed to save innocent lives.

The response we gave is well worth repeating here, as it is instructive for anyone who is realistically concerned about the subject of real world personal protection:

“Actually, we certainly don’t want to ‘kill’ anybody. However, when and if we believe that our life or the life of someone dependent upon us for protection is endangered we care only about stopping the assailant. Whether that assailant is effectively stopped without being permanently injured, or whether he is maimed or killed is irrelevant as far as we are concerned. He (the attacker) is the one responsible for whatever injuries he suffers as a result of our acting in lawful self-defense.

“We possess no gift for mind reading, and we are not a mystic. We cannot accurately determine the intentions or the abilities of an attacker, and we are compelled to assume the worst whenever an illegal, violent attack upon us or anyone else is initiated. According to the way that we think and the way that we conduct ourself, the only justification for ever using force against another human being is unavoidable self-defense. Period. We believe this to be a reasonable, civilized standard, and we will not risk injury or death at the hands of anyone who obviously believes otherwise, and who undertakes to initiate a violent attack.”

We disagree 100% with the “non injurious” school of thought(?) now popular in some so-called martial arts circles. The idea of learning and acquiring proficiency in restraint and control measures makes perfect sense for law enforcers, security professionals, and other peace keepers (and we do teach such techniques to them). But for anyone simply wishing to be safe and secure in a dangerous world, and seeking reliable methods of self-defense against violent attack should such an unfortunate thing ever come to him, taking the risk that police officers, etc. must take — due to the responsibility inherent in their profession — is absurd. Anyone can and should assume that a sudden physical attack is potentially lethal, and his only concern should be protection against the immediate danger.

The self-defense student must, if he is to be realistically and practically prepared for the real world of criminal violence, permeate his technical, tactical, and mental training with four key assumptions:

1. Anyone who attacks him is his physical superior

2. Anyone who attacks him intends to inflict grievous harm upon him — up to and including lethal injury

3. Anyone who attacks him is armed — whether or not a weapon is immediately apparent in the assailant’s hand

4. Anyone who attacks him has help and is not alone.

Training with those four “absolutes” in mind will certainly not guarantee victory should the need to defend himself arise (there ARE NO “guarantees”), but it will insure that the defender is prepared for the worst. Obviously, if any given situation is not very severe (something that is impossible to determine ahead of time, or at the outset of the onslaught) then the defender need not continue to go after his attacker. Two indicators that one may desist in one’s self-defensive use of force are: 1. The attacker turns to flee.  2. The attacker is rendered unable to offer any further danger to the defender, and it is safe for the defender himself to flee the scene of the attack.

We advise always allowing an attacker to flee if he tries to do so. Pursuing him is a job for the police. No private citizen has any responsibility to apprehend a violent felon. The citizen’s only responsibility extends to his not being a party to mutual combat (i.e. agreeing to a fight, and being as responsible as the other guy for the situation), not being the attacker, and not continuing to use force once the situation is no longer dangerous to him (or to whoever he is protecting).

Self-defense is no sporting event. Nor is it a situation in which any defender, regardless of his knowledge, skill, experience, or apparent size and strength advantage can be certain of victory. Intelligent and civilized human beings avoid violence whenever possible, and we regard AVOIDANCE as “self-defense technique #1”. However, when avoidance is not possible it is a matter of you or the attacker. You must assume this! Otherwise you are dependent upon a combination of an attacker’s benevolence and/or ineptitude, and your own ability to predict the attacker’s capabilities and intentions. Not smart at all. In fact, not possible.

This is an example of the result of violent criminal attack. An actual police photo of Ron Goldman. Many victims of violent attack have been found in similar positions.

This is an example of the result of violent criminal attack. An actual police photo of Ron Goldman. Many victims of violent attack have been found in similar positions.

This ridiculous idea that we who train in serious measures for personal defense “always want to kill” anyone who attacks us should be laughed at. It is blatantly untrue. In point of fact we have only one specific objective, and that is to simply stop the attacker and defend ourselves. We are not concerned about how badly the attacker fares; we just do not want to be injured or killed. And that is reasonable and lawful.

We who train in American Combato wish deliberately to injure or to kill NO ONE. In point of fact we just wish to be left alone.

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