Sunday, July 21, 2013

Post Violence - Surviving the Aftermath - Part IV

In the last three parts, Post Violence - Surviving the Aftermath - Part I Part II and Part III we discussed the aftermath of a violent encounter.  We focused mainly on what happens when you “lose” the encounter, both in your mind and the impact it may have on your training.
So what happens to you if you “win” the encounter?  If you did come out the victor, you probably found yourself in one of these categories:

  • Your training worked flawlessly and you easily dispatched your opponent effortlessly.
  • Your training kind of worked, or it didn’t, but you won anyway.

If you fit into category #1, keep doing whatever you’re doing.  I don’t think I’ve ever met someone in this category.  Quite frankly, most people will experience varying levels of category #2.  

You should be very happy if some of your physical training kicked in.  This is a good sign that you are training in the right way, with the right mindset.

Most likely, assuming you remember what you did to be successful, you will be questioning your technique and training somewhat.  These are good lessons to learn.  What worked well, what didn’t and where you need to focus your efforts.

So far, all positive stuff, right?  

It’s not really that simple, unfortunately.  A surprise to some is how traumatic winning an encounter can be. 

Many will be shaken by the experience.  Many will believe it was purely luck that allowed them to win.  Many will question whether or not they could ever repeat the techniques (if any) that they used.  Many will beat themselves up for reverting to a more base style of primal combat instead of being a polished martial artist.  Many will question whether or not they should continue to train at all if they revert to a big arm swinging, gross motor style of fighting, similar to children in a school yard scrap.  Some will question their art, some their teacher, some themselves.

Some will be sickened by the fact that they may have injured someone else.  Some will question if they went too far.  Some may be embroiled in the legal system.

Some will constantly re-live the experience when they close their eyes.  Some will become paranoid and hyper-vigilant, sensing danger around every turn.  Some may overreact to perceived threats.  Some will want to stay home and withdraw from their other activities, preferring to remain in a safe zone.  Some will become overprotective of their loved ones.  Some will arm themselves.

The potential impact that a real violent encounter can have on you is essentially the same whether you win or you lose.  A trauma is a trauma.  You may experience any or all of the same symptoms, regardless of who ‘won’.  

Occasionally someone who “loses” will seek out confrontation to try to prove themselves, essentially overcompensating to try to deal with their insecurity and self-doubt.  Having said that, some “winners” will feel the same need to seek out a fight to validate that they could, in fact, win again.

Obviously, the true way to be a winner is to avoid a confrontation altogether, but that is not what this discussion is all about.  In truth, occasionally violence is unavoidable. 

There are no true winners in a violent encounter.  Everyone will lose something in the process.  This is exactly why our training should have the multi-faceted approach of: 
  • Awareness/avoidance
  • Mental Preparation
  • Physical Skills development.
We train to prepare to respond to violence in a (generally) peaceful society.  We should spend some time preparing ourselves for what might realistically transpire if violence does find us, and the fallout of same.  We should know that a martial art is not a panacea, a magical entity on its own that will swoop in and save us.  We need to prepare ourselves mentally just as much as physically.

I hope you’ve been able to take something of value from this series.  Your feedback, as always, is appreciated.

Be Safe,



  1. a truly enlightening series... thank you...

  2. An excellent series, JM. Hope we wont have to wait too long for more about your experiments with the mental aspect of preparation and training.

  3. jc,

    Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed it and/or found it valuable. Cheers.


    I'm already working on it in my head. Stay tuned. And thanks.

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