Western New York Karate Center
April 8, 2016
*The views expressed in this essay are the views of Shihan Bill and do not necessarily reflect the views of WNY Karate Center. WNY Karate does not necessarily endorse the techniques mentioned in the article, and people should use their best judgement when deciding what technique to apply in any given situation.
The Five People You’ll Meet on Their Way to Heaven
And why you will over-skill that encounter
As you work on self-defense techniques, ippons, even bunkai, consider who you are training to interact with, who your opponent, your attacker, might be. There are five classes of people who you will engage with and I will list them here in the order of the highest probability to the lowest. Depending on where in the world you are and the kind of choices you make in life, these probabilities can vary from person to person; the order here is what is most typical for suburban America:
- Chemically Altered – this is someone who is either intoxicated on a disinhibiting substance like alcohol, a stimulant like cocaine, or a pain-numbing substance.
STRENGTH – This person will not likely be fully aware of the physical damage they take in their attack or from your defensive actions and will continue their attack after taking damage that would stop most people.
WEAKNESS – They are likely to be narrow in their awareness of the environment, have single-minded and simplistic attacks, and little to no sense of a need for defensive actions and will respond simply with standard reflexes.
STRATEGY – Unlike any other opponent, their attack is completely impulsive and can sometimes be stopped simply by yelling, “stop!” Your defensive actions need only stun or immobilize them long enough for them to hear you tell them to stop. Thus, joint locks or grappling techniques will be most useful.
- Agitated – this is someone who is significantly upset, often by jealousy related to an anticipated loss of a relationship but could also motivated by a sense that their life or livelihood is under significant threat.
STRENGTH – This person has a single-minded sense of purpose that is motivated by a sense of self-preservation. They will not stop until they feel they have been defeated; that they are no longer capable of “defending” what is theirs.
WEAKNESS – Attacks are likely to be fully committed, attempting to connect with a single “killing” blow. While likely aware of a need for defense, they can overcommit to their attack at the expense of their defense.
STRATEGY – Bait their attack and get them to fully commit in a manner that will best play in to your response strategy. Strikes should be focused on damaging legs and arms to quickly lead the opponent to their sense that they are no longer able to attack. This person can then be reasoned with.
- Criminal – this is someone who is seeking to take what you have, usually your valuables. They are motivated by a sense of financial desperation and their ability to feed themselves or their family or to be able to continue to purchase addictive substances.
STRENGTH – This person is committed to obtaining your valuables. They often have a strategy to their attack with the encounter having occurred in an ambush site that they chose. They also will have a sense of a need for defense that usually takes the form of a weapon such as a knife or a gun. Due to their sense of desperation, they will not likely withdraw from the encounter until they get your valuables and have often already committed to killing you if necessary. While often done individually, some Criminal opponents will employ a group strategy and will have accomplices to assist them in their attack.
WEAKNESS – They are more concerned with defending themselves and if you appear to not pose a threat, they will not actively engage in attack. Moreover, their sense of a need for a defense can be reduced or lulled by your taking a passive or cooperative posture.
STRATEGY – Cooperate. Valuables can be replaced. If that does not appear sufficient, any weapon they have must be neutralized first and taken into your control; if they had employed a weapon in their attack and you take possession of it, that will likely lead them to feel defenseless and disengage from their attack. If they are skilled in unarmed combat, you will likely then have to treat them as an Agitated opponent (see above). Be prepared to engage accomplices.
- Mentally ill – someone in this category will most typically suffer from a personality organization that compromises their ability to appreciate the needs or rights of others. Other people are seen not as living, feeling individuals with their own hopes for life, but simply a means to an end. If attacked by such a person, it is because you are viewed as “in the way” or “part of a plan/a necessary step.” This type of person is often referred to as a sociopath.
A less encountered person in this category is someone suffering from schizophrenia or some other form of psychosis that is untreated and the person is floridly psychotic at the time of the attack; the person is actively hallucinating and/or truly paranoid. Such people resemble the Agitated opponent and they could also have characteristics of a Chemically Altered opponent, but the ability to reason is significantly compromised and strategies that would work for those categories of opponents, joint-locks, grappling, limb destruction, may be insufficient to stopping the attack.
STRENGTH – This person is not viewing you as another person. Thus, there is no remorse, no hesitation, no holding back. The attack will come with no social cues that would make you aware that you are the target of an attack and therefore will often come as a complete surprise. Due to the social disconnect, there will be ineffective or no response to attempts at communication and this category of opponent will be difficult to deter or distract from their intense sense of purpose and need to act in a manner that can likely result in your death.
WEAKNESS – As they are not viewing you as a human being, they are not considering that you could respond in a deliberate and strategic manner. Thus, they are not prepared for a martial response to their actions and can therefore also be taken completely by surprise.
STRATEGY – Plan to render this opponent unconscious and be resigned that your attempt to render this opponent unconscious may kill them. This opponent is not engaging in an impulsive attack. While possibly agitated, there will be no reasoning with this opponent. There are no valuables you can surrender that will satisfy them; they are going to act in a manner that will likely kill you. You will need to defend yourself to the point where you are certain the opponent is unconscious and then immobilized securely until help can arrive.
- Professional – this is an individual who has been trained in martial arts such as mercenaries and assassins. They are motivated by a sense of duty and responsibility to a chain of command. If you are attacked by such a person, you are viewed as either a threat to the success of their mission or you are the designated target for elimination.
STRENGTH – This person feels empowered by an authority that makes their actions justified by a code of conduct and/or a contract. Attacking you is part of their job. It will be done without hesitation and usually as part of a developed plan that often has contingency plans. The attack will often be executed with no social cues that would make you aware that you are the target of an attack and therefore will often come as a complete surprise. Due to the social contract the Professional has with someone else, there will be ineffective or no response to attempts at communication and this category of opponent will be difficult to deter or distract from their intense sense of purpose and need to act in a manner that can likely result in your death. While sometimes done individually, most Professional opponents will employ a group strategy and will have accomplices to assist them in their attack.
WEAKNESS – Little to none. The Professional has often prepared for a variety of possibilities including a martial response to their actions.
STRATEGY – Plan to kill this opponent. This opponent is not engaging in an impulsive attack. While possibly agitated, there will be no reasoning with this opponent. There are no valuables you can surrender that will satisfy them; they are going to act in a manner that will kill you. You will need to defend yourself to the point where you are certain the opponent is at least completely incapacitated if not actually dead. NOTE: THIS IS A HIGHLY UNLIKELY ENCOUNTER! But, if none of the other categories apply, this is what remains as the explanation for an attack and thus, to survive, you must assume that you have no other choice but to respond with lethal intent.
It should be said that it is also possible to meet someone who is in multiple categories such as a Professional Criminal or an Agitated Chemically Altered opponent. But, regardless of the category or combination of categories of an opponent and the most appropriate strategy for that particular opponent, what should become clear in this analysis is that there is no category of opponent where a strategy of a single punch or kick will be sufficient. Actual attackers will continue to attack until they are subdued, rendered unconscious, or killed.
While there is no clear agreement as to what will subdue someone or render them unconscious, it should at least be clear from the above that it will take more than one strike. As a guideline, for the highly trained martial artist, an individual could be subdued with two to three precise strikes, rendered unconscious with three to five precise strikes, and likely killed by five or more precise strikes. But, for most practitioners, precision will be difficult to accomplish in an actual confrontation. Thus, it is recommended that you add at least two more strikes, as a rough guideline, to ensure success: 4 – 5 for subdual and 5 – 7 to render the person unconscious.
If possible, one should try to take a moment in the course of the combination of strikes to see if one has already accomplished the desired effect before continuing to apply additional strikes. Also one can likely increase the chance of success of a series of strikes by distributing the strikes across the opponent’s body: striking both above and below the waist as well as striking both the left and right side of the body.