Before someone shared this on Fitocracy I had never heard of Marc MacYoung. I did ninjitsu with a group in Madison for a few months back in college and the then instructor Shawn has a profound impact on getting me to read the books that shaped my view about self defense. Grossman, Miller, and Siddle were common subjects to be discussed so I had read books by all three of them and that was that. Those were the experts I was exposed to and they must have been right because no one was talking about anyone else. We discussed sliding scale force, prevention before confrontation, and the physiological and psychological impacts of violence. The subject matter was the same stuff that we were discussing in WRJ at the Budo Club, but without the reference material and classes were focused more on training the techniques than talking through the philosophical.
Each author covers a different issue that I think every martial artist should at least be aware of – Grossman’s On Combat and On Killing were great for being able to talk to my friends who came back from Iraq, Miller’s Meditations On Violence is on my must read list for every martial artist who’s looking for a self-defense component, and Siddle wrote some cool stuff to know about your own body. I haven’t read the other two of Miller’s books that people have told me a lot about – Facing Violence and Scaling Force. I have been told good things about them.
Then I read this. It’s not super profound. It’s not a silver bullet. In fact, it calls out the old axiom that there are no silver bullets; which is important. He’s blunt. I respect that. I love when people are blunt. I hate the eggshells we’re forced to walk on to not offend people’s beliefs, especially in the martial arts community where all you need to do to prove someone wrong is repeat what they just said out loud and make them think about it.
In the wake of the events that have rocked the BJJ community the discussion about rape is super important. I think it’s important to draw a line between blaming the victim and discussing prevention. I actually have a post mocked up about it that I never posted because I kept feeling like it came off sexist. In the online community one can’t be too careful about not being an inadvertent bigot. The part I was missing was the discussion about how rape should go in the same bucket as the rest of violence. Taking precautionary measures isn’t about blaming the victim, it’s about preventing the incident in the first place. I know someone’s going to read it and get offended at his anecdote about the girl going to the frat, but I think it’s important to consider that this is a discussion of the factors that can be controlled, and it doesn’t mean taking all the preventative steps will ever completely prevent a rape. There are certainly those scenarios that are completely outside the control of the victim. In the same way not everyone who gets stabbed outside a club is a Bro who was out drinking just looking for a fight, but when we see that Bro it’s no surprise when he’s beaten bloody in a gutter by the end of the night.
I probably take the wrong messages from reading this piece. Reading between the lines it sounds like there’s a better way to self-defense, but the face value I get is that training a combat sport for fun and fitness lacks the assumptions and is therefor correct. I also take for granted the security that law enforcement and an upscale suburban community with a near zero crime rate and almost homogeneous population come with.
I guess the point here is that we could all stand a bit more education on these kinds of topics as even the experts are constantly being shocked by the amount they didn’t know.