As a practitioner of any form of martial arts combat fighting system, you are taught and practice the “art” of fighting. But if you ask anyone who has been in knockdown drag out fighting situations, they will tell you it is not an art. It’s a brutal, bloody, painful, merciless environment where people resort to their basic animal instincts–the primary of which is kill or be killed. You’ll find that human beings will resort to the basest of all human behavior to survive a deadly encounter.
One thing of great importance is to keep in mind that most of us come from a “sheltered” environment. For the most part we come from good homes, good families and similar cultural backgrounds. In a word, we are “good” people. Being a member of this Order defines us as such. Some here who are members may never have even been in a real fight. Regardless of whether you have or have not, I need you to know one thing and to never forget it. Bad guys have done all this before and they embrace it. It is their version of being normal in their world.
For those of you who have not faced in person the brutal realities of extreme violence, I will tell you it can be a terrifying and paralyzing event. For those of you who have, “Been there and done that” you know what I’m describing. It is an experiential event that you must prepare for, before evil ever comes knocking on your door.
If you have chosen to undertake the training to become a Fighting Warrior, you will undoubtedly find that you are most likely to spend a good deal of your training time learning and practicing the skills needed to physically overcome another human being. You are developing the skills which give you this capability. But the unanswered question for most of us then becomes, with the capability of doing great harm to another human being, do I also have the capacity to do great harm to another human being? And I’m not talking about duking it out with some guy in a parking lot because he slapped my wife’s butt.
As a member of this Order we are bound by our oath to only fight if we have to. And that is a key point. What “have to” means in this context is that I’m fighting someone who was brought imminent violence and danger against me, my family and loved ones or against my teammates or brothers in arms. In this case, the violence is capable of great bodily harm or death.
You need to have the capacity to do anything to prevail. Will you gouge someone’s eye out of its socket? Will you tear off an ear? Will you bite out his throat with your teeth? Will you crush their head in with a rock or piece of pipe? Would you kill him? Remember, what I’m talking about here is a long way from the gym, dojo or drunken barroom brawl. I’m talking about how you are going to retaliate if someone is trying to take your life. The bad guy would not hesitate to do these things. Would you? This is what we call capacity and quite frankly if I had to choose I will take capacity over capability every time.
You must think about this and think about it deeply. In most fighting systems, almost all of the time is spent on the physical aspect of fighting. But it is the rare exception where time is spent developing the mental or psychological aspect of combat skills in class. In class, I talk about “crossing the bridge before you come to it.” It is an easy way to visualize the process I’m describing. Let me put it in real, concrete terms that we can all relate to. Am I going to let this guy make my kids orphans, or am I going to make his kids orphans?
I have seen 3rd degree black belts get their rear ends handed to them by untrained drunken brawlers because at the moment the monster of real violence reared its ugly head, they were not, in spite of their skills, “ready” for the fight. Do not take what I’m discussing lightly or dismiss it in any way, because this could save your life. You must have a pre- determined moral, ethical and philosophical clarity about what you would be willing to do to a bad guy so that at that moment, where you dare not hesitate, you will not.
When can you fight?
I believe that I have the right to fight if I’m threatened, and I’m not going to wait around until the enemy fires his first shot. Personally, whether you abide by any rules of engagement or not, is up to you. I will not be there to advise you. Frankly every single violent or potentially violent situation is completely different from the last and each has its own set of ever-changing dynamics. In this sense, you are on your own. The best advice I can give you is to always follow your gut feel.
However having said this, be warned that a jury of your peers and the law will see things a little differently.
Ernest Emerson is the owner of Emerson Knives, Inc. He is a tier one Combatives instructor, Master at Arms, noted author and lecturer, Black Belt Hall of Fame member and a connoisseur of fine whiskey.
Click here to visit EmersonKnives.com. Mr. Emerson offers a 10% discount on his knives to Daily Caller readers. Use the discount code – tdc (all lower case). Click here to visit the Emerson Training Center.