Most Krav Maga school focus on the ‘during’, with anywhere from significant to no discussion on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ (and I believe it should be the former).
What does this mean?
Violence, for the most part, isn’t random. There are very distinct routines and selection processes that happen before someone decides to attack you. This is often referred to as the interview.
If you pass the interview, that’s when the physical attack takes place. And again there are, for the most part, similarities in how this happens for different 'categories' of violence. This is what most martial arts schools focus on, which I refer to as the ‘if-then’ model – ‘if the attacker does this, then you do that’, etc. More on this another time.
After the attack is finished, and assuming you survived, there are a lot of things that could end up leaving you traumatised, in trouble, or still in danger. Let’s have a look at some of the things you need to be aware of post-incident:
- Litigation – this is the most commonly discussed one. If you get in a serious fight then be prepared for, as Hock Hoccheim would say, for an expensive legal mess. We live in a world that has laws and rules, and breaking those have consequences. Saying ‘he started it’ may have worked once or twice when you were roughhousing with your friends in kindergarten, but it’s unlikely to work for you as an adult. Understanding use of force and litigation should be part of your training. THe consequences don't have to mean going to prison for 20 years. How would having a criminal record affect your job or future prospects? How would going through a lengthy and/or publicised trial affect your family?
The flip side of this is that you also don’t want to get stuck in a real situation where you are so scared of consequences that you fail to act in self-defence (more on this here). A couple of quick tips:
a. Plan in advance.Think about and visualise different situations. Decide in advance how far you are willing to go in different scenarios, and think in advance about what the consequences might be for those. This includes learning relevant laws concerning self defence in your area.
b. If your instructor utters the words ‘better to be tried by twelve than carried by six’ regularly, I suggest you leave quickly. More on this here.
- Retaliation – self defence guru Richard Dimitri often tells a story of a dude who bullied or beat up a kid in his high-school. Several years later, the kid he bullied saw him come out of the cinemas with his girlfriend, and stabbed both of them. The dude survived, his girlfriend didn’t. ANothe example - When I was in year 9 in high school, one of the seniors picked on a kid from my year. That kid later found that senior alone in the gym and smashed his head in with a crowbar. That senior was in a coma for 3 months. A couple of important things to remember:
a. You don’t know who you’re dealing with and what they are capable of. You also don’t know what your interaction means to them. You may not take it seriously, but to them loss of face or reputation might be worse than death, and they’ll reclaim it later on. Gang violence is a good example of this.
b. Retaliation takes place when they are ready. You don’t know how long they’ve been stewing on this. As in the stabbing example above, sometimes it can be a combination of years and being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
c. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to find out where you live, work, etc.
d. Retaliation can mean someone coming after your loved ones.
e. Retaliation doesn’t have to be physical. Someone could decide to make your life miserable in plenty of other ways – your relationships, reputation, etc.
- Post-Traumatic Stress – having to deal with violence is stressful and can cause trauma even to those with experience. These could include living with the guilt of having hurt someone, or the shame of being a victim, or the fear of retaliation, or a million other things. How do you think the kid from the first example felt when his girlfriend got stabbed and died over some stupid macho high school shit that he started years ago? These can take a huge toll on us.
Damage to the body heals quickly. Damage to our psyche and to how we view ourselves can last a lifetime. Don’t believe me? Think of a time when you were a kid and someone bullied you, or said something hurtful. It can be 5, or 10, or 30 years ago but you still remember it. If you see yourself as a strong, capable man and someone makes you beg, how long will it take you to reconcile who you thought you were with who you now see yourself as?
Someone pulled a knife on me when I was 16. I was lucky enough to deal with the situation effectively, but I was traumatised for a decade. I was scared of shadows and had dreams about it for years afterwards. Even thinking of it now makes me feel emasculated.
Someone tried to stab me when I was 30. I was lucky enough to deal with the situation effectively (a testament to my training!). I was still scared out of my brain, but within a couple of days I was fine and definitely did not have long-lasting trauma. Why? Because I have much better tools for coping now than I did then. Here’s what works for me:
a. Talk to someone – make sure you talk about what you’re going through with friends or family or a professional. The more you bottle it up, the worse it’ll be and the longer it’ll take to get over.
b. Know how to decompress – know what helps you relax and destress, and use it! Make it a priority.
c. Be ready – if something happens, there’s a good chance you might feel some of these feelings. Remind yourself that it is normal, that you will heal and that it can take time. Simply acknowledging that what you are going through is totally normal can help get over it more quickly.
Violence is ugly, and can have life-changing effects. Plan in advance so that you know how to act, to what extent and when, so that you are ready to deal with the consequences of doing so.
The best plan - learn to control your ego, and avoid violence as much as possible!
Hopefully these tips help you prepare better should something happen to you.
Stay safe, stay tuned