A common view shared by many teachers, coaches and martial artists alike is that fighting and self-defense are one in the same. In his books, Meditations on Violence-A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence (2008) and Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected (2011), author Rory Miller punches a hole in that theory. He parses out the experiences of sparring at a dojo, sport competition, a bar or a street fight and extreme violence in separate spheres that require distinct treatment. It is a sobering suggestion that your chosen martial arts training might get you killed. Miller approaches the topic of violence as not only an experienced martial artist (over 30 years of study) himself but also as a corrections officer who has had regular encouters with attacks and violent engagement over his career.
Facing Violence is not a martial arts book on techniques or fighting principles. It is essentially a book on recognizing, dealing with and surviving a violent encounter. Miller does not mince words or sugar coat the facts. He suggests that if you're a martial artist or instructor and you've never spent any time studying or teaching how violent conflict actually occurs or how criminals attack, you are missing a key element in self-defense training. If you've trained to pull punches at your gym or dojo to make sure you keep your friends (and yourself) safe or if you've had the specific rules of your chosen competition ingrained in your psyche, you've trained your reactions and responses in a way that could possibly do yourself harm in a real conflict. Miller reveals flaws in certain drills and training, the problems that can occur with overthinking strategy and tactics and how the brain responds in a violent engagement. It is an eye-opening book that will surely lead you to reexamine your training and your preparation for a bad encounter.
Miller's next book, Meditations on Violence picks up where Facing Violence left off. He provides a bridge between the two books by continuing the discussion of how violence occurs from a social standpoint but digs deeper on how violence occurs from asocial behavior. Arguably you may be able to find other resources that touch upon these subjects in varying degrees. But, Mediations on Violence stands alone in fully preparing you to think about the consequence and the aftermath of a confrontation. The legal ramifications you may be exposed to in defending yourself or your family and the emotional and psychological toll that may come with it.
I consider these two books, companion pieces and they should definitely be on your reading list for 2017. You do not need to be a martial artist to appreciate either one. But if you are? You're welcome. If you've read them before, I'd love to hear your comments below.
About the Author:
Darryl Keeton is an avid striking, grappling and wrestling fan living in Upper Marlboro, MD. He holds a black belt in ITF Taekwondo and is also a practitioner of Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.