Training to be capable of responding to violence does not make us a violent person, it makes us a prepared person.


Just like the majority of Martial Artists, my hope is that I never need to use my training. I hope to never again experience violence. 

To be honest, I do not like violence, and the thought of being involved in violence is uncomfortable.

However training in any Martial Art for whatever reason, be it sport, aesthetics, fitness or cultural curiosity, is at its core a study of violence.

An attempt to understand and be able to respond to violence.

Training to be capable of responding to violence does not make us a violent person, it makes us a prepared person.

“Chance favours the prepared mind”. Louis Pasteur.

Do we think that violence can be understood? It is such a vast field.

For instance, although what we do is called Martial Art we are not talking about Military Conflict.

That is a different version of violence altogether.

As non-military Martial Artists, our concern is Interpersonal Violence.

Even here the lived experience of most people is usually very different from each other, the best we can hope for is a Generalised conversation.

To do this without misunderstanding we need to have a shared lexicon, the same terminology, to be on the same page using the same frames of reference.

What follows is a legend for this and any other of my posts.

Interpersonal Violence comes in two basic flavours.

  1. Organised – Social Violence.
  2. Random – Antisocial Violence.

Social Violence is a situation where all parties know what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and where it is going to happen.

Above these considerations is the fact that at any time one of the participants can simply say “no thanks I have changed my mind”, this is why to an extent this is a social event.

Social violence is any competition at any level from a World Championship U.F.C. Match, to an Olympic T.K.D. round to a Club sparring session even to two blokes saying “O.K. let’s take this outside”.

There is always the option to say “not today thank you”.

Antisocial Violence is where an attacker, Person #1, has an agenda that is for the most part unknown to Person #2.

The scope of this aspect of violence is truly huge, but for this post let’s think that it spans situations such as P. #1 attacks P. #2 from an unseen position, to wearing the wrong Football Jersey in the wrong suburb, to being caught out eyeing up a jealous and Pig Headed blokes girlfriend, to a random difference of opinion that boils over without too much warning.

This is the environment we envision.

Social Violence/Competition is the realm of Combat Sports and of course Combat Athletes. N.Q.U.

Anti-Social/Violence Self Defence is the realm of Traditional Martial Arts, the realm of the majority of Citizen Martial Artists, such as ourselves.

It is of the utmost importance that we know where we fit so that we can evaluate and steer our training in the right direction.

Zoom in a little.


In Combat Sport both parties begin from the same position, no one man has an advantage, there is no surprise, there is a known start, and a known finish.

And there are rules.

 Once the contest kicks off there is little thought of organised deliberate defence, to a very large extent Combat Athletes depend upon their physical, mental and emotional conditioning to ignore the shock, ignore the pain and press on. 

If they have any thought of defence it is knowing how to evade incoming strikes as they themselves attack, both parties aiming to knock the fight out of their opponent first.

This is what a “FIGHT” is, this is what “FIGHTING” is, two men {or women} flat out attacking each other, no quarter asked or given, they just swap punches until someone can no longer continue or the fight is stopped.

Despite the apparent chaos, there is a level of certainty in this situation.

Let me put this in here, it will explain itself later…..



Long story short, being in a random encounter is the complete opposite of Competition, especially from the perspective that there is some sort of certainty to the situation.

Social violence is relatively straightforward, what you see is what you get, partly because of the rules, but also because of the Athletes themselves, despite them being on occasion BRUTAL neither side are out for blood, they just want to win the bout.

Here is a somewhat harsh truth. Random Violence is finding ourselves in a completely unknown and unknowable situation.

Is it even possible for us to prepare for an unknown and unknowable situation?

That depends.

It depends on if we see it coming, and if we have a plan.

We should not fool ourselves, if we do not see it coming we are toast, so we can bypass that discussion.

It should be a total no-brainer that if we can de-escalate any situation and walk away that should be the first choice, but Random Violence is rarely about being offered choices.

It may be cliche´but in any violent situation the only thing we can control is ourselves and the more we know of ourselves the easier it will be to keep control.

The first aim of any training is learning about ourselves so that when it happens we are not completely clueless.

Then through training various scenarios to build up some kind of Blueprint.

There should be a great deal more to training than learning how to physically hit someone.

What we do know and is something to think about and factor in is that the mindset, attitude, or demeanour of an attacker is so completely different from the mindset, attitude, or demeanour of a defender that they cannot exist at the same time.

This is pretty much the cornerstone of Wing Chun’s Fist Logic, how we set our strategy.

What do we know about our {unknown} attacker?

He [she] wants to hurt us and to do it as quickly as possible.

Their plan is shock and awe.

The very fact that they are so brazenly attacking us, tells us that they are not expecting any significant resistance.

If it is an argument that has boiled over, if the attacker is angry they have already lost control of their thinking and they will not be able to change their mind quickly or easily once the circumstances change.

What else do we know?

Attackers attack and have no thought of defence.

Defenders defend and have no thought of attack.

Fighting is two people attacking each other.

When people lose control of their thinking this is what happens.

To everybody.


I know all too well that in a real situation it is unwise to assume, but here it is fine so I am assuming that whatever the situation we are fully aware of what is happening, aware that something is about to go off.

It is no longer a situation in our control.

If possible we should make a little more space, which will give us a little more time.

On a surface level, our aim is to turn the tables, to make ourselves the attacker, in the fullest sense, we attack relentlessly until the fight has gone out of the Bad Guy, then we leave. P.O.Q.

 There is of course a chance that we cannot fully turn the tables, we start exchanging punches, we start to FIGHT.


If this happens we break away, make space, reset and prepare to go again once the Bad Guy resumes attacking.


We do not prepare to defend, we prepare to turn the tables on them once more, to become the attacker once more.

This is of course counter-attacking, this is Wing Chun.

On a deeper level, we are using our thinking to destroy our attackers thinking.

It is their IDEA of hurting us that we need to change.

It is quite pointless to be concerned about techniques or styles and how to counter them, we need to cause chaos in their thinking, overwhelm their nervous system.

Two ways that are guaranteed to achieve this are causing them pain and compromising their balance.

Once we have managed to stop them thinking we have taken away not only their reason for attacking but also their ability to defend themselves.

This is a very general overview, this is the picture I have painted for myself over many, many years to give much-needed context to my training, it does not need to be your picture.

But it really helps if you have something like it.

Anyone can fight, seven-year-olds do it every day, my Cats do it.

We are not training to FIGHT, we are training to THINK.



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