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Violence, Morality, German Generals and Training.

On 6 February, Danielle Hopton was beaten to death by ex-boyfriend Steven McNiel in a parking lot. He was charged with first-degree murder, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and violation of bail bond conditions.

If you have spent more than 30 seconds on this site, you have no doubt noticed a lot of videos presented in the form of "lessons-learned". These videos often feature stomach-churning depictions of real violence, but please understand that the intent of these videos is to present learning points about injury and how to achieve them. Chris Ranck-Buhr, founder of Injury Dynamics, articulates brilliantly what we inherently know about violence but are reluctant to acknowledge--that the mechanics of violence are pretty simple. And because violence is disturbing on a moral, psychological, and legal levels, how we choose to learn the application of violence is fundamentally flawed. That flaw is commonly known as "self-defense."

Chris uses an antidote of a violent act to demonstrate this through two similar scenarios.

In the 1st scenario, an intruder breaks in, surprises a housewife in the kitchen, grabs a knife and stabs her in the neck, she bleeds out.

In the 2nd scenario, an intruder breaks in, surprises a housewife in the kitchen, she grabs a knife and stabs him in the neck, he bleeds out.

The first scenario is horrible to think about. In the second scenario, while still uncomfortable with the violence, we all feel better about the outcome because the housewife defended herself. Mechanically, both acts of violence produced the very same result. Morally and psychologically, they are very different of course.

The violent sociopath doesn't concern himself with these nuances. In his experience with violent acts, he refines what works. A surprise stab to the neck with a knife is efficient and effective. He doesn't spend time at the dojo learning forms, worrying about belts, and letting his "Ki" flow. In fact, he hardly spends any time practicing at all because the mechanics of pure violence are so simple and have worked well for him in the past.

For any sane member of society however, this mechanically simple act of violence contains a range of moral, ethical, and legal issues. And so what tends to happen to most people, is that instead of focusing on learning what really works in violence (in this example, a stab to the neck), many people will opt instead to try to learn something more morally palatable, like how to prevent someone from stabbing them in the neck; how to grapple with someone trying to stab them in the neck; how to disarm someone who is attempting to stab them in the neck; how to submit someone who is trying to stab them in the neck; how to run away from someone who is trying to stab them in the neck; to the supremely ridiculous tactic of how to use your internal ki against an opponent's ki who is trying to stab you in the neck... and on to any number of variations of "self-defense." The problem with any of these solutions is that they almost never work when it really matters. Ask yourself how the housewife in our example might have fared with any of these tactics. What does work in violence however, is achieving injury. He or she who imparts the first real injury, usually wins. Our theoretical housewife did it with a stab to the neck. The line from A-B was brutally effective and efficient.

Again, for the good citizen, who among us wants to stab someone in the neck (or anywhere else)? Life would never be the same. The ramifications would be life-altering. We know this and therefore, would only commit to this act of violence as an absolute last resort. But if you know how to do it, you now have the option. Learning how to impart injury efficiently and effectively to another human being does not make you morally inferior or more likely to misuse the power any more than learning how to hammer a nail makes you more prone to attack someone with a hammer. And if you know how to impart injury, you won't have to wonder about what to do when you are the target of violence because you will have envisioned and practiced how to attack and injure hundreds of times on the mats.

And that is why at Guard Well, we follow the teachings of Injury Dynamics for open hand fighting and Libre Knife Fighting for blades (with a few scatterings of other useful tidbits from other styles). These two schools omit ceremony and martial arts pageantry and focus on effecting what works in violence. The videos depicting violence are therefore, tools for emphasizing these lessons.

Danielle Hopton's death was an enormous tragedy--one that will be repeated to about 140 women around the world 24 hours after reading this. Every decent man, woman, and child should have options.

And in the words of German General Erwin Rommel, "the best defense is a strong offense."

You can find Injury Dynamics at and Libre at

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