George Mattison wants to know what I tell doctors in my seminars, given the fact that their experience in classroom conditions is going to be very different from their experience with violence in the actual medical environment.
Most of my work is done with emergency medicine professionals. They face very real, potentially life-threatening violence, in their workplace -- in cities, they face it constantly. Violence isn't an intellectual issue for them, it's real. And in some ways it's worse for them, because -- unlike the average martial artist -- if they use physical tactics to defend themselves, they will almost certainly be sued for malpractice. If they use abusive _verbal_ tactics to defend themselves, they will probably be sued for malpractice. They can call security, sure, and people who are allowed to use force against patients will come running -- but that takes time, and it's time they often don't have. They have to be able to spot potential violence with pinpoint accuracy, _very_ fast, and deal with it until the security professional arrives. Verbal self-defense, for them, to be used in the face of very real impending physical violence, is indispensable.
I tell them that for their VSD skills to be any use to them in the real world, those skills absolutely have to be on automatic. That means they have to _practice_ them, just as they would practice their surgical skills. If they have to stop and think "Now what was that technique Suzette said we could use in this situation?", the technique is useless to them; there's no time for that. They have to know the techniques so well that they don't have to think; fortunately, because the techniques are language-based and linguistic knowledge is already internalized, that's possible. If they're motivated to use what I teach, and willing to practice it for a while until they're entirely comfortable with it, they're ready.[ For those who may not have read other threads, I'll say again here: The situation regarding linguistic knowledge is radically different from the situation regarding knowledge of a physical martial art. The two are not directly comparable. Every normal human being has a flawless competence with his or her native language that serves as a reliable foundation for verbal self-defense; there is no such competence available for the physical martial arts, which must be learned essentially from scratch. You'll find a discussion of this elsewhere in this forum.]
I also tell them that the person who comes into the ER yelling, "I've got a GUN, and I'm going to KILL EVERY DOCTOR IN THIS HOSpital!!!!" is almost never the person who is dangerous. Back that person into a corner, humiliate that person, make that person lose face -- do that, and you can force him or her to actual violence, sure. But if you don't make that mistake, such people aren't dangerous. I tell them the real danger is the person who comes in with entirely neutral body language, walks up to someone non-threateningly, and says -- quietly, without obscenities -- "I have a gun, and I'm going to kill every doctor in this hospital." That's a Leveler, and that person is deadly. Everybody down. And I remind the doctors that if they're not paying attention to body language and tone of voice they won't be able to distinguish between these two individuals; they have to listen, and they have to observe. They can't just process the words.
There is a question that keeps getting asked, and that I've been deliberately ignoring: the one asking for personal accounts of confrontations in which verbal skills have been enough to deal with potential physical violence. I'm uncomfortable providing such accounts. To me, saying "somebody did this, and then I did this, and I won," with details, is called bragging. I find it unseemly. I do understand that accounts like that can be useful for teaching, and I have tried -- unsuccessfully -- to think of some that I would feel comfortable presenting here. I'm sorry; it's just....unseemly. I will say just one thing, just this one time: People _don't_ confront me, either verbally or physically. They look at me, I look back, and they don't confront me. It doesn't happen once in a hundred times. Sometimes I have to get their attention because they're out of control, and that sometimes means letting them get their hands on me physically; then I look at them, and they look back, and they don't confront me. (Even saying that much is unseemly. Never again.)
However, there's no reason why I can't tell you a few things about some of my trainers and other people using my techniques. That's not unseemly. Here's just one that seems to me to be relevant:
I had a trainer who worked in a mental institution for violent psychotics (many suffering also from the effects of longtime severe drug abuse). Standard procedure there, when it was necessary to give a patient an injection, was to send six staff members to do it. _Six_. My trainer, using only VSD techniques, was able to give injections all by himself. This was pretty startling; he soon found himself demonstrating on the other side of a two-way mirror, so that others on the staff could learn to do the same. And they did learn, those who cared to do so.