know you are under attack

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know you are under attack

Postby yona » Sat Apr 15, 2000 12:34 am

it strikes me in reviewing some of the topics and posts, that there is a difference between verbal and physical violence that we have not yet discussed.

in a physical confrontation, there is rarely doubt when you are being threatened. in a verbal confrontation, there is a lot of "wiggle room." a skilled attacker (or a practiced one who means no harm) can easily confuse the issue at this moment, and draw you into a fight before you realize you are under attack.

suzette's principles include "know you are under attack." "detection" was alluded to in another post, perhaps referring to the same thing.

any tips for this phase of a fight? sorry, this phase of avoiding a fight?

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know you are under attack

Postby student » Sat Apr 15, 2000 1:28 am

I'll address the Detect issue from my limited understanding of Tony Blauer's system.

You teach yourself to detect by having a temporary loss of scruple and imagining yourself the attacker. Where would you attack yourself? How? What in your routine makes you vulnerable? If you have trouble imagining that, try imagining how you would attack people in the street, at work, at school, in the parking lot.

Who is giving off signals of assertiveness? Who is not? Wo is giving off signals of "Condition White," total unawareness of themselves and their surroundings?

Which one are you?

Read The Gift Of Fear if you have not already. De Baeker points out that most people who are attacked knew ahead of time tha something was wrong but denied their feelings.

It's not rocket science. It's merely being sufficiently aware that you know that something is out of place - that's all; you don't even have to bring it to consciousness sufficiently to recognize what is out of place (though that couldn't hurt!).

Once you've detected something wrong you move to the next phase: Avoid/Defuse. If you physically can avoid a confrontation, great! You've just won! Give yourself a gold star; give yourself two.

If physical avoidance is not an option, there's Defusing. What does you opponent really want? How can you keep the situation from escalating into violence? Can you distract the building of tension into other patterns? Can you show him empathy with him sufficiently for him to empathize with you?

While you are doing all of this (and you may not be able to do ALL of this; each confrontation is unique and may not necessarily follow this pattern) you avoid escalating the violent reactions by not assuming any martial postures, nor gesticulating wildly. You are selling a message. That message is "We don't have to fight; I'm not here to fight." Your body language reflects that message; Tony's phrasing is Congruent Behavior, Non-Violent Postures, and Pattern Interruptions.

HOWEVER... your non-violent posture is well-balanced and you should know exactly where your hands/elbows/knees/shins/feet are in relation to your opponent, and which of your body's weapons are closest to which targets: if things get rough that's where your going first!

You must recognize that the body will high jack some of your controlling mind; that you will feel the coursing of epinephrine/adrenalin in your system. THIS IS NOT BEING A COWARD!!!! THIS IS YOUR BODY PREPARING ITSELF FOR COMBAT IF NECESSARY!!!!

If you have never had this experience before, you must simulate it through realistic training and role/scenario/simulation/stimulation training. Blauer Maxim: "The Mind Navigates The Body." The more familiar you become with the epinephrine effect the more you will be able to apply conscious control to your actions. The more you have the attitude of one who will not give up and will prevail no matter what, the more you will both become that person and send off the signals of being that person - and your confrontations will be fewer - and you will prevail.

For a better answer, see if we can get Jake Steinmann on this thread; he's received hands' on training from Tony and is certified by him. I have not, and am not.

As to Suzette's Verbal Self Defense: the best advice I can offer is to get one of the books and study it! Go to the website she has posted on the Overview thread and see examples of the system.


[This message has been edited by student (edited April 14, 2000).]
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know you are under attack

Postby ozarque » Thu Apr 20, 2000 8:17 pm


Yona says that in a physical confrontation you usually have no trouble perceiving that someone is attacking you, but that in a verbal confrontation there is so much "wiggle room" that you can be drawn into a fight before you realize that you're under attack; she asks for tips on "this phase of avoiding a fight."

In a physical confrontation, whether you know you're about to be attacked is in many ways a function of how primitive and/or obvious the attack is; there are non-obvious physical attacks. But it's absolutely correct that in a physical confrontation you always know that you have _been_ attacked -- both as it happens and after it happens.

In a verbal confrontation, all three stages of an attack may be difficult to spot and (because words leave no physical marks or wounds) even more difficult to verify. It's possible to say any set of English words whatsoever -- including "I love you with all my heart" and "My darling, you matter more to me than life itself" -- in such a way that they constitute an attack. The standard dodge of verbal attackers has three parts: They say something and set it to an attack tune; then, when challenged about it, they begin with, "All I said was...."; then they finish with the exact words they are accused of having said, but they set them to a non-hostile tune. A great deal of the time, this works.
And it would be wise to realize that much of our culture has a vested interest in seeing to it that it _continues_ to work and that people lower on the power/status scale are kept ignorant of any methods for defending themselves against it. It's called "deniability"; it's extremely valuable for maintaining status and power. I say all this so it will be clear that the question Yona is asking has no quick and easy answer.

There are a few "tips," yes, if you are a native speaker of English. I'll give you three of them here; all three fall under this one Gentle Art metaprinciple: Any mismatch is a warning sign.

1. _Watch for a deviation from the speaker's usual language patterns_. [This assumes that you know what those usual language patterns are, so that you have a baseline from which you _can_ spot deviations. If the person speaking to you is a stranger, you don't have a baseline and can only rely on general principles.]

Example of a relevant general principle: When the pupils of someone's eyes dilate, they have moved into a state of more intense emotion. That doesn't tell you whether the emotion is positive or negative -- only that it's there now. It means you should be on guard.

2. _Watch for extra emphasis on words or parts of words -- emphasis that cannot be explained as the result of a grammar rule or of the situation_.

English has a rule that requires speakers to emphasize at least one syllable in every sentence; emphasis on that syllable isn't "extra." English has a rule that requires speaker to emphasize items in contrast, as in "It wasn't a blue car, it was a _green_ car"; the emphasis on "green" isn't extra emphasis. English has a pattern we could call "the announcement pattern" that requires extra emphasis in "I just won the SWEEPstakes, you guys!"; the emphasis on "SWEEP" isn't extra, it's required. The difference between "Why did you wear that shirt?", which is a neutral question, and "WHY did you WEAR that SHIRT??!!" -- which is an attack -- is largely in the extra emphasis on "why/wear/shirt" in the second example. There are no routine rules of grammar that require those four syllables to get all that emphasis. The emphasis is there to carry hostility. If you're a native speaker of English, you will be able to hear extra emphasis -- called "acoustic stress" -- if you pay attention. Most of the time, it signals an attack; always, it signals that something is going on and that you should be wary.

Note: Acoustic stress is created by a lot of interacting physiological specs that there's no reason to go into here. It is _perceived_ as higher pitch plus higher volume plus longer duration, for the syllable that gets the emphasis.

3. _ Watch for body language that isn't congruent -- isn't in tune with, doesn't match -- the words it accompanies._ The classic example is the person who says "I love my kids SO much!" while shaking his/her head and pounding his/her fist on the table. There is a conflict, a mismatch, between the words and the body language. In such cases, unless you have a very good reason, always believe the body.

Example of a very good reason: Suppose you're speaking with someone who has a disorder that interferes with motor control, such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy or Parkinson's disease; suppose you're speaking with someone who is very drunk. When their body language doesn't match their words, you cannot assume that the body should be believed.

There are more "tips"; some can be found in the book titled _The Gift of Fear_, recommended by the student who posted in response to Yona's question. That book is a useful resource. Many more are in a place that may not have occurred to you -- the law journals. Trial lawyers and judges need to be able to interpret the nonverbal communication of witnesses and jurors. For example, look at literature on the "voir dire" stage of trials, where lawyers are given tips on how to tell if a juror is hostile, lying, intimidated, and so on. Look at the unpleasant literature on interrogation, for military and law enforcement professionals; lots of tips there. Most of the time, you will find that you could have extrapolated the tip from the principle that mismatch is a warning sign.

In many ways, the most important thing you can know is that _if you are paying attention_, your body will respond to an attack even when your mind can't find a reason for it. When someone speaks to you and you feel your stomach tie itself in a knot, you feel the muscles of your face and body tensing up, you feel your whole body tense and go on red alert -- and you have no other explanation for what's happening -- you should assume that you're under attack until you know you're not. That's your intuition kicking in; it's your mental grammar noticing the signals of hostility even when the speaker isn't using words you can immediately identify as hostile. Trust your body.

(An example of another explanation would be that the speaker is your boss and he fired three people yesterday and now he's called you into his office and has shut the door; when he starts talking, you almost inevitably are going to tense up and feel your stomach tie itself in a knot, and so on. That doesn't mean you're under attack, only that you have a good reason to be tense and on alert.)

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know you are under attack

Postby Jake Steinmann » Fri Apr 21, 2000 5:22 am

For an even better answer, I'll try to drag Tony over here. I may have had some hands on training with him, but I'm still a work in progress.

Detection is a matter of being aware of your surroundings, and the people therein. As student and Suzette alluded to, a lot of this comes from intuition. If something feels wrong, it's usually because something is.

As student says, it's useful to imagine yourself as a predator. Try to figure out who you'd attack, and why. Chances are, if you can recognize their vulnerabilities, you can recognize them in yourself as well.

I would also reccomend evaluating your routine. Where would you attack you? Be realistic...there are likely only a handful of times/places that you are vulnerable. Figure out some possible tactics/scenarios/escape routes from those places.

Tony says "do your homework once, and it'll always be there for you". While it may be uncomfortable to try to analyze being attacked in your home, or at your job, once you've really done it, you'll find that you won't have the same fears about it.

How does this help awareness? The more you analyze your routine and potential 'danger zones' the more aware you will be of potential danger'll know when something is out of place, because you'll have already contemplated what it looks like.

I hope that makes sense...I'm a little sleepy right now.

I will try to get Tony over here as well.


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