How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big Bad Bug-Eyed Criminal Master Predators

Sometimes it seems like I've got more stuff "in process" than I can find time to finish. Part of this material (the part in italics) is a bit of something I started writing a couple of weeks ago and never got 'round to finishing. I may use it in that other piece yet, so don't be surprised if you see it again.
Everybody's got their bete noire, I suppose--or perhaps a few of them.

One of mine is the constant conjuring-up, by some people, of the invincible killer streetfighter/criminal/biker/whathaveyou. Every so often, I'll read a post, or a book, that talks about criminals or streetfighters or whatever as though they were invincible, some sort of unstoppable force, defense against which is all but impossible for mere martial arts practitioners.

I do not get this.

Oh, I will grant some things readily. One is that I don't actually hang around such people as a rule (and personally, I tend to think of that as a plus...). Another is that they can be sneaky *&^%#%@!. Some of them can be pretty ruthless, no doubt about it.

Some few weeks ago, the Tulsa Police shot one of these miscreants to death. They were executing a raid on a meth lab in a bar (near a neighborhood I used to live in and still deliver to!), and one of the resident bikers (biker gang bar, it was) decided that he was going to reach for a pistol.

Ruthless? Yes. The man was apparently willing to shoot it out with the cops.

Smart? Mercy, no! The man was willing to shoot it out with the cops!

Effective? Well, he wound up dead. Fat lotta good his street smarts and ruthlessness did him.

I once knew a man who was a former Marine, a Vietnam combat vet, if I remember correctly. He was also a former inmate, a recovering drug addict. The guy was intimidating-looking. Pushing fifty, but looked strong. Covered in ugly tattoos. Looked a mess. Fairly smart guy, too, as I recall. Attended church (not the one I'm at now, a different one) with us and his cousin for a while. By some people's reckoning, he should have been one of the deadliest guys on the planet. I never did get to see him fight (why would I?), but after getting to know him fairly well, I never had any reason to suspect that his technique or his determination or his ruthlessness, if he had any, was superior to mine or any other former Marine's.

Many years ago, when I was still quite young, I had an acquaintance about a year or so younger. I think I am remembering this story correctly, but it's been a long time. At any rate, this fellow had apparently informed on some nefarious character, and he had been threatened. The ne'er-do-well had threatened to bust my acquaintance's head when he got out of jail, and my acquaintance was concerned, for he had never given a thought to fighting in his life.

He wasn't able to take up martial arts at the time, and I ended up giving him some very simple techniques. I showed him a low sidekick (I may also have shown him a low front kick, but I can't remember for sure) and told him to practice it on a tree he had in his back yard. I also showed him (and a very flawed rendition it no doubt was, as I only knew what I had read) the basic Wing Chun punch. Now, I have heard that Bruce Lee once said, "When in doubt, straight blast," by which he meant deliver one of those punches after another, as fast as you can, constantly moving forward. I knew from experience
--Taekwon-do free-sparring experience, believe it or not--(limited as it was at that time) that most people don't cope well with that. They end up getting hit whilst trying futilely to block one punch after another, or backpedaling so fast that they trip over their own feet.

And then I left him.

I heard later that he had in fact been assaulted by the ne'er-do-well, and that he had had his glasses broken and gotten a black eye. His assailant, on the other hand, wound up with a broken nose and a broken rib, so I guess that my guy "won" by a score of two broken bones to one black eye, if you want to think of it that way.

The point of that story, if you didn't catch it, is that by the "criminals are tough and ruthless and will overwhelm anyone" theory, my acquaintance should have gotten his clock cleaned. Didn't happen.

Another story: Old boss of mine happened to look out of his living-room window and saw a guy whalin' away on a woman across the street. He hollered at his wife to call the cops and charged across the street.

Knocked the guy back, then picked him up and body-slammed him across his knee (I would have loved to see this maneuver!).

Bad guy later came back (just in time to meet the cops!) with a board with a nail stuck in it.

Ruthless? Obviously! But invincible? Even particularly tough? I would question that.

One time, I interrupted a rape. Pulled the guy off the girl, and, stupidly, held the guy out at arm's length for a second. I was looking for a weapon. He was trying to pull up his pants, and when he got them up far enough, took off like a rabbit.

When I think back on that one, I still can't believe that I didn't just bust his head on the spot. But on the other hand, that ruthless criminal predator didn't hesitate to flee the scene when confronted with a non-victim, either.

Look, I'm not trying to tell you that there aren't some mean people out there. Ruthless people who won't hesitate to use extreme violence to get what they want. I hope you don't think I'm telling you not to train hard and prepare for the worst. That would be stupid.

On the other hand, let's get real. Most crooks that I have seen or heard of aren't any bigger than I am (almost 5' 10" and about 200 #s, about 15 of which is, uh, padding). They aren't any smarter, any fitter (younger, I guess). They're don't generally appear willing to work any harder--as a matter of fact, it seems fairly obvious that a lot of crooks get into crime precisely because they don't want to work hard. They're not, as far as I can tell, willing to absorb a bunch of punishment. Sneakier, yeah. That they are.

Look, are you generally pretty aware of what's going on around you? Are you usually able to tell when things are about to go "bad?" Do you generally avoid places that have bad reputations? Are you able to hit hard and fast when you want to? Can you generally hit your target? Can you easily escape most simple grabs? Are you hard to hit?

If you are, I'd give pretty good odds that you will make it home safely. Nobody can know for sure, of course. But I think the odds are more in your favor than some people are willing to believe. For cryin' out loud, don't build the bad guys up in your mind to the point where you think good, solid martial arts training is useless. Cheez Louise, that's just silly.


  1. Good point (as usual). No, I don't think you are beating this dead horse to death again and again and again ;-)

    Seriously. I totally agree with you on your summary that if you can get slippery, get 1 good strike and a handful of grab releases then your chances are very much better of running home intact.


    (there's always a but, isnt there?)

    seems to me that what criminals do have that nice folks might not includes:
    1) the willingness to disregard social norms, taboos, etc...
    2) the willingness to strike first, with surprise.

    Sure, you can avoid most of that sort of jerk by avoiding all the usual places they hang out.

    But I think that the problem that Rory et al (I suppose that's who set you off in the first place) are trying to solve is not the fact that all criminals are super-evil-martial-masterminds.

    The poblem that they are trying to solve is that most (nearly all?) folks freeze when they are struck from surprise. Heck, that's nearly all Rory writes about is The Freeze and how it happens and how to perhaps resolve it.

    It's not that all bad guys are supermen, it's that all normal folks turn into sheep when surprised.


  2. Unless he's writing somewhere under a different name, no, it wasn't Rory. Somebody else has apparently come to the conclusion that the criminal element is so overwhelmingly bad that only people with Special Ops training have a prayer of coping with them.