So my brother and his wife were play fighting the other day. And he lost. To a girl.
How and why?
(And yes, this matters.)
How he lost
It started as a tickle fight (as these things do). Then his wife, being sneaky and not wanting to be overpowered, grabbed the foam training knife from next to the couch.
(Why was there a training knife next to the couch? Because my wife had just thrown it at me. Women!)
She proceeded to stab the snot out of him. And he didn’t do a very good job of protecting himself and stopping her.
Why he lost
He lost for 2 very good reasons.
Firstly, everybody knows the big rat has to let the small rat win now and then. Well, he does if he wants to keep playing with the little rat.
Secondly, he lost because of a mismatch in force levels.
She was stabbing him with the training knife, and he was trying to wrestle her and get control of her arms. Eventually he put her over his shoulder because her arms were moving too fast to grab.
His wife was using Lethal force (Level 6 – she had a knife for crying in a bucket!), and he was restricted to Control (Level 4). You don’t get to keep playing with your wife (or even keep the wife) if you match her level of force when play fighting.
So he lost because he was restricted to an inappropriate response.
Why you should care
This matters for a very simple reason.
If you use the wrong response, you get stabbed. Repeatedly. Just like my brother.
If you try to use Control tactics (Level 4) against someone punching you in the face (Damage – Level 5), then you’re at a disadvantage.
If you try Control against Lethal force (Level 4 against Level 6), then you’re mostly stuffed.
One level difference can get you in trouble. Two levels difference usually turns into a disaster. 3 levels difference? Fahgetaboutit.
This is why training across all the force levels is important. It’s not always the super-cool secret-ninja training, but you need to be able to dial in your response to the situation.
Consider it like the volume control on a speaker. Adjustable to any level from zero to full.
The opposite problem
This is the “nightmare” scenario for some people – using a higher level than your attacker.
Again, can you dial it in?
Now for the grey areas
It wouldn’t be a chat with me if I didn’t get bogged down in the grey areas.
2 come to mind.
First: What do you do if you can’t match their level? E.g. BG has a knife, but you have nothing lethal on you (why you wouldn’t, I don’t know.)
Second: When is it OK to use a higher level than the BG?
Situation 1: When you can’t match their Lethal Force
OK, let’s pretend you’re catching a flight later, so you’re dressed to go through metal detectors and pat-downs.
We’ll also pretend you don’t know the alternative solutions to this problem.
But lo! a BG attacks you on the way! He’s got a knife! But you can’t match his Level 6 (Lethal) force :(. What is a man to do?
Run the fuck away! Plan A, every time. Except maybe you have family with you, so you can’t. Crap.
When you can’t match his level of force, you go as close to it as you can.
He comes at you with a knife? Kick his knee. Punch his nose. Use the highest Level 5 you can muster. Add enough Level 5 (Damage) and it can start to wear on the guy using Level 6 (assuming you live long enough).
Start thinking: throat, neck, eyes, concrete floor. In other words, yes an “unarmed” man can go Level 6.
Can’t match their Lethal force? What nonsense is this? Cheat for fuck’s sake!
That hefty laptop you’re carrying would probably hurt if you smack him upside the head with it.
You could toss that book/newspaper you’re carrying in his face and then revert to Plan A (see above).
Is there a chair you can throw at him? Or even hit him with?
Make a fucking plan
Just because maybe you’ve trained a lot of wrestling (Level 4 Control) doesn’t mean you can’t re-train yourself to be a sneaky sonofabitch and cheat to win.
Situation 2: When you SHOULD go higher level than him
The other guy’s Level of force is not the only thing that affects what Level you should respond with.
4 guys all intent on Level 5 very quickly adds up to Level 6 for you. Even if they really did just meant to Damage you. You have 100 points of health, and each of the 4 guys only wants to cause you 30 points of Damage. Where does that leave you? Very possibly needing to go to Level 6 to make them stop before you die.
A second grey area would be time. The less you have, the quicker you need to end it. Getting jumped next to a busy road puts you in more danger than the same thing happening in a quiet room covered with gentle foam to land on. More so if your kids are with you.
An ambush demands a higher Level response than a setup you see coming (hence the need to improve your situational awareness).
If you know (can articulate why you reasonably believed) he’s going to attack you, you can use a higher level force than he currently is.
This boils down to a mis-match in time. You aren’t using Level 5 (a punch on the nose) against his Level 2 (Voice – he’s just talking to you). You’re using your Level 5 now, against the Level 5 he’s going to use in three seconds time.
This is why it’s important to be able to articulate your actions. You need to be able to explain (to yourself first of all, then possibly to the cops later) how you knew he was going to attack you in the immediate future, and why you couldn’t escape. That’s why you had to use Damage against his Voice (Level 2) or Presence (Level 1), because actually, he was about to launch a Level 5 (Damage). (Or maybe he started grabbing for his waistline to grab a weapon and go Level 6).
You get to use a higher level of force – if you have a pretty good idea of what’s coming for you.
Lessons for rats (husbands and wives)
Going back to the start. Why did my brother lose to his wife? He didn’t. He lost the knife fight but won the war.
Women like fighters, and physically rough-housing with your wife usually has the side benefit of increasing attraction in a relationship.
P.S. For anyone who thinks rough-housing with your wife is strange, I think you’re strange.