If you find yourself in a “fair fight,” you must be at a sporting event. I am of the opinion that in a physical self-defense encounter, the protagonist and antagonist are not on equal grounds. Our fight is harder than theirs. Here are six reasons why this is true.
1. Our need for constant vigilance. The wolf sleeps peacefully in the forest, knowing that he is the hunter, not the hunted. We, on the other hand, must recognize that nearly everywhere we go, every minute of our lives, someone is evaluating us as a potential target. With this knowledge comes the burden of constant awareness of our surroundings and perceptiveness to danger.
2. It’s not a duel, it’s an ambush. Attackers always begin with the first advantage: Time. They are the only ones who know for certain the time and place of the attack, what they want from us, and what they’re prepared to do to take it from us. Simply stated, by the time you realize you’ve been invited, you’re already late to the party. A time disparity is a difficult thing to overcome: That is why any instructor worth his or her salt will take great pains to drive home the virtues of picking up on potentially dangerous situations before they become active attacks through maintaining vigilant awareness.With this knowledge comes the burden of constant awareness of our surroundings and perceptiveness to danger.
3. We will have to justifiably break the law. Your attacker flouts rule and order, while you, forced to do something illegal for a justified reason, must adhere to the law through judicial use of force. Which is as much as to say, we will be forcibly dragged through a mud pit and required to come out clean on the other side.
It is not legal to kill someone, shoot them, punch them or threaten to hurt them without justification. Recognizing what is being done to you in legal terms, and what response is justified in the eyes of the law, means becoming intimately familiar with federal, state and local firearm laws, criminal and civil violations attached to using force or deadly force against another person, and the pillars of self-defense justification that will save you from devastating legal consequences.
4. They merely need to be lucky, we have to be skilled. A person who is willing to use violence for gain will have no compunctions against indiscriminately causing harm during the commission of the crime. We, in contrast, have a care not only for the safety of ourselves and innocent bystanders, but also for the attacker. We must demonstrate the value of life through skilled application of force in only the amount and to the extent that is necessary and reasonable to stop the threat.
The sheepdog doesn’t maul the sheep as it drives away the wolf. We will be forced to defend ourselves in a time and place predetermined by the attacker. So, we train for a worst-case scenario in which we do not have a safe backstop, smooth range deck, back up or an unlimited supply of ammunition.
5. We have more to lose. On a human level, you and your antagonist have many of the same things to lose. But think of it this way: He doesn’t attach the same value to his life, safety and freedom as you do, otherwise why would he knowingly make choices with consequences that could damage, forfeit or separate him from them? We have more to lose by way of the increased value we place on what is most integral to our survival and happiness. We have more to lose by way of the increased value we place on what is most integral to our survival and happiness.
6. We will have to live with the consequences of someone else’s evil choices. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t want it, but it happened, and now we’re trying to move on. We may have to live with negative consequences from our ordeal for the rest of our lives—physical pain, emotional trauma, strains on family and professional relationships, financial burdens due to time off work, court fees or medical bills. We will be judged not only in the court of public opinion, but by a room full of safe, comfortable people who have weeks to dissect every millisecond of the worst few minutes of your life and hold you to an accounting of your actions.
The only fight you should be in is the one you couldn’t avoid. And that fight, when it comes, will be won with the skills you learned when the wolf still slept.
Frequent A1F Daily contributor Corinne Mosher is a Kansas State Rifle Association Training Committee member and professional shooter.