Have you ever seen two boxers staring each other down in the center of the ring before the fight? Why do you think they do this? Simply, they are trying to psychologically intimidate each other. Two simple psychological statements are being made. One is “I’m not scared of you,” and the other is, “I’m going to kick your ass!” This action, in easy, seeable, and understandable terms defines the classic “psyching out your opponent,” that we’ve all heard of at some point in our life.
That example is a very easy way to illustrate the psychological interaction of human behavior, between two individuals engaged in or about to engage in combat. However, there’s a lot more going on than the eye can see and in real combat the stakes are not whose hand is raised at the end but who ends up in a coffin.
As I’ve discussed all along, the vital if not primary role the mind plays in surviving a life threatening encounter, now we’ll take a look at what role it plays during combat itself.
The apex predator in North America is the male grizzly bear. It’s 800 pounds of tooth claw and muscle. It can kill a 700 pound elk with one blow and it fears no other species of animal.
Yet there is one animal that can and will kill a male grizzly. What animal could that be? A 400 pound female grizzly. How could that possibly be? The male outweighs her by 400 pounds and is bigger, meaner, and stronger. I’ll answer the question and the answer is this; When the female is defending her young. As you know, in the wild, males will often kill the offspring sired by other males in order to drive the females into estrus so they can pass on their progeny and genes.
How can the female kill a bear that dwarfs it in size? There are several major dynamics at work and these, in total, give the female the advantage that she needs. These are; She will fight to kill the male grizzly (Purpose and Intent). She has no regard for her own safety (Loss of Self). And, she will fight to the death (Ferocious Resolve).
I want to look at these three separate but necessary parts of the whole as they relate to combat, their effects on you, their effects on the opponent and why they are necessary for your survival when you are confronted with the harsh realities of a violent encounter.
We’ll start with Purpose and Intent. Using the female grizzly as our model, if she is attacked by a male grizzly over territory, food, or any reason excluding protecting her young, the male grizzly would easily subdue her, drive her away or kill her. Perhaps he is a serial killer grizzly and she was to become his latest victim.
What is difference? Same bears, same fight – but no purpose. The difference is plain to see. She didn’t have anything to fight for. There was no purpose to fight. She did not want to hurt or kill the male grizzly – no Intent. She could always get other food or move to another territory. So in this case the male grizzly dominates the other bear both physically and psychologically. Just as with humans, after all we are still animals, there must be a purpose to fight, a cause, or a reason, or you’re heart just won’t be in it. This purpose, whether it is to protect children, loved ones, partners, teammates, or the soldier next to you is a vital element of, survival against the odds. This purpose can also be driven by less tangible but sometimes just as important reasons such as religion, justice, patriotism or moral righteousness.
Sometimes it’s just plain self preservation. Whatever that reason is, there must be a reason.
In regard to Intent, there must be a goal. And that Intent must be to meet force of violence by responding with Overwhelming Force of Violence. If you must fight you have to fight to win. From the very onset. Whenever I’ve worked with the Brits they were always talking about the switch. Are you switched on? Switch on – switch off – developing your switch, etc, etc.
I came to realize that what they meant was, in simple terms of a fight, your switch better be turned on or you’re gonna lose. Switched on can also mean being aware of your surroundings, your environment and many other things but I’m not discussing those other meanings right now. And, if you enter into the fight, any fight without the Intent to kill if necessary, then you may not get that option after you’ve been stabbed several times, shot or beaten with a pipe. Here’s where most attorney types and a lot of Law Enforcement people say, “Hey, wait a minute. You can’t tell people to go out and kill someone just because they’ve said, ‘F..k you I’m gonna kick your ass!’” So let me just say this once again, the premise of this series of articles is “Surviving The Deadly Attack.” Maybe it would be better to describe my point in more benign terms. The female grizzly enters the fight to protect her young at full blood lust rage knowing that if she has to she will kill the male grizzly to protect her young. Even more benign is this. Picture this and you’ll know the difference I’m describing. Walk over to your stereo and turn it on. Now adjust the volume, turn it up so you can hear it. Or… walk over to the stereo turn the volume up to full blast and then hit the on switch. That is the difference I am talking about. Against true, raw, naked violence you don’t have the option of turning up the volume, ramping up to fight off an attacker during the attack. You need to hit them at full volume and then turn the volume down as is warranted both morally and legally as the dynamics change. You’ve got to switch on at full volume until the threat is neutralized. Sometimes just “putting up your dukes,” stops a fight before it starts as long as you are ready to go “all the way.” If that is your intent, the opponent will get the message – psychologically. It speaks loud and clear without a word being said.
The second aspect of the fight between the minds is this. The Japanese Samurai called it “The loss of Self.” What this means is that in order to fight, really fight with everything that you have, with no hesitation or holding back, you can have no regard for injury or harm to yourself. Why was this important to the Samurai? Because when two opponents are fighting each other in mortal combat with razor sharp swords that will cut a man in half, there can be no hesitation, second guessing or fear of being cut or injured. “He who hesitates is lost,” is absolutely true in terms of mortal combat. Many times we have been regaled with stories of soldiers who fought on against the enemy against incredible odds and serious injuries that any one alone would be enough to disable someone under “normal” conditions. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear or talk to any of those individuals you will find that they had “ceased to exist” in those moments and that there was only the enemy to defeat, that everything in their being was channeled to defeating or killing the enemy. There was nothing held back, it was pure focus and determination at the cost of all other considerations. There was NO FEAR! Mind you, I’m not talking about courage here. That is something that is also necessary. And many times that courage is fueled by Purpose as we discussed earlier.
However, what I’m talking about here is a state of mind. A psychological phenomenon. It is also part of what enables the Grandmother to pick the car up, off of her Grandson. There is no, “I can’t pick up the car.” There is no, “It’s too heavy for me.” There is no I or me. There is only, “PICK UP THE CAR!” I call this the Superman moment. We all have it, you may have never used it, but you’ve gotta believe it exists.
The third and very vital component of the battle of the wills is this. I will fight to the death, Ferocious Resolve. When the female grizzly is defending her young she will fight to the death to protect them, willfully sacrificing herself to save her babies. This is the never give up – never surrender state of being that gives you the resolve and the ferociousness of a cornered deadly animal. Somehow the Male Grizzly knows this and it has an effect. It’s not seeable it’s not physical, but it’s feelable. The male grizzly feels it and it gives the female a huge psychological advantage over the male. The knowledge that you will fight to the death is a powerful potion. For some, (most) people they will never know if they would or if they could. I guess that proves that our laws, our system and our individual morals and ethics are in good working order. Which is a good thing.
However there are people – very bad people in our midst that intend to do us harm, and given the right circumstances they will perpetrate their evil deed. You might be one of the lucky one whose path is never crossed by such evil and if so, consider yourself lucky.
But for the Warrior, those who see danger where others are oblivious, there is no doubt about the question; Will I fight to the death? They already know the answer.
In a conventional confrontation, in the brief seconds prior to the first strike or blow, the battle of the minds has already begun and the battle of the wills is already engaged. In the case of a surprise attack or ambush, the battle of the minds begins simultaneous to the physical engagement but it is still taking place throughout the encounter.
In any case, if all other things are equal, (size strength and skill) then the combatant with the psychological edge will usually win the battle, and in a lot cases where the opponent has the edge in strength size and skills, the combatant with the strongest resolve, the greatest force of will can still win the fight even against “the odds.”
When your opponent senses that he is up against a true Warrior, one who is projecting the following; I’m fighting for a righteous purpose. I’ll kill you if I have to. I don’t care what happens to me and I will fight to the death. Then your opponent knows immediately the price he is about to pay for his mistake. And the moment he senses that, and knows that he is up against a 10 foot tall fire breathing dragon, his resolve will crumble and you will prevail. In so many cases the battle of the minds determines the outcome of the battle of the fists. You must be armed and prepared to fight on both fronts to be the winner. Just remember never to neglect one, for the other.