Saturday, November 18, 2006

Verbal De-Escalation

Check out
this post by a very good self-defense oriented blog, (the aptly titled Self Defense). The post elaborates on a couple of techniques for responding to the common, "Who you lookin' at?!" opening by a potential aggressor.

One item I found very interesting was, "To reduce the ‘squeaky voice’ effect common when you get a heightened level of adrenaline in your system, look down slightly as you speak. Looking upwards makes your voice squeakier." I didn't know that! I'm not sure if it's true, and would like to know if anyone has tried this.

I remember having much more success physically, as opposed to verbally, when dealing with bullies in school (I always enjoyed taking bullies down a notch), but have never gotten into a fight, per se, as an adult. I have been attacked (attempted mugging), but have never had a chance to use verbal de-escalation since high school. My guess is that my demeanor and carriage may have prevented my getting into such situations, but I mentally rehearse the physical side of it, but not the verbal. Am I missing something? I think so.

We forget that many fights or confrontations are lost without a punch thrown, or even before one opens his mouth. As I mentioned in a previous post, I've just read Teddy Atlas' book, "Atlas." In it, he tells of bringing the raw, adolescent, Mike Tyson to the national Golden Gloves or something of a similar caliber, and just by his physical presence and glowering expression, heard fighters say that if they were matched with Tyson, they'd refuse.

I also remember, as a gregarious (though brash) 10th-grader, I pretended to peek at another boy's exam, and he called me a polecat, or something similar. At the time, I'd been teaching martial arts classes part-time, and constantly practiced, so when he insulted me, I challenged him to meet me in the hall as soon as class was over. I was cocky. I fumed, completed my test, then breathed a sigh of relief when, as soon as the test was over the kid turned around and apologized profusely. I think he was almost as anxious as I was! I really don't think I would've had any problem with him, though he was physically imposing, but I have always been nervous before fights, and that was no exception. That was, I think, the last time I challenged anyone, as my confidence increased with experience, at the same time, my understanding of how dangerous I was grew as well.

At any rate, I think drilling de-escalation would be beneficial to me, my partners, and anyone who is truly interested in living to fight another day. You never know who you're going to face, whether they have a weapon, or how many there really are until it happens. Best leave well enough alone, if given a choice.

Carry on!

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