Archive for the ‘Personal Security articles by Steve’ Category

But Won’t it Hurt Him? The 911 Mindset: Making Victims of Us All

Steve Cliff  08/20/2010

We had just about finished another of our women’s self-protection seminars and I began
thinking as we approached the end of the seminar, “Wow, nobody even asked today…”
and then IT happened. Again. The “Old Faithful” of questions asked by socially
programmed people who have been taught to be a good victim raised its ugly head. From
a diminutive voice with arm raised to ask permission to question it squeaked out of one of
my clients mouths and screamed across the room in protest. “If we do that to the
attacker, won’t it really hurt him?” And then just as predictably, every face in the place
turned to look for the answer.
It isn’t that myself or those who instruct with me have some mystical divination. Our
answers aren’t “shaped” to suit a particular audience. We simply define the issue and
deal with it outside the societal constraints that have allowed criminals to flourish and
sacrifice good people to the whim of the violent animals that make up our criminal
element. Every single person in that room knows what the right answer is instinctively.
They know that to protect themselves they HAVE to physically stop the assailant. The
problem is that our social message from pre-k through the rest of our lives stops them
with the threat of punishment and the award of an almost pariah-like status for breaking
the rules that stop self-protection form occurring.
Here’s how the answer generally goes: “You have a right to self-protection. The rulings
of the Supreme Court tell you that you are responsible for your own defense because they
specifically relieve the police from being responsible for your personal protection. You
are told you have to call 911 and hide or get a restraining order or somehow otherwise
rely on someone else to protect yourself, but unless you can afford full-time personal
protection specialists, you are the only one you can guarantee will be there when you are
attacked. To not act in a proactive manner is to guarantee you will be a victim, and you
have to hope that he chooses not to harm you. Compliance does not guarantee you
safety, thousands of compliant victims get killed or maimed each year. Only your
commitment to act in your own protection will offer hope of surviving. If you do not act
decisively, i.e. if you don’t render them incapable of attacking, you will be a victim. It is
more than okay to hurt him. Causing him trauma is your goal in self-protection. He
chose to go outside societies rules by attacking and you have the responsibility to
yourself and your loved ones to step outside the societal rules and attack him to ensure
your safety. The only moral choice when under attack is to act amorally to prevent the
criminal from victimizing you. Any other choice means you choose his life over yours
and those who are depending on you to protect them.”
After this answer we generally get three to five minutes of follow up on this and then you
start to see the whole class demeanor change. It is now longer people timid about being
here and unsure of what it is we teach. The clients focus increases, their intensity
increases. This is good because it means they are taking it seriously and the
concentration coupled with the methods of instruction help them plant the information in
the brain where they can use it under stress. Of equal importance, they begin questioning
when they would be willing to use the material we teach. They ask themselves, “at what
point am I okay, inside my own mind, with me having to use this?” Once they begin that
process they are on their way to embracing the responsibility that comes with selfprotection
and the consequences of having to protect oneself and loved ones.
We never tell our clients when they should use our material other than to clearly delineate
that they must clearly see or perceive an imminent threat to their person or someone
else’s before they use this. We specifically instruct them to the dangers of using
combatives for non-survival settings including telling them that misuse will almost
certainly result in their criminal and civil prosecution. As it should, if it is used in a nonthreat
environment. Our area of operation for terminal combatives is a finite one.
My fear is that people find it okay to walk away from others being attacked rather than
getting involved. We see it increasing now in the news, people don’t do anything when a
man pulls a hammer out and starts beating another person they just calmly walk by and
move seats until the train stops and they can exit. I have written about several cases like
that. If we are truly in survival mode and won’t help fellow citizens because we are
trained to call 911 or leave the scene and get help, the message of relying on the police
and others for protection will make victims of us all and it will do it sooner than later.

Understanding Self-Protection Part 1:

Understanding Criminal/Asocial Violence v. Social/Anti-Social Violence   Stephen Cliffe

The very essence of self-protection is the understanding of the parameters under which is to be implemented.  When most people think of violence they think most often of:

1.      ego-based bar fights where two or more people puff out their chests and try to defend against a perceived wrong or offence,

2.      someone trying to out-testosterone a competitor to be viewed favorably by a female they are looking to be with

3.      competitors in a boxing or MMA match or such trying to compete for bragging rights or

4.      persons who are looking to vent and make someone else feel less-then so they can feel better about themselves.

All of these have one thing in common; they are a type of violence that is socially-based and constrained, at some level, by social rules of interaction.  At some point in each of these events, there is a socially acceptable way of preventing violence from occurring.  Deferring to another to let him seem dominant, apologizing and leaving the scene when you are the source of a perceived wrong, finding another person of interest to focus attention on.  Each allows us to make a choice to engage in an act of violence or not.

And because we are social animals, we understand and accept the societal connotations of behavioral codes of conduct, believing that we are relatively safe as long as we follow the social constraints of the game.  Once we choose violence in a social setting it is conducted outside of the “proper” rules of social conduct and we venture in anti-social behavior.  This means that while we are going to engage in violence, that violence is more competitive in its nature, trying to ascertain the proper social status to be assigned to each participant as determined by the outcome of the contest.

But this is still in the realm of social violence.  Anti-social simply means the behavior is not preferred as a way of settling disputes but it is understood and assigned value by the members of the society who witness it.  The winner of the fight is assigned higher prestige and status than the guy who skulks off or is bested.

Now the nature of criminal asocial violence is that is cannot be understood in terms of social dynamics in the manner of establishing status.  It is not intended to do so.  Asocial criminal violence functions completely without regard for societal rules of any sort.  It uses these rules to hamstring the intended victim, making it easier to initiate force against them and succeed because most people want to talk or plead or avoid violence, and that is the edge the criminal or terrorist counts on.  While we are busy trying to go through the list of socially acceptable supplication rituals to avoid violence we are premium targets, getting beaten, stabbed, shot, raped, robbed or suffering whatever other fate the perpetrator intends to deliver unto us.

Violence for the asocial predator  is a tool used to gain a particular goal by the person employing it and it is not about competing with someone.  It is about inflicting enough damage to the person that has been targeted to render them incapable of resisting compliance with the demands of the perpetrator.  This is not about tapping out or making someone comply, it is about brutalizing them into abject submission.

There is no choice in the matter as to whether you will be part of an asocially violent event once you have been targeted – you will be.  The entirety of the nature of that event is that you will assume one of two roles – the person who did violence unto another and physically disabled them or you will be the person disabled by the violence.  You will be the victim or the perpetrator of violence.

The problem with the social programming is that because we understand criminal violence in terms of an anti-social behavior rather than an asocial event.  As I said before, while we are busy trying to go through the list of socially acceptable supplication rituals to avoid violence we being the perfect victims, receiving 100% of the physical damage during the event and being broken so we cannot resist or defend ourselves or our loved ones.  Our reaction to employ brutal, unyielding force on another human being carries a social stigma that many cannot overcome.  Most people look differently at someone they know has used true violence on another human being with the clear intent to cause debilitating harm, even if they used it in self-defense.  You should have called 911.  They wouldn’t hurt you if…, and the list goes on.  I have even seen a police officer chastise one of my former students for her attack on a man as he knocked her to the ground and tried to rape her.  She broke his ankle, ruptured his testicle which had to be surgically removed and broke his clavicles and jaw.  The officer was debating having her charged for excessive force because he felt she should have gotten to the emergency phone near her to call 911 rather than be a “vigilante”.  I am not kidding on this, you couldn’t make this kind of social idiocy up.  Needless to say the pending charge was over-ruled and the officer sent to another area by a senior officer on scene who saw the discussion unfold.

There are arguments about not sinking to the level of the criminal and other attempts by members of the social order to re-institute the supremacy of the social dictates on proper behavior and they are rooted, not in the welfare of the person who might have to or did survive an asocially violent event, but rather in making the other members of that social enclave feel better about avoiding the thought it could have been them.

Once we recognize that criminal asocial violence has a particular nature and that its nature places outside the constraints of societal functioning, we can begin to address how to protect ourselves.  The answer to that is so simple, once the social stigmas and doctrines are removed that it is amazing we can’t see it with crystalline clarity from the very outset – we must respond with asocial violence.

To respond to asocial events asocially is to choose to protect not defend.  Self-protection means to have fear of imminent threat upon your person and act proactively in asserting your right to not be a victim.  It means to decide to make the criminal a victim and not stop until you believe that you can leave that scene safely.  It means to be the giver of violence – 100% of the violence being inflicted is being done by you.  To defend means to try and stop the violence being delivered unto you – an untenable position if survival is your goal.  Eventually, if you are defensive, your capacity to defend will be eroded as your body absorbs punishment until you are no longer defensible.  And then it is simply you absorbing as much damage as he chooses to inflict upon you – up to and including the possibility of him killing you.

This is where the study of combatives comes in and the study of boxing, kickboxing, martial arts and mixed martial arts goes out.  Combatives is about delivering 100% of the damage to the target you have to engage – just as the criminal would do to you.  It is about inflicting serious damage not to compete with an assailant to see who is best but rather to structurally incapacitate that assailant so they can no longer function to present a viable threat.


“teach him a lesson” or “use his energy against him” or “submit him with pain compliance”.

IT IS TO: break joints, rupture the testicles and tear the scrotum off, to blind him, to cause structural damage that stops him form being able to move, and if necessary to crush the pericardial sac or windpipes, sever cervical ganglion and brainstem, or stomp on the skull until you rupture the skull’s protective framework and crush the brain.

We can ramp down as soon as the person cannot pose a threat to us again, but the reality is that in asocial violence if you aim to compete you are preparing for a role as victim.  Since there are only two roles, victim and victor, you must choose to make him a victim first.  It is ugly, and it is unpleasant.  You will hear noises and pleadings that are guttural and would break your heart in a social setting.  And if you are in an asocially violent encounter it is it the only way you can even the playing field and hope to survive.

Understand that if the event is asocial you have no choice.  If the event is asocial there is no guilt that can be assigned to you that is morally viable if society is cogent of the rights of an individual not to be victimized.  The twisted logic of those who would defend criminals is exactly that, twisted.  It is neither functional nor proper and the ethos of those who espouse it is to destroy individual rights and individual responsibility and replace it with social dependence, allowing individuals to be sacrificed to the asocial criminal elements so long as it structures society to keep them empowered through dependence on law devoid of justice.

The act of individual self-protection was a fundamental lynch-pin in the constructs of this nation.  We have convoluted the conditions under which we may claim the right to action in our own defense or in the defense of those we love so badly that we are at risk of losing it altogether if we do not assert it decisively and force the court and law enforcement systems to once again embrace it as a central tenet of our social structure.

Never feel guilty for defending yourself when there you are given no option.

It Couldn’t Happen To Me

Stephen Cliffe

The man grabbing his 6 month old grand daughter from the ground after his wife was run down by a man who had just repeatedly smashed into them after cutting one person’s throat and stabbing another in the neck probably thought the same thing.  After a road rage incident that left several dead and injured including the criminal, the gentleman who saved his granddaughter did so after coming to the harsh realization that so many of my clients lack when they first train in one of my seminars; only proactive steps will stop a criminal who intends on acting against you.

The tragic event also underscores two basic realities about the urban myth that, “It couldn’t happen to me”.  The first reality is if there is another person around you, it can happen.  Period.  The second fact is that as we tell everyone who trains with us, “criminal violence is criteria-specific but random in its targeting”.  No one expected a small bumper-to-bumper event to trigger an onslaught of violence like this.  Who could?

But then the facts hit you squarely in the reality check button; when a man approaches with a blade you better know to get proactive because trying to hold up your hands and be defensive is just not going to get you out of there.  It will get you hurt or dead.  Nor is trying to run from the scene; sadly the grandmother trying to get her granddaughter out of there found that fact out when the animal ran her down.  If an asocial predator is intent on violence he will continue to act as long as he can function physically and he will continue to act until he is satisfied and wants to stop or somebody physically intervenes to stop him.

Luckily the grandfather got to the tot to save her and then began proactive intervention.  He got into a vehicle and tried to run down the criminal, an active enough intervention to drive off the felon before he could kill or hurt anyone else.

Again, this is just one more opportunity to point out the fact that to believe you are not a possible target or corollary target of violence, you are fooling yourself.  Your neighborhood, street, route to work or vacation trip, all of these things can be the place where criminal acts happen.  Can you deal with that?  Or do you write this off as a scare tactic in order to take away your sense of having some responsibility to prepare for protecting yourself?  We train people in combatives because they are simple, deadly effective and level the playing field between bad guys and good guys.  This is not sport based martial arts, because under criminal attack SURVIVAL IS NOT A SPORT.

Have you ever seen MMA cage matches result in death or maiming? No unless there is a horrible accident or underlying physical condition.  Why not?  It is simple; MMA is a sport and death or maiming the opponent are goals strictly outside the rules.  Well a fight on the street can turn deadly right now and if you treat it like it were a competition in the ring, your very last words might be “this can’t happen to me” and your clinging to that belief might just have killed you and those you love.

Are Our Schools Ready for The Next Wave of Terrorist Attacks?

Steve Cliffe  08/30/2010

September 11, 2001 marked a day in which our lives changed for the foreseeable future.
Gone was the insular nature that had allowed us to see from afar the acts of terror that had
been going on in the Islamic spread dating back to Mohammed’s slaughter of innocents
after being exiled in the early 600’s A.D. We stood face to face with an enemy who few
knew and who many misunderstand.
Like any common criminal thug, the Islamic fundamentalists who attacked the World
Trade Center that day had no regard for human life including their own. They continued
a tradition dating back to the executions committed by Mohammed of all who stood in
the way of his world view of tyranny under the guidelines of the theocratic world
government outlined in the Qur’an, Shari’ah and Hadith.
These three books specifically outline a strategy that falls outside our concept of human
interrelation. They advise using the Qur’an to lie to enemies as long as the greater goal
means the spread of Islam, to kill those who will not submit (yes I know the Verses of the
Pen say otherwise, but they are superseded and abrogated in moral authority by the
Verses of The Sword which were written after them since the Qur’an is a book to be read
chronologically rather than from front to back), and to recognize only two states of
existence in the world; the state of Islam or the state of war to prepare for Islam.
The use of child bombers is abhorrent to us but not to the terrorists who view this as a
holy war and the only way to true salvation lies in dying in jihad efforts. They believe, as
the jurisprudence of the Islamic system of belief dictates, that they have to conquer the
world, as Malcolm X would say “by any means necessary”. Killing kids is perfectly
acceptable targeting for these terrorists and that is what makes their list of new target
focus so scary. It applies to the next set of targets they have begun actively encouraging
their supporters to strike among us; malls, random assassination of those who dare
question or oppose them, and perhaps most heinously, our schools.
The fact is that jihadists encourage massive hostage taking for the sole purpose of
slaughtering them in a “terrifying” way as a direct homage to Mohammad as articulated
in his slaughter of the Banu Qurayza. The fact is they have outlined in a series of
manuals that provide specific information on how to attack such targets to inflict
maximum casualties. This should cause us to fear for our children as never before, and
recognize that our current model of lockdown/hide-in-place is the worst possible strategy
since it incorporates no proactive strategy and provides no tactical training for the staff in
case of a terrorist attack.
It can be safely assumed that the “terrifying” manner is consistent with what we have
seen followers of Mohammad use before, emulating Mohammad’s own techniques
outlined in the Hadith for inducing terror, beheading kneeling victims with a small sword
or knife. This means that by piling our kids into several small holding cells (classrooms)
and gathering them together we simplify their attack strategy and make it easier to kill
our kids and the staff in our schools. Much as was done at the school in Beslan, Russia.
We cannot rely on the police or the military to protect soft targets. We must look for
ways that are capable of fitting into the lockdown/shelter-in-place model of school
response planning we see already occurring. The fact is that first responders are always
there AFTER something happens. How many kids do we have to face before we drop the
bean-counters worry about litigious criminals/terrorists who might be hurt by training our
teachers to learn to protect themselves and the children they are charged with caring for.
We already have legislation that forces teachers to report suspected parental violence
towards kids, why do they not have a focused classroom defense protocol? Surely, if you
asked the victims of any school shooting be it in West Virginia, or Columbine, in the
United States, Beslan in Russia or Finland, I am sure everyone would have thought it
impossible to happen there.
While currently there is only an extremely limited number of trainings that can interface
with active shooter response by our active shooter communities, they do exist. My
company offers the TEACHSAFE™ seminar, an addendum course that dovetails with the
educational lockdown/shelter-in-place model as well as LEO/first responder interface
planning and all of this for FAR less than the cost of a monitoring system or therapy after
an incident takes many innocent lives. This course is available through the
Asymmetric Warfare Studies Group training curriculum as well as through us
directly. There are training options out there. We implore the educational professionals,
their unions and the legislators responsible in the both the federal and state levels to start
looking at this before the terrorist launch an attack. Please for the sake of our kids get
proactive and do not wait to train our teachers until after an attack occurs.

Mindset and Survival, by Stephen Cliffe

Lt Col. Dave Grossman has written numerous books on the topic of survival mindset and the psychological realities killing from both the military/law enforcement realm as well as the civilian setting of criminal/terrorist violence.  He very astutely developed the “social classification” of personality types that humans tend to fit into.  To paraphrase his work (I strongly suggest you read his material as it is authoritative and well researched), there are; the wolves – criminals and terrorists with no moral compunction about using violence to get what they want and who comprise a small minority of the population but who have huge influence because of their willingness to use violence; the sheep – the people who do not know how to use violence or are remiss to do so because of moral concerns and look to others to save them or accept subjugation rather than risk fighting, forming the majority of society; and the sheepdog – those who are proficient in the use of violence and will not hesitate to use it – but only use it on the wolves to defend the sheep.

Now this is where the psychology gets interesting.  The wolves look for the path of least resistance to gain their bounties and thus the sheep who are infirm and unable to protect themselves along with the timid sheep who would rather be put upon than stand up to protect themselves are the prime targets.  These sheep try to justify why the wolves think like they do, trying to fit the social conditioning they cling to into the frame of behavior the wolves display in their asocial minds.  The sheep try to mollify the wolves, and in so doing empower the wolves and embrace their own servitude, all the while protesting the presence of the sheepdogs, whose actions will defeat the wolves because they use the same tools as the wolves employ.  The sheep only like the sheepdogs when they fear for their lives and need someone to act against the wolves rather than simply talk about acting or try to explain away the wolves’ actions.

So it is in the field of educational safety concerning the issue of asocial violence in school settings.  Columbine, Virginia Tech, and too many other school shootings, knifings and other attacks have paralyzed the educational community because they cannot effectively stop the violence using the cry to the sheepdog since most of the violence is done before and effective response can reasonably be expected.  They can’t talk to the wolves and make nice because the wolves just want to kill them, and they don’t know how to act with any sense of individual proactive response since they have never trained or admitted the need for such training.  Inside the school populations themselves, zero tolerance policies just force those who would defend themselves into accepting victimhood, the wolves don’t play by social rules so we simply provide train the wolves to use violence against what is typically a very compliant group of targets.

We have seen gun control pushes, cameras and all other manner of bromides pushed but the bottom line is until our educators mandate cost-effective tactical training to give teachers and students hiding in place a chance to defend the classroom, we will have ever mounting body counts in our educational workplace.  We, both members of the public and educators, should insist that, however unpleasant the idea of responding to asocial violence in schools may be for our teachers and administrators, they must learn the essentials of defending the classroom and other designated safe rooms in a school in order to provide stop gap protection until the threat is over.  Only when we face this issue head on will we overcome the paralysis that fear and ignorance have created in our emergency violence response training as it now stands.

When Fear Puts Us At Risk, by Stephen Cliffe

One of the things I have noticed in the many years I worked personal protection and taught self-protection was the unflagging conviction that the vast majority of people had about criminal attacks and how it would affect them.  Almost without fail they believe that they travelled in circles that would not experience real criminal violence because they went to “good” parts of town, or the lived in “good” neighborhoods, or the shopped in “upscale” places that didn’t let “those kinds” of people in.

Now this isn’t surprising in and of itself, we see people hiding from reality in order to make themselves feel better all the time.  What is surprising is the fact that many of these people are intelligent, driven people willing to put themselves and their families at risk by denying the evidence which tells them they are in denial.  They do so primarily for one of two reasons; they do not recognize the daily news articles pointing out the increasing violence and the ease with which it can be inflicted upon someone, and secondly, the random nature of criminal attacks.  I guess there is a third probable option that we should also admit; they recognize these things and it simply scares them to name and recognize them openly because it makes it concrete for them.

When fear puts us at risk, it does so for a logical reason; we have forgotten how to rely on ourselves.  Thus any thought of having to physically protect of ourselves causes us to freeze in fear of failure or fear of stepping up and taking personal responsibility.  I suspect the latter is more often the root cause.  It takes its status as most likely culprit because it is the socially dominant message we receive when being taught how to deal with any kind of asocial attack, be it terrorist or criminal in nature.  We are always taught to call someone else, to phone the police or flee the scene, or surrender our premises to the invader.  This is how we are brought up.  It is the sum product of “civilizing” our social interaction without recognizing the need to inculcate self-protection into the creed by which we live.  Thus as we become more civilized we push people into becoming prey for those who live among us as predators.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman wrote a book classifying people into three categories; sheep, wolves and sheepdogs.  He astutely points out that given social programming of the kind we are actively promoting, we have created a society where most people are sheep; casually going through life while actively ignoring the dangers building around them until the wolves attack.  Then the sheep do what sheep have been programmed to do, they call for help and those caught by the wolves are ravaged and fed upon.  The sheepdog are those who protect us, circling around us, not trusted by the sheep because the nature of the sheepdog is to use the same violence as the wolves and the moral programming of the sheepdog is the only thing stopping them from turning on the sheep.  And so the sheep fear the sheepdog but they do not hesitate to expect protection from them when the attack occurs.

Usually the sheepdogs can drive off the wolves with a minimal loss of sheep.  Thus the sacrifice of one or a few allows many to continue on in blissful denial.  Just like the sheep who several months ago sat on a bus to Edmonton, Alberta.  These sheep, living in the land of non-violent Canadians (who have managed to deny that any real violence ever happens there with a skill at self-denial that borders on the insane) that watched a wolf among them cut the head of one of their flock without doing anything except escaping to another pasture.

Again the question arises; what happens if the wolves attack the flock and find instead that they are all sheepdogs.  Well there would be a very bloody and mangled pile of wolves and the flock would be safer from future attacks because the law of predation says to pick the easiest victim and so the wolves left would seek another meal ticket.  They would be reminded, if each sheep chose to be sheepdog, of the old adage TANSTAAFL.  There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

I don’t know if we will ever get rid of the anti-human agenda set up by those who wish to “civilize” us by destroying the individual and creating a “sheep” society.  The use of fear for our safety through the appointing of judges who allow violent felons free and laws that are pro-criminal keep the wolves among us.  That heightened sense of fear drives us into ever-greater divesting of individual reliance in favor of government providing policing, thus reducing our ability to defend society as a whole.  We need to adopt the Israeli model of citizenry.  Proactive response to criminals among us will cull these animals from among us.  When we see a criminal preparing to drive into a crowd, we shoot him.  Did anyone notice the effectiveness of this action in Jerusalem or the West Bank areas when terrorists (criminals) attacked?  Often no civilian casualties, just dead wolves.  What would happen if outlaws were treated as they chose to live, gang members who live outside the law have no rights because those rights are within the framework of society’s laws, and they expressly refuse to be part of those laws.  Okay by me, you’re a gang member, we shoot on sight.  Put them up on pike’s as a warning.  How many young kids would sit in front of MTV thinking “boy that gangsta rotting on that pole sure looks cool”.  I am guessing that youth gangs and adult ones would be far less attractive.

I do know that if we continue to play by the rules, we hold law-abiding members of our society in a position akin to being staked as bait when criminal attack looms.  If we do this, we will surely continue to sacrifice our good members of society to those who are choosing to live among us but not with us.  If we do not recognize that asocial means outside of social order and people who choose to initiate asocial force should be dealt with in a manner logically consistent with their actions, then we protect those who would destroy and feed upon our goodness.  I will just keep hoping that the bleating of the sheep to be saved will be replaced with a rallying cry; that the sheep will find their moral compass and fortitude and help the sheepdogs kill the wolves.