About two years ago, a sister, who attended one of my demonstrations, asked me to bring our martial arts program to her church. Recognizing my reluctance, she assured me that the church, though Presbyterian, was Pan-Afrikan and that the pastor was an Afrikan Traditionalist. A Presbyterian - Afrikan Traditionalist…hmmm…red-flag.
Against my better judgment, I contacted the sister’s pastor, who was excited to hear from me and even revealed his Yoruba “warrior name”. We agreed to meet at his church.
Our meeting was going well. The pastor held a black belt in ‘Take One’s Dough’, oops, I mean Tae Kwon Do (sorry) and he seemed very open-minded, progressive and revolutionary in his thinking. An otherwise wonderful meeting went down the tubes quickly, however, when the Good Reverend asked me this fateful question: “So, Brother Balogun, what is your philosophy on self-defense?” I answered: “Avoidance is the highest level of self-defense. In Egbe Ogun, we seek to avoid violence through awareness and common sense.”
The reverend’s previously warm and inviting expression twisted into a scowl of anger and utter disgust and he stared at me with cold eyes as he grunted: “That philosophy is good for the kids, Brother, but not for the real warriors. If somebody comes in this church and even looks cross-eyed, we are going to break his damned neck, not run from him!” “Thank God I’m not cross-eyed!” I half joked. The reverend snarled and rolled his eyes. At that point, I got up, shook the pastor’s hand and thanked him for his time. The reverend left me with these parting words: “When I was a child, I thought as a child, I acted as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Put away that childish philosophy, Brother, and then we can do business.”
With that said, he had his secretary show me out and we never spoke again, which was unfortunate for the Reverend.
See, it was apparent that Ol’ Rev’ had no clue about practical self-defense and it was even more apparent that he was in desperate need of a hug.
Dear Readers, Avoidance is the absolute highest form – and most effective method – of self-defense.
We can effectively and consistently avoid violent encounters if we learn to do three simple things:
1. Understand how violence happens.
2. Listen to and accurately interpret our intuition.
3. Identify danger signals.
HOW VIOLENCE HAPPENS – The Process of Action
A violent attack – like any other action – follows a specific process. This process of action is as follows:
Every ACTION is preceded by an IMPULSE
Every IMPULSE is preceded by a THOUGHT
Every THOUGHT is preceded by a PERCEPTION
So, if a potential attacker perceives you as being fearful, confused and ill-fit to protect yourself, the thought of attacking you will enter his mind. That thought will grow into a strong impulse to attack you and he will carry out the action of attacking you. However, if his perception of you is that you are ready, willing and able to put him in the hospital, prison, or the morgue, you will kill the thought in his mind of attacking you. If you kill the thought, you kill the impulse and if you kill the impulse, the actionnever takes place.
Carry yourself with confidence, competence and courage and you drastically lessen the likelihood of anyone trying to do you harm.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re single, it’s hard to get any “play”? Then, you finally find someone you’re happy with and, all of a sudden, you become the object of everyone’s desire? Why does this happen? Is it magic? Is it because you’re wearing that new “Bow, chick-a, wow-wow” cologne? Nope. It’s the Process of Action at work. You find someone and you begin to feel better about yourself. You walk with more pep in your step. You feel attractive, confident and accomplished and others perceive it. Their perception of you has changed, so their actions toward you also change.
Listening to and interpreting Intuition
Our intuition is called by many names: “my first mind”, “the voice of God”, “Spirit”, “a gut feeling”, “my Ori”, and so on. Whatever we call it, our intuition is our most valuable resource against violence, so we must listen to it and learn to interpret it.
How many times have you said, or heard someone say, “I should have listened to my first mind”? Probably many times. We often deny, dismiss, or disregard our intuition because we do not know that our intuition is always in response to something and always has our best interest at heart. Now you know. So start listening; it could save your life.
Do not deny what your intuition tells you for fear of appearing rude, weak, weird, antisocial, nonconformist, or whatever.
Your intuition tells you to cross the street as you approach a group of young men standing on the corner, but you don’t follow your intuition because you don’t want to appear afraid. When you wake up in the hospital (if you’re lucky) with a cracked skull, the first thing you’ll say (after “ouch”) is what? You guessed it: “Damn, I should have listened to my first mind.”
So listen to that little voice in your head (not the little green alien, the other voice) that tells you something isn’t right and you will probably avoid that ass kicking that’s lurking around the corner.
The Seven Signals
We must discard our media-influenced ideas of what a murderer, rapist, child molester, or other violent predator looks like, or how they act.
We envision a child molester as a heavy breathing, sweaty, middle-aged man with thick eyeglasses, lurking around the neighborhood elementary school; we imagine a serial killer to be a shadowy figure, armed with a butcher knife, hiding in the back seat of our car. In reality, most acts of violence against us are committed by people we know, or by people who look “normal” enough to get close to us and catch us unaware.
We read and hear news reports of another “random” act of violence, or a “senseless” murder. However, there is no such thing as random or senseless violence. Every act of violence has a purpose and has meaning. If an act has purpose and meaning (and every act does), it can be detected and predicted. If it can be detected and predicted, it can be avoided.
Once your intuition warns you of the possibility of danger, there are signs that a person displays that warn you he or she is dangerous and violence is imminent. We call these signs the “Seven Signals”.
A violent predator may look like us and even act like us, however, someone who means you harm will always display tell-tale signs that they are dangerous. The more they try to conceal their motives, the more apparent the signs become. Learn these signs and recognize them when they appear.
Let’s examine each one:
1. FORCED TEAMING
“We’re in the same boat.” This is an effective way to establish premature trust. The predator puts himself on your “team”, which is hard for you to reject without feeling rude.
The detectable signal of Forced Teaming is the projection of a shared purpose or experience where none exists. The predator will say: “How are we going to handle this?”; Both of us”; “Now, we’ve done it!”; and so on.
The best defense against Forced Teaming is to clearly refuse to accept the concept of partnership: “I did not ask for your help and I do not want it.”
2. CHARM & NICENESS
The definition of ‘to charm’ is “to compel, to control by allure or attraction”. Think of charm as a verb, not a personality trait. If you consciously tell yourself: “This person is trying to charm me”, as opposed to “this person is charming”, you’ll be able to see around it.
We must also learn that niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision; a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. Unsolicited niceness often has a discoverable motive.
3. TOO MANY DETAILS
People who want to deceive you will often use this technique. When people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, so they don’t feel the need for additional support in the form of details. When people lie, however, even if what they say sounds credible to you, it does not sound credible to them, so they keep talking to try to convince you.
This is when a person labels you in a slightly critical way, hoping you will feel compelled to prove that his or her opinion is not accurate. A man might say to you: “You’re probably too snobbish to talk to me” hoping you’ll try to prove you’re not a “snob” by talking to him. And, more likely than not, you will.
Typecasting always involves a slight insult; usually one that is easy to refute.
Since it is the response itself that the typecaster seeks, your best defense is silence, acting as if the slight insult was never spoken.
5. LOAN SHARKING
The predator generously offers assistance. He wants to help you because that would place you in his debt and the fact that you owe someone something makes it hard to ask him to leave you alone. Your defense is to remember that you did not ask for help, and then watch for other signals.
6. THE UNSOLICITED PROMISE
Unsolicited (not asked for) promises are used to convince us of an intention. Meet all unsolicited promises with skepticism and ask yourself: “Why does this person need to convince me?” The answer is simple: He needs to convince you because he can see that you are not convinced. You have doubt; probably because there is good reason to doubt.
7. DISCOUNTING THE WORD “NO”
Declining to hear “no” is a signal that the person is seeking control, or refusing to relinquish it. With strangers – even those with the best of intentions – never, ever relent on the issue “no”, because it sets the stage for more efforts to control you. If you let someone talk you out of the word “no”, you are telling that person he or she is in charge.
Once you change the way others perceive you (Process of Action), learn to listen to your intuition and learn to recognize the Seven Signals, you are well on your way to effectively avoiding violence. Internalize these methods and teach them to your friends, family and anyone else you love.