You Are As Strong As Your Weakest Link
by Richard Grode
Many of us spend hours and hours training, honing our martial skills so if the time comes when we need to protect ourselves or the ones around us we will have a better chance of surviving or getting away. A very important factor to remember in any attack, fight or any situation where each individuals safety or well being is integral to the safety of the group is that you are as strong as your weakest link. I’ve seen it happen many times where a couple of guys will get into a confrontation, totally focused on each other and their girlfriends are left totally exposed to an attack from one of the fighters friends or bystanders. Or a person takes his girlfriend, wife, kids, weaker friend etc. into an area or a situation where he may feel confident in his ability to protect himself, but what about the others? What are you going to do if you are engaged in a fight with someone and someone else grabs your girlfriend, kid, wife, friend and puts a knife to their throat and tells you to back down? Basically you and the people with you are probably in a lot of trouble. Most people do not think of this scenario when they let their egos get the better of them when being challenged or deciding what area or situation they are putting themselves or the people with them in.
Just the other day while pumping gas at a gas station with one of those conveniece stores, I see this guy with his girlfriend or wife walking through the door to go inside the store. The next thing I know the guy with the women starts yelling and going off at another guy that was coming out. The guy with the women was yelling “what you doing looking at my woman punk." This guy with the woman was screaming and yelling at this other guy. Then he starts shoving this other guy and the other guy starts shoving back, the situation was escalating fast. I am watching this scenario taking place while watching the women at the same time. She’s standing alone in this gas station parking lot in a bad part of town at night while her boyfriend is pushing and yelling at this guy. Now the juxtaposition of this whole scenario is, here’s this guy supposedly defending the honor of his girlfriend/wife while putting her in danger of being attacked by this other guys friends that may be around or someone might pull out a weapon or what would happen if the guy with the women gets shot, stabbed or beaten so bad he cannot defend himself or his girlfriend any longer, what then happens to his girlfriend and this whole scene is happening in a area where it is not uncommon for people to be carrying, guns, knives, and other sorts of weapons. I was with my wife at the time so I decided that I had enough gas and left. I know that most of you reading this are not stupid enough to let this happen to you or to put your wife, kids, girlfriend etc... into danger like this guy, but it’s amazing especially for men how when the ego gets triggered reasoning and good judgment go right out the window. I think it’s really important when in a situation where you might be being confronted or harassed to ask yourself before reacting what are my choices here and what could be the possible consequences of these choices.
One of the first things you learn when you enter into the field of executive protection or body guarding is that the best fighters do not necessarily make the best executive protection specialists. The tendency or desire to deal with a situation through physical force instead of avoidance and proper situational management can leave your client and you in a very bad place. Having spent years taking people to some of the most dangerous places on the planet has given me a great respect for escape versus confrontation, when you have the choice. Having trained executive protection specialists and body guards for years in close quarter fighting techniques I really focus on techniques that can be used that created exits while managing their client or clients. These type of techniques are appropriate I feel for almost any situation when martial skills are necessary.
One of the problems I see in most martial training is the focus on the engagement between two people and not to the environment and the people with and around them. Part of that mind set comes from a set structure of training and a win or lose mentality. In a real life attack or fight there hardly ever is a real winner. Even if you manage to beat down your attacker or attackers there are other other factors to worry about, getting hurt in the process, the law, the civil courts, the person or persons coming to look for you later on etc....
I am not saying not to train at the highest level possible in your martial skills area, but also start developing skills and awareness necessary for survival on the street which include environmental awareness, techniques that create escapes rather than engagement, people management, ego control, realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and of the people with you. For the most part it takes another whole set of skills to survive on the street than what most people train for. Remember true self defense or personal protection is not winning or losing but surviving and escaping the situation that is the threat.
I wish for all of you the highest level of training and awareness and through that may you never have to resort to a physical confrontation, but if you do act appropriately to your situation and the people with you, create escapes and get away as fast as possible.