If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now you will know that one of the central tenets on which it is built is the fact that there is more to fighting and self defence than just throwing a punch or a kick.
Physical techniques are just tools, and are all but useless if you don’t have the mind to use them correctly.
Fighting is very much a mental game, and like I mentioned in a recent article on causing panic in an attacker, only amateurs fight bodies, the professionals fight minds.
So how do you use your mind to defeat an attacker?
One way in which to do this is through the use of distraction techniques, sometimes referred to as artifice or skilful deception.
Before you throw any kind of pre-emptive strike at an aggressor it helps to create a window of opportunity for yourself in which to do that. You want to take your attacker off guard in otherwards.
So let’s look at a few simple psychological tricks to help you do just that.
Trick #1: Put Your Aggressor In A Trance
I know what you can’t help thinking, but that is not what I’m talking about. You do not stare at your aggressor and say: “Look into my eyes…you are getting very sleepy.”
If you did that you would probably get a smack in the face (and you’d deserve it). I’m talking about a different kind of trance here, a very light trance, but a trance nonetheless.
What I’m referring to here is something called a Transderivational Trance. If you’re into NLP you will most likely have heard of this. If not, let me explain what it is.
Here’s the Wikipedia definition first:
“Transderivational search (often abbreviated to TDS) is a psychological and cybernetics term, meaning when a search is being conducted for a fuzzy match across a broad field. Unlike usual searches, which look for literal (i.e. exact, logical, or regular expression) matches, a transderivational search is a search for a possible meaning or possible match as part of communication, and without which an incoming communication cannot be made any sense of whatsoever. It is thus an integral part of processing language, and of attaching meaning to communication.”
TDS is a fundamental part of human language and cognitive processing. Arguably, every word or utterance a person hears, for example, and everything they see or feel and take note of, results in a very brief trance while TDS is carried out to establish a contextual meaning for it.
So how does this help us in a physical confrontation? Well, knowing that if we hear something that is meaningless or out of context we go into this trance state while we try to process what we’ve heard, we can force our aggressor into the same state, giving us a good opportunity to strike them.
This is why asking someone a question before you hit them works so well. You are effectively forcing them to process and find meaning in what you have just asked. Their mind will turn all of its attention to this process, bringing about the trance state that we mentioned.
In this state, with all these internal processes set off, your aggressor will not be thinking about attacking you anymore, at least for a second or two until the process has finished.
The more outlandish and out of context you can make your question or statement (questions are better) the deeper your aggressor’s trance state will be.
One of the better questions I’ve heard was from a guy that I trained with once, who would ask, “Did you know my favourite colour is pink?” just before he struck his would-be attacker. This was all the more effective because the guy was big and quite bloody scary, to be honest. To hear that come out of his mouth in so casual a manner was jarring to say the least, which is why it worked so well. The other guy is going, What the hell? Did he just say that? What does it mean? How do I respond to that? Should I respond to that? What-
He’s now on the floor unconscious.
You see how this works? When you practice pre-emptive striking you should always practice asking a question as well, just before you strike. Leave it a second before you strike, to give what you said enough time to sink in. If you go too quickly you won’t get the same effect.
Practice or it won’t come out when you’re under pressure.
That tactic should be enough for most people. For the more adventurous among you, we can take this trance-inducing a stage further by incorporating some kind of physical contact to deepen the trance and “lead” your aggressor.
Derren Brown makes good use of this technique. Watch the video below to see it explained, along with some other key NLP concepts.
Pretty cool eh? I’m not sure if this advanced technique would work in the context we are talking about, but I reckon with practice, it could well do. You could just talk your would-be attacker into walking away, or dropping his trousers, or tell him to pretend to be a chicken for the next five minutes. Your imagination is the limit!
Trick #2: Look Over Your Aggressors Shoulder
Not quite as cool as inducing a Transderivational Trance, but still effective. I used this trick while bouncing one night some years ago. I was arguing with a guy who was refusing to leave, so I made a show of looking past his shoulder and saying, “What do you want?” I held my gaze until he couldn’t resist turning round slightly. When he did I quickly stepped in and turned him into a choke. A few seconds of pressure on his neck and he was ready to co-operate.
Obviously the goal here is to get the other guy to turn around or look behind him for long enough for you to strike him or escape.
Exactly what you say to do this will depend on the person in front of you and the environment you are in.
If it is someone who looks like they might fear the law, then say something like, “Oh shit, it’s the cops!”
Or, “That camera up there is watching us, you know.”
Alternatively, you might choose to say nothing, but let a particular facial expression say it all for you. For instance, you might look past him with a look of complete shock or surprise on your face. Quite often, your aggressor won’t be able to help themselves and they will turn to see what has you so surprised.
This technique requires a bit of acting. You have to make it seem convincing. Crap facial expressions and unconvincing dialogue will not cut it. Whatever you do, do it with some conviction.
Trick #3: Pretend To Walk Away
I’ve used this in the past too. Simply pretend that you have had enough of this bullshit and you are going on your merry way. Step back and turn away slightly, then quickly turn back in again to deliver a strike to your aggressors head. I find back hand slaps work quite well here, as do knife hand strikes to the neck. And because you have turned away, you will have lots of torque to put behind your strike.
Again, this must be practiced to get the timing exactly right.
And that’s it. Some useful distraction techniques to give you an edge in any confrontation.
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