That long thread about Aikido got me thinking about the assumptions that we make about our potential opponents when we enter into any kind of “self-defense” training. I suppose that virtually any martial art or fighting system will work if your opponent is a moron, but how does it fare when you have to go up against the rare “black swan” event—-the perfect storm opponent situation?
Since you cannot control who you will run into, maybe it is prudent to create a template for a worst case opponent and assume that is who you will have to face in a fight for your life? Let’s call him “Todd.”
Physical fitness? Discipline? Motivation? Todd is a former Division I-level athlete. He benches over 350 and runs an all-out quarter-mile in just over 50 seconds. Todd spends his mornings pounding out miles of hard roadwork, pumps iron like a maniac in lieu of eating lunch, and spends his evenings dry-firing his EDC handgun, studying ways to hurt people, and beating the hell out of his Spar-Pro and heavy bag. He maintains an extensive library of books and videos on combat and survival-related topics.
He goes to bed tired but satisfied every night, satisfied because he has no other hobbies and because he looks at training as money in the bank—-he will cash in his full paycheck on the fateful day that he faces you in a fight.
Todd spends his weekends doing strenuous physical activities and competing in IPSC Limited or IDPA matches. He spends his vacations going to places like Crucible, the Rogers Academy, and BSR. Todd has no other hobbies and he is not really concerned with being a “weird, paranoid freak” in the eyes of many normal people. Todd does not really hang out with “normal” people, anyway—-he prefers to hang out with people like himself.
Warning of an attack? Deception? Good luck trying any Jedi mind tricks on Todd: he studies NLP and evolutionary psychology. Todd does not dress like some kind of thug, either: he knows that a clean-cut appearance increases his time/distance window of opportunity to ambush his prey. Pay very close attention to Todd’s choice of boots, belt, and watch—-they may be the only warnings that you get.
Todd knows that anonymity is the most important weapon in his formidable arsenal. He does not threaten, he does not warn, he does not talk shit or insult—-those things take time and telegraph intentions. Todd just makes a binary decision and then acts.
Training? Background? Todd trains in the most effective fighting and survival techniques that he can. He is open-minded and non-judgmental, caring only that techniques fit within an overarching framework of logic and ruthless pragmatism. He lives his whole life this way—-it is his structure, his discipline, his religion. Todd may have a black belt from Rickson Gracie, may have been a Golden Gloves boxer or a freestyle wrestler or a linebacker, may have trained in the famous Muay Thai gyms of Holland, maybe a student of WWII Combatives or battlefield jiu-jitsu methods. Maybe—-and now the plot gets chilling (as Marcus Wynne describes in his books)—-Todd has been the recipient of millions of dollars in government-sponsored training…money that was specifically spent to turn him into some kind of professional shadow-warrior badass, like John Macejunas or Kelly McCann.
Maybe Todd is all of the above: operator, martial artist, fighter, contact-sport athlete.
It does not really matter where he got his start, because he has synthesized his approach into a combination of very destructive, attack-oriented techniques that he can perform with maximal effort without much fear of hurting himself in the process. He can strike and he can grapple, and most importantly he always tries to hit first.
Weapons? Equipment? This is the best part: trying to beat Todd in an unarmed fight is largely an academic exercise, because you will never, ever catch Todd unarmed. He carries a Glock or 1911, Fox OC spray, and a fixed-blade with him CCW every single day of his life. Todd is not interested in hitting you with his hands or feet—-given even the slightest provocation, his opening gambit will be to present his handgun from the holster and to demand that you remain very still and quiet. If you then try to disarm Todd, strike Todd, or reach for your own weapon to attack Todd, Todd will not hesitate to shoot until slide lock.
Todd also trains in ways to use his knife to great effect—-maybe pikal, maybe more of a Kni-Com technique, maybe both. Names like James Keating and the Dog Brothers are very familiar to Todd.
Todd will run you over with his SUV if you give him reason to. If you are more of a distant problem, he keeps an M4 or a DSA FAL in a Pelican case in the trunk, next to his trauma med kit and bugout ruck.
Forget trying to get to Todd at home: his place is like a fortress, complete with crazy locks (Todd studies B&E, too), a large dog, and the ubiquitous Scattergun Technologies 12-gauge with Sure-Fire light.
Remember that Todd likes to move first—-his first move is to draw a weapon on you. Todd is not stupid. This isn’t Bloodsport or a Sho Kosugi film. Todd wants to win…period.
Todd sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t he? Well, let’s all take heart—-while we cannot control whether or not we will ever have to face a Todd, we CAN control our own training and preparation. We can become “Todds” (!). Many of you probably consciously found similarities between your own lifestyles and habits and the ones that were described above. I think the idea is to imagine the most ferocious and skilled opponent that you could face in a nightmare, then try to become that person (within whatever constraints that you face). If you are not willing to become a Todd, then you need to ask yourself who it is that you believe you are training to face.