Preventing Violence VS. Doing Violence, Continued…


The best way to prevent violence is to not be there.

tim-larkin-violenceThe second best way is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, be calm, and go out of your way to make peace everywhere you go.

While on the surface it may seem like a good idea to be intimidating, you never know when this will bite you in the ass. The primary problem is that the people it works on, the ones who will see you coming and clear out, are not the ones you’re worried about.

The ones you are worried about, the criminal sociopath, will see your intimidation tactics as a challenge, or, indeed, as a threat that must be neutralized.

In other words, you’ll scare away harmless people while simultaneously attracting monsters.

It’s important to note that preventing violence has nothing to do with physical action, unless that action is running away. Otherwise, preventing violence is all about navigating everything that comes before violence. There’s nothing you can do once the violence has begun to prevent it. At that point, your only option is to be the one doing it.



This is really simple. It’s taking eyes, crushing throats, and breaking legs. It’s being the successful person in the situation, kicking the man who’s down. Instead of worrying about how to prevent violence, you’re doing it.

You can see how this is at odds with the idea of preventing violence — doing violence does not prevent violence. This is not the same as attempting to thwart a knife-thrust or keep from getting kicked while down. This is you doing the things you wanted to prevent to the other man.

This is focusing on the right side of the equation, the winner’s side. And over here, it’s pure physical action.

Now you can see where our problem, as instructors, lies (and maybe even some problems of your own). When people see the man getting stabbed, they want to know how to stop that from happening to themselves, and they assume — wrongly — that there is some kind of physical action that can keep them safe from such things. So they are looking for physical training to prevent violence. And there is no such thing.

Because we are looking at different sides of the equation (they see the man getting stabbed, I see the man doing the stabbing), the answers don’t always fit the question. When someone asks, “What do I do if the man wants to stab me?” and I show them how to take his eye, crush his throat, and break his leg, they are usually aghast at the “severity” of the action, as well as being uncomfortable since I really didn’t do anything about the knife.

When they ask, “How can I prevent him from stabbing me?” and I launch into a discussion of social/anti-social/asocial and mention running away, using your words, letting him have the parking space, etc., they are even more puzzled. What they really want is a way to not get stabbed once the stabbing starts, and that’s impossible.

You can’t prevent violence once it’s on, and if all you want is to change someone’s behavior, violence can’t do that. All it does is break down the human body, and shut off the brain. While some of you may want to argue that technically you prevent violence with violence by shutting the other guy off, please remember that that occurs only as a side effect. The goal must be to break things inside of him and take him to nonfunctional. If the goal is to prevent him from stabbing you, you’re at odds with the goal that will actually get that done.

Understanding that what people really want is an easy, painless way of preventing violence from happening, rather than to learn how to be the one doing it, cleared up a lot of misunderstanding for me as an instructor. It’s much easier for me to communicate when I know this is the baseline assumption. From the other side, it’s important to make it clear that there is no physical action that makes you safe. Physical action is not the path to safety, it’s the path to ruin the other guy.

If you want to prevent violence, be smart and use your social skills. But once the violence starts, the only thing that’s going to change the situation in your favor is hurting him. Confuse the two at your own peril.


Tim Larkin

Self-Protection Expert & Founder of Target Focus Training
Author of When Violence Is The Answer

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