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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Inspiration or False Hope?

Listening to some older episodes of the Warrior Traditions Podcast, I came across an interview with Dr. David Givens, author of Crime Signals: How to Spot a Criminal Before You Become a Victim. It's a pretty interesting interview, and Givens book sounds like it might offer some really valuable advice for the "Detect" portion of self-defense (in the PDR Program, we teach three D's for self-defense: Detect, De-Fuse, Defend). I haven't read the book, so I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, but I am planning to check it out.

But while I found a lot of Dr. Givens' comments on non-verbal behavior very interesting and insightful, I found myself taking issue with some of his advice and ideas as he drifted further from his area of expertise.

During the interview, Givens suggests that "inspirational stories" (like that of Donelle Morin), were bad, because they would erroneously cause people to believe they can fight back when they really can't. His advice was to "be ready to give up your purse", rather than being willing to fight. He did at least concede that in an abduction attempt, you should fight back, but I still took issue with his suggestion on two fronts.

1. Tony Blauer often reminds us that "there are far more people who successfully defend themselves, every day, with absolutely no martial arts training than there ever WILL BE trained martial artists who are attacked and successfully defend themselves." If stories like Donelle Morin's can help inspire more people to fight back, and give criminals more reasons to be concerned about approaching potential victims, then lets get them out there. Lets not make criminals lives easier by telling people about how they should just give up. People can give up plenty on their own.

2. On a larger front; as an instructor, I'm uncomfortable ever telling a student "this is when you should give up." When and if you choose to fight back is a personal choice, and make the choice about what you feel is worth fighting for is one of the most important choices you can make. No one, not me, not Dr. Givens, not Tony Blauer, NO ONE has the right to tell you that you are wrong for defending yourself. If you're willing to fight for your purse, then fight. If not, then you make that choice; don't relinquish it to the hands of an "expert".

Again, Dr. Givens seems to have a lot of interesting ideas and insight to offer, and I'm eager to check out the man's work. I'm certainly not attacking him. But on this particular subject, I think he's wrong, and dangerously so. The world does not need to be made safer for criminals, and no one needs to be told how to be a victim.

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