“You know it ain’t cool to kill on Christmas.”

(Title quote from the inestimable Johnny Cash.)

One of the truths about studying violence is that it makes you really uninterested in being involved in it.  Dramatic ass-kicking, on the other hand, is attractive—mainly because of your perception of increased social standing.  “Teaching someone a lesson” makes you a badass… and who doesn’t want that?

Of course, fighting is necessarily nonspecific.  It won’t be any more explicit than “hit him” or “kick his ass.”  The moment you begin to apply specifics it gets a lot less fun.  Gouging an eye, crushing a throat or snapping a knee backwards are all obviously awful, and usually go far beyond whatever lesson you hoped to teach him.  You recognize that once you get specific you’re no longer teaching, but destroying.  And your social standing will, if anything, probably decrease as you freak your friends out.  That, and finding out the cold difference between the title of “badass” and “psychotic.”

Knowing the truth about violence and still being eager to engage in it is crazy.  So we lie to ourselves, make a game of it, a contest, we try to believe violence is something that can be dialed up or down… that there’s such a thing as “extreme violence.”  We cling to these ideas because we still want it to be fun and to be the badass of our fantasies.

But real violence, the unrestrained use of it (and that’s the only way it works—just ask a bullet) is dirty, kind of scary, and truly awful.

Looking this reality full in the face is both sickening and, secretly, disappointing.  The love affair with being the hero ends abruptly in blood and screaming.  You realize that if you get to choose whether or not to be involved, the answer is, with some relief, no.

This is what we mean when we say that training to use violence leads to a more peaceful life.  Not as a fortune cookie aphorism, or because we forbid you to use it, but because the truth repels and lessens your ardor to do these things to people in all but the most dire of circumstances.  Keeping the fantasy alive makes you more likely to engage—after all, it’s just an ass-kicking, and he really does deserves it.  When you know there’s no such thing, that physical violence which does not permanently alter peoples’ lives isn’t skill, but just dumb luck, you’ll do what you can to not have to break his leg.

The three most important outcomes of this training are:

1.  Reduced desire to be involved in violence (unless you have no choice)

2.  Ceasing to look like a victim

3.  Knowing how to shut off a human being.

In that order.  So it’s peaceful, predatory, and having the teeth to back it up.  

Early in my career as an instructor I put number three as the only reason to train.  It wasn’t until the stories of those I trained began to filter back—not just the ones where they shut someone off (that was to be expected), but the ones where they spoke of predators waving off when they believed contact was inevitable, and, most telling, stories of changed behavior, solving conflict in new ways that didn’t involve fists.  Simply because they realized it wasn’t necessary… and that if it could be avoided it should.  The importance of this hit me because now the practice of shutting people off had real daily benefits, instead of a few frenzied seconds someday, or perhaps never.

And so it turns out you can use your training daily without ending up in prison.  It can make the worst among us pass you by in search of an easier mark, and having the tool of violence in your back pocket can give you the confidence to try solving problems where in the past you may have reflexively fought or fled.  Besides, if your read on the situation turns out wrong you can always break his leg, right?

This is how violence can lead to peace, at least on a personal level.

So train for that moment where nothing else will do, but enjoy the fruits of that labor on a daily basis:  trading fear for resolve, paranoia for relaxation, violence paradoxically becoming peace.

All the best to you & yours with wishes for a peace-filled New Year,

Chris Ranck-Buhr & The Injury Dynamics Team

That New Victim Smell

If you have the nose for it, it’s more obvious than cartoon stink lines.

One of our Master Instructors, Dave S., went on vacation to San Francisco.  A great thing about that city is that unlike most west coast cities, it is almost entirely walkable.  He spent a week there with his wife, sans car or cab.  It was all feet and open air.

This is a very different way of life for those of us down here in southern California.  The San Diego/LA metrosprawl requires a car to get anywhere and so we spend most of our transit time alone and isolated from those around us.

Dave’s experience walking around a city where everybody walks means he saw lots of people every day—a tableau writ full of information for those who can read it.  Gait, body language, the way people move when they come into close contact with others.  These things tell the story of that person’s interior life, their secret fears and intentions.

In short, who’s a victim and who’s not.

The first words out of his mouth when I asked about his vacation were:

“Walking the city you could see the victims.  It was really sad.  You could scan the crowd and count them off:  victim, victim, not a victim, victim.  Some people I just wanted to grab and shake them and scream, ‘Don’t walk like that!  Don’t stand like that!’”

When the criminal sociopath looks for a victim, they do the same thing Dave was doing.  They scan that tableau and register everybody as a target or trouble.  And because they (usually) didn’t get out of bed this morning looking for a fight, or an epic battle, they slide past the trouble-makers and focus on the targets.

To the trained, and to the predator, the victims stand out.  They can smell it… and see the stink lines.  Acting tough doesn’t hide it.  It just amplifies it.

You can’t pretend to not be a victim.  The difference between victim and not-victim is unconscious confidence.  It radiates from the core, outward, and shines like a beacon even when you’re not paying attention to projecting anything.  Your gait, your stance, your body language will give you away, one way or the other.  If you know what to do, it shows.  If you don’t, well, that’s where the smell comes from.

This is the real utility of training for violence.  The chances of you actually having to use this information in a life-or-death situation are so small as to approach zero.  (Of course, if you do find yourself there, nothing else will do.  Just as knowing how to swim is the only thing that will keep you from drowning.)

But you’ll never know how many times being trained saved you from getting picked out of the herd as a victim in the first place.

In my experience, this training changes the way people walk, stand, and carry themselves.  It gives you that unconscious confidence that is beyond badass posturing or bluster.  It’s always on, even when you’re not paying attention.

Though it’s a cliched martial arts oxymoron to “learn to kill so you never have to,” it turns out there’s a kernel of truth in that fortune cookie notion.  As a husband, father, and instructor this is what I want for my wife, my kids, and the people I train.  To be able to pull the trigger on it if that’s what’s required, but really to never, ever have to in the first place.  To get passed over when someone’s sniffing for victims.

That’s what I want for you:  to never know how many times this training has saved you from trouble.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

It’s Not About You

Unless you’re a jerk, and then it’s your own fault you just made it personal…

The unfortunate thing about the experience of consciousness is that we are, each of us, the star of our very own movie. The story is all about you, it happens to you, and you have screenwriter and director credit. (Of course it doesn’t always feel like you’re the architect and author, but believe me, when the final credits roll you’ll catch the blame for how it all turned out, right or wrong.)

Most of the time you’re sitting alone in the theater, munching popcorn and sipping a ludicrously-sized Coke, watching the whole shebang swirl gradually by on the screen, amused and pained in turns by the familiar cast of recurring characters. Here comes Relative #3, going on about the stuff she always goes on about; now it’s Protagonist’s BFF who always knows just what to say — as long as he isn’t drunk. And so it goes. You sit and munch and sip amid the swirl…

…until that awful moment when one of the extras — one of the extras — breaks the fourth wall and addresses you directly, in tones normally reserved for Relative #3 or your drunk BFF. This time, it’s personal. You get ready to pop off with a cutting Tarantino riposte, and maybe a fantasy gunfight sequence. And the projectionist, being nothing more than an obedient employee, gets ready to roll end credits —

Here’s the part where I break the film, or have the projector jam and burn through (or just have the signal glitch, you know, for you kids) so you can leave the theater and see what you’d otherwise miss completely: the extra’s theater.

The first thing you notice is that it’s not as nice as yours; maybe it still hasn’t recovered from the fire, or the water damage. And it’s smaller — or bigger, but in a totally non-cozy, scary sort of way, full of too much echoing dark. And they’re not sitting alone — they’re surrounded, maybe, by the ghosts of the unquiet dead. Instead of popcorn and a Coke they have to hold a crying child the whole time.

And you watch their movie for a bit and it makes you think about your own movie — the one that you swore was the most realistic disaster film ever — but it’s actually an uplifting rom-com compared to this horror show…

Of course, it was all just a dream, because you can’t leave the theater of your skull, and as writer, director and Capital-S Superstar it’s time for you put that mouthy extra back in their place and let them know what’s what.

And the projectionist, being nothing more than an obedient employee, gets ready to roll end credits —

You know, just in case.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Action & Silence: How to Dress for Violence

We have a very simple dress code for seminar training — baggy, loose-fitting blue jeans and a heavy-duty, plain white T-shirt — and yet this generates a surprising amount of pushback from clients.  They want to wear yoga pants, tactical BDUs, board shorts, anything but blue jeans; they show up in cute tops, T-shirts festooned with the standard iconography of aggression, logos, product advertisements and political statements.  And all that in a spray of every color of the rainbow.

The class ends up looking like a riot at a beach barbecue.

And meanwhile, movement is restricted, no one can put hands on each other like they need to without tearing something, and brains do what brains do — read words and process logos.  For your brain it’s a riot of clashing surface noise, obscuring the signal underneath.


You need clothing that won’t bind or restrict your movement, while also being a useful tool for your partner to grab and pull without tearing.  In violence, you can grab a fistful of skin or other soft tissue (like the groin) to use as a handle for causing further injury; with loose-fitting, tough clothing we can grab a fistful of fabric instead, saving you from all the screaming and handprint bruises.  Tight-fitting and/or light-duty clothing means your partner either 1) can’t practice these things realistically, or 2) they can — but you won’t be happy about it.  (Most people, being polite, and, well, people, will default to not practicing the groin-grab — a potentially deadly mistake should they ever need to do just that when their life depends on it.  The brain can only go where it’s gone before, and you don’t want the first time you’re going to grab and pull a groin to be during your attempted murder.  That’s what training is for — to do it a hundred times so the 101st is nothing new.)

When everyone in the room is dressed for the work, everyone can get the practice they need without interruption or hesitation.    


The choices we make in what to wear on a daily basis are rooted in personal expression and communication — we want to blend and belong or differentiate ourselves (within certain socially-acceptable boundaries) and communicate something about who we are and how we view ourselves and how we wish to have others view us.  Clothing is language, and what we need for the optimal practice of violence is dead silence.

The goal on the mats is to create and work in an asocial environment, one that is entirely devoid of communication.  Just like at the shooting range, we’re not going to talk while pulling the trigger — because people are bad at doing two things at once, and because we don’t want to train to talk to our targets while we’re in a firefight.  

If clothing is communication, then having everyone expressing their individuality through their sartorial choices that morning gives rise to useless noise the brain must ignore in order to get to work on other things… only the brain won’t ignore it because it can’t.  (Don’t believe me?  Next time you’re out and about try not to read.  Ignore the text and logos in your environment.  Don’t think about the pink elephant.)  A shirt with logos will snag your eye.  Words will cry out and demand to be read — and so you will give them voice, echoing in your skull.  And while the room might be quiet — save for the sounds of breathing and bodies hitting the mats — that quiet will not be present in your head, where you need it most.  We’re silent on the outside so we can be silent on the inside; we want that silence to seep into ourselves so we can do the work of violence with mechanical dispassion — cool, calm, focused.

When everyone you’re training with is dressed the same — blue pants, white shirt — it allows your brain to look for and recognize similarities and differences in SHAPE, to build a generic target map of the human machine.  It’s the same machine every time, just a little taller, or wider, or shorter in the torso; but the groin is always where the legs meet, the solar plexus is always dead center in the torso.  This is the process of learning the ways in which all individuals are similar — we strip out the individuality of dress and replace it with a flesh-robed skeleton… in blue pants and a white shirt:  a blank canvas upon which your brain can paint anatomy.

The dress code isn’t for us, the instructors — it’s not about control, or institutional uniformity, or even looking professional — it’s for you, so you get the most out of the experience.  If everyone in the room is quiet and useful we can all get straight to training in dead silence, to pack a thousand turns into the weekend so that the 1,001st — the one where your life is on the line — is nothing new.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Keeping It Simple

In nature, everything takes from something else. There is no evil and there is no innocence. The relationship of predator and prey is a fixed equation, but the variables can be fluid. One day you are predating on a blueberry bush, the next day you’re lunch. So all animals, even apex predators like grizzly bears, killer whales or human beings can run either set of behaviors: predator or prey.

For predators it’s simple. ATTACK. They incapacitate their prey by inflicting grievous injury, often (but not always) resulting in immediate death. In true predation events the outcome for most prey animals is inevitable no matter what they do. Ultimately, the only long-term effective response to death rate is birth rate.

For prey items however there are actually five recognized responses to a perceived threat: fight, flight, freeze, posture or submit.

Fighting is hard work and a risky business. It is seldom employed in the animal kingdom except by prey animals attempting to wrest themselves from the current day’s menu or by individuals of a social species testing/reinforcing the legitimacy of their hierarchy.

Flight, with its low cost-to-benefit ratio, is often the preferred response. This covers everything from going out of your way to navigate around a sketchy area to running in terror from a rustle in the bushes — as long as there is a flight window with enough time and space to make the success of a flight attempt likely. This is how most potentially dangerous unknowns are dealt with in the wild.

The freeze response occurs when the efficacy of a potential threat is being evaluated or as a last-resort form of concealment from a predator that might be inside the flight window. This too is a very economical response as it costs almost nothing to be still and it makes for effective camouflage as most predators visually scan for movement. This innate response in animals can be beneficial, like when a newborn elk lies perfectly still (and nearly scentless) at the feet of a marauding grizzly sow — or maladaptive, like when a deer is “caught in the headlights” of an oncoming vehicle or an office worker huddles motionless in plain view while an active shooter manipulates their third reload.

If physical contact is imminent the decision becomes whether combat can be avoided or not. Animals attempt to avoid combat whenever possible because it is likely to degrade their function… even if they’re successful. A mountain lion with a broken jaw doesn’t get better; it slowly starves to death. In order to avoid the perils of physical combat, animals may posture or submit. Posturing is an attempt to intimidate your way out of combat while submission is an attempt to capitulate. I use the word “attempt” because unlike with fight, flight or freeze, these two options (posture/submit) put the ball squarely on the other side of the court. Unless the motivations and inclinations of the other individual(s) involved (as in the social dynamics of a wolf pack) are intimately understood, these options have the very highest cost-benefit ratio and are therefore extremely risky.

So what’s the lesson in all this? Behaving like a prey animal is complicated and treacherous. Better to keep it predator-simple: Attack and injure!


— Taylor Good

Effective Human Incapacitation

“Effective human incapacitation results from physiological phenomena.” †

The goal of life-or-death violence is complete and irrecoverable incapacitation — to remove, entirely, the person’s ability to think or move.  (Preferably both.)  We are not attempting to communicate, or reason with, or change the mind of the person we are breaking.  We are not trying to “make them stop” — we are making it impossible for them to continue imposing their will on the physical world.  For this we need unambiguous incapacity — an obviously nonfunctional state.

They need to be laid out on the deck, body contorted in trauma, silent and still — or convulsing and braying with agonal breathing:

If there is any doubt, continue breaking things until you would feel 100% comfortable turning your back on them and walking away.  

Context is crucial here:  we are talking about your attempted murder.  For social considerations, capitulation is sufficient.  The tension of an argument ceases to ratchet upward when someone leaves, or changes tack by simply apologizing, walking things back with words or otherwise shifting into a posture of de-escalation.  In life-or-death violence stopping at the request of your would-be murderer can get you killed.  This is equivalent to shooting an armed man once, and then stopping because he said he was done… the only thing preventing him from shooting you dead is his word-is-bond honesty and the trust inside your own head — mere ideas, as weightless and intangible as ghosts.  Much better to trust in the concrete beneath your feet.

The gold standard for “nonfunctional” is an interruption of brain function; without a firearm this is most easily and quickly achieved via concussion.  With boxer-like precision and good timing this can be had by catching the person “on the button” of the chin to snap-rotate the head — an oversized result for what looks like relatively little effort; but we are not interested in getting into a fight and waiting for an opening to deliver that single specific shot.  As with everything in life-or-death violence we are interested in absolute overkill.  If an arm delivering roughly head-equivalent mass-in-motion to the head at speed is sufficient to “shake the pickle jar” and result in a KO, then his entire mass falling, accelerated by your mass in motion, and terminating in the collision of his head against the ground should be more than enough to get it done.  And if not, well, now he’s down and you can impart huge accelerations into his head with your boots.

Everything we do in violence — every thought, every movement, every injury — is done in service of this goal.  The kick to the groin — as awful as a real, full-bodied, hard-as-humanly-possible shot can be — is only there to render him incapable of preventing, or safely landing, a sudden fall.  We only need a moment of traumatic preoccupation — the body’s spinal reflex in response to injury, the executive function’s “What the fuh—?” stutter — for us to take advantage of that precious loss of function and balance and turn it into a very bad, targeted fall.  It’s the dirty rotten poker-table flip in order to pull our holdout gun and shoot the man in the head… with the impossibly heavy bullet of the planet.  

If everything hinges on that function-obliterating *smack*, then all action in violence is done in anticipation of it.  And the sooner the better.

One critique we often hear at our “Dangerous in a Day” and Crash Course trainings is:  “I really wish we could’ve worked on more ‘stand-up’ stuff — it seems like I only got to land a couple shots, then my partner was down, and all the rest was me stomping on them.”

First, isn’t that how you’d like it to go in the real world?  Do you want to get into an extended brawl where the loser gets set on fire?  Remember:  the longer it goes on, the more likely you are to make a mistake, and the more likely the other person is to get something right.  And whoever gets it right first, wins.  Wouldn’t you rather break a couple things on the standing man, put him down, and then finish him on the ground?  (This line of thought — the desire to do more “stand-up” work — stems from a misunderstanding of what we’re up to; it’s the conflation of “fighting” with “killing”, the social and antisocial bleeding into the asocial, like using wrestling against a firearm:  which would you rather do, wrestle him or shoot him?)

Second, this is precisely how instructors work out.  Every turn on the mats is about seeing how quickly — and how hard — we can put the man down.  It all starts with blunt force trauma, breaking something important, with the second or third shot being the takedown or throw.  This is because we know what’s at stake — and what we would do if someone failed to shut us off — and so we’re interested in getting it over with as efficiently as possible.  Injury to the body makes injury to the brain easier… and more severe.

Third — and most importantly — this is how it works in the real world.  The effective use of violence does not look like a fight.  It looks like a beating.  We don’t see gut-wrenching, abject brutality in a toe-to-toe stand-up fight — such a thing is interesting and exciting in a social (or even antisocial) context.  But one person standing over another, stomping their unresponsive form?  That looks like nothing else.  Acts of violence that are morally shocking are entirely one-sided, entirely unidirectional:  one person doing it, one person getting done.  And we seek only to model reality on the mats.

So — hate the brain.  Drive everything toward that traumatic plunge with the hard stop at the end.  Break the body out from underneath the brain, deprive it of its tools, take and take and take and then spike Nature’s Ming vase — ancient, unique and fragile — into a thousand incoherent shards.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr


† Duffy, Michael J.  “Cranial Gunshot Wound Incapacitations.”  2016.

The Silence That Comes After

Unlike most physical endeavors, ours has no target demographic.  It’s not possible to tell whether or not our training will resonate by just looking at someone.  I’ve seen young, smart, athletically-gifted people miss the point entirely and fail out of the first testing cycle; at the same time I’ve watched out-of-shape, “least-likely” people (who I’ve pegged as quitters inside of a month) end up going the distance with an eerie, natural ease.  And I’ve seen everything else in between… with the only common feature among those who take to it being the fact that they took to it.  Something spoke to that tiny sliver of sociopath lurking inside them.

Of course, this is a huge problem when it comes to running a business; what we really need is to know who this stuff resonates with — in terms of a marketing pie chart — and then aggressively market to that segment.  But when that thing is the littlest bit of non-pathological sociopathy — essentially being lit up by hands-on domination and obliteration via the breaking of the human machine — well, you can see the problem in trying to figure out just who to send a postcard to.

The obvious answer would seem to be found in evangelism, with excited practitioners sharing their newfound experiences of happiness (the feeling as power increases) with like-minded individuals — and here we hit the other issue in spreading the word:  the more people train, the less they want to talk about it.  Talking about the truth of it makes you sound like a psychopath; watering it down to make it palatable is disingenuous and causes people to recoil when confronted with the actual thing:

“How do I defend myself from [insert Facebook terror of the week here]?”

“You don’t.  The only available action is to hurt people so they can’t continue.”

“But I don’t want to hurt anybody!”

“Then you won’t.”

And so on until either you give up or they’re convinced you’re crazy.

So much easier, then, to never even mention it, to keep it as a delicious secret that only you know and no one else suspects — the credo of the ambush predator:  While you were sleeping in front of the TV, I was practicing putting my fingers into people’s eyes.

I run into this in ongoing training all the time.

“Bring your friends and family!” I say.

Everyone looks back with pained faces.  “Tried it once, got weird looks,” is the usual reply, “not interested in doing it again.”  Besides, they think in quiet asides, It’s my delicious secret.

You’d think I’m writing this to admonish you, to get you out as ambassadors for this training, to earn hashmarks on your hilt for every body you bring into the fold — and you’d be wrong.  I’m just as guilty as everyone else who’s ever hit the mats:  I don’t talk about it, I don’t proselytize; when people ask me what I do I demur and get them talking about themselves.  (This works great, by the way.)  It’s my delicious secret that last night, while they were sleeping in front of the TV, I was puzzling out the smallest discrete set of movements necessary to dislocate a shoulder with a baton.

So this is here for no other reason than to wonder at the phenomenon:  the fact that those who train shut up after having joined a silent cabal that meets in secret to study the undermining of Nature’s pinnacle.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Naked Ape Kung Fu

I did not enter this monastery by choice — I was born as another twist in the labyrinth, a monument to the winners who at one time had their hands around throats as a matter of course.  We are all of us the spawn of killers.

As predators we have “theory of mind,” the ability to construct simulacra of our prey inside our skulls, to intuit how they will behave — essentially running their behavior-set as a simulation so we can plan on how to zig when they zag.  We can think like an animal, communicate with them (especially fellow mammals), and even put the construct in the driver’s seat briefly in order to experience “being” that animal.  This ability gives rise to things like shamanism and domestication.  When the topic of how a person should fight comes up, there are, inevitably, references to much more powerful predators, e.g., “like a tiger.”  Big cats are impressive, terrifying, and ferocious — all aspects we’d like to take on when circumstances revert to a state of nature.

So, which animal should you fight like?

Being civilized and embedded in modern humanity, we forget that we’re the top predator on the planet, and that we long ago solved the equations for the intersection of hominid skeletons at speed.  We had the solution before we had the language to describe it:  all the ways you can line up ramrods of bone through an eye socket, all the ways he might move to prevent it, a possibility space of geodesics.  (Imagine the human form waving all its limbs around to describe a shape, DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man rotated in three dimensions, if you will.)  Before language, formal society and civilization, this solution set had but one outcome:  your genes went forward in time; the losers, not so much.

Now, raw survival is one thing, but nature prefers that we not murder ourselves out of existence (animals that do are just proof that the system works); this necessitates some kind of formalized, non-lethal competition.  If we can assume the loser doesn’t get eaten, then capitulation becomes an option.  Add language, formal society and civilization — dimly understood conventions giving rise to rules and laws — and you take the geodesics of the solution set and weave them into the Gordian Knot of fighting.  We all agree to agree that while fighting like hell is human, treating each other like prey is verboten.

And so the modern human is stuck in a state of perpetual competition — touching the blurred surfaces of those possibility spaces (the slapping of hands, the imposition of artificial rules) instead of striking at the heart of the thing as Alexander the Great might, cleaving through the tangle with a single stroke to render it undone.  At Injury Dynamics we go straight for the heart of it because what you are facing is the planet’s most potent nightmare — the species that brought you genocide and nuclear weapons, with a natural propensity and hunger for organized warfare; have you met humanity?

Don’t get me wrong:  I would love for this discipline to be rendered unnecessary — for there to never again be cause for a human to kill another human — but unilateral disarmament is only possible within the make-believe confines of polite society, and even then it turns out to be a terrible mistake when you meet the ape who revels in his authentic self and honors the ancestors at your expense.

In the end this thing is quintessentially human, as important to wholeness as spirituality — and it is in denying what we are that gives rise to the deadly stresses of modern life.  What we have to offer is more than a mere survival skill:  training is the experience of feeding what you are, leashing the beast, letting it out of its cage and taking it for a walk on the mats.

With that handled, you are free to be the one who does everything in their power to prevent violence (knowing its true face, and where even the mildest of provocations can go) — knowing full well that should you ever meet that fellow ape who lives and takes as our crude ancestors did you can remind him (if only briefly) that you remember where you came from, too.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Sane, Socialized and Deaf to the Music

The truth about violence pervades the world like the music of the spheres — it’s out there, soundtracking the inevitable gyre of history — all you have to do is listen and you would know what the sociopath and the criminally insane know.  You would be dangerous with nothing more than a little open-minded attention.

But you don’t want to hear it — you’ve been trained from childhood to process it as cacophony, chaos, noise with no rhyme or reason.  It’s something only bad people do, and you’re not a bad person, are you?  Of course not.  So stop up your ears and chant “la la la” to drown out that ever-present, persistent beat.

Because otherwise you might figure it out.

You might know what the worst among us know — that it’s so easy you don’t even need to train for it, that everything between you and violence is imaginary.  This is what dangerous people know.  Dangerous people know they can go from zero to 90 in the blink of an eye — they can get up from that fancy dinner table and launch themselves through a broken thing because there are no physical speed bumps in capital-R Reality.  All impediments to action are mere choices.

Now, outside of your attempted murder this imaginary stuff is wonderful; it allows us to cooperate with people we don’t know — it’s why there’s a flag on the moon — but it gets in the way when the other person has chucked it all in favor of pure physics and physiology.  As Master Jerry L. Peterson said to me when we first met, “The difference between you and me is that I won’t hesitate the quarter-second you will.”

Being dangerous is easy.  All you have to do is watch videos of dangerous people doing what they do, and then replicate that work on the mats.  Get straight to it — ATTACK & INJURE — keep doing it until you’re done.

If only you could hear with Nature’s ear it would be that easy.  Instead you get in your own way, you worry about imaginary things, you empathize with the victim and play desperate mind games to try and save them (yourself) though they be perpetually doomed no matter how many times you watch that video…

The good news is that we’ve done the translation for you, we’ve codified violence, made it trainable for “sharing monkeys” — it’s not just for the organically damaged or morally ambiguous anymore.

It’s important to note that while we’d like to take on aspects of the ambush predator (to become a “booby trap,” if you will), it’s not about the hardening of the heart or behaving like a sociopath in other areas of your life.  Letting go of fear in favor of resolve doesn’t make you a bad person, no more than going to the gun range makes you a monster.  It’s merely deciding, ahead of time, to ignore your social programming when you are faced with violence and have no other choice (because attempted murder only responds to action in kind)…

…and then training accordingly.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

VIOLENCE:  If It Feels Right, It’s Wrong

The way you’ve been taught to think and speak about violence is fundamentally flawed.

How do I know this?  Because you’re taking the time to read about it here.  Dangerous people, those who already know how to use violence as a tool, don’t go looking for answers on the Internet.  They know in their bones the Iron Law of what physics does to physiology; they know that the person who gets it right first wins.  They don’t waste time or effort on defense or protection.  They know that the answer to every problem in violence is ATTACK & INJURE.

Imagine, if you will, a fancy dinner party where someone asks you about “that class you’re taking.”  The entire table of pinkies-up dignitaries and chic-coiffed influencers pause mid-slurp to listen.  So you say, “I’m learning how to defend myself from an attacker with a knife.”  And the room makes an appreciative noise followed by a mild golf clap.  Polite society approves.

Now let’s go back after you’ve learned the truth about violence.  Someone asks the same question.  So you say, “I’m practicing how to stab people in the eye when they’re not looking.”  And the room makes the shocked sound of ruptured sensibilities, followed by you never being invited back again.  What you said sounds crazy.

But how do you want to behave during your attempted murder?

Do you want to “try to defend yourself from an attacker with a knife” or “stab him in the eye when he’s not looking”?

Which one sounds more definitive?  Which one would you bet your life on?

This is the difference between rabbits describing what wolves do, and what wolves actually do.  When rabbits talk to other rabbits about wolf-stuff it’s with a mixture of disgust, fear… and queasy awe.  But when a wolf comes for that rabbit, somewhere deep down inside that rabbit wishes it could do wolf-stuff.  If only, in that too-brief moment, it could behave like a wolf.

That’s why we’re here.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr