When discussing self protection we often see arguments for or against which Martial Art, Combat Sport, or "Reality Based System" is better in a "real situation". We also see debates as to what tactic is preferable in certain scenarios as opposed to another.
The failure in looking at self protection from this limited viewpoint is that it falsely transports the trainee into a stage of a violent encounter that is usually preceded by various events and choices that may have a significant impact on how the encounter unfolds. This keeps our students focused on the physical part of the attack and little else.
Other instructors or coaches will talk at large about awareness and the psychological make up of our attackers but offer little in the " how to" part of the equation.
Finally there are many who tout the virtues of "indomitable spirit" and a "warrior mindset" but still fall short in providing practical tools with which to accomplish the same.
One of the Core Principles of the Functional Edge System is the use and practice of Attitude.
What is Attitude?
Attitude is defined as: 1. The arrangement of the parts of a body. 2. A mental position with regard to a state. 3. A feeling or emotion toward a state.
Within that single word, Attitude, we see the holistic basis of the Functional Edge System.
Attitude is the total alignment of your entire physical, psychological, and emotional being to a single purpose. Understanding Attitude is the real key, not only for self protection, but for life in general
Although we can't control all the events in our life, violent or otherwise, we can certainly control the Latitude (freedom of choice and action) of the Attitude we choose to face them.
We do not use stances or postures in the Functional Edge System. We use Attitudes. The position of our body and limbs, the words we choose, our body language, and movement are a by-product of the correct Attitude.
We practice and train nine fundamental attitudes all of which can overlap one another and result in "combination attitudes" as our environment, circumstances, and events may dictate.
Three Non- engagement Attitudes
These are the attitudes we cycle through in our every day life. Obviously our chosen profession will also impact how much time we spend in any given attitude. A police officer or soldier has to spend a lot more time being alert and preventive while on duty because their job takes them to dangerous environments more frequently.
It is important to notice that we may utilize and experience combination attitudes as influenced by circumstances and the scenario. For example we can function in an attitude that is the transition /combination between relaxed and alert.
Awareness of, and understanding how to direct our fear response are the two major resources in these stages.
1. Relaxed Attitude – Being relaxed is to be at ease. This is the attitude of total enjoyment when in a safe environment with family and friends. There is little risk of danger. It should be the goal of everyone to enjoy a happy and tranquil life as much as possible so, regardless of profession, everyone's ultimate goal should be to achieve and stay in the Relaxed Attitude as frequently as we can. Having a place, family, and friends that provide us with joy and peace will motivate us to fight back during war.
2. Alert Attitude – This is described as being watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency. This is the attitude used when we find ourselves in unfamiliar or seemingly dangerous places. This is also the first attitude we must adapt when our intuition signals danger even when we are in a presumably "safe place". When our attitude is Alertness we must actively seek out dangers in our environment. Here we listen to our intuition and cognitively address any "bad feelings" we may get about a scenario we find ourselves in. By actively seeking potential sources of danger we increase our chances of finding the danger before it finds us. This attitude is used when danger is non-specific and has not targeted you directly.
3. Preventive Attitude – To prevent is to deprive of the power to act or to succeed. This is the attitude for dealing with identified and specific dangers that have not yet engaged but may or may not have targeted you. Once we have identified a specific danger we take active measures to make the situation less dangerous. This may take the form of finding and using a safe escape from the area. It may also include speech, body language and posture that may calm and angry subject down. We can also use our own limbs or our environment to create physical and psychological barriers that can slow down or impede an explosive attack.
If our efforts in being alert and preventing danger fails, the danger targets us and chooses to do us harm, an engagement begins. In the Functional Edge System we practice and train the three Engagement Attitudes.
Three Engagement Attitudes
As before these attitudes are transitory and can contain elements of the other as well as stand independent from one another. Our best resources in these stages are proper understanding of instinctive protection and Weapon Skill Development. How fast the attack happens, the attacker’s emotional intensity, and how close it is launched will affect our initial Attitude and how quickly we are able to move through to the others in order to successfully deal with the attack.
1. Survival Attitude – To survive is to continue in existence in spite of adversity. When we are attacked we must first survive the initial onslaught. If the attack completely surprises us, our first goal is to survive. We do this by letting our instinctive protection do its work by keeping us from harm and by cognitively using gross motor skills to protect our vital areas (our brain, our eyes, our throat) so that we can think, see and breathe, all important tasks so we can continue fighting effectively. Our goals in Survival Attitude are to remain conscious and alert, as upright and bipedal as possible, or to gain time to improve our level of consciousness or to return to an upright/ bipedal position.
2. Reversal Attitude – To reverse is to change to the contrary. When we are attacked it is because the attacker has seen us as prey. Reversal is the attitude where we change the predator prey interaction. After Surviving the initial onslaught we now must take action to change the tide of events. The attitude of reversal is fueled by indignation. This powerful emotion, that says “how dare you!?!”, propels our body-mind system explosively forward in the direction of the opponent. Our goal is to derail and interrupt our attacker’s purpose by creating physical and psychological unbalance and reversing our role from prey to predator. This is most important since we cannot control how our attacker reacts but we can control our Attitude.
3. Engagement Attitude – To engage is to enter into battle. At this stage we bring our biomechanical weapons to apply disruptive force until we resolve the conflict. We must engage our attacker with some powerful and simple gross-motor tools and skills that further disrupt his ability to move or apply force in our direction. Once this is achieved we can select the appropriate Resolution Attitude.
Three Resolution Attitudes
Resolutions can also stand alone or be inter-related. Circumstances, environment, directive, and level of skill will dictate individual choices in this area.
1. Escape Attitude – To escape is to get free or break away from. It’s important to understand that once the collision has commenced we can only escape sufficiently incapacitated threats. It is no good to cultivate a “stun and run” habit without an understanding of what stun really is. Many times improper drills will develop a habit which may put us in danger. If we run away too soon we may be wasting energy that may be better put to use actively fighting. This Resolution Attitude is not limited to, but most appropriate for smaller persons in life-threatening situations. Keep in mind that, no matter how much training we have, even an expert in self-protection may find himself in a situation (multiple assailants, weapons etc.) where the Escape Attitude is the best option.
2. Control Attitude – To control is o have restraining or directing power over another. This is an attitude reserved for when, through attributes or attrition, we are physically superior to the threat, especially in circumstances where we are morally, legally or professionally obligated to use restraint such as in Law Enforcement or when dealing with less capable attackers.
3. Harm Attitude – To harm is to cause physical, mental or emotional damage. This is an attitude we use for when the danger reaches a level of intensity that requires immediate and thorough destruction of the attacker’s ability to continue. Although we hope to never get in situations where this is required. We must be prepared to use any means and level of force necessary when protecting ourselves or loved ones from harm. Here it is most important to remember that there are those people, places and things that bring us unbridled joy and happiness and our return to these is what we are fighting for.
There are several drills in the Functional Edge System that enable us to navigate all the different Attitudes and access the appropriate emotional, psychological, and biomechanical tools in each of them.
We also learn that although we have little control over the events and circumstances of our life, we can certainly direct our entire being to any purpose we wish through our understanding of attitude.
Most importantly, we know that the ultimate goal in our life is to spend as much time in the Relaxed Attitude- the state we use when in a safe place with friends and family- experiencing joy and happiness.