Mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu have the philosophy that if you break an opponent’s will, you win the fight. I came across this blog post that details six tips to break your opponent’s will. If you watch enough interviews with fighters, you will often hear about breaking a fighter. This is an important lesson for self defense as well. But not because we’re trying to break our attacker’s will. Our goal is to escape at the first chance we can. All our self defense tactics are what we employ in order to gain an opportunity to escape. Breaking your attacker’s will is an option, but it is not the only one. If breaking the attackers will is not the lesson, what is?
It is strengthening our own will to survive. It is the very reverse of what the MMA fighters are trying to do to each other. Our goal is not to gain the fighter’s mentality. We should figure out the survivalist’s mentality. (At least when it comes to surviving a street encounter, that is. If you want to go all prepper, then more power to ya.)
So, how do we fortify our wills? When I teach self defense, I ask the participants to tell me their reason for getting home safely. It could a husband, a wife, kids, pets, parents, or whatever. While working our basic drills, I ask them to keep this thought in their minds as they practice. The idea is to have a reason to fight and to fight for that reason.
Self defense experts know that the mental state is as important in a street fight as skill. The will to get home is an incredible motivator. Tony Blauer puts it at number three in his Ten Commandments of Street Survival. (This article is a recommended read for the self defense minded.) As part of his instruction, he asks his students to “tap into their ‘desire’ to survive by writing out a list of things they will lose if they do not survive the fight.” On this list he recommends including “the most important people, places and things in your life.” This list is why we fight back and why we seek the opportunity to escape.
Is this a little morbid? Maybe. It depends on how you look at the exercise. By creating your list, you are also writing down what makes your life wonderful. I view it as a chance to be thankful for the people in my life, to review the opportunities that I’ve had, and to remember the hard work that I’ve done. So, what’s on your list?