Lesson 6 – Self-defense: how to escape

Everyone says it is better to escape rather than fight but…

As we have seen, a lot of bad instructors underline the importance of mental preparation in self-defense but without explaining how to manage it (read Lesson 7.3): in the same way, they also say that it is always better to avoid to fight and escape but again, they do not tell you how.

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

The first thing to stress is that, from a psychological point of view, the ability to escape it is absolutely not automatic: if it were that simple, 90% of dangerous situations would not reach the crucial phase (the one in which you risk your life).

Naturally not all people are the same but even when the chance to escape is an easy and viable option we still have to face one or more of these insidious enemies:

  • Pride
  • Fear
  • Consuetude
  • Tactical inability to evaluate options
  • Physical “incapacity”

Whereas for the last two entries, the requirements concern more directly the martial training (a topic covered in later chapters of this course), to overcome pride, fear, anger and consuetude it is necessary:

  • To decide now how to act and to stick to the plan in the moment of necessity (as we said in Lesson 7.2)
  • To understand how your mind works and how to control emotions in relation to the escaping task (read Warrior’s self-control)

How to overcome pride

Especially if we are not alone, it “annoys” us to retreat in front of people who threaten us, so instead of appearing “strategically cowards” and saving our lives, we prefer to be stupid and risk losing it.

This happens because:

  • We are slaves of the judgment of the others
  • We are psychologically weak and we (try ingenuously to) hide it
  • We are not able to manage the priority of what we want for us and what we want to show to others

We are rational animals, so let’s get some clarity in our mind:

  • Taking the wrong choice for pride is ridiculous, it means acting consciously in a stupid way
  • The first step is to understand that you can be a victim of pride (as everyone)
  • The second is to notice when it happens (in daily life), to recalibrate your attitude

You must learn to distinguish what is right for you from what is nothing but a silly recitation (of which others, however, laugh behind your shoulders).

A note by Master Kongling – Regarding the pride, I am convinced (and you should be too) that it is much more humiliating to be remembered as the fool who has not been able to control himself (and has been killed), rather than laughing over a tactical flee it in the following weeks. A person who has the intelligence to know how to control himself is very well distinguished from a coward: a real man (or woman) does not need to prove anything and can smile in front of other person’s judgments.

How to overcome fear

Rational fear is a perfect instrument capable of increasing our concentration in relation to an important task to face: the danger. If, however, we lose control of it:

  • It becomes panic, eliminating your ability to evaluate and act (freezing, stuttering, legs trembling, feeling of suffocation, etc.)
  • When even a low level of panic captures you, even the most obvious options (eg. escape) disappear

An easy path o win fear:

  • The first thing to face is that if fear makes you smarter it is useful, in all the other cases it does not help you
  • To free yourself from irrational fear you have to rationalize it, make it clear and well confined
  • You have to discover (in your daily life) all that scares and / or makes you uncomfortable (honestly and privately)
  • Divide the list into two parts, the first (A) must contain the irrational fears (superstitions, unscientific suppositions, etc.)
  • The second list (B) must contain the rational ones (things that scientifically and statistically can happen)
  • Write these fears on a paper and sort the two lists in order from the less incisive to the strongest
  • Simply start to face the A list (irrational fears) from the most irrational / simple ones (one per day)
  • When you will have reached the end of the A list, you have to analyze each item of the B list, describing how to manage them
  • For each B list element, you have to write the context where they can happen, if they are truly so dangerous / widespread and the possible solutions to avoid / solve those situations (one each day)
  • At the end of your work, you will be free of most of your fears; for the eventually remaining ones, the awareness of serious and daily training will be more than enough (read How to start practicing from scratch)

A note by Master Kongling – This is how I got rid of so many little thoughts that limited my life (from a working, sentimental point of view, etc.). Do not make the mistake of deluding yourself not to fear anything (or anything irrational): learn to know yourself.

How to overcome anger

Anger is not necessarily / always a bad thing, it can help to get access to our last resources (read Practical examples of emotion control) but in most cases, it is a wrong attitude:

  • If it controls you, all you do risks to be predictable, stupid and dangerous
  • In a self-defense scenario to involuntarily lose control of your mind can be literally lethal (firstly for you but also for the others, read also Best martial arts for self-defense)
  • A person who is angry believes he is strong, but in reality, he demonstrates all his weakness and insecurity

How to win anger:

  • Excluding the pathological cases, anger is a beast that borns from pride and fear
  • To win it you first have to admit the existence of its parents (pride married fear) and face them
  • Secondly, you must learn to recognize its arrival before its explosion (in you and in the others); anger cannot be controlled once it is unleashed
  • You have to break the mental loops that focusing on the problem generates the anger escalation; if you are not ready to clear your mind yet, think about other things (what makes you positive, happy, at peace with the world, read also Breathing for immediate relaxation)
  • Third, you have to know that, even if you think to be right, you could be wrong (the only person who is always wrong is the one who thinks he is always right)
  • Above all, you have to understand that in no case it is useful to avenge a wrong (creating chains of reactions and counter-reactions)
  • For what remains is a matter of mind education, you have to accept your limits and the ones of other people (becoming, therefore, more patient)

A note by Master Kongling – If you are the slave of anger it is not a matter of days to learn to control it but remember: intelligent and strong men / women do not allow the actions of others to control their minds. You have to start to work on it. Now.

How to win consuetude

The human mind tends to associate the most common consequences / reactions to the various events that happen:

  • A question involves an answer, an error involves a correction, an insult involves a reaction (etc.)
  • These are the normal sequences but what happens if you break the path?
  • To do not allow bad things to happen, one of the best strategies is to take control over the situations interrupting its natural evolution (read The use of unorthodox methods)

The fact is that if you do not want to lose every possible opportunity to prevail (in this case fleeing) it is necessary to:

  • Leave the preconceived patterns of your mind; stop waiting and fear what is about to happen
  • Learn to break the flow of your opponents imposing your will (as a good fighter do in combat)
  • Be active, you must not be a passive element of the scenario, it is the scenario that must be at your service
  • See the contexts from outside (as if they would not interest you in any way); if your mind is disconnected from the flow of the happenings, you can intervene at any time and interrupt its wrong evolutions (gaining infinite options to act)

A note by Master Kongling – I can understand that this could appear complex and not so clear but the point is that: no matter what kind of interactions are happening, you must be focused on all the possibilities and resources that come to be at your disposal (escape routes, possible diversions, etc.). In later chapters, we will deepen this topic at a more advanced level and in a more complete way.

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • Meditation, martial training and the exploration of your mental structure are indeed the best tools at your disposal to take control of yourself (even to learn to leave the battlefield, when necessary)
  • Needless to point out that in this lesson we have discussed only the cases in which the escape is actually possible / reasonable and the limit is only our mindset; the remaining contexts (tactical and physical incapacity) will be seen later

Let’s conclude with this quote:

“Who is really expert in the art of war, knows how to win the enemy army without giving battle, take his cities without blending them, and overthrow the state without prolonged operations.” – Sun Tzu

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Author: Master Kongling

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