Dressed for the Occasion

Now to look at the clothing issue from another perspective. Using the same example, i.e, giving your clothing ‘personal value’ recognition, when you are confronted by a threat you may well be influenced in a negative way because of this. Let me explain. Due to the way you feel about your clothing you could be lead to supplicate to your assailant for fear of ‘damaging’ your treasured garments, neglecting the fact that you are likely to receive actual physical damage as a result. To put something like this before your personal safety is extremely foolish and could well prove more costly in the end. Remember, in many instances an attack will prevail regardless of how ‘co-operative’ you are with your antagonist. In actual fact you are more likely to secure yourself a beating by appearing to be intimidated or even accommodating. It’s fair comment to be cautious so as not to inadvertently damage your clothing, but to place a greater emphasis on it than your survival is another matter. I know that many of you will be reading this and thinking that such a notion is ludicrous. But it’s true. I witnessed on many an occasion, whilst working on the door, cases where people have made reference to “I don’t want any trouble, this is an expensive shirt”, or when someone has hold of them, pleading, “don’t rip my coat, it cost me a fortune”. In most of these cases they got belted or their clothes damaged anyway. With regards to some, I can’t help but think that the attention they drew to their dress led their attacker to focus their efforts towards it in order to exploit their victims concerns.

Where ladies are concerned it is probably even more evident as to how the clothing issue effects reactive behaviour in a threatening environment. If a women is dressed in a certain way, then they are going to attract varying degrees of attention to themselves dependant upon the perception given off (and obviously how it is perceived). If we take another look at how a lady would dress to train in, compared to how they might dress to go nightclubbing, then I think there would be more than a slight difference. If the clothing they have chosen is of a ‘skimpy’ or tight fitting nature, then immediately their ability to fight is effected. Ultimately, this will have an impact upon their confidence to face a threat or risk of violence. A female would be more than a little concerned to end up revealing more of their anatomy than they already are in what they a wearing. So therefore, it is logical to presume that should a fight ensue that the fitting of the clothing and the body coverage of the material will be altered. The thought of giving everyone around a viewing of ‘tomorrows washing’ will cause many to resist implementing a physical response to a threat. If successful in managing the situation in this way then nothing is lost (or displayed). However, if the predicament is one of an intense, serious nature, then accepting that it is inevitable for this to occur in order to survive must be accepted. From another angle, if the attire is particularly ‘flimsy’, an assailant may not feel that an attempt to restrain their victim by grabbing it as a viable option. They feel that they would have little control, whereas, if the clothing was substantial, it would serve their purpose to ‘get a grip’ of the material.

The thought of becoming exposed in the process of being assaulted often sub-consciously causes a woman to ‘freeze’. Even if the individual in question is trained in a particular discipline of combat. The ‘feeling’ that is generated is quite unique and powerful. I know that I personally would be rather put off at the prospect at having to fight without any clothes on. Add to this situation the sound of your clothing being ripped. It is understandable that a female victim would be caught in a ‘panic freeze’ under these extremes. On the other hand, I know that there are many ladies who, in those circumstances would probably become incensed by such events, turning to their animal instinct for survival, and completely turning the situation around. The burning issue here though is that until actually in that predicament, it is difficult to say exactly how a person would react. Even from a man’s perspective, it is almost impossible to say how an individual would respond to a focussed attack. Most people would like to think that they would do this or that and come out the other side unscathed. Even the trained exponent can’t be 100% sure about their performance. A great deal will depend on the ‘mood’ we are in at the time of the situation, the individuals psychological structure, their preconditioned strategies and perception of the events leading up to the attack as well as a number of other factors.

The type of footwear alone can have a dramatic impact upon an individuals psyche with regard to handling a violent incident. Again, if we compare the type of footwear worn during a training session to that worn on a social occasion. Most practising martial artists will either wear shoes with appropriate grip (trainers, ring boots, etc) or train bare-foot. Try holding off an ensuing fight up in order to get your shoes off in a club. You would either get battered whilst trying to get them off (not to mention the strange looks) and if you did manage to, you’d end up cutting your feet to shreds. How many of you train on a wet floor. Not many I’d dare say. When a fight kicks off in a club there is nearly always an amount of drink that is either already on the floor or get spilt as a result of the action. Where your sure footing gone then? How do you set your stance to deliver your precision strike? How do you keep your balance whilst trying to deliver a forceful kick? On that type of surface, with leather soled shoes. You stand more chance of ending up on your arse than attaining your objective. Just the feeling that you do not have a firm footing can blow a hole in your confidence big enough to get a bus through. The same type of things apply to the ladies. Many of them don some type of heeled shoe or boot. Immediately their balance has been impaired. The higher the heel, the greater the effect on their stability. Running becomes very difficult, increasing the chances of a stumble and significantly altering the outcome of the confrontation.

Through applying strategic psychology some of these issues can be turned around (a topic that I will address at a later date). It must be noted that the psychological implications connected with this subject are many and complex, but hopefully the point has been illustrated. Attention to the attire and how it effects your personality as well as your ability should not be dismissed. We are living in a potentially hostile environment, one that, through necessity, requires us to take certain precautions, yet this an area that if all too often overlooked.

Written by Dave Briggs, June, 2000.