Prescribed Responses

Before getting into the technicalities, I feel I should clarify my definition of this subject. A ‘prescribed response’ is the term I give for the execution of knowledge and technique, which utilise the effects and reactions that are experienced whilst in the realms of a confrontation. Many people flail in blindly, taking the situation straight to a physical level, purely because they don’t know any better. The bodily techniques they do exercise are usually of a ‘hit and hope’ manner. A more direct and effective method of dealing with a confrontation can be attained, by acquiring a competent level of understanding of how to activate specific responses. This knowledge, when correctly applied, provides the necessary vehicle to quickly resolve a predicament through deliberate applications.

The initial step is to analyse the structure of a confrontation. Most people think of it being constructed of two elements, VERBAL and PHYSICAL. I, however, consider that there is a third, which must be considered (especially for the purpose of this text), INTIMIDATION.

I will firstly categorise the above topics.

Verbal Confrontation

This part of an attack ritual is, almost without question, the precursor to the physical element. Most people disregard this important factor, especially when structuring self defense training. They concentrate purely on the physical aspects, although, more often than not, with a false appreciation with regard to realism. The verbal exchange, which is often the first notice given that a threat is evident, can come in many guises. These range from innocent conversation, i.e. asking for the time/directions, through to verbal abuse or threats. The mode of conversation that occurs is dependent upon the intentions of the issuer. For example, a mugger will often employ a deceptive line of entry through a seemingly innocent line of questioning. This can be, asking the time, asking for directions, asking if a person has seen their dog or a child. By adopting this attitude, the victim’s suspicions aren’t raised, ensuring that his/her objective isn’t divulged until it’s too late to do anything about it. If we analyse this example, it becomes apparent that the mugger has set about leading the victim into a false sense of security. With this achieved, his/her work is made much easier, giving them a greater chance of success as a result of the shock induced by the sudden change of ‘atmosphere’ (relaxed to hostile). When they become aggressive and initiate the attack part of their game plan, through the adverse effects of adrenaline reacting with a relaxed mental awareness, capitulation is almost guaranteed. With the use of this strategy, a prescribed response has been accomplished at various stages throughout the engagement. Firstly, by the use of innocent and polite dialogue the victim feels comfortable and at ease with the situation. Next, by asking a question, the victim’s brain has been engaged. Following that, through displaying a complete change of temperament, a huge release of adrenaline and other fear induced hormones are activated. The direct result of this is that the recipient experiences shock, shear panic and a combination of other emotions which promote the ‘freeze syndrome’. This provides an access for the antagonists to exert their will.

The application of malicious name calling is another way to initiate a violent encounter. Whether the aggressor calls you an ‘obvious’ name, for example, if you wear glasses, calling you “specky”, “four eyes” or something else of that nature. The whole point is to provoke a response. The actual intention may be just to upset you, then again, it might be to incite a violent encounter. Many people are drawn into a physical conflict with the use of name calling. This is because they let it upset them. In actual fact, it should be regarded as nothing more than the opinion of someone who doesn’t matter. The antagonist is attempting to draw out a response by causing a stirring of emotions, mainly anger. Once this done, the effect has been attained and a result has been achieved for the aggressor. Ignoring such a tactics, in most cases, will bring a relatively easy end to the problem, although most people do find this difficult to do. This is largely due to people not understanding the mechanics of the developing situation, or the intentions of the antagonist they are facing.

The next stage in a verbal confrontation is to intensify the abusive dialogue, elevating it to a threatening level. This step is often a subsequent attempt to achieve a prescribed response. When a slanderous comment, or an insinuation of a degrading manner is directed at a person, it is often difficult to resist answering back in some way. Most people feel the necessity to defend their name and character, whether correctly accused or not. The degree of intensity, in most cases, reflects the assailant’s level of desperation to succeed in his/her objective. It will be anticipated that even a mild mannered person will be drawn into a confrontational situation by the use of such measures. Under these circumstances it is easy to understand how a prescribed response can be activated.

Name calling, threats and abuse, are all trade marks of an argument. From these, an antagonist can create a door of opportunity. By utilising any of the above mentioned format’s, in any combination, he/she can achieve a desired effect. Verbal comment’s such as, “What are you looking at?” is a common remark. “What’s your f***ing problem?” is a more aggressive approach. Both types are often employed to provoke a response. The inclusion of expletives accentuates the point or theme of the altercation. The required reaction may be just to instil ‘fear’ into the intended victim, or, then again, it might be to entice them into a physical reply. Whatever the tactic, by harnessing your emotions and assessing your response as the situation develops, the aggressor can control your behaviour, effectively dictating the course of events.

Physical Confrontation

The initial stage usually involves ‘mild’ physical contact. This often comes in the form of pushing and prodding. The intended prescribed response from this type of action is to activate the ‘chemical concoction’ commonly referred to as an ‘adrenaline release’, and ultimately procure capitulation. It is common for this type of behaviour to accompany a verbal exchange, particularly that of a threatening or abusive nature (albeit of a low level). It can also be used as a ‘tester’. A means of evaluating resistance or the likelihood of reaction. If little or no objection is displayed, then this can be interpreted (by an instigator) that they have a ‘scared’ and compliant victim. This in turn may encourage them to push the matter further. With each contact made (push, poke or prod), another quantity of ‘adrenaline’ is released, and the intensity of the situation is increased. Obviously, this makes the predicament harder to cope with and capitulation an easier prospect for the antagonist.