The Economics of Violence

What would it cost you if you didn’t fight back?

Make a list.

What’s on it? If you’ve studied with us or read some of my previous posts you probably answered this quickly: property, body or life.

That is the correct response…if only real violence was like a video game and the fight-of-your-life was a multiple-choice test. But it’s not.

I want you to spend 5 minutes and dig deeper than the obvious answers listed above. Discard cavalier comments like, “Shit happens”, “It’s a dangerous world out there”, “I have insurance”, “What’s in your wallet/purse that’s worth your life?” “ I’ll just shoot him” and so on.

Seriously think about what it would cost you?

I’m referring to the emotional/psychological taxes. Most people never consider violence’s deeper impact. The noxious effects that create PTSD, the memories that stain our minds-eye and silently agitate our nervous system.

When bad shit happens close-up, everything can change.

So what would you pay to avoid some of this? What would you pay to feel safer?

What if I told you all you had to pay was ‘attention’?

Pay attention.

The cool thing about personal defense (regardless of your experience, gender, profession) is that most of what you need to know (and do) is already hard-wired into you. You don’t need to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up for anything. You just need to ‘pay attention’ and then act accordingly.

If you’re a fan of SPEAR & PDR then you’re already familiar with the Three D’s, if you’re new to our research, here they are:

1) DETECT (to avoid)

2) DEFUSE (to de-escalate)

3) DEFEND (to protect).

Two-thirds of your personal safety takes place before you even step on the “X” (The “X” being symbolic for the time & place of an ambush).

The Three D’s is the basis of your ‘ Personal Defense O/S’.

Two-thirds of confrontation management relies on awareness, mental toughness and fear management strategies before any contact is made. Avoiding danger should be the primary directive.

In my 40 years of researching violence, every victim of violence who lived to tell the tale said they had a ‘bad feeling’ before the actual attack? Think about that. Every one of them had some bad feeling but ignored or suppressed it. Had they run, screamed, moved first, they could’ve changed the outcome. Remember this, the vast majority of bad guys don’t want to get caught, hurt or for things to take too long. Compelling. Detect & avoid.

Why do people ignore these warning signs? There are many theories as to why; like denial, cognitive dissonance, fear, etc., but the specifics aren’t relevant right here. What’s important is acknowledging this fact: we all know what a bad feeling ‘feels’ like.

This strategically brings us into the next step in enhancing your personal safety: decide right now to respect and embrace your body’s survival signals. If an alarm goes off, respond to it. Got a bad feeling? Address it. Something nagging at you? Stop and look into it. Don’t ignore these signals. Don’t rationalize and mentally correct them. Don’t dismiss them without assessing them. Your body is built for survival and one of its hard-wired systems is designed to alert you to danger.

I know what some of you are thinking, “What if I mistake a feeling, body language, a gesture or movement and react to it.” And? What’s the downside? No one [important in your life] is going to be upset with you for facing fear. Don’t be shy or embarrassed about this. Accept that the human body will generally err on the side of survival. And so should you. There is no downside to being safe or safer. But there is a massive downside to ignoring these survival signals.

And don’t let peer pressure; socialization, fear of fear or other distractions mess with your survival instincts. We are physiological survival organisms, designed to adapt & survive. (FYI, in my courses I’ve re-named us #humanweapons, because that’s the mindset you need when the shit hits the fan, right? I’d rather remind myself “I’m a human-weapon”, and charge forward than scream, “I’m a Survival organism!” self-talk is key. Also, I can use the # on Twitter😉).

So make a contract with yourself right now that the moment your instincts & intuition raise an alarm that you will take steps to move to safety as soon as possible. Got a bad feeling? Address it now. Get off the “X” ASAP. Start moving when time and space are allies and options.

What’s the cost of learning the most important and practical part of self-defense? Zip. Just pay attention. Getting off the “X” is FREE.

Stay Safe,

Tony Blauer

Wanna read more? Check out my article, The Economics of Violence

If you’re interested in more, here’s a good place to start:

For more on fear, intuition and personal safety, check out Gavin De Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear


The above info I’ve shared is generic. The system I’ve created applies to anyone, regardless of age, background or technical experience with self-defense. But because many of you reading this have a martial, DT or combatives background, and as a consultant to many reality-based trainers around the world, I want to briefly share my observation why conventional training models fail to prepare their students using the prescription for safety described above.

1) When situational awareness is discussed in training it’s usually in the form of a cool quote the length of a fortune cookie or Tweet.

2) The vast majority of training is then spent on the “X”. I.e. defense against the headlock, gun grab, strangle, tackle, against the haymaker and so on, all start with the attacker moving first. Think about this deeply. Most of the training time in hand-to-hand is spent after the ambush has occurred. (And in some instances, you’re actually practicing ‘letting the ambush happen’, but this needs to be the subject of a longer a deeper blog.)

Regardless of your particular practice, most people spend more time on the physical versus the emotional/psychological and the DETECT & DEFUSE strategies which are inarguably more important for enhancing safety than the physical skills. In terms of quality practice time in a 45-minute self-defense/martial art class, about 1-minute is spent on awareness (remember students, be aware of your surroundings” and then 44 minutes is spent countering the attack you just let happen. Food for thought.

JOIN MY TEAM: There a whole lot more to teaching a robust realistic and relevant personal defense course and I’m always looking for conscientious trainers who want to help make their communities safer, if this is a dream of yours, please watch this video and then drop me a line. WARNING: video not for kids.