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Boundary Setting is the Foundation of Civilization and Individual Success

Boundary Setting is fundamental for human success both on an individual and societal level. Societies that effectively use Boundary Setting create progress and advance civilization (think of Rome). They are able to build upon ideas and inventions. Societies with ineffective Boundary Setting descend into chaos and mayhem (think of barbarians). Individuals that utilize effective Boundary Setting in their private and public relationships live secure and productive lives. Those that are unable to effectively set boundaries endure lives of insecurity and constant threat of victimization.

Boundary Setting is central to human development and unfortunately most people are unaware of how it functions. In fact, when asked about Boundary Setting the most common response is that it “has something to do with personal space”, but that is about as deep as it gets.

Boundary Setting is based on the three inter-related concepts of Respect, Communication, and Enforcement. Boundary Setting begins with the establishment of rules. Rules are basically laws and regulations that govern and outline acceptable human behavior. Boundaries are Rules. These Rules can pertain to society as a whole. They can also pertain to the individual in the form of his or her view of acceptable personal behavior. In fact, every entity and organization in society has its own set of Rules that limit and control behaviors. Without these Rules, there is no order. There is confusion. There are misunderstandings and more. Progress is stymied.

It is not enough for the rules to be created. The rules must be communicated to everyone in society. In terms of the individual, the rules must be clear to those who interact with him or her. Clear communication of the rules is an essential part of effective Boundary Setting. The rules must be clearly communicated in order to avoid violations that are the result of a misunderstanding of the rules.

When the rules are understood, willful violations are the result of a lack of respect for the rules. Following the rules is a sign of Respect for the rules. Violations signify disrespect for the rules. Civilized societies are based on the majority of people having respect for the rules. Respect for the rules is also defined as the Public Trust, when the members of society have faith and trust in the societal institutions and government. When a personal boundary of an individual is violated, if that boundary was clearly communicated, the violation is a sign of lack of respect for the person and his or her boundaries.

A willful violation of the rules must be meet with appropriate Enforcement of the rules. Enforcement is designed to create Respect for the rules. Enforcement must be Just-Right in order to create Respect. When the rules are Under-Enforced, the result is contempt for the rules. Under-Enforcement is an action that is not enough (too little) to create Respect for the rules. Societies that create laws but don’t enforce them create contempt. Individuals that don’t enforce violations of their personal boundaries create contempt for themselves. Contempt is a destroyer of Respect.

When violations of the rules are met with Over-Enforcement, a Backlash against the rules is created. Over-Enforcement is a response that is too harsh (or perceived to be) in relation to the violation. When governments over-enforce the rules, they risk inciting a rebellion. When individuals over-enforce their boundaries they risk escalating the situation.

Clear Communication helps reduce the risk of Over-Enforcement. If someone violates the rules due to a misunderstanding of the rules, it is likely that he or she will view most enforcement responses as too harsh. Thus creating a potential for a Backlash. This is commonly seen in terms of violations of personal boundaries (space) that were not perceived to be a violation by the violator. But were viewed as an intentional violation by violated. The result maybe an upward spiral of perceived over-enforcements and backlashes that escalates a minor intrusion into a major confrontation.

On the other hand, an intentional violator may use the pretext of misunderstanding as a strategy to violate societal and personal boundaries. Their response to any type of enforcement is too claim a lack of understanding as opposed to a willful lack of respect for the rules. This ploy is highly successful against individuals that don’t clearly communicate their boundaries.

It is only when the enforcement response is Just-Right or perceived to be appropriate for the violation that Respect will be created. This is the rational about creating “respect for the rule of law” through the use of the court system. A punishment, fine, or a consequence is a form of enforcement.

Boundary Setting is a continual process. It can be done before, during, or after a violation. Prior to a violation, Boundary Setting is a form of prevention. During a violation, Boundary Setting is a type of intervention. The Use of Force as a means to limit and control unwanted behavior is Boundary Setting. Responding to a violation after is has occurred is also Boundary Setting. In this case, the Boundary Setting is typically some sort of punishment for the violation.

Boundary Setting relies on the inter-action of Respect, Communication, and Enforcement to create secure boundaries by limiting and controlling behavior. Boundaries are the rules of behavior. Boundary Setting is both communicating and enforcing those rules. Secure boundaries enable societies and individuals to systemically create environments of respect and to reduce violations. Respectful environments are fundamental for increasing growth, creativity, trust, and human progress.

Three Types of Learning – Which One Do You Use?

There are three distinct categories of learning: Vertical Learning, Horizontal Learning, and Connective Learning.

Vertical Learning is the process of learning in a step by step linear fashion. You begin with the basics and build on the basics with successively more complicated concepts, skills, tasks, etc. Learning math is an example of this process. Additional and subtraction leads to algebra with leads to calculus, and so on. Vertical Learning is typical in the martial arts where basic skills are taught to beginning students and more advanced skills are taught to students that have mastered the basics. Colored belts that designate rank is typically a mark of Vertical Learning.

Step 1 -> Step 2 -> Step 3 -> Step 4


Horizontal Learning is the process of learning additional concepts, skills, tasks, etc. that are independent of prior learning. Using math again, learning geometry is separate from learning statistics. One area does not necessarily build upon the other. In the martial arts, Horizontal Learning is seen by successive learning of different unrelated styles of martial arts. The person who has a belts in Karate, BJJ, Aikido, and Tai Chi is using Horizontal Learning.

Subject A + Subject B + Subject C + Subject D


The third method is Connective Learning. Connective Learning is the process of integrating and networking concepts, skills, tasks, etc. together to achieve understanding. Connective Learning is about building the understanding of the relationships between different concepts, skills, and tasks. The math example is seeing the relation of the common principles between geometry, statistics, and calculus. The martial artist that is able to relate the outwardly differing elements of various styles together to create unifying principles is using Connective Learning process.

Intelligence is defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Acquiring and applying is a form processing. Therefore, intelligence is the ability to process knowledge and skills. The brain is the body’s central processor. It uses an estimated 100 billion brain cells that each hold bits of information and communicate with each other to store information, knowledge, and execute tasks. The more efficiently these cells communicate (integrate/network) with each other the greater the processing power (intelligence).

Now imagine that Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, Subject A, Subject B, Subject C, Subject D are all “bits of information” stored in Cells. Connective Learning is the process of interconnecting (integrating) these Cells together as efficiency as possible. If each connection is represented by a line, Vertical Learning uses three lines to connect four Steps. Horizontal Learning uses three lines to connect four Subjects. But Connective Learning is the process of developing the permutations (relationships, integrations, connectivity) between these Cells. How many different permutations can come from 8 different Cells? The answer is 40,320! Therefore, effective Connective Learning requires highlighting the “best” permutations.

The teaching of Connective Learning begins after the student has acquired some basic “intelligence” from either Vertical Learning or Horizontal Learning. At that point, the student needs to understand that he or she is now developing connectivity as opposed to either a more complex skill or an additional skill. Therefore, a key part of the Connective Learning process is the basic understanding of these three types of learning.

Temporary Othering – A Tool for Self-Defense

The latest mass killing in the US has created quite a stir of Othering. It began with a socially outcast vengeful young man with pent-up frustration who blames others for his unhappiness. To many in the US, he was a “Nut Job”. To many people outside the US, he was another “American Nut Job”. To some anti-gun activists, he was another “Mass Murdering Gun Owner”. To some pro-gun people, he was just a “Bad Guy with a Gun”. To some women, he was a Misogynist. To other women, he was another ‘Man’ doing what men do.
Depending upon which particular agenda you would like to promote, the labeling of the killer as a ‘this’ or a ‘that’ is the beginning of a logical sounding, but essentially emotional thinking Othering based argument.

The killer used Othering to a large degree. Othering was the justification for his killing spree. They had Othered him, so now he was going to Other them in return. And assuming the news stories are correct, Othering was the tool that facillitated the killing of his three roommates. Apparently, he hit them on the back of the head with a hammer and slit their throats.

Othering is a highly effective tool for getting the job done. If your primary goal is to kill as efficiently as possible, there is no need for engaging your target as a human being with confrontation, anger, and a frontal attack. Othering offers you the ability to slaughter your dehumanized target without the interference of conscience and ethical considerations.
In terms of self-defense, it is important to realize that if you have been Othered, then it’s time to throw the rules of social conflict out the window. Most likely, your attacker isn’t going to provide you the warning signs of anger and aggression. He or she may lure you, deceive you, and attack you from behind with his or her weapon of choice.

Once you have been Othered, your practiced strategy of logically or emotionally appealing to the other person’s humanity is no longer valid. To him or her, you are no longer human. Therefore, you don’t qualify for the status of negotiation.
You now are faced with engaging in your own form of Othering – Temporary Othering for Self-Defense (TOSD). In its purest form, TOSD means that you dispatch your attacker with the same cold blooded efficiency and methods he would seek to use on you. You use deceit and overwhelming force to disrupt your attacker, foil his plan, and disengage to safety.

The key concept is Temporary. Your Othering is limited to the time necessary to get the job done. The time need for you to get away. Extended Othering is likely to get you sent to jail when you go beyond what is necessary. Othering provides tremendous power. It frees you from the bonds of conscience and the constraints of socialization and ethical issues. It allows you to perform actions that you would ordinarily never do, and therein lies its power.
Temporary Othering for Self-Defense is rational. But rationalized Othering is something else. The California killer rationalized and justified his Othering. It enabled him to kill innocent young women he had never met for simply being women. And in return, it enables the Othering and labeling of the entire male gender as misogynists by those who seek to exploit the dark power of Othering.

Othering - The Root of Human Evil

What is the root of all human evil? Many claim it is money. But I think it is something else. A contagious behavior so insidious that effects all human beings to various degrees regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, presence of disability or lack thereof, social class, education level, political affiliation, and more. This behavior can be seen in the highest levels of education and the lowest levels of ignorance. It is exhibited by social justice advocates and the “Oppressors” alike. It occurs in society’s elite as well as the downtrodden.

This behavior is infectious. It spreads from one person to another like a virus. It causes a person’s thinking brain to become dormant while the person’s emotions take over. It breeds a vicious self-reinforcing cycle of hate, discontent, anger, paranoia, insecurity, revenge, indignation, righteousness, contempt, and loathing. Many times this behavior is blatantly obvious. Other times it is hidden in intellectual discussions and writings of educated advocates of worthwhile causes.

This behavior is responsible for incalculable human suffering. In its most powerful form, it has caused the deaths of millions and individual acts of unspeakable cruelty. In its milder form it crops up all over the internet in blogs, posts, memes, and commentary. The majority of those who exhibit and spread the behavior are unaware of it and the effect it has on them. They don’t see how this behavior feeds on itself. They don’t know that when you put out a little, you get a lot back in return.

This behavior is “Othering”. Othering is mentally classifying “others” of some group to be fundamentally different than yourself. Othering denies the basic humanity of the “Othered”. Othering combines prejudice, bias, objectivism, and more into a toxic mental process and supersedes rational thinking and balanced judgment.

But the true danger of Othering comes from its appeal. It has the ability to make those who use it feel be good. It justifies their beliefs. It creates camaraderie. It solidifies bonds. Othering bypasses the “thinking brain” and speaks directly to the emotional brain, thus it makes it easier to get your opinion across to susceptible listeners. Othering allows you to skip the need to use time consuming accuracy, facts, and logical statements. You get your supporters to agree with you because it “feels” right to them.

Your supporters in turn, spread your Othering message. Those with opposite opinions, react emotionally to the Othering. Many of them will have their thinking brains become dormant as they formulate their own Othering based response. Othering begets more Othering creating a feedback loop of emotional thinking. Othering creates a backlash. No matter how worthy the cause, the use of Othering provides short term satisfaction and long term harm to both your cause and humanity.

Othering can be hard to spot. But once you understand the concept, you will start to see it in many places and forms. Overt prejudice is easy to identify as Othering. It is the Othering that is hidden in the writings of the “educated” that takes a little practice to recognize. The easiest method to find Othering involves the Word Replacement Test. For example, start by using two groups in history that have been historically Othered, Blacks and Jews.

Start the Word Replacement Test

“Not all men beat their partners, but people who beat their partners are mostly men.”

Now, replace men with Jews.

“Not all Jews beat their partners, but people who beat their partners are mostly Jews.”

Next, replace men with Blacks

“Not all Blacks beat their partners, but people who beat their partners are mostly Black.”

End Test

It is easy to see that the above two word replaced sentences employ prejudice. Therefore, the original sentence is the Othering of men. Ironically, it came from a blog post protesting gender based sexism.
But wait you say, the people who beat their partners ARE men, everyone knows that. Thus, it can’t be Othering if it is true. Before determining if the “science is settled” on that matter, please refer to these links:

More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals

Or this book:
Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence: Does She Call It Rape?

What we actually know is the many “Humans beat their partners.” This sentence doesn’t involve Othering and opens the door to trying to determine why humans engage in this unwanted behavior.
On the other hand, “Not all men beat their partners, but people who beat their partners are mostly men.”, this statement is designed to Other men. It is not intended to open the door to further  intellectual discussion on the subject.  In fact, it is intended to silence it or create an emotional response. Understanding why some women beat their partners would provide more information as to why some men beat their partners because men and women are both human beings with more similarities than differences. Focusing only on men provides less information. Othering is designed to limit information and promote emotion.

The method to combat the evil of Othering in all its forms is to first be able to identify it. Next, it must be treated as both contagious and a contamination. That requires quarantining the piece and removing the voice of those that Other from spreading the behavior.  Once you spot Othering in a post, writing, article, or speech, the chances are that Othering has inflected the entire piece. Othering is like a cockroach, if you see one, you know there are many more hidden in the shadows.
The antidote to Othering is to recognize the essential human nature of all people. Those that Other should not be Othered either. Most of them, truly believe they are helping their cause. They see themselves as passionate promoters and activists. Some consider themselves so oppressed that “the ends justifies the means” no matter what.

In my opinion, Othering is the root of human evil. Due to the harm Othering has caused throughout history, the use of widespread Othering is not justified no matter how righteous the cause. Those that knowingly Other are short sighted and destructive to humanity at large. Those that do it unknowingly need to be educated on the error of their ways before it’ too late.

Hyper-Advocates and Two Types of Problem Solving Methodologies

There are many ways in which people try to solve problems in their lives and in the world. But, there are two widely used methods that take completely opposite approaches. The method used is usually a function of the person’s Locus of Control.

Internal Locus Problem Solving (ILPS)- Someone with an Internal Locus of Control sees the solution to the problem stemming from his (or her) own actions. He has the power to change himself. He uses the change within himself to solve his problem(s). In terms of personal safety, self-defense education and training is an example of Internal Locus Problem Solving. The solution comes from within. This method is also known as Bottom Up problem solving.

External Locus Problem Solving (ELPS) – Someone with an External Locus of Control sees the solution to the problem stemming from the actions of others. They see the problem on a more global scale. The problem stems from the environment. Therefore, the solution to solving the problem comes from changing the environment. In terms of personal safety, self-defense is not the solution. Reducing criminal behavior is the solution. This method is also known as Top Down problem solving.

Theoretically, these two methods should be complimentary. They should work together solving the problem from both ends. Unfortunately, in the real world of ideology and advocates, many times proponents of these methodologies spend a tremendous amount of time and resources disparaging the other methodology as being ineffective.

The basic thought process behind ILPS, is that social problems can be solved by the sum of the unique actions of individuals. Social change occurs when a critical mass of individual behaviors change society, think of drops in a bucket, a ripple in a pond, the butterfly’s wings, etc.

Depending upon the practical problem at hand, this method may or may not be effective. But, since the actions start with the individual, there is less of chance for unintended large scale side-effects.

ELPS is a different matter. The goal is to start by changing society. The thought process behind ELPS is that other people usually in the form of government or social institutions, need to become involved (come to the rescue). They have the power to effect change. In order to get these entities involved, the problem must be seen as wide scale, and to be as threatening as possible. The first step of ELPS is not accurately identifying and describing the problem, it is to make the problem appear as large as possible in order to get attention.

It is here that hyper-advocates using ELPS become part of the problem they want to solve. Hyper-Advocates are unwilling to define the limits (extent) of the problem. They promote the problem as being everywhere and it occurs all the time. They use terms such as “men do this” or “women do that” with the implication being that ALL men to this, ALL the time or ALL women to that, ALL the time.

What the Hyper-Advocates don’t understand is that if ALL people do something, then it is ingrained human nature that is highly unlikely to change. It is when SOME people do something and others don’t do it, that there is hope to change behaviors.

In order to draw outside attention, Hyper-Advocates do not want to promote an accurate description of the problem. They want to promote an inflated view of the problem. They don’t want accurate studies. They want inflated studies.

An effective method to inflate studies is to co-mingle different data while making it appear as through the data is similar. For example, “last year in Town X of 50,000 people, there were 1,000 murders and assaults”. That sounds like a dangerous town. Call in the National Guard. But, what if there was only 1 murder, and 999 assaults which all came in the form of spitting? In this case, the town doesn’t have a killing problem, it has a spitting problem.

The issue is that there are vastly different needs and requirements when solving a town wide killing or spitting problem. If you really want to solve a problem, you need to know exactly WHAT the problem is, and WHO IS effected by the problem, and WHO is NOT effected. The more accurate the information, the better. Accuracy provides data needed to solve the problem. That is what epidemiologists do.
For example, saying that Town X has a “Spit Culture” and implying that everyone in Town X is a Spitter will not help solve the problem if the majority of spitting assaults came from a few people who were serial spitters, AND that many of the victims of these assaults had certain factors in common, AND that the circumstances of spitting assaults also had certain factors in common.

Assume the majority of Town X consists of Non-Spitters. Town X does not have a Spit Culture. It has a culture where the majority Non-Spitters don’t know how to handle and control the behaviors of the minority Spitters. And the Hyper-Advocates keep clouding the issue by claiming that Town X has a “Murder and Spit Culture” in the hopes that some government entity will pay attention and come to the rescue of the town.
In addition, when someone tries to accurately assess the factors involved in the spitting problem, which includes examining factors specific to the victim and his or her behavior, the Hyper-Advocates squash this study as “Victim Blaming” and label the person as a Murder and Spit Denier. These Hyper-Advocates have a very strong External Locust of Control. They fundamentally believe that other people’s actions and behaviors are the source of their problems. Thus, the only solution is for the others, not them, to change.

As a result of the activities of the Hyper-Advocates, nobody really knows what is going on. There is no accurate understanding of why the Serial Spitters spit and why the Non-Spitters don’t. But there are plenty of ideologically driven theories. There is minimal understanding as to why certain people seem to get assaulted why others do not. With little understanding and accurate data, problem solving methods are doomed to fail.  The Hyper-Advocates in their attempt to show the problem is occurring everywhere, focus their attentions of Town Y and Town Z, labeling them also Murder and Spit Cultures.

While my example may involve some satire, the Internet has provided those who want to solve social problems with a means to band together and a delivery system for their methods. Those that combine ILPS with ELPS have the greatest ability to solve society’s problems. On the other hand, the Hyper-Advocates of ELPS are a huge part of the problem they claim to want to solve.

Self-Defense Competency: Environmental Knowledge, Rule Knowledge, and Domain Knowledge

Google the term “self defense” and there almost 10 million results. Millions of people expounding on different ideas of what constitutes self-defense. Google “self-defense competency” and the results drop down to a couple thousand.

What does it mean to be competent in self defense? It doesn’t mean that you are safe. You could safely lock yourself in your fortress-like home and still be incompetent in self-defense.

Self defense competency is described in many ways by different people. I define it as a competency in three separate, but inter-related and inter-dependent elements of Environmental Knowledge, Rule Knowledge, and Domain Knowledge. 

1. Environmental Knowledge (EK) is understanding the general makeup of a location/area/place/environment. For example, what the people do, when they do it, who they do it with, why they do it, where they do it, and how they do it. Having EK means you see the environment as it truly exists, not as how you believe it to be. EK requires understanding basic human nature as well as social norms and cultural motivations. And how these desires and attitudes effect the inhabitant’s rules and behaviors. (See Marc MacYoung for the original deeper description of this concept)

2. Rule Knowledge (RK) is understanding “how things work” in the specified Environment. The Environment creates the Rules. All human societies, groups, organizations, tribes, families, etc have some form of Rules of Behavior. These rules are specific to the Environment, but underlying them are universal principles and concepts (that are not so hard to understand). It is not enough to know the environment, you also need to know how the rules guide behaviors, allow people to function/work, and to reward and punish behaviors. You need to know who implements/enforces the rules, what are the rules, how the rules are communicated, how the rules are enforced, how compliance/respect for the rules is shown. Understanding the “rules” of criminal behavior is essential to RK.

3. Domain Knowledge (DK) is having the knowledge and skills to deal with/operate in the specific Environment and to be capable of protecting yourself and others (within reason). It is here that understanding criminal behavior is critical. A major portion of DK is having both EK and RK. It takes EK to derive RK. It takes RK to develop the competency of DK. DK is what most people think of as “how to do self-defense”. What they don’t “see” is the underlying knowledge of when to do something, what to do, why to do it, where to do it, and against whom, or not against whom, and when it works, when it doesn’t, and what to do next.

The opposite of Self-Defense Competency is Self-Defense Incompetency. Since Self-Defense Competency requires having all three elements of EK and RK and DK, incompetency means lacking any one of the three. Most Self-Defense Incompetency stems from not having a complete understanding of Environmental Knowledge. This partial understanding leads to insufficient Rule Knowledge and incomplete or entirely defective Domain Knowledge.

Despite being the foundation of Self-Defense Competency, Environmental Knowledge frequently is assumed to be common knowledge. It is viewed as simply occurrences of Bad Guys assaulting Good Guys in some manner. Environmental Knowledge is also separate from “situational awareness”. It is not enough to simply be aware, you need to know what you are looking for, and what to be aware of.

The Two Kinds of “How”. Which One Do You Use?

The word “how” appears frequently in self-defense related questions and answers as in

How do I defend myself from X?” and “This is how you defend yourself from Y.”

Typically, this “how” refers to some physical technique someone can employ when being “attacked” in some manner. This is the “Simple How”. When the Simple How is used in questions, it leads to simplistic answers.

The “Complex How” takes into consideration that how is actually a multi-faceted question that needs to take into consideration “who, what, when, where, and why”. For example, how you effectively defend yourself, requires the use of the Complex How.

Who are you? What are your physical, mental, and emotional strengths and limitations?
Who is the other person? What are his or her physical, mental, and emotional strengths and limitations?

Who are you with? Who else is involved? Who are your responsible for besides yourself?

What are the circumstances of the attack? What are you in the process of doing? What is your level of experience? ‘What are some of your skills? What are your weaknesses? What options do you have? What might have you done to provoke this attack? What might you have done to avoid it? What is the motivation level of the attacker? What is your motivation level to defend yourself? What type of weapons may be involved?

When is this “attack” taking place? When will your response make the situation better? When will it make it worse? When will your response get you into legal trouble? When will it be considered legally justified?

Where are you at the time of this “attack”? Where is a place of safety? Where are others who could assist you? Where are other potential assailants located? What are the Rules of Behavior specific to where you are located?

Why is this person attacking you? What is his or her motivation? What would be an effective deterrent strategy? Why might this strategy work? Why might it not work?

The above questions are not a complete list. They demonstrate the use of the Simple How from the Complex How.

Which one do you usually use?

Male Privilege Fixation

Yesterday, I was in the middle of a crowded bike ride in New York City, I had just rode off a curb in order to get from the sidewalk to the street when my gears started to rattle. I quickly pulled over and inspected my gear wheel. Sure enough, part of the derailleur was sagging over the gears. As I peddled forward, the derailleur would rub against the gear teeth causing the problem.

As I was trying to determine how to solve this problem, my friend came over and asked me what was going on. I explained how I had gone off the curb and how the impact must have dislodged the derailleur from its correct position. The issue was that even though I knew what happened, I had no idea how to fix it. In truth, I am not a “gear head” and this repair was beyond my ability.

“Erik, what about the cracked plastic piece on the chain roller by the pedal?” my friend said. “No, that’s not the problem”, I responded”. “It’s the derailleur”. It was very clear to me what had caused the problem, I just didn’t know how to fix it.

My friend hands me his knife as says “Erik, cut that piece off”. I give him an annoyed look and took the knife. As I sawed away at the plastic, I was thinking how this cutting is a waste of time. I knew what the real problem was. Low and behold, once the broken plastic was removed, the problem was solved. I was completely and utterly wrong.

I had created an entire story my head about what had caused the problem. How going off the curb had dislodged the derailleur. And now it was rubbing on the gears. I could “see” it. I was both blind and resistant to new information. But my friend hadn’t observed me going off the curb. He came upon me on the side of the road. He had no theory as to what caused the problem. I was fixated on the derailleur. He wasn’t. He had a fresh set of eyes. My observation was hopelessly biased by my internal script of causation.

What are some other scripts of causation? How about “Male Privilege”. This is a central theory of how Male Privilege effect’s all men’s behavior.

Note that Male Privilege is seen to effect and influence ALL men, not just SOME men.

Here is an article forwarded to me by a female friend of mine. We were just having a discussion on how to deal with [some] men who don’t seem to get the hint that it is time from them to go away.

Stop Saying "I Have A Boyfriend"

Now, I agree with much of what this female author is saying. And I think it is very unfortunate that she has to deal with this issue. But, I want to focus on what she considers to be the root “cause” of the problem.

“Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest.”

According to the post author, the “cause” of the problem is Male Privilege. And the only reason why “I have a boyfriend" works is due to Male Privilege. Thus, Male Privilege is deemed to be as certain as the Law of Gravity. Its existence explains all men’s actions.

But how do Male Privilegists know what ALL men are thinking at ALL times? How are they able to determine how Male Privilege effects all men, especially given that most of them don’t live the lives of men? They see some men from their own prospective. Could it be that some women (and men) are fixated on blaming Male Privilege as being the cause of ALL men’s behaviors in relation to women?

Let's assume for a moment that there is some other force that directs some men's actions when dealing with women. Let’s call it Fear of Rejection. In this case, some men act in a manner designed reduce feeling the emotional pain of rejection. Instead of feeling the power and control of Male Privilege, they instead feel insecurity.

Therefore, when it appears they just have been, or are being, or are about to be rejected, they engage in a dysfunctional strategy to "save face". This strategy entails appearing to not really care about the woman, to treat her as an object, to dehumanize her, to engage in unwanted banter, to call her a lesbian, to argue, to ignore her boundaries, to threaten her. The man does everything he can to transform the rejection into something else. In his mind, he didn't care anyway. It was just a game. It's her problem. She's a bitch. All of these actions are designed to mask the fact that he has in fact been rejected.

To someone fixated on Male Privilege. The man’s behaviors can easily be explained as the result of Male Privilege. The problem is that the Male Privilege causation model leaves no room for any man to behave in a manner not consistent with its declarations. There is no male vulnerability or Fear of Rejection in the Male Privilege model. There is only actions resulting from male superiority, power, and control.

I am suggesting that SOME men behave in certain ways due to Male Privilege. And SOME men behave in certain ways due to Fear of Rejection. And SOME men behave in other ways due to other reasons. But, the belief that ALL men's actions at ALL times can be explained by Male Privilege is an example of fixation on an ideological theory of causation.

Why might the phrase "I have a boyfriend" work for deterring some men for reasons that have nothing to do with Male Privilege as outlined above? How about the simplicity of the fact that it provides a face saving exit? The man can tell himself that he hasn't been rejected after all. His ego remains intact. There has been no personal rejection. Or maybe, the man respects the woman. He realizes that she don't want to be romantically pursued and he drops the issue.

If someone, male or female, provides you with unwanted romantic attention, setting a firm boundary with clear communication, and escalating responses is an effective methodology. Saying you have a boyfriend when in fact you do not, is a lie, and as such is by definition not clear communication. It ingrains habits of non-assertiveness. The direct assertive response is most likely to be the most effective response in these situations.

The Violation Triangle


The Violation Triangle is a model that explains the creation and existence of human violations in society both on an individual basis and also on a systemic multi-incident basis. And it shows the steps necessary to reduce the violations.

The Violation Triangle utilizes the same three element concept of the Fire Triangle. In order to create and sustain fire, there must be three elements present: heat, fuel and air. The combination of these elements in sufficient quantities makes fire and keeps it going. Knowledge of the Fire Triangle is essential to devising the most effective strategy to extinguish a fire. Depending upon the circumstances, fire-fighters will attempt to remove one or more of these elements to put out the fire. For example, water reduces heat, foam takes away air, and creating a fire-break denies fuel.

Human violations between a Perpetrator (s) and Victim arise from the presence of three essential (I) Elements. (1) Significant INEQUALITY of Relative Power, Control, and Status (RPCS) between the parties. (2) The Victim is ISSOLATED from protective resources such as family, friends, and policing agents and institutions. (3) The Perpetrator has INTENT to harm, i.e. wants to do something that violates the Victim in some manner. These three elements are the essential ingredients that occur during a singular incident of violation. They occur during multiple incidents of violations among different people or for a single person at various times.

The greater the presence of these 3I Elements in society, the more likely that violations will occur. The greater magnitude of the 3I Elements, the greater the rate of violations. The Fire Triangle analogy is: the more people that store gasoline next to space heaters in ventilated basements, the greater the rate of house fires.

Therefore, the most effective means of lowering the overall rate of violations in society or the number of violations to any one individual requires a three pronged approach that addresses each of the 3I Elements.

INEQUALITY of RPCS comes in many forms. It could be the result of a disparity in physical power, strength, size, and ability between the parties. It could be created by use of a tool such as a weapon. It could be created by a tactical advantage such as multiple attackers or the use of surprise. Inequality also arises from social hierarchies and from personal relationships such as employer to employee, teacher to student, or care-giver to patient.

Groups of people with higher RPCS in society tend to treat the “lower” tier of people as less than equal or subhuman to some degree. This is the process of “Othering” that maintains strict social classes in society. Nationalism, sexism, racism, and ableism are all common forms of Othering.

On bottom tier of society are the lower RCPS groups such as people with developmental and physical disabilities, the homeless, the LGBT community, the poor, minorities, and in many cultures, women. These groups as a whole have less RPCS than the higher tier groups such as the wealthy, celebrities, athletes, business owners, politicians, law enforcement, military officers, professors, and so forth.

While there are always exceptions, and people who can be described by multiple classes, the general rule of division of RPCS by societal social class holds true. In addition, RPCS can also be temporary, and it can be increased or lowered on a situational level. It is also relative to the other person involved. A person with low RPCS in society may have greater RPCS than a person with very low RPCS, for example abled-bodied homeless man vs. disabled homeless woman.

ISOLATION also comes in multiple forms. In today’s modern world, all people are dependent upon the overall smooth functioning of society for survival. People depend upon each other for basic needs such as food, shelter, and security in some form or another. When someone is isolated from these protective resources they become vulnerable.

Generally, the primary level of protective resources comes from the inner circle of family and close friends. The secondary level is the authority figures, policing agents and institutions of society. These resources serve to protect individuals from would-be violators.

When the perpetrator is a family member or “friend”, not only is this primary means of protection unavailable for defense, this person has close access to his victim making it easier for him to create isolation. A violator that has isolated his selected lower RPCS victim from the protective intervention of others now has the unfettered ability to manipulate his victim as he chooses.

Isolation can take the form of emotional control as well as a physical separation. A victim that will not report a violation has been effectively isolated from the protective resources of society designed to punish violators. Violators will use fear, intimidation, guilt, and other coercive means to limit reporting.

INTENT is the most variable of the 3I Elements. It defines the perpetrator’s motivation or desire to commit a violating act. As with all humans, the perpetrator’s motivation is transitory. It is subject to change. The magnitude of a person’s intent is a function not only of the individual’s emotional drive and hard wiring, it is also effected by the circumstances of the situation, and influenced by cultural norms.

The quest to change the “sexually violating” intent of men is the focus of some feminist “Teach Men Not to Rape” campaigns. The theory is that with proper education and social pressure, men’s sexually aggressive bad INTENT will be reduced. Thus resulting in lower incidents of sexual assault in society.

INTENT is influenced in many ways. The concept behind societal enforcement and punishment is a direct attempt to lower bad intent by creating a deterrence to committing future violations. Enforcement can also come directly from the actions of an individual as he or she uses force to stop and punish violations. Throughout history physical pain has proven to be an effective method to change a person’s motivation.

Intent may also vary depending upon the parties involved. A perpetrator who may have a low threshold of intent may be deterred by effective boundary setting. In this case, the perpetrator is risk adverse and is only willing to assault the most hapless of victims, i.e. someone with much lower RPCS in an isolated setting.

Intent may also result from having an anti-social personality. As with the case with psychopaths, these individuals by definition due not conform to the norms of society. Anti-rape education will not lower the violating intent of these people. The combination of this type of person with high RPCS along with the multiple opportunities to isolate lower RPCS people usually results in serial victimizations.

The 3I Elements work together to create a perfect storm of violating synergy. Each Element also has the ability to effect the other Elements. In the same manner that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, so does having high RPCS raise some people’s degree of violating intent. Being isolated with a suitable victim may encourage a potential perpetrator’s violating intent, i.e. creating a crime of opportunity. Having high malicious intent and motivation is a factor that leads to higher RPCS.

Once the concepts of the Violation Triangle are understood, it becomes much easier to find strategies to defeat it. The Violation Triangle allows specific methods of violation prevention to be examined for logical truths and flaws. For example, some claim that binge drinking on college campuses increases the rate of male to female sexual assault. While other’s claim alcohol is not a factor. The Violation Triangle clarifies the issue.

Assume a college party held on school grounds that is well policed. All the party goers spend the entire night in the same large on room with the lights on and there are no isolated locations. In this case, regardless of how drunk the women get, and even with the presence of some men with “rapist” intent, the lack of opportunity to isolate victims from protective resources makes incidents of sexual assault unlikely.

Or assume, the local Anti-Sexual Violence against Women chapter holds an invitation only mixed gender sleep over with an open bar at local guest house. Regardless of how much the invitees drink, the lack of guests with “rapist” intent and the general parity of RPCS will eliminate the occurrence of a sexual assault.

On the other hand, assume the party is held at a local fraternity with numerous bedrooms, private areas and darkened corners without policing supervision. This fraternity houses several men with high RPCS, and these same men have sexually aggressive tendencies or outright violating intent. A woman who is drunk has effectively lowered her RPCS. She now has impaired judgment and decision making, a parallel to the impaired judgment and decision making of the highest category of sexual assault victims – the development disabled. The more of these drunken women at the party, the more likely one or more of them will be selectively isolated by a high RPCS man with bad intent. The likely result will be a sexual assault.

The Violation Triangle applies to not only sexual assault. It applies to bullying, abuse, harassment, dating and domestic violence, and more. The Violation Triangle is a tool to understand and evaluate how to prevent violations from occurring both on an individual level and also on a systemic multi-incident basis.

Making Sense of the Rape Culture Wars

If you have any interest or involvement in the area of sexual assault prevention, most likely you have been exposed to the raging ideological battles revolving around the existence or non-existence of Rape Culture and its effect on the rate of rape and sexual assault in society.

Briefly, the concept behind Rape Culture is that society’s systemic sexual objectification of women creates an environment that both promotes male sexual aggression and condones sexual assault. These cultural norms and attitudes of society effectively create more men with ‘bad intent’. Since men are the primary perpetrators of sexual assault, more men with ‘bad intent’ leads to more incidents of sexual assault. Therefore, reducing the rate of sexual assault in society requires changing society’s attitudes regarding the objectification of women.

This approach is Macro or Top Down. It is very appealing to many for its simplicity. It puts the blame for sexual assault on men. Women are simply the victims with no agency to influence the outcome of male sexual aggression.

On a theoretical level, Rape Culture makes logical sense. The flaw in this explanation is that it is exclusionary and simplistic. The overall problem of sexual assault in society is the aggregate of multiple individual or micro incidents. Besides male perpetrators and female victims, incidents include, but are not limited to:

1.      Sexual assault among the LGBT community.

2.      Sexual assault of people with disabilities.

3.      Sexual assault of children by both men and women.

4.      Sexual assault in the prison system.

The victims in these above four categories are not sexually objectified by cultural norms. In fact, particularly with children and people with disabilities, these victims are traditionally viewed as asexual by society. Therefore, Rape Culture is exclusionary in that its explanation excludes many victims of sexual assault.

Rape Culture is simplistic because it only focuses on ‘Intent’ as the primary factor of sexual assault. There are also two more factors present during incidents of sexual assault. They are Inequality of Relative Power/Control/Status (RPCS) and the victim is Isolated from support systems such as family, friends, bystanders, and protective agents and institutions. These three factors occur in all categories of sexual assault regardless of the gender of the perpetrator and victim.

These 3I’s of Intent, Inequality, and Isolation are analogous to the Fire Triangle. It takes Fuel, Heat, and Air to create and sustain fire. Fighting fire requires eliminating one or more of these elements. Rape Culture focuses only on the element of male sexual Intent and ignores the presence of Inequality and Isolation as additional elements that allow for sexual assault.

The goal of society is to reduce the overall incidents of sexual assault by all available means. That requires minimizing both systemic Inequality and Isolation. Firefighters use all means available to fight fires. They don’t promote and use exclusionary and simplistic tactics that only focus on one type of fire with only one solution. They evaluate all the elements on a case by case basis, and focus on the most appropriate solution for the circumstances.

An opposing view to Rape Culture is that incidents of sexual assault are the result of perpetrators that don’t conform to the norms of society. Therefore, reducing sexual assault involves taking into consideration all the factors involved including the victim’s vulnerabilities and pre-assault behavior, not just the aggressor’s bad intent.

The extremists of the Rape Culture Wars loudly denounce the opposing side’s view. A Rape Culturist sees any perspective that doesn’t focus solely on the perpetrator as “Victim Blaming”.  Those that don’t conform to the Rape Culturist view are denounced as Victim Blamers and Rape Apologists.  On the other hand, those that deny the existence of Rape Culture, ignore the reality of ingrained societal beliefs and institutions that don’t support victims of sexual assault and poorly enforce violations. All of which leads to low levels of reporting and lack of confidence in the system by victims.

Rape Culture doesn’t take into consideration that systemic sexual assaults requires Inequality in the form of the availability of disempowered potential victims who are targeted and successfully victimized. The underlying belief of Rape Culture is that ALL women are equal opportunity targets.  And simply because they are women, no matter what they do or how they behave, they have no ability to effect the outcome of an encounter with any given male. Therefore, ALL males are potential rapists. All men are in need anti-rape education.

Rape Culture effectively creates two uniform categories, vulnerable female victims and male perpetrators, where all males have dominance over all females.  In such an environment, the arguments of Rape Culture make sense.

But in actuality, in the high sexual assault environment of colleges and universities in the western world such a division doesn’t exist.  The majority of men and women have equal Relative Power, Control, and Social status (RPCS). But there also exist some High RPCS men and some High RPCS women, and some Low RPCS men and some Low RPCS women. Rape Culture is describing what systemically occurs when High RPCS men are combined with Low RPCS women (Inequality) and the High RPCS male has Intent to violate and the Low RPCS female is Isolated from protective resources.

Violations result from the 3I’s of Inequality, Isolation, and Intent regardless of which gender is the High RPCS and which gender is the Low RPCS individual.

A culture that:

1.      promotes Inequality by creating High RPCS and Low RPCS individuals

2.      promotes and rewards the existence of violating Intent, and

3.      allows for Low RPCS individuals to be systemically Isolated from and unsupported by institutional protections and enforcement by High RPCS individuals,

is a Violating Culture. A Violating Culture is a non-exclusionary and multifaceted explanation of systemic sexual assault whereas Rape Culture is exclusionary and simplistic. Violations need not be only sexual assault. They include bullying, abuse, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, and more.

In terms of the systemic problem of sexual assault on colleges. Any and all factors that contribute to greater Inequality, Isolation, and Intent increases the overall rate of sexual assault.

Here are some examples:

1.      Actual gender inequality increases the rate of sexual assault. But so does learned helplessness created by intimidated victims conforming to the lowered expectations of gender equality.

2.      Consuming alcohol by a male increases the chance of his committing a sexual assault if the alcohol gives him a feeling of greater RPCS and less moral resistance to assaultive behavior.

3.      If consuming alcohol lowers a woman’s RPCS, it places her in the victim pool of Low RPCS potential victims. The greater the size of the victim pool, the greater the opportunity for sexual assault. Conversely, if drinking makes her less likely to be intimidated and more willing to enforce her personal boundaries, she is less likely to be sexually victimized in  the most common fashion.

4.      Social rewarding and encouraging aggressive male sexual behavior from individuals with High RPCS increases Intent and the rate of sexual assault (i.e. certain athletes and popular Frat boys).

5.      Poorly communicating and enforcing the rules and laws of behavior in regards to sexual consent by both victims and protective institutions (college administrations, local law enforcement) increases the rate of sexual assault.

6.      Disempowered bystanders who do not intervene to obvious situations of assaultive behavior increase the opportunities for successful sexual assault.

These are only some of the overall factors involved.

The above list shows that most western college campuses are indeed Violating Cultures. These Violating Cultures combine both the elements of traditional Rape Culture and expanded factors (decried by Rape Culturists as Victim Blaming) such as systemically (binge drinking is a systemic problem) disempowered victims with minimal ability to deter assaults through strong communication and enforcement of personal boundaries.

The solution to systemic violations lies in tackling all the factors that increase the 3I’s of Inequality, Isolation, and Intent on both a macro and micro level, not just the factors which conform to an agenda driven ideology.

It requires a concerted effort to increase respect for victims of sexual assault. Not only by society, but also by the potential victims themselves so they do not fall into the Low RPCS victim pool. It requires increasing respect for the Rules of Behavior through both clear communication (consent education) of the Rules and appropriate enforcement of the Rules by individuals and Institutions.

High RPCS individuals must learn to respect both Low RPCS people and the Rules of Behavior. The overall effect of increasing Respect, Communication, and Enforcement of the Rules will decrease Inequality, lower the ability to create Isolation, and reduce Intent to do harm.  Thereby decreasing the overall rate of sexual assault and all other forms of unwanted behavior on college campuses and elsewhere in society.

In summary, Rape Culture exists as a smaller subset of the larger problem of a Violating Culture. Reducing Violating Cultures effectively reduces Rape Cultures, but the reverse is not true.

Why we need to keep talking about ‘rape culture’
25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture
Rape Culture Is Real

It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria
Rape culture’ fanatics don’t know what a culture is
Is America A "Rape Culture"?


RAINN comments and recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
How Not to Talk About a Culture of Sexual Assault

D.U.M.B.S. versus S.M.A.R.T.S.

Which type of self-defense training is best for you?



Type in “self-defense” in an internet search and you will receive a huge amount of hits. You will receive web links to all sorts of self-defense training systems. Upon reviewing these sites, you will notice that most make similar claims to be practical, realistic, and simple to learn and apply.

How do you decide which type of self-defense training or system is best for you?

Self-defense that is taught (as opposed to instinctive) means learning a “system”. The systems vary, but they can be grouped by certain characteristics that they share in common. If you view all the systems as a continuum. On one side is SMARTS and the opposite side is DUMBS. Any particular system will fall somewhere within this continuum.

DUMBS stands for Dehumanize – Universal – Mindless – Body-based- Simplistic
SMARTS stands for Smart – Mindful - Applicable – Reason-based – Tactics – Strategies

Expanding upon these characteristics.

Dehumanize - Most likely the biggest differentiator. Many self-defense systems are predicated on you dehumanizing the other person as the Bad Guy. The Bad Guy is a criminal. He is evil. He has no past. He has no future. He exists to do bad things to good people. He lies. He cheats. He steals. He robs. He rapes. He kills. He does all these things because he is the epitome of evil. His motivation for violence is unknowable. He is a stranger that appears out of the shadows. The only way to deal with such an inhuman monster is to injure or kill him as quick as possible. His death makes the world a better place.

Dehumanizing the “attacker” simplifies the situation to one where there are no consequences, no negative side effects for your defensive actions. The Bag Guy intends to violently attack you. Therefore, your use of violence is required and morally justified. There is no need to consider the legal and ethical ramifications of your actions. He is bad and you’re a good. Case closed.

UniversalThe techniques and skills you learn work for everybody on everyone. No matter what your particular size, strength, athletic ability is, you will be able to successful apply the instructed techniques. And these same techniques are universally effective against all Bad Guys regardless of their gender, size, strength, and athletic ability.

The universal concept is also a form of dehumanization. You are not viewed as an individual with behaviors and characteristics that influence your personal safety. You are just another potential victim of a Bad Guy. Everyone is made equally safe by the application of the instructed techniques.

Many times Universal systems can be identified by the uniform appearance and attitude of the practitioners. They all receive the same instruction regardless of their individuality.

Mindless - This concept is an extension of dehumanization. In this case, you are dehumanized as nothing more than a “body” that needs to imprint certain movements in order to defend itself. You don’t need good judgment and critical thinking abilities. There will be no time to think. Remember, the dehumanized stranger will be jumping out of the bushes. You just need to respond automatically with your trained movements. Regardless of your emotional state, your training will kick in and your evil attacker will be defeated. Constant repetition or the use of “stress training” will burn the movements into your nervous system for instant availability when needed.

Body-Based – Mindless systems depend upon mostly body based movements as opposed to learning effective strategies and having both in depth knowledge and good judgment. Self-defense as seen as a collection of physical techniques. Many times these techniques are described as “brutally effective”. They will allow you to stop any attacker in any situation. These techniques and skills are claimed to have been developed scientifically, or during World War II hand-to-hand combat, or by the military’s special operations units, or through thousands of years of refinement, or by some other secret method. These techniques will allow you (Universal) to (Mindlessly) devastate your (Dehumanized) attacker and incapacitate him from his evil plan of rape, mayhem and murder.
Promoters of Body-based systems are mainly focused on their strength, speed, power, skill, brutality and ruthlessness.

Simplistic – The overriding assumption is that the situations in which you will need self-defense are always clear cut. There are no gray areas. No fog of war. No chance of confusion or mis-identification. You will be minding your own business when either threatened or viciously attacked by the dehumanized Bad Guy(s). You will have no participation in creating the violence. You will be easily able to identify the assailant due to his evil appearance, creepiness, and/or threatening actions.

Also assumed is that you will be mentally and physically ready and willing to respond to the threat. Simplistic systems don’t take into consideration such factors as submissive social conditioning, fear of making the situation worse, physiological changes from adrenaline, weakened physical states, disability, distractedness, your relation to the aggressor, your role the interaction, and the legal and ethical consequences of your actions. All these factors are excluded from Simplistic systems.

Simplistic systems are closed to adaption and expansion.  They don’t evolve to deal with multiple environments and multifaceted situations.


Make no mistake. There is a place for DUMBS. Evil does exist. There are people who behave like inhuman monsters. But as a statistical matter, most people are unlikely to run into such a person in their life time in civilized societies. And if they do, old style yelling and running away is a viable option.

DUMBS systems rely upon your fear of the stereotypical dehumanized Bad Guy as their marketing ploy. They pander to your fears. They play upon the images planted in your mind through countless news stories of evil perpetrators and innocent victims, of Hollywood villains, and the self-defense product industry such as firearm, pepper spray, and other personal safety product manufacturers and retailers. They use inflated statistics promoted by agenda driven grant seeking anti-rape/anti-violence organizations. They exploit your fear of crime as decried by hardline politicians and the law enforcement/prison industry.

For some people, the unfortunate side-effect of DUMBS training is increased fear of being victimized by crime. Rather than providing peace of mind. Many DUMBS trainees are left feeling that the world is a hostile and dangerous place as a whole. That people are just attacked without reason. That they need to live in a constant state of vigilance in order to spot the Bad Guy before he launches his attack.

For other people, their belief that brutally effective fighting techniques have been implanted into them provides them with a false sense of security. Their understanding of self-defense and violence is tiny domain, but they extrapolate it to the entire universe. These people are more likely to be victimized in a manner they have never envisioned.

SMARTS personal safety systems on the other hand take the opposite approach.

Smart – This word stands for using your brain foremost. It means using your innate intelligence to make critical decisions that combine good judgment and experience. It means learning about the root causes of violence as opposed to accepting “sound bites” and common knowledge. It means studying criminal behavior and human behavior.

Smarts is about your ability to process information in a useful manner. It is about using your mind before your apply your body to solve problems and resolve potentially violent situations. It is about recognizing tells, signs, indicators, and pre-cursors to violence in order to preempt it.

Unlike those systems that dehumanize aggressors, it is your understanding of people and your ability to evaluate their potential behaviors and actions that is the key to your safety.

Mindful – Being mindful means that you are aware of both yourself and your environment. Mindful is not a state of hyper-alertness or anxiety. It doesn’t mean you look under your car for a rapist before unlocking the car door. It means that you are aware of what is happening around you. You use all your senses (including your sixth sense) to process input from the world.

You are knowledgeable of your own conscious and unconscious attitudes and behaviors. You are cognizant of how your behavior has an effect on those around you. You are in tune with yourself and others, and as a result you are less likely to be caught by surprise by their actions. You are able to differentiate between those that are trustworthy and those that should be regarded with suspicion.

Applicable What you learn must be applicable to you. That means that you are seen as an individual with specific strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into consideration. It is not a question of what works best for most people. But what works best for you in whatever situation you would most likely find yourself in.

Whatever you learn must be applicable to your actual life. You must be able to see the connection between the knowledge and skills you learn and your life. If the focus is on “unthinkable” events, then you will not think about them. As a result, those skills will vanish as quickly as they arrived.

Personal safety is a constant process not a singular event. Your body is constantly fighting off infection and invasive threats from bacteria and viruses. It is an ongoing process. But there are certain times, such as visiting a hospital or upon receiving a cut, that you give this process extra attention and take additional precautionary measures.

If you can’t apply and relate what you are learning to your own life, you will not really learn it.

Realism – Realism is not reality T.V. Realism focuses on what actually is the case as opposed to what people believe or want to be true. Most people do things for a reason. The idea of acts of violence are random and senseless denies this truth. Unlike popular misconception, most violence does not result from the stranger that emerges from the bushes. Most violence occurs between people who have some type of social based relationship. The violence emerges from this interaction.  Studying Violence Dynamics and criminal behavior takes these factors into consideration.

Predatory violence is also reason driven. The predator has his reason for assaulting his victim. It could be to gain or protect a resource. It could be for the enjoyment of the assault itself.
Understanding the reason or rational that someone would want to use violence against you provides the key to predicting behaviors and creating a response that has a higher likelihood of being an effective deterrent or that may make him or her stop his actions.

Realism also takes into consideration a person's true strengths and weaknesses. Realism allows a person to make accurate assessments based on his or her true capabilities as opposed to false confidence in one's ability to handle dangerous situations.

Tactics – Unlike simple techniques, tactics are more complex. A technique is a series or sequence of steps that you execute. A tactic on the other hand is an executable methodology designed to achieve a certain task or objective. Tactics can be thought of as strategic techniques. Effective tactics utilize concepts and principles to accomplish their goal.

A particular type of strike is a technique. Using a strike as a means to stun someone is a tactic. Using tactics provides greater variety in how the task is achieved. Techniques are focused more on the execution of action itself rather than the result.

Strategy – A strategy can be a combination of techniques and tactics used to complete a planned goal. Strategies begin with a plan and end with the execution of that plan. A strategy takes into consideration multiple factors and variables in order to obtain the goal. There are natural strategies such as running away, or trained strategies as certain fighting methods and/ or postures. A complex strategy takes into consideration the failure of certain elements of the strategy and has a built in backup plan.

Strategies can be simple and not be simplistic. They can be complex without being complicated. Strategies use tactics to achieve their goals. For example, attacking the attacker is a strategy designed to put the attacker on the defensive. Using a flurry of strikes is a tactic that executes that strategy. An open handed strike is a technique than may or may not be part of the flurry tactic.


SMARTS personal safety training can be just as brutally effective as DUMBS claim to be. SMARTS recognizes that some attackers will dehumanize you and you may need to dehumanize them in response. SMARTS can also utilize instantaneous reactions and trained responses without conscious thought. But SMARTS takes into consideration that most of self-defense does require conscious thought. There is more thinking than not thinking.

SMARTS can also use simple movement. SMARTS training encompasses a much wider variety of environments and situations than DUMBS systems. As such, the motto of SMARTS training is that “Violence is complicated”. And because violence is complicated, resolving violence takes more than just learning a DUMBS system.