Aggression is uncomfortable. What’s more uncomfortable is that your aversion to it can be used as a weapon against you. Here’s HOW aggression training can not only tame it, but turn it into your most powerful self-defence technique.
Aggression is threatening. Most people (and most likely you) are deeply uncomfortable in the presence of aggressive behaviour. The reasons for this discomfort are both human and societal.
We are not only wired to be conflict-averse, but our protective mechanisms kick into high-gear in the face of a perceived threat. For most of us, this means trying to calm and diffuse the threat as quickly as possible.
Socially, we are told – especially women and children – that aggressive behaviour is unacceptable, and rightfully so. We should, indeed, aim to tame anger and aggression, we should practice tolerance, fairness, and equanimity.
What we aren’t told is that these unspoken ‘rules’ of politesse and propriety are broken all over the world, in public and in private, in homes and in the street. Every. Single. Day.
And that in every interaction in which these rules are broken, there is someone on the receiving end of that transgression – the victim. Sometimes the victims survive. Often they don’t.
It isn’t a coincidence that those that are the most vulnerable are the ones who are the most aggression-averse, by nature or by conditioning.
Our anti-aggression mindset is so ingrained, that most of us would need to be pushed into a corner, maybe even physically hurt, before our protective instincts change from cowering to attacking in self-defence.
Animals are the same: even the most placid dog, when pushed into a corner and threatened, will eventually bite.
The point at which this switch turns from defensive to aggressive in a self-defence scenario is different for everyone. This threshold is also very easily exploited by those who mean us harm.
This is why aggression must be practised, just like mindfulness – regularly and with dedication. Elite athletes do it all the time. Aggression can be tamed only if it can be trained.
In fact, aggression-mindset training has to be a part of any self-defence school worth its salt.
That’s one of the reasons Combat Mindset Training is incorporated into Krav Maga. It’s why at SGS Krav Maga, we focus on realism and learning to give our partners the right silhouette when attacking. Our instructors do their best to ensure your self-defence training won’t fail you when you need it. There are plenty of self-defence schools that don’t.
At SGS, we learn that for any defence – against punches, stabs, kicks, chokes, gun threats – there are a variety of defences. Think of each defensive technique as a ‘word’ in a ‘language’ you are learning when you train.
The richer your ‘vocabulary’ in self-defence techniques, the more likely you are to successfully defend yourself and your loved ones if you are ever in a situation that requires it.
Some of the self-defence techniques you’ll learn are reflexive.
This is a trained but instinctive response, used when you are completely caught off-guard by an attack. These reflexes are trained only by dogged and constant repetition. In these, you’re training muscle memory that you’ll come to rely on without thinking.
Other self-defence techniques are purely defensive.
You are in the mindset of defending the immediate threat, but your objective is to defend and remove yourself from the situation after defusing the threat, as quickly as possible. These are your bread-and-butter techniques; the words in your ‘self-defence vocabulary’ that you’ll likely use and need the most.
Then there are the aggressive defences. These are the most difficult to master and need the most practice because they require you to lean into your natural discomfort.
These are used in situations where you are the last line of defence, with no hope of assistance from others, between the actual threat and your children, or other vulnerable loved ones. Or when the attack occurs in your home or another place from which you have no way to escape. Or when the attacker is so violent and so determined to hurt you that the only way you can save yourself is to neutralise the threat.
It needs to be mentioned that aggression can also be an extremely effective deterrent that can literally save your life.
In a multiple-attacker scenario, it will be your aggression that deters accomplices from attempting a secondary or tertiary attack. What will save your life, is being more aggressive than the aggressor. The stories of this technique being used successfully are so many they would fill volumes. Ask any one of the instructors for an example next time you come in to train.
Finally, confirmation bias is real, and it is insidious.
Yes, it is more comfortable to be taught only what you are supremely comfortable with. Yes, it is more comfortable to believe that violence is wrong and aggression should be shunned. But we don’t, unfortunately, live in a world where threats are phrased politely and consent is always confirmed before things are taken from us.
We learn self-defence because we understand that the social contract can be broken and we want to prepare for the day we hope will never come.
We want to be the warriors weeding the garden, not the gardeners fighting wars.
Since aggression isn’t a natural state for most, it must be trained and this is a process, and it takes time.
But you owe it to yourself to learn how to harness aggression and use it as a weapon in your self-defence arsenal. To do so, you have to lean into the discomfort it will initially, or maybe always, cause. You need to accustom yourself to seeing and practicing aggression in training, so that it doesn’t paralyse you when you encounter it in real life.
Your self-defence instructors owe you this training.
It’s up to you to make sure you get it.