Get Out!

Ending Violence the Bartitsu Way 4 (click for part 3: To The Pain!)

Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

  1. Guarding the Mark: Fight ends due to inability to breathe or other life-threatening problem
  2. The Knockout: Fight ends because they are rendered unconscious and cannot continue
  3. To The Pain!: Fight ends when every movement (or any leg movement) causes such extreme pain that they cannot continue

And that leaves us with one final topic for this series: They physically can’t reach you, find you or attack in any way.  

Walk in the Middle of the Road

One of the first pieces of advice Barton-Wright gave on the topic of avoiding dangerous situations was to “walk in the middle of the road.” It sounds like a philosophical stance, meaning that one should be moderate, but his meaning was purely practical. A person walking on the sidewalk can be surprised from an alley, a door, or from behind. When he is assaulted by surprise, the victim cannot move in that direction to escape, but may be pinned to the wall, which is a severe disadvantage.

Our first goal in Bartitsu is to avoid violence. We want to end it as soon as possible (which is the spirit of this series of articles), and we’d like it not to start in the first place. One tactic is to be aware of one’s surroundings and not walk into danger.

There are an infinite number of little pieces of advice, and every situation is different. The key to remaining safe using awareness is simply to train your senses and keep your attention outwards. There’s no reason to be paranoid, and nervousness will only contract your attention. When you become scared, you get a kind of tunnel vision in which you can detect details better, but lose peripheral vision. To broaden your attention, stay relaxed and actively look and listen. That means no earphones in questionable situations.

Aside: I always wear earphones, and I love them. However, I would not wear them in a dangerous neighbourhood or a place I’ve never been. Also, I don’t listen to loud music, I listen to news and other spoken podcasts, so I can hear my surroundings easily.

For the historians, I normally quote books from the Victorian/Edwardian period, but I’ve found no better advice for personal safety than Attack Proof by John Perkins. In this practical manual, he uses the first chapter to explain general awareness and scanning, delves into specific scenarios such as carjacking, and also suggests several exercises.

Running Away

If you’re at a distance from your assailant (before or after an attack) and you think you can outrun them, do so.

Some of our techniques are designed to give us room to escape. The throw in particular leaves your opponent on the ground, giving you a head start in running away.

The epitome of running away is the art of Parkour, and David Belle is one of its founders and exemplars:

A few principles to keep in mind:

  • It’s your life versus their ego. They can find another victim, but you can’t find another incarnation.
  • Ditch the bag, but not your weapon.
  • Get visible, make noise.

Standing your Ground

Escape by running is not always practical. The judgment of whether you can outrun your attacker depends entirely on your perception. Don’t make the mistake of turning your back to someone who can tackle you.

If you begin to run and your assailant is catching up, stop and face them again. Running away makes you prey, but it also gives you better control over your surroundings and the direction the attack will come from. Run to a place you know better. If there are two ruffians, merely running 10 paces will mean they cannot surround you. When you turn to face them, they’ll have to avoid each other to get to you.

There’s one other aspect to standing your ground: psychology and ethics. You may have a mental block preventing you from running. It’s your ego. Get over it.

A more important reason not to run is the morality of escaping in specific circumstances. Avoidance is not immoral in itself. However, running away when you should be protecting a weaker party is. Don’t take a stand for your belongings; give them your wallet. Do take a stand against bastards who hurt people.

Naturally, there are many shades of grey, and that’s all the more reason to keep your head and not panic. You need to judge whether it’s important to fight or flee. Fear can motivate either.

Getting All A’s

My Bartitsu has five component parts, and you need “All A’s” to truly succeed:

  • Avoidance: Getting out of danger, preferably before it happens
  • Awareness: Perceiving escape routes, perceiving danger, and perceiving advantage within a fight.
  • Alignment: Staying in balance and upright, both physically and mentally
  • Action: Choosing the optimum 
  • Adaptability: Using the tools at hand, and able to change with changing circumstances.

(Go back to part 3: To The Pain!)

Don’t miss our Introduction to Bartitsu workshop this Saturday, 10 December. In four hours, we’ll learn the basics of the four weapons of this Victorian self-defence style: Boxing, Savate, Jujitsu and the iconic Walking Stick.


Comments Are Closed