He's Drunk: Why Your Self-Defense Cannot Rely on Pain Compliance
Updated: Feb 6, 2021
If your self-defense system has a lot of techniques that depend on the attacker reacting to pain, then you might want to rethink that strategy.
According to the Department of Justice, about 64% of criminals arrested are under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the commission of their crime. This is interesting because I have found in my experience that it seems that about three of every four people you end up fighting are high on something. If they weren’t, I seriously doubt that the situation would degenerate into a fight.
Just when you find yourself thinking, what is this guy's problem -- is he high?...Oh yeah, he probably is.
The ugly truth of many sexual assaults is that there is alcohol involved – usually on both sides of the equation.
It's so common that you will find us repeatedly talking about the most common date rape drug being alcohol.
So, you should give some thought to how you would handle an attacker who was drunk or high on something. You should also give some thought as to how you are going to defend yourself if you are drunk. Wait, you mean both of us might be impaired? We've all seen this scenario set up many, many times.
What does this mean for us and our training?
Because the attacker is high, many of your techniques designed to hurt him probably won't work because the drugs in his system are inhibiting the pain signals from reaching his brain. The "stun and run", "kick him in the groin", "poke him in the eyes", or "stomp on his foot" techniques might not work as well as they did in the gym. I've seen, in person and on video, intoxicated people people absorbing a huge amount of damage only to get up and walk it off. On the other hand we've also seen intoxicated people trip over a curb and knock themselves out. The point is humans -- particularly intoxicated humans -- are unpredictable and the techniques that worked so well on your training partner might not work in situations which include drugs and alcohol.
Plus, if I am also impaired I will have less ability to execute techniques and movements that require fine motor skills and sharp reflexes such as blocking multiple punches and executing intricate joint locks.
Now what do we do?
This is an important point here – the method that you should learn should not rely on him feeling or reacting to pain. Look for a method that controls his center line while physically moving him off of you or effecting a mechanical knockout or mechanical damage to his joints.
I also contend when people are aiming to hurt another person their emotional attachment to that end ("I'm really going to hurt this guy!") causes them to overlook their main goal of evading or ending the fight. In other words, they are focused so tightly on hurting the other person that they fail to recognize when to switch to a different and more effective series of techniques. This is the typical "hockey fight" where you see one or both combatants repeatedly striking the same point over and over and over again. Is it because they don't have another tool in their toolbox? Or is it because their emotional state is raging and their critical thinking has shut down? Maybe it's a combination of both.
So we want to train to fight the intoxicated predator. And we want to train as if we could be intoxicated as well.
This means you also want to be learning concepts and principals that use gross body movements. You want something that is simple to execute and does not require fine motor skills. Those will probably be shot because of stress and especially if you have been drinking yourself.
We want to focus on a method which helps us protect our vital areas with natural movements that are instinctive and familiar in all humans.
We want to use our most powerful and strongest techniques against his weakest areas.
We want to use techniques which physically and mechanically prevent the attacker from reaching me and move him off of me.
These are exactly the types of inputs that went into the creation of our method of women's self-defense. Over a period of time, women showed us what worked for them and we designed a curriculum around concepts and principles that allow for a minimum number of techniques. These techniques were designed to work across a number of different self-defense problems and attacks.
In totality, they end up being:
Simple to learn because they take advantage of our instinctive and natural mechanics.
Easy to recall under stress because of the very same reliance on instinctive gross body movements and minimal choices.
When looking at choosing self-defense courses, take a look at the curriculum through this lens.