Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Self Defense: Defense Against the Indefensible

There's a lot of advice out there about self defense and which arts are good for self defense, and which ones aren't.

In training, many, if not most scenarios that are practiced involve having some sort of warning that a bad guy is intending to do you some sort of harm.

You know what I mean: it's usually a scenario of "drunk guy in a bar" or  "gang of kids picking a fight" or "getting robbed"  or "man attempts to sexually assault woman" sort of situations.  There's some warning.

Real life isn't always like that.

Check out this video.  I hope, like me, you find it incredibly sobering.

Click here if you can't see the video.

The attackers (Michael Lynch, Timmy Sullivan, and Michael Onokah) look like average young men out and about after a night of fun at the club. Three lads, out on the town.

The victims? The same.

The three lads come up on Andrew Griffiths (white shirt) and Daniel Pollen (green shirt), and Andrew gets sucker punched out of nowhere by Timmy Sullivan.  He didn't even turn his head - he never saw it coming.

There was no "monkey dance", no words, no lining up to fight, no warning of any kind.  No demand for money, no robbery.

I've watched this video many times, and I try to spot how the victims might have seen this coming before the sucker punch happens, and I honestly don't see anything.  The perps are casually walking and  laughing -  normal people who look like they wouldn't hurt anybody.

Sure, the victims could have stood up in some sort of ready pose expecting trouble, I suppose.  Can everyone, at every moment, live as if we are going to get jumped?  I don't think think we can, as much as some folks want to claim it.  We cannot be eternally vigilant 100% of the time, walking around with our hands up and ready to fight.  You can argue in this situation, given the time of night, the victims should have been on guard, but I think this could have easily happened at 2:00 in the afternoon or nine in the morning.

Note that Sullivan disengages after he gets his one well-placed hit in on the kid in the white shirt. 

In a kinder world, Andrew would have been recovering from a broken jaw the sucker punch and Sullivan would have done a bit of time for assault (the other two were not involved at that point).

This is not always a kind world, and the assault turns into murder.  Onokah, the perp in the jacket, continues the beatings, attacking Pollen and breaking his jaw, and Lynch, the perp in the black shirt, pulls a knife and starts stabbing.

Now, let's discuss the knife. Did you spot when he pulls it out?  It's about 1:17 in the video.  Watch closely.

It's not abundantly clear, but I think Daniel Pollen sees the knife when Lynch comes after him, and he holds up his hands in the classic submission gesture.  If trained, I think this boy, who ends up getting fatally stabbed in the heart, might have survived if he knew how to deflect an incoming blow like we (almost) see the perp do.

However, given his jaw was just broken by Onokah before Lynch approaches him with the knife, I think it was hard for Pollen to think clearly and put up a defense even if he were trained.

Lynch then stabs Pollen in the heart fatally with a single blow, although Pollen ambulatory for some time after.

Andrew is still being assaulted and controlled by Onokah..  Lunch comes over and repeatedly stabs him.for no reason - he just does it because he can.

Knife is in the red circle above
It goes to show you that our training scenarios for self defense aren't always in line with what can and does happen in real life.

To conclude the story, the perps were all caught and were jailed: Teenager Jailed for Life for "Senseless Murder". Sullivan the sucker-puncher got out of jail in 2013 and was yet again wanted by the police (but I don't know if they caught him).

I'd love your thoughts on this.  How could Griffiths and Pollen survived this attack?