Lies to bleed for - Lies your parents told you and street lies


Lies Your Parents Told You:

1. Just be nice to them and they'll be nice to you.

Remember this one? Didn't work in the sandbox either, did it? Be warned, there are people out there that will interpret your niceness as weakness and naivety and either terminate you just for the fun of it or jack your hat, shoes and money after they rip off your face. Try telling a rabbit to just be nice to the fox...don't fool yourself, everyone on the street starts as a rabbit, (read - "victim"). Nice is the best way to get along with strangers but it isn't enough when you don't know the rules, the players or the action. A good street teacher can save a lot of learning the hard way but every teacher has his price that you must pay. 

Lesson: Don't be naive and waltz into places you can't handle. Fade into the room, step sideways to get your back out of the door and casually look things over. Take your time. 

Variation 1.a Just Ignore Them... 

Ignoring a fox locking onto him is not going to do a rabbit any good at all, now is it? Oh, getting tired of being called a rabbit? Some tournament trophies and a brown belt prove that you are a lion, and that old fox better watch his tail or you'll
fly it from your car antenna, right? Well, even a lion cub will get eaten by the jackals if he gets out on his own too soon or strays too far. Rabbit just means 'victim' and even tough guys get to be victim. Tough seldom wins over sneaky and nasty. Trying to convince the jackal that you are lion enough to take him by puffing up just gives the game away. 

If your disguise is cool and the scavengers and predators of society can't tell right off whether you are a victim or a warrior in disguise, they will interview you. They will move into your space, stand in your blind spot and crowd you or they will
make conversation to put you at ease so you don't bolt before they are close enough to grab you. They will surround you and blind side you. If you don't know what a blind spot is, (because your tounament opponents were always ordered to stand straight in front of you and to bow before they attacked) or don't notice them moving on you because you really are ignoring them, then you really are a bunny.* If you relax during the vocal part of the interview, you are a bunny. Not only are you a bunny but you are not a particularly aware bunny so now you are a dead bunny!! 

So if being 'nice' and ignoring don't work; that is, they don't convince the scavenger/predators that you are not their next meal, what might? You scope them as in "to get them in the cross hairs of your cannon." Scoping is not glaring or sneering which will just get you pounded for a different reason. Scoping is a message sent by a look that says, "I see you. I peg you. I have your number, and I know your games and I can handle it." Then you look away. If you look down to break eye contact, you lose. "I'm a victim in disguise" sign just popped out of your head for him to read. Slide your eyes sideways and scope the rest of the room. Glaring, staring or sneering are not scoping, they are showing your teeth. If he sees a little bitty scaredy teeth, guess what? Believe it, your best bunny glare will not impress a true coyote, and neither will your best lion cub roar. Better to scope and leave him guessing. Of course a cub trying to pull this on someone much older or bigger than himself is just as futile...give it up and go back to the briar patch until the fox is gone. 

Sun Tzu wrote that we should only fight battles that we can win and no one has said it better yet. Everyone knows that some years and practice are necessary to make you really bad so don't try to bluff out of your league. Practice on your friends. 

After you scope him and decide that a predator is eyeing you but he doesn't look that bad then, if you have back-up, you may be able to hang around and enjoy the scene but keep him in your peripheral vision and follow his moves. Watch him without looking at him. Martial artists call it "to look at nothing and to see everything." By using a soft focus you can increase your peripheral (sideways) vision up to about 200 degrees. 

Remember the movie Little Big Man where Dustin Hoffman's sister is teaching him to be a gunfighter? She tells him to make snake eyes--this was her way to soft focus and gain peripheral acuity because the peripheral vision processes fast movement better. 

If bad guy slips out while you are getting up to leave, go to Red Alert. If you feel safe when he leaves because he's gone, you just got yourself some free flowers...he may just be moving the scene to a more private place. Do yourself a favor and go out a different way which you checked out before hand. Or stay. Or leave with a group. Acting unaware can bring an attack upon yourself and paying too much attention can cause the same thing but for different reasons. 

A scope/check slide is between equals. A scope /pin is for scavengers that you are confident that you can handle (or at least are willing to try) and lasts just a bit longer than the check so that the message is a short, unemotional, "If you want me, try me. I'm not going anywhere." 

Of course you may be blowing it and get pounded for challenging someone with a rep to make or a low self esteem hair-trigger type who needs to fight everyone to find all those he can beat. Better make sure that your scope doesn't carry any
hidden fear or worry messages in your body language or you just may have to prove that you really are tough. 

The other thing you have to do in the real world outside your house and home is to show respect. Something like 60 to 70 per cent of non-hospitalizing assaults on young women by strangers happened when the young woman in question was followed home and pushed or slapped by strangers pissed off over her aggressive and rude driving. 

Most young males are pounded for rude body contact on the sidewalk, giving the wrong person the 'punk bump' as you pass. The street will make you pay for rudeness until you get tired of it and mellow out. Being on a skate or a bike is no guarantee that you won't get called for buzzing the citizens either. Two Gold's Gym heavies I knew saw a skate buzz some folks and though he had enough sense to avoid them they took the two steps necessary to hip check him...he bounced off one into the other, then into traffic. Tough lesson. 

*Blind spot: one blind spot is behind the corner of the jaw, under your left the ear which the mongrel in front of you will hit with his right fist when you look to your right at one of his boys who just got your attention by yelling or swearing at you.
Hint, hint. 

2. Just stand up to a bully, and he'll run from you.

Some guy is giving you the eye or some lip so you stand up to him. "Bullies are looking for victims, not a fight," is current social wisdom. What they don't tell you is that bullies may in fact be motivated by fear, insecurity and other manifestations of
low self-esteem but they are also very practiced at being themselves...they have spent years perfecting their style at home and school. They practice knocking down those who stand up to them every day. 

How many times do you get to practice standing up to a bully? 

The internal chemistry of the street is a lot different than in the dojang. A dedicated bully knows his stuff, and has no scruples about fairness. Just because he's a jerk doesn't mean he's stupid. Also, I've talked to a lot of street people and just about everyone of them has had martial arts training some time or other. 

If you obviously outclass him and he's in your face, is he bluffing or does he have a secret weapon? They have people stand up to them all the time and they have their backups in place whether it's a punchdagger, steel toed Docs or a back-up buddy. Are you ready for that? If you do take on a jerk, win or lose you must know that it is not over yet. You suspect that if you lose, it hurts. (Do you know that winning hurts almost as bad?) 

Losing has other costs you may have to pay...if he hangs where you hang, he just might make a career out of wrecking your fun and face in front of the ladies. If you can't win, must you give up and eat his crap for the rest of your life? If he is
seriously knocking you, you must choose on how you take the pain, because hanging where this kind of jerk can have at you is guaranteed pain. The pain comes from fear and your feelings of cowardice if you don't fight, the juice of anger at yourself for letting him get away with it, OR it comes from standing up to him and taking what comes. (Even staying out of his way has some pain to it.) 

Surprise folks, standing up to him may be the best thing to do but not because he will back down. 

If he learns that every time he messes with you that even if he beats you he must really fight for it he will sooner or later shoot his shot on easier targets. Make him work for his fun and it may not be worth it to him. The physical pain of being
trashed is, to some people, less than the pain of feeling inadequate. 

Of course you don't want to try this on a crazy or a gang-banger who may just feel that he has to kill you to save face. 

Now, if you win, it ain't over yet, either. He's got something to prove now and he won't care if it's fair. A carload of drunks in your face can seriously ruin your whole evening, no matter what you see in the movies about trashing a whole gang with one super-kick! Being hunted by a pack of jackals because you stomped one of them may sound like ultimate cool but the pay is bad and the down time only able to eat through a straw and piss through a tube is the pits. 

In some places these things are taken care of by a shotgun as you leave your house so add up the profit / pain ratio. It is fairly easy to take a punching without getting more than a few bruises on your forearms, (if you practice) and everyone may just go away happy. Then it may be really over. Replying to some jerk later in revenge is a sure way of signing up for a never-ending game of escalating violence! 

Variation 2.a. Stand up to or beat the leader of the group and the others will run. 

Time to die, folks. Most deaths in fights not caused by weapons are caused by a group stomp on a person who has gone down. Every group leader has his sergeants who will back him or tie you up for him to take out. Taking on a group is
nonsense if you have any other choice at all. I hope you haven't put your training on hold and reached a pack a day yet, because it is time to get out of Dodge! Running will spread them out so if you have to fight you have a better chance at one to one. Did you let them surround you? Oh dear, too bad, so sad. 

Variation 2.a.i...only cowards run. 

Yeah-right and only kryptonite can hurt you. Get out of there pronto. Wiley Coyote may be as smart as a doorknob but it is Roadrunner's speed that saves him. (Actually I hated the Roadrunner, what a clean-cut suit and tie type jerk. I always wanted to be able to rewrite ol' Wiley into a gourmet roast-runner meal.) If you don't want to be a roast-runner you had better learn how to outrun a car and how to leap tall fences without slowing down, which can be done if you know how and practice, practice, practice. 

Just remember, never run home! The civilians are always protected. This rates right up there with the #1 rule for girlfriends; never grab my elbow! Speaking of girlfriends and running in the same breath here, don't. Don't leave them that is. Bad form. Uncool. Bad, bad, bad. You never leave your own when you cut out, you must always take them with you. If she's not prepared to fight or to run then why are you playing the role? Remember, this is the 'stand up to them' section. 

If she can't back you up then you back up before it hits the fan. Way before. Really. No fooling here, guys. 

3. The police are there to protect you.

The police are there to protect the system as a whole but can do little to help anyone part. They clean up, listen to the lies and put away any identifiable bad guys they can. Your problems are small stuff unless you get snuffed, which isn't likely anyway. If they can't keep Mr. Bigg safe at all times, how can they help you from getting a broken nose? Strutting your stuff, being a jerk and smart mouth and depending on: "I'll call the police!" to save you is dumb, dumb, dumb. 

If you want safety out there with the big boys then you have to do it yourself...lift weights for strength, wrestle for stamina, train your martial art for balance and timing, and practice your moves. Practice soft focus, practice broken-field running at night, practice sizing up the players without giving yourself away (i.e. is he tough or bluff, has he experience, where is his knife, his back-up knife, has he boots or runners, is his lady holding a weapon and ready to back him? etc. etc.) The jerks and bad guys think of this stuff and practice, why don't you? 

What the police can do is to help you defend yourself if you get in over your head. They can put on the pressure that may take the hit out of the sting. They know who's who and may be able to step in if you are being hunted. They can't act without info but if you are facing death or destruction, they may be able to cool the flames or move a serious player to a back burner. 

Variation 3.a. The cops are your enemies. 

Just as silly as hoping a cop will save from your own foolishness is thinking that the cops have nothing better to do than dust you off for being alive. Man, they will let the jackals do that. Playing silly bugger with the police, harassing them for fun
and frolics can get you in their scope. If the nasty boys decide that you must go, no cop will do a favor for the one who spends his time giving them trouble. Street enemies are enough, why make enemies of the cops just to show off? Even career
criminals don't make it personal with the cops because it is just too dangerous. If you aren't planning an anti-cop lifetime, don't start or you may not be able to quit later. 

4. Always back up a buddy, even if he's wrong.

It depends on what you call back up. If he expects you to play his game with him and he wants to rassle alligators then you can say no. Suicide is not in the buddy contract. If he gets jumped then it's different, you fight your way clear together. But if he's knocking down the hornets nest for fun, don't stay unless you think it is fun too. 

If he's drunk then try to haul him away before his 'targets' start to pay serious attention. If you can't get him away, then it is your call as to whether you will take a trashing for trying to save his butt or whether you just might be able to is your call and no mere acquaintance has the right to force you to clean up his garbage for him just by calling you brother. 

True brothers is different but most steeters are quick to 'brother' you when they are in need but won't be there to back you up. A true brother will not let you growl in the face of the wrong jackal or will take you out himself with less injury to keep the pack off you--sort of like not letting you drive if you are drunk. If he is not a real brother but it is still low key stuff and not costing you any teeth yet then help, but as soon as you can, drop this guy, especially if you carry the bruises from fights he started but couldn't finish. This way you salvage some honor and some teeth. 

Sun Tzu wrote in 500 B.C. in China, "The best general is not the one who wins a thousand battles but the one who avoids a thousand battles." 

No one has improved on this since. If all you do is fight someone else's battles because he has a big mouth and hides behind his black belt buddy, ain't something wrong? 

5. It's a free country, I can do what I want.

Other ways of saying this are: "If you believe in yourself you can go anywhere and do anything," and "trust your feelings and just go with them." 

Surprise, guys, (ladies included), your feelings, desires and motivations don't mean a thing to anyone else out there but you. They are not the definition of reality or of right or wrong, and they shouldn't be, either. Who made you God? Sure your feelings are rampant and important and your hormonal desires are a forest fire but if you expect the world to lay at your feet so you can indulge your little self on them then you are so immature as to be a social liability to those of us who are still sane! 

Why is it always some manipulative son of a monkey tailed furball who screams at me that he has a right to abuse me because it is a free country? If you are free to start the game by your rules then they are free to finish the game by their own
rules and if that means getting you out of their face by sending you on a vacation in the bandage ward then it is your own fault that it will cost your friends so much in flowers, if you have any friends. 

Only the utmost immature selfishness is so foolish as to claim that our political and religious freedoms allow someone to act like a jerk without paying the price. Learn now the easy way or later the hard way but if you play in public you had better
learn to fulfill your desires in acceptable street ways or someone will pin your ears back and swallow you whole. 

Not everyone who beats on you is victimizing you; some just may be trying to get your attention to save you from someone much worse. A sparrow was freezing to death in the snow when a cow shit on him. Amazingly the warm pile brought him
back to life and he started to sing and eat the seeds he found. A cat going by heard him and dug him out and ate him. Moral of the story: not everyone who shits on you is an enemy and not everyone who digs you out is a friend. (And also, if living in shit is getting you what you want, don't sing too loud about it, cats are everywhere!) 

Another point about this is that feeling right does not mean being right! 

Feelings lie to you all the time. Feelings are chemical by-products of life depending on when you ate last, what you ate last, how are you getting along with your lady or at work or being out of work, etc. You use feelings to justify doing what you know you shouldn't do, but if 'feeling like it' makes it right, then anyone is justified to do anything to your scrawny but they want to. Why should you get to be the only one that can do whatever you want because you feel like it? 

Believe this guys and get a grip, don't trust your feelings--use your head and control your feelings and make decisions that will get you where you want to go or someone bigger and nastier has a surprise for you. 

Variation 5.a. If you believe in yourself then you can go anywhere and do anything. 

This sounds cool if all it means is that you should develop your abilities to your best and go with what you know but it is constantly used to justify the most blatant selfishness you will ever hear. 

Take your skinny little butt into a bar and grab the best looking lady in there and just have a reality check on whether your confidence and five of years training will make you superman. Being confident is more than being rude, aggressive and
nasty. In fact, most aware people know that nastiness is usually a cover for a lack of confidence and they feel real secure in giving you a lumpy street lesson in politeness. 

Just make sure that you are not believing in a fantasy of competence, sometimes called a false sense of security, and are not underestimating your adversary or the victim of your selfishness. 

If you want to play hardball then you had better learn how to catch. The Wild West is not the only place that you will always meet a faster gun sooner or later. 

6. xxxxxxxxxxxx: are all cowards and can safely be abused.

Fill in the blank from your personal hate list. How about some of these: 

Fags, fat people, old guys, longhairs, W.A.S.P.S., blacks, the minority of your choice, shrubs, low-life scum, maggots, rag-heads, yuppies, tree-huggers, jocks, homies, rappers, skates, wannabes, suits or hats or bitches...take your pick. 

This is 'go ahead and make my day' time, folks. One steeter to go down under 250 pounds of weightlifter-bouncer started with his hands empty and landed on his back with a knife in his hand working on cutting off the guy's ear. No judgment here on right or wrong, just a mention on how little can get big real fast. 

Just because your bigotry doesn't allow you to even think the thought that they might beat you doesn't mean that they can't! 

More on warriors later but Variation 6.a What you see is what you get is applicable here. 

Don't you believe it. Warriors come in all shapes and sizes because it is the spirit that counts, not the body. Try the same stuff on a Sikh that you get away with on a turban wearer from a different culture and you'll be eating two of your own small,
round body parts for hors d'oeuvre. 

Warriors also come in disguise. 

Just as every outlaw biker isn't necessarily the toughest person when alone, neither is that older gentleman or young woman
always going to be an easy target. 

Street Lies:

1. No one rats.

This rule is broken so much that the only suckers who believe it are the wannabes who are hoping to get a rep. Of course no one (read, very few, really...) rats out a real brother but it is amazing how quickly family ties are disowned when it is

To be precise, what I am talking about here is the fact that if you take on some guy who wants to rearrange your face and you whip him, the fun is just starting. The kind of predator low-life that is the first to start trouble is also the first to go to the cops when you end it. Being street tough is not enough if you are not street smart enough to protect yourself from this little game. 

Don't trash a jerk in front of hostile witnesses or the judge just might hear, "Honest you honor, we wuz just askin' him the time and he went ballistic on us." Move to a place where witnesses can say they saw him attack you. They should also hear
you say loudly and clearly, "Leave me alone. Touch me and I'll defend myself. I don't want to fight," or something like it. This allows them to be your witnesses if he tries to run the police at you for beating him. If you can't do this then some
people suggest that after you pound him, you take his drivers license as proof that you have his name and number and can deal with him if he goes to the cops. I don't suggest that you do this because it is illegal and because you may now be
entering into that no man's land of escalating violence. Just be aware that the "no one rats" rule won't apply if you trash someone. 

2. A good freak-out or berserk will trash anyone.

In a fight, this is the "I just shut my eyes and wail" crowd. For 'wail' you should read, 'flail.' They don't seem to fight much, probably because they know how limited this kind of fighting really is. Now don't get me wrong...I don't claim that a
personal non-martial arts style of hand to hand is empty crap because it doesn't have an Oriental name. A practiced street fighter uses the same old stuff martial artists uses; kicks, punches, trips, grabs, eye pokes and teeth in the ear stuff. (Hey, do you think that Tyson might have read this??) 

A freak-out that just flails and does not use fighting stuff is severely limited and won't trash my granny. Now, if berserk is a measure of the emotional content of your style, if it means that you only drop A-bombs, that sounds better. But what do you do when your brother is into some serious jerk behavior that you must physically stop, are you going to A-bomb him? Not everyone you need to get physical with deserves a broken nose. 

I train martial arts so I am prepared to try to handle any hassle with less trauma, not more, or at least only as much trauma as I choose is appropriate. 

The other thing is that the fighter who can use his emotions and control his adrenaline output can achieve two things a berserk can't do: he can endure and outlast by not shooting his total wad all at once and he can keep control of the finer
aspects of fighting like balance and timing which seem to be the first to go when the adrenaline hits. 

If you are going to fight you should do some boxing, kickboxing, wrestling etc. or some serious long term training in a martial art. Say what? You'll just run away? Fine if you can, if there is no one being left behind, if you are not surrounded...but how far can you run? Do you know or did you used to be able to run? Are you a pack a day man, now? If your hangout is getting to be a rough place, start running for your health. The bad guys practice their stuff on you, don't wait till it's serious to start your practice, get your training early or stay to home or someone's gonna jack your diskman! 

3. No one has the right to dis you or tell you what to do.

You are rough and tough and can take care of your own-yeah. If you really believe this one then can I have your stereo after the funeral? Right or not, you will be insulted and put down and scorned and heeby-jeebied until you want to puke or carry a cannon. Puking is better. The street doesn't owe you anything much less respect. If you can't take it, leave it or start your trash and get a rep. Just be careful because more than a few biters and growlers have been put away by a knife in the night by smaller but nastier scumbags. I know that not one martial artist gone on the street thinks he is scum but believing in yourself won't keep you alive if you attack the wrong person over an insult, real or imagined; he will think you are scum at that time, and that is what counts. Just because someone is being shitty to you doesn't mean you have to mow them down. 

Remember the lesson from suburbia you learned when you were twelve...don't mow over the dog dump!! It explodes in your face if dry or gums it all up if fresh. You step in it and stink for the rest of the day and if the mower bag plugs, it gets all over your hands when you pull out the grass. 

Sometime it is better to just go around and ignore it. 

4. Buddies don't rip off buddies.

Brothers don't (usually) rip off brothers but buddies do it all the time. Get my drift? 

5. If someone calls you out and you go, it is a consensual fight and not an assault, so you can legally trash them.

Well, maybe, depending on the judge you get. If weapons become involved, you can bet that 'consenting' suddenly disappears as a defence. If you severely hospitalize the guy causing permanent damage then more and more judges are following the line that even though he consented to fight, he obviously didn't consent to blindness, losing a kidney or a lung or permanent facial scars etc. so you get sent up. A new case lately put the winner in jail because he kicked the guy and it was obvious to the judge that the guy had only 'consented' to a fist fight...of course the police may have already had a sheet on the winner and were looking for a way to send him up. 

More important is the thinking of the police who were called by bystanders when it hit the fan. If the cops hate you already, guess what. If they know you as street cool and it seems consensual and under control, it may not even ever go to court. Don't forget the bystanders all heard you trying to cool the guy out and not fight, right? 

Be very careful that your message that you don't want to fight does not talk yourself into a submissive role; just act, don't internalize it or they may jump. Make it plain that if they jump, you are ready to handle it. 

6. I'm safe if I 'look' street.

It's not true. If someone is looking at you and drooling, guess what--you just became a civilian. Statistics show that over 90% of assaults come from people just like the victim...the same social class and style, the same economic level and the same race. That means that street people (including rappers, skaters, wannabes, jocks etc.) prey on other street people (including rappers, skaters,
wannabes, jocks, etc.) and being a street person won't save you from street predators. 

7. A firearm is a perfect equalizer on the street.

Sometimes written as: "God made men equal, Colt guarantees it." 

If you carry a firearm and do not train how to use it, statistics say that it will be taken away from you and used against you. Let's be many situations need to be solved with guns? Not very many, (read; none at all.) So weigh the profit of carrying for these very few non-occasions or just for bragging rights against the cost of being busted for possession or carrying concealed. If the street knows you habitually carry, then any time someone wants you down they just crime stopper your little butt away. Don't scorn, it happens! If you give people that kind of power over you, you don't get to cry for momma when they use it. 

Really scary Variation 7.a. A firearm makes me superior. 

This guy makes a great case for the above mentioned use of crimestoppers. (Hint, hint, hint...) Do you really believe that he will only wave it around to prove how much better he is or will only use it on enemies? Suddenly this upstanding dude, this righteous brother has in his very hand your life or death. With no work, just...dead. Do you trust him that much? Time to take a vacation until his karma catches him because you don't want to share it, that's for sure. Hang somewhere else, this guy's a goner. 

If he's so gonzo that he's packing, then the chances are that someone is going to be shooting at him sometime soon. With the current statistics of 3 bystanders going down for every punk that was being aimed at, you don't want to be anywhere near this guy. 

About the author: Ted Truscott is the author of the book Canadian Law: Self-defense and the martial artist. He is the past editor of Focus Point Martial Arts Magazine and a contributor to the prestigious Canadian Martial Arts Magazine and the Martial Arts Free Press. He has experience in Ba'Gua, Modern Arnis, Shorinji and Shotokan Karate. 

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