Verbal Fighting

Verbal Fighting

verbal_abuse2One of the most ignored aspects of dealing with violence is verbal control and self-assertion. As martial artists, we tend to be “move monkeys” caught up in fighting techniques, always working on a new kick, a new punch combination, a new takedown, a new weapon, or disarm technique. Items on the continuum of violence such as awareness, threat recognition, de-escalation, and verbal assertiveness are almost entirely ignored. I admit that I’ve had zero training in these areas.

I picked up an interesting concept from Hockheim’s blog on the use of commands to control and/or deter opponents. The post is titled , “Your Classes Should Be Noisy.” He begins by stating that martial arts classes should be loud and profane, just as real-life confrontations are. Students need to be able to withstand loud, threatening, vile, in-your-face shouting –this is how it goes down on the street.

But the next part of his post deals with a study by the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato. The study finds that police officers in routine encounters use what the researchers call “Alpha Commands.” These commands are clear and forceful.

Some examples of Alpha commands:

“Get out here now!”
“Stand over there!”
“Get down on the ground!”
“Put your hands behind your back!”
“Leave him alone!”
“Let me go!”
“No!” Or “stop!”
“Move and I’ll kill you.”


Researchers found, though, that as conflicts started to escalate toward violence, officers’ commands became more Beta, meaning workplace-violencethat they were less clear and rather than commanding, conveyed a sense of pleading with the opponent. Furthermore, these Beta commands were laced with profanity.

Examples of Beta commands, with Hockheim adding in parentheses questions that those hearing these commands might ask:

“Move,” (where?)
“Give it up,” (how? what?)
“Don’t be stupid,” (this relates to doing what?)
“Stop screwing around,” (this relates to doing what?)
“Knock it off,” (knock what off?)
“Don’t make me hurt you (or kill you).”


It should also be considered that some criminals are low IQ individuals, are high or drunk, and may not be proficient in English. Take the example of a cop with a gun drawn on a suspect holding a knife.

“Don’t make me f@#!$ing kill you, a**hole!”

This command has an element of pleading. The suspect is controlling the cop’s behavior, “making” the cop kill him. But what is the subject supposed to do, especially when it’s phrased as not doing something to make the officer kill him?

A better command is “Drop the knife! Now!” This is both forceful and clear.


Hockheim makes a good point: Does the transition from clear, firm, and unemotional Alpha commands, to unclear Beta commands laced with emotionally-laden (desperate?) profanity, and from there down to pleading, subliminally communicate to the suspect that the officer senses or fears that he is losing control?


Does any martial artist train in clear verbal communication of this sort?



Extraído de Big Stick Combat.
Leer desde la fuente original.

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