Guns & Patriots

Ferocious Resolve and the Loss of Self: Winning the Battle of the Minds

Have you ever seen two boxers staring each other down in the center of the ring before the fight?  Why do you think they do this?  Simply, they are trying to psychologically intimidate each other.  Two simple psychological statements are being made.  One is “I’m not scared of you,” and the other is, “I’m going to kick your ass!”  This action, in easy, seeable, and understandable terms defines the classic “psyching out your opponent,” that we’ve all heard of at some point in our life.

That example is a very easy way to illustrate the psychological interaction of human behavior, between two individuals engaged in or about to engage in combat.  However, there’s a lot more going on than the eye can see and in real combat the stakes are not whose hand is raised at the end but who ends up in a coffin.

As I’ve discussed all along, the vital if not primary role the mind plays in surviving a life threatening encounter, now we’ll take a look at what role it plays during combat itself.

The apex predator in North America is the male grizzly bear.  It’s 800 pounds of tooth claw and muscle.  It can kill a 700 pound elk with one blow and it fears no other species of animal.

Yet there is one animal that can and will kill a male grizzly.  What animal could that be?  A 400 pound female grizzly.  How could that possibly be?  The male outweighs her by 400 pounds and is bigger, meaner, and stronger.  I’ll answer the question and the answer is this; When the female is defending her young.  As you know, in the wild, males will often kill the offspring sired by other males in order to drive the females into estrus so they can pass on their progeny and genes.

How can the female kill a bear that dwarfs it in size?  There are several major dynamics at work and these, in total, give the female the advantage that she needs.  These are; She will fight to kill the male grizzly (Purpose and Intent).  She has no regard for her own safety (Loss of Self).  And, she will fight to the death (Ferocious Resolve).

I want to look at these three separate but necessary parts of the whole as they relate to combat, their effects on you, their effects on the opponent and why they are necessary for your survival when you are confronted with the harsh realities of a violent encounter.

We’ll start with Purpose and Intent.  Using the female grizzly as our model, if she is attacked by a male grizzly over territory, food, or any reason excluding protecting her young, the male grizzly would easily subdue her, drive her away or kill her.  Perhaps he is a serial killer grizzly and she was to become his latest victim.

What is difference?  Same bears, same fight – but no purpose.  The difference is plain to see.  She didn’t have anything to fight for.  There was no purpose to fight.  She did not want to hurt or kill the male grizzly – no Intent.  She could always get other food or move to another territory.  So in this case the male grizzly dominates the other bear both physically and psychologically.  Just as with humans, after all we are still animals, there must be a purpose to fight, a cause, or a reason, or you’re heart just won’t be in it.  This purpose, whether it is to protect children, loved ones, partners, teammates, or the soldier next to you is a vital element of, survival against the odds.  This purpose can also be driven by less tangible but sometimes just as important reasons such as religion, justice, patriotism or moral righteousness.

Sometimes it’s just plain self preservation.  Whatever that reason is, there must be a reason.
In regard to Intent, there must be a goal.  And that Intent must be to meet force of violence by responding with Overwhelming Force of Violence.  If you must fight you have to fight to win.  From the very onset.  Whenever I’ve worked with the Brits they were always talking about the switch.  Are you switched on?  Switch on – switch off – developing your switch, etc, etc.

I came to realize that what they meant was, in simple terms of a fight, your switch better be turned on or you’re gonna lose.  Switched on can also mean being aware of your surroundings, your environment and many other things but I’m not discussing those other meanings right now.  And, if you enter into the fight, any fight without the Intent to kill if necessary, then you may not get that option after you’ve been stabbed several times, shot or beaten with a pipe.  Here’s where most attorney types and a lot of Law Enforcement people say, “Hey, wait a minute.  You can’t tell people to go out and kill someone just because they’ve said, ‘F..k you I’m gonna kick your ass!’”  So let me just say this once again, the premise of this series of articles is “Surviving The Deadly Attack.”  Maybe it would be better to describe my point in more benign terms.  The female grizzly enters the fight to protect her young at full blood lust rage knowing that if she has to she will kill the male grizzly to protect her young.  Even more benign is this.  Picture this and you’ll know the difference I’m describing.  Walk over to your stereo and turn it on.  Now adjust the volume, turn it up so you can hear it.  Or… walk over to the stereo turn the volume up to full blast and then hit the on switch.  That is the difference I am talking about.  Against true, raw, naked violence you don’t have the option of turning up the volume, ramping up to fight off an attacker during the attack.  You need to hit them at full volume and then turn the volume down as is warranted both morally and legally as the dynamics change.  You’ve got to switch on at full volume until the threat is neutralized.  Sometimes just “putting up your dukes,” stops a fight before it starts as long as you are ready to go “all the way.”  If that is your intent, the opponent will get the message – psychologically.  It speaks loud and clear without a word being said.

The second aspect of the fight between the minds is this.  The Japanese Samurai called it “The loss of Self.”  What this means is that in order to fight, really fight with everything that you have, with no hesitation or holding back, you can have no regard for injury or harm to yourself.  Why was this important to the Samurai?  Because when two opponents are fighting each other in mortal combat with razor sharp swords that will cut a man in half, there can be no hesitation, second guessing or fear of being cut or injured.  “He who hesitates is lost,” is absolutely true in terms of mortal combat.  Many times we have been regaled with stories of soldiers who fought on against the enemy against incredible odds and serious injuries that any one alone would be enough to disable someone under “normal” conditions.  If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear or talk to any of those individuals you will find that they had “ceased to exist” in those moments and that there was only the enemy to defeat, that everything in their being was channeled to defeating or killing the enemy.  There was nothing held back, it was pure focus and determination at the cost of all other considerations.  There was NO FEAR!  Mind you, I’m not talking about courage here.  That is something that is also necessary.  And many times that courage is fueled by Purpose as we discussed earlier.

However, what I’m talking about here is a state of mind.  A psychological phenomenon.  It is also part of what enables the Grandmother to pick the car up, off of her Grandson.  There is no, “I can’t pick up the car.”  There is no, “It’s too heavy for me.”  There is no I or me.  There is only, “PICK UP THE CAR!”  I call this the Superman moment.  We all have it, you may have never used it, but you’ve gotta believe it exists.

The third and very vital component of the battle of the wills is this.  I will fight to the death, Ferocious Resolve.  When the female grizzly is defending her young she will fight to the death to protect them, willfully sacrificing herself to save her babies.  This is the never give up – never surrender state of being that gives you the resolve and the ferociousness of a cornered deadly animal.  Somehow the Male Grizzly knows this and it has an effect.  It’s not seeable it’s not physical, but it’s feelable.  The male grizzly feels it and it gives the female a huge psychological advantage over the male.  The knowledge that you will fight to the death is a powerful potion.  For some, (most) people they will never know if they would or if they could.  I guess that proves that our laws, our system and our individual morals and ethics are in good working order.  Which is a good thing.

However there are people – very bad people in our midst that intend to do us harm, and given the right circumstances they will perpetrate their evil deed.  You might be one of the lucky one whose path is never crossed by such evil and if so, consider yourself lucky.

But for the Warrior, those who see danger where others are oblivious, there is no doubt about the question; Will I fight to the death?  They already know the answer.

In a conventional confrontation, in the brief seconds prior to the first strike or blow, the battle of the minds has already begun and the battle of the wills is already engaged.  In the case of a surprise attack or ambush, the battle of the minds begins simultaneous to the physical engagement but it is still taking place throughout the encounter.

In any case, if all other things are equal, (size strength and skill) then the combatant with the psychological edge will usually win the battle, and in a lot cases where the opponent has the edge in strength size and skills, the combatant with the strongest resolve, the greatest force of will can still win the fight even against “the odds.”

When your opponent senses that he is up against a true Warrior, one who is projecting the following; I’m fighting for a righteous purpose.  I’ll kill you if I have to.  I don’t care what happens to me and I will fight to the death.  Then your opponent knows immediately the price he is about to pay for his mistake.  And the moment he senses that, and knows that he is up against a 10 foot tall fire breathing dragon, his resolve will crumble and you will prevail.  In so many cases the battle of the minds determines the outcome of the battle of the fists.  You must be armed and prepared to fight on both fronts to be the winner.  Just remember never to neglect one, for the other.

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  • TexasVolunteer

    I will fight! I will win! I do train!
    Fight until the lights go out.

  • bluehuntress62

    When faced with an intruder a couple summers ago I had to ask myself, Can I kill this man if I have to? The answer was yes! Fortunately I didn’t have to, but as I pulled back the hammer and placed my finger on the trigger I knew, that without a doubt if he took one more step toward me and my sleeping child, I would shoot to kill. I totally “get” Mama Griz!

  • Popo2

    Mother, I told you to stay on the meds and off the computer, not the other way around!

  • farnerfan

    Isn’t it past your bedtime? Hope you never need my protection!

  • ChiefBoring

    As Chief of a private security agency many years ago, I was partnered with a county policeman patrolling a parking garage. A young man we caught trying to boost a car pulled a knife. I popped the thumb snap on my Colt Trooper, and quietly said, “Fred, do you want me to shoot him?” Fred said, “Naw, he’s going to drop the knife…NOW!” Apparently not knowing who the “NOW” was meant for, the creep dropped his knife and put up his hands. I think he knew we were both serious, recognizing he had brought a knife to a potential gun fight.

    Another time I was working security at a hospital, and was clled to the ER. An older gentleman, obviously inebriated, threatened to hit me with a cane. I looked directly into his eyes, and quietly said, “I don’t allow anyone to hit me.” He said, “What?” I repeated myself, stepping into his space. He handed me the cane.

    Many years ago, a friend had given me his car keys, as he was too drunk to drive. Before he was capable, he demanded the keys. I told him no. He picked up a butcher knife and came at me. I put him down and broke three of his ribs and the knife blade. When he sobered up I took him home, where his family bandaged his ribs.

    Chief Boring

  • MicroScope1

    On the day I was slapped in the face and my sunglasses were knocked
    off it was 114 degrees in Phoenix. My air conditioner broke the day
    before. I did not want to die of heat exhaustion. Therefore the open
    When you stop in traffic in a major city you do not have
    the luxury of keeping space between the car in front of you
    and the car behind you—to make a quick escape…that is why
    I am armed in my car at all times.
    What is wrong with having several pistols?
    I carry one in my tackle box…One in each car…One in my
    desk by the front door of my home…One by the rear door
    in my home.

  • Popo2

    Worry not, mom, as our paths are not to likely to cross, since you seem to be all too eager to rush towards confrontation, while my preference is to avoid it.

  • Richard

    60% are dead in 3 years, 90% are dead in 5 years and no one (but me) has gone beyond 17 years. A rare, incurable, metastic cancer is eating me alive from the inside out.
    I suspect from RF while in the Navy.
    But none the less, I’m in my 23rd year of fighting the fight of my life. It boils down to mental toughness…a never give in…or give up attitude.
    I never lost a fight in my life….I always knew what I was going to do….win!
    Whether fighting a human, a wild beast or an illness…it’s the same psychology.
    The one important thing Mr. Emerson left out of his article was faith.

  • 19gundog43

    One thing I have learned is to carry myself in such a manner as to say to potential assailants, “mess with me and you will be sorry.” Bad guys have a knack for spotting easy targets. Most people carry themselves in a weak and unassuming manner. A person can avoid contact with assailants most of the time if they are A. aware of there surroundings and B. what I call “walk strong”. I also carry everywhere in case a bad guy ignores the signs.

  • Rick_Hostetler

    The smile works real well all by itself. When confronted I tend to get this crazy big smile that sends most guys packing. The crazy grin has kept me out of so many fights I’ve lost count, and I think has been a big contributor to winning some that I maybe shouldn’t have.

  • farnerfan

    Popopoop2…I didn’t raise my sons to be cowards like you so obviously are. They were taught that if a fight is inevitable, to make a decision – do you want to be a wimp (like you) or stand up and fight! They have both chosen to stand and fight and to use whatever means necessary to protect themselves and the ones that are with them.

    I hope your real mother never finds out what a wimp you are…she would be embarrassed and disgraced. You pompous, windbag of a fool!

    As for me and my family, we choose to fight back…my late husband, a Marine, will be proud of us, not ashamed! He taught us not to bring a knife to a gunfight but to always carry a good razor-sharp knife, in addition to a gun with hollow point bullets!

    I pray this scenario will never play out in mine or my sons’ lifetimes, but if it does, we are ready and trained in firearm use.

    Wanting to avoid confrontation if threatened, is being a coward that would cower in a corner. I don’t know how to hide and whimper…is it hard? Hope you don’t teach others to be cowards.

    Have you noticed, Popo2, that you are the only coward on this page of comments??

    As for our intended targets, we will not miss!

  • Popo2

    I pity your poor sons to have been raised by such a foolish woman as you and I certainly hope that you never have to live with the thought that you and your stupid, convoluted, uneducated idea of “macho” got them killed when they could have easily avoided a potentially deadly confrontation merely by observing, defusing and/or walking away.

    RULE NUMBER ONE OF NOT GETTING KILLED OR INJURED IN A FIGHT IS TO NOT VOLUNTARILLY SHOW UP FOR IT! In other words, don’t be in the same place at the same time as the bad guy. How is it that you and those of your ilk (typical blowhard keyboard Rambos and Rambettes) can’t get it through your thick Neanderthal skulls that tactics without strategy is as meaningless as it is useless and will serve only to get you killed in a hurry?

    Regardless, your cluelessness as to what real survival is about is not surprising given your obvious ignorance and I am sure your “husband,” if you ever actually bothered to get married, is probably far happier now than he ever was when saddled with the burden of a moron such as you.

    In any event, if you choose to die like the foolish old woman you are, all in the name of “macho,” rather than simply avoid or defuse a potentially deadly confrontation whenever possible, then by all means, have at it, fool. I’ll send flowers.

  • Marshall Eubanks

    1. God forbid I enjoy fresh air. There are lunatics out there!

    2. No. (Does this really require elaboration?)

    3. Why do you have so few handguns? And with an NRA avatar? Whatever your reason, I’ve little doubt it’s worthless.

  • Leroy_Whitby

    I grew up in a tough city. I went to college in another tough city. I went to work in another tough city. Never had a problem. If you look confident and unafraid I think people don’t mess with you. Maybe you are armed. Maybe you are undercover. Whatever it is, they leave you be. If someone followed me I usually turned around and yelled at them. They left. When I had a knife pulled on me I was calm and smiled. The kid left me be. Was showing off for friends and when it didn’t seem easy or predictable he saved face and left. It’s attitude.

    If you get in a fight I guess the author here is right. Fight to win.