Mr. D. Albright
Why We Need to Master Verbal Self-Defense
This is a tense and touchy world we’re living in, always ready to flare up into physical violence and coercive force of every kind; it seems to me the need for verbal self-defense skills is growing more urgent everyday. We need verbal self-defense “literacy”, for which both sets of verbal self-defense skills—those needed for establishing a language environment where hostile language is rare, and those needed for dealing with hostile language when it can’t be avoided are indispensible. The short answer to this question, for children of any age, is that you teach the verbal self-defense techniques by modeling them. When hostile language is flying around in the language environment and the kids are there, you use verbal self-defense to defuse that language, head it off, respond to it, or whatever else is needed—so the kids can see, hear, and feel how it’s done. One of the goals of verbal self-defense is to communicate in such a way that hostile language environment; you use those techniques around the kids too, and your wholesome language behavior becomes part of the raw data they observe. They learn the grammar of verbal self-defense in exactly the same they would learn the grammar of fighting and being verbally abusive by observing adults do that. You don’t take little kids and give them formal lessons on how they use their own language acquisition abilities to follow your example.
When you have mastered physical martial arts skills, you’re well prepared for physical conflict. If muggers try to attack you on the street, if you find yourself involved in a fight in a bar or at the beach, if you see someone physically abusing a weaker person, you’re ready and able to deal with that. This is the martial art of verbal self-defense. You might not have needed it in parts of the world where life is brutal and violent for almost everyone. But in the Western world today, you do need it. Without it, you’re not “ready for anything; you’re only ready for things that may not happen once a year The Four Basic Principles of Verbal Self-Defense
First Principle: Know that you are under attack.
When an attack is physical, you never have any trouble spotting it; you know immediately when someone hits or kicks or shoves you. You can feel the attack directly, if other people are around, they will usually have seen and heard the attack too, and they’ll agree with you that it was an attack. Often there’ll be physical evidence in the form of bruises or cuts, to back up your claim. Verbal attacks are very different. Not that you can’t feel them—you can. But the feeling is what we call a gut feeling; it’s not like the pain from a punch or a kick or a slap, for which you could always say exactly where the blow fell. And it’s often very hard to spot the actual move the attacker has made. Because……For English, verbal violence isn’t in the words: It’s in the TUNES the words are set to. Second Principle: Know what kind of attack you are facing
When you find yourself in a physical fight, you automatically size up your opponent. You make judgments about your opponent’s strength, motives, and goals. You need to do exactly the same things with verbal attacks. When an attack is physical, you can pretty well judge the person’s strength by just looking. As for the motives and goals, sometimes they will be as mysterious as they are in physical attacks. But stop and think when an attack happens; you may be able to figure it out. You can tell the difference between a person who’s just picking a fight because he’s bored, and one who’s attacking because somebody else just chewed him out and he needs to take that out on somebody. Third Principle: Know how to make the defense fit the attack.
Suppose somebody hits you and you realize that it’s because they’re just totally out of control and scared and hitting out...