Digging Your MoatRead Now
My sister-in-law was working in an art gallery a few years ago when a man walked in asking to be shown the restroom. She had started to walk away when he ambushed from behind. She screamed, kicked, clawed, using everything in her arsenal and eventually there was enough of a scuffle for someone outside the shop to see what was happening to come in and help. A couple years later when I was a belt or two into karate, she came to visit while we were building our current home. We had put in a full day of whatever manual labor was needed, sat down in camping chairs in what would eventually become my kitchen, and opened a bottle of wine with a Dewalt screw gun. We had a good buzz going as we jabbered about martial arts and eye jabs, then she said something that struck me; something that is quite possibly the foundation for spending the majority of my time researching and sharing what I can with women. She mentioned that while she was on her back with her attacker on top, she went to go shove her thumbs in his eyes as she had always been taught, (she was a sheriffs daughter). However, when she put her thumbs over his eyes, she hesitated and couldn’t do it. She told me that what went through her brain at that split second was the thought that she could blind this guy for the rest of his life. Of course we all in hindsight think, yes, that’s the point, he is trying to rape you, but I remember a light clicking saying of course you would think that in the moment, most women would, I would. It was humbling and the statement eye opening.
There are three top things I feel would cause a hesitation in that instant. The first being what happened to my sister in law, her humanity stepped in, the second is disbelief, and the third is adrenal responses. With our humanity, in most cases, we can hack our brains response to aggression by rewiring our physical boundaries.
Our humanity gets in the way of our safety at a time when we are already at a disadvantage, an unequal initiative We don’t believe we are being attacked, that someone would do something like this to us, and the delay to act is monumental. We can’t comprehend that this person would not think twice of stepping over our bloody body to get a beer. We might before when we feel safe and we have talked about these things with our girlfriends. We might as a keyboard warrior pulling the old faithful response of, “I would just do this….” We know in the back of our head a person ambushing us is bad and honestly should lose their eyes, but in that moment we put them on the same moral playing field as ourselves and those seconds could be detrimental. When you are in a self defense class that only focus on the physical and not any word of the pre-fight we are ignoring a major key foundation here and that is digging the moat.
Digging the moat is the point where you lay out your territory and posture how you are going to defend it. It is the point where you are angry at the injustice of what the other person is doing and choose to act on it. When the defense is just physical the moat is set where someone is within actual striking distance. That is not much of a defense, it’s barely even a castle wall. The moat needs to be mentally dug further out keeping the potential threat at a a greater distance than your typical conversation stance in a safe environment. Geoff Thompson in his book, “Dead or Alive,” talks about teaching road safety to children and how we don’t wait for them to get hit by the car to do it, we teach them to stay out of the road and to look both ways.
For women it seems that any self defense class we go to teaches a plethora of several step moves that if not rehearsed over and over under pressure even a well trained martial artist could not pull them off. We spend a couple hours with intricate physical movement and are not taught how to scramble in the first place, how to BE action. Honestly one of the biggest takeaways I have been thinking of based on statistics is that before and if the altercation gets physical we need to teach women a fighters mentality TO just move. Essentially we are doing the equivalent of showing a child how to rotate his arms and legs on the side of the pool and then throwing him in the deep end hoping for the best. I was recently talking with a Krav Maga instructor and she had said just the action of ANYTHING is the base, if they can’t do that, they can’t do the rest.
We have to first understand our mindset of anger with setting up our moat. Jordan Peterson, a renowned psychologist said this, “People who refuse to muster appropriately self-protective territorial responses are laid open to exploitation as much as those who genuinely can’t stand up for their own rights because of more essential inability or a true imbalance of power.” This is not a victim shame in any way, it’s actually directed towards the understanding that you can know all the moves in the world, but if you don’t for some reason in your moral brain feel justified in the moment, you will not pull it off. If you war with yourself for a split second, it could cost you your life. With pushing out your moat you give yourself precious time to have the fighters mindset of resentment that a person crossed into your territory.
When Dr. Peterson is working with people coming from abused situations he tries to get them to put themselves on the same playing field as someone capable of violence. Once they understand that it is not the violence itself that is the problem, but the maliciousness behind it they start to inch themselves up as an individual. If they are convinced that they themselves are capable of violence then they begin to feel less fear, less fear leads to confidence, confidence by statistics leads to less situations you are likely to be hurt in. Violence is defined in the dictionary as, “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill something.” When a person is hunting for food, the death of the animal is an act of violence, when a person tortures bunnies, that is maliciousness. All people are capable of violence, even those soft spoken who seem fragile. In fact violence is necessary, its force is what holds tyranny at bay, “it is in this manner that the willingness of the individual to stand up for him or herself protects everyone from the corruption of society,” (Twelve Rules to Live By).
A person with malicious intent will give us the pause because we cannot correlate. “Getting pleasure from the fear of others is not something most of us can relate to,” (Gavin DeBecker, The Gift of Fear). This is a person who wholeheartedly believes that they can deliver the blows necessary to carry out their nefarious plan. They are not the ones lacking any confidence which is their first advantage, we are.
In the ECQC course Craig Douglas did a demonstration of two people standing at normal conversation spacing. He then asked the other person to keep his finger from touching their chest. It was basically impossible and each time he was able to tap them. He then took exactly one foot length back. He was still able to reach out and touch the person, but just that small amount of distance was able to make the difference of 90 percent. The other person was able to successfully keep his finger from touching them the majority of the time. With this being stated I believe for women it is even more so when out in public. If a stranger is approaching you in a parking lot or some unpopulated area keeping them at least ten feet from your person is key by clearly stating for them to stop. If they hear a clear, “stop,” and choose to advance in your direction they are likely trying to storm your castle with malicious intent. A person without malicious intent would not want to make you feel uncomfortable and would not cross that line. You are NOT the crazy one for preparing and setting up yourself for a potential threat, remember they are the one that approached a lone female. There are extenuating circumstances, what if they are deaf and they couldn’t hear you say stop? Blind? What if they are special needs? Keeping your level of awareness honed and yourself out of a physical reach still applies.
Geoff Thompson describes, “The Fence,” (Dead or Alive) when dealing with a stranger approaching. This is staying out of reach physically with your hands in a prepared position for whatever becomes necessary; not in your pockets, not holding your phone; up and ready to defend. You do not necessarily want them in an aggressive manner or fighters stance, but just there. If you must ask a person to stop to safely keep them from encroaching your personal territory, your hands should not be up in a surrendering position with palms exposed. Remember you are trying to be deselected for a potential threat by demonstrating you are not lacking confidence and will do what is necessary to protect yourself. You want your fingers pointed forward, palms angled towards the ground, assertive not surrendering. The goal here is for an oppressor to think you are not worth the fight and to walk away.
The fence is a mental picture of your archers at the parapets, but your moat is the line you draw for your territory. If this is crossed you get angry. Get angry while they are still several feet away so you can set your humanity aside and give yourself precious seconds to mentally prepare/defend by any means possible. “If you can bite, you generally do not have to…. When skillfully integrated, the ability to respond with aggression and violence decreases rather than increase the probability that actual aggression will become necessary. If you say no early in the cycle of oppression and you mean what you say, (which means you state your refusal in no uncertain terms and stand behind it,) then the scope for oppression on the part of the aggressor will remain properly bounded and limited,” (Twelve Rules to Live By).
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Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal