Have you ever daydreamed about winning a fight? Let's be honest, we all have. When you imagine this fight, how does it go? It probably goes something like this:
Arrogant prick in the bar starts insulting you, you play it cool. He gets up in your face and starts intimidating you. You warn him to be careful and say you don't want to hurt him (So smooth). He doesn't listen and raises his fists. He throws a punch towards your face, you quickly dodge it and throw a perfect uppercut that connects with his jaw. He falls to the floor dazed and embarrassed. Everybody around is super impressed. They never thought you had it in you. They were wrong. Now they know that hidden behind your average physique is a man not to be messed with. You grab the girl of your choice and walk home arm in arm.
Would it play out like this in the real world? Hell no.
The gap between the average guy's idea of what violence should be like and the reality what real life violence is actually like, is huge.
Two major reasons for this. 1. Our society doesn't require violence to survive and usually punishes it. Almost everybody has close to 0 real-world experience of violence. 2. In the absence of any real life experience where do you think average person creates their perception of violence? You guessed it. The media.
Your ideas of violence probably come from action films and crime shows. To you it's reasonable to shoot a man in the leg just to "wound" him. Or take multiple punches to the face like John Mcain and continue the fight. Or to run through multiple streams of machine gun fire untouched like James Bond.
Perhaps you're a more intelligent media consumer. Perhaps you understand that the violence depicted in action movies and crime shows is rather unrealistic.
OK. Picture this scenario.
Imagine you're a gun owner who likes to keep a handgun in a holster around your belt. And lets say you find yourself walking down the road of a well-known drug-filled neighbourhood at 2am in the morning and a man in the distance begins pacing directly towards you at speed. As you look him up and down you notice he's gripping something in his right hand. A knife. You try to quickly judge the situation. There is roughly 10 meters between you and him. There is nobody else around. And the handgun sits loaded in your holster. How do you imagine you would act in this moment?
Chances are you're imagining yourself calmly raising that handgun and shooting this stranger in the chest. Maybe you'd wait until he's nice and close first. So you can get a nice clean shot.
Well good job, because now you're dead.
The reason you think that this is correct move is because your understanding of violence comes from Hollywood. Not real life. You're using Hollywood logic. Not real-world logic.
You think that shooting him is going to drop him to the floor. it isn't.
The reality is it can take a person anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds to actually hit the floor after being shot. Because the spike in adrenaline that runs through a persons body after being shot is enough to keep them moving. In fact, there's a high chance they won't even experience pain until minutes afterwards.
It's only the rare person, highly experienced in real-world violence who would have known to use the 10 metre gap and simply run. Failing that, they would know to be prepared to defend against a knife attack even AFTER shooting the approaching threat in the chest.
And that's if you can even hit the target. The adrenaline running through your own system would result in a dramatic drop in hand-eye coordination.
The prolonged fist-fights that exist in almost every modern day action film are equally misleading. Most real life fights are resolved within 1 or 2 hits. Not only that, but it only takes a single hit to kill an opponent (Or a drunk, aggressive teenager). Next time you consider showing the arrogant prick at the nightclub who's boss, think of how their family would feel if their son died unexpectedly at a nightclub. Or the 15+ years you would spend in prison.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED, I WONDER, ON ACCOUNT OF MISCONCEPTIONS OF REAL LIFE VIOLENCE.
Now Hollywood didn't set out to completely confuse you about the reality of violence. It's an unintended consequence of entertainment. Film and TV writers want their media to be exciting for the audience. Their priority is often not realism, but entertainment value (And money). It's more exciting for the audience to watch a 5 minute fistfight in a James Bond movie than a purely realistic one in which Mr Bond needs to be airlifted to hospital midway through a mission after taking a knock the head.
Now there is a promising movement away from this kind of extremely unrealistic violence in media. Take Breaking Bad for instance. This show is full of a more realistic version of violence and is one of the most successful shows in TV history. One of the most noticeable aspects of the violence in Breaking Bad is that the audience often gets to see the main characters struggle with the basic logistics of disposing of a corpse.
It could be the case that 50 years from now, the fight scenes from the start of the 21st Century are seen as completely laughable. How ridiculous it is that multiple bad guys can spray machine gun fire, only for Bond to kill them off without being hit by a single bullet. The action films sure were funny back then.
Does the unrealistic portrayal of violence have a negative impact on the real world? Yes. Does it cause the deaths of countless individuals. Absolutely it does.
So how can you personally understand violence better. Well you can start by reading books such as The Little Black Book Of Violence by Rory Miller, a book that goes into full detail about the reality of violence. Learning martial arts can certainly help you to understand the reality of hand to hand combat. But without time as a solider in the army, or a police officer, you simply have to accept that when it comes to violence, you're completely naive.
So back and rethink that fantasy of taking down that arrogant prick in the bar. Because you don't understand real-world violence and neither do I. But as long as you've read this far into the article, you're at least aware of that fact.