How To Prevent Fights From Starting



Andy Norman shared a great video on Facebook the other day.

I say ‘great’ about the learning points not about a man getting beaten up.

But in case you aren’t friends with or following Andy here is the video:


So we had a lot of people talk and give their views on the incident but let’s break it down today.


What Happened?

If you read the comments on Facebook and also YouTube, it appears that the headline has dictated a shared viewpoint.

The headline is:

“Dad tries to defend son from bullies and gets beaten up himself.”

In truth what seems to have happened is that the Dad has already hit someone who he thought was beating up his son (but wasn’t).

You hear the Dad say “it was a mistake” when he gets asked why he hit him and ‘what would you do if it was your kid.’

So this seems like an angry mob attacked a guy who had just hit a kid.

It doesn’t make what happened right, but it does change the dynamic.

It also shows that even when watching a simple video we process things based on limited facts, and this is exactly what happens in real life.

In this video, we believe a headline without knowing the full picture, and in every situation in life this is the same, people jump to conclusions faster than Barry Allen can get home for lunch (Flash joke folks, for those who aren’t comic geeks like me).

So now we know what happened let’s look at the learning issues.


Never Start A Fight You Cannot Win

We all like to think we are better fighters than we actually are.

And we all see ourselves winning every encounter we can imagine.

Well, when we start to age, pile on a few pounds, spend more time watching Netflix (and less chilling) we stop being the Alpha male or female, we become Mums and Dads.

This is nothing to be ashamed of; age catches up with all of us.

What you need to do is have a long drink of ‘wake the f##k up.’

While in your 20’s and  30’s you might have been able to kick down a Banana Tree like Jean Claude Van Damme, but today you are more likely to spend your time pruning Bonsai trees like Mr Miyagi.

Now is not to say you cannot throw some heavy punches like you used to because the last thing to go is always the punch.

You just need to realise that you are no longer a young Luke Skywalker, you are now an Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness version).

So you need to fight battles you can win and fighting a mob of teenage males is not likely to be amongst them.


Understanding Tension

Tension is the number 1 reason people end up fighting.

In this scenario, the Dad has jumped in to protect his son, and it seems used his fists to hit someone he thought was hurting his boy.

Regardless of if this was or was not the case, the father’s intervention has increased the tension, and this has to be released somehow.

Tension is a strange beast.

But once we add tension to a human situation it becomes tough to reduce without causing conflict.

If we take an average situation, you are with friends, and someone says “ I find what you said offensive’.

Suddenly you can cut the tension with a knife!

We even say ‘you could feel the tension in the air’ to describe some circumstances.

And yet we rarely consider how tension applies to self-defence.

So in this video what did the father try and do to reduce the tension?

He was passive, said he made a mistake, surely that counts?


In the video, he adds to the tension after admitting he was wrong.


He says; ‘what would you do if it was your kid?’

Now firstly the guy he is speaking to seems like a teenager so he probably can’t even have empathy for this situation, but in any case, rather than reduce tension he is actually saying.

“Hey, I was not wrong, I did the right thing, so shut up.”

It is subtle, really subtle but these words are what aggravate the crowd and lead to the beating.

OK so, enough about him, how can you use tension to your advantage?


How To Use Tension To Stop Any Attack

We can find tension and the need for its release to be at the heart of any physical attack. From sexually related crime to robbery.

The rapist who is looking for sexual gratification needs to commit the sexual crime to release the inner tension.

The rapist who wants to feel in control needs to release the tension that comes from feeling out of control.

The crack addict who is feeling the tension of withdrawal needs to commit a robbery to reduce that tension inside.

The gang member who wants to increase his status feels the tension from being seen as weaker by his peers and as such seeks to murder someone to reduce that tension.

And yes the thug who wants to be seen as ‘tough’ feels the tension from not hurting anyone. To him, he must beat someone up to relieve the inner tension burning inside.

Tension explains a lot.

So how can you use it?

Well, you can either increase tension or choose to reduce it.

Simple eh.

Wait there’s more to it.

When an attacker comes to you or engages with you, at this point you MUST look to either reduce the tension or increase it, but how and why?


Increasing tension:

We live in a world of laws and self-defence is based on those, so perhaps you want the attacker to throw a strike at you to justify  your use of force (I am not judging morals here folks, just offering solutions)

Many attackers are too afraid to strike you and want you to attack them first. This goes back to the ‘he hit me first’ stuff in schools.

So they verbally barrage you with abuse in the hope you will give them an invite:

“Your Mrs is a ####” might get shouted at you from across the street.

They added the tension.

How you deal with this now dictates what happens next.

You might choose to approach them (increasing the tension)

Or ignore them (reducing the tension).

It is your choice.

In a recent road rage incident a few weeks ago, a guy threatened to get out of his car, so I told him to get out.

I purposefully increased the tension.


Reducing Tension:

So how do we reduce the tension and avoid any attack?

Well depending on the situation/ motivation it can be difficult, but TENSION SHIFT is a way.

For example, a woman fighting back against a sexual attacker may shift the tension from one of being sexually gratified to being caught.

This is why fighting back even just a little could stop rapists.

Their priorities change mid incident.

I used to TENSION SHIFT a lot when I was a police officer dealing with an angry person.

I would say things like ‘your kids watching, they don’t want to see you fight a police officer, or see you in handcuffs’.

This one comment shifted the tension from regaining status by fighting me, to worrying about losing status in the mind of his child.

Powerful stuff.

Other ways you can reduce tension is to ‘make amends’ even if you are in the right.

For example, a man bumps into and spills his drink, he gets angry, and you can either ‘increase tension’ by telling him where to get off or reduce tension by saying sorry and buying him a pint (of note I have done the latter).

One of the best ways to reduce tension is to walk away.

Simple and practical.

So what could the Dad in the fight video have done to reduce tension?

Easy, said sorry and got into the car with his son and drove off.

Now that is what he should have done if he wanted to reduce ‘tension’.

Hanging around trying to justify yourself to angry people is a lot like trying to win an argument on facebook about Martial Arts.

It just keeps making people angry!



Tension is a key part of self-defence situations, and if you can learn to both spot and deal with tension, you are halfway to winning the battle.

Thanks for reading