As human beings, we react to situations and in self-defence, this is ever more present.
After all, how many fights have been started by someone shouting an insult followed by …”what did you just call me?”
We are prone to reacting to insults, comments and of course threats.
But this is nothing new, what we need to look at is how we can use this in self-defence situations.
The 3 Stages Of Provocation
If you slap someone you will provoke a response.
And if you have trained with Defence Lab for some time you will know how Andy Norman uses provocation both as a training tool and a self-defence weapon.
But how can you use provocation when faced with real violence?
There are 3 stages that you need to get your head around.
1. Receiving provocation.
2. Giving provocation.
3. The Story
We will walk through each part.
“Your Mrs is a ####”
This is a provoking statement and so is “pay for another drink, now” if you had accidentally bumped into someone at the bar and knocked their drink over.
When you receive a provocation, you are receiving a simple question.
“Do you want to fight me?”
A provocation is very often tied to being an Alpha, a pack leader or simply trying to maintain status in the eyes of peers.
And so, provocation is the fastest route to regaining or maintaining the status of an individual, because if you back down they have won the battle.
And if you challenge them they have had their answer, and from there they will decide if they actually want to fight you.
This is the conversation of violence because their provocation (or question) is not about their intention, it is about them testing their intimidation.
Because intimidation makes people feel strong, it makes them look strong to others and it makes people feel powerful.
As to if they will actually fight, that comes down to a simple issue. Whether the risk of losing the fight is greater than the risk of losing status in their ‘pack’.
The second aspect of provocation we need to address is actually provoking people ourselves.
This is our choice, and it is a choice we make actively.
So, when the person looks at you and says “What are you looking at”
Our reply of “I’m not looking at anything important” is a provocation.
And so, we need to look at our role in conflict.
Is our ego strong enough not to have to try and protect our status in a tribe?
And before you say yes, consider this.
Could you actually stand by and do nothing while a man verbally abused your partner?
Could you bite your lip and walk on by?
Could you buy a man a pint even though he soaked you as he tipped his pint accidentally on you but blamed you and insisted that it was you who was in the wrong?
It is not easy, and I am not saying there is a right way and a wrong way, but we must understand that if we also provoke others, then a situation will spiral out of control until it erupts into violence, one backs down, or the situation is interrupted by a third party.
The last part of how provocation works is the story we tell ourselves.
It is the narrative we use.
For example, Al Capone thought he was the good guy and so will your attacker.
They don’t sit there and think ‘I am in the wrong here’.
They exist to their own code of ethics, and this might be far removed from yours.
So, what can you do?
The only thing you can do is to change your story.
Are you a person who reacts easily to threats, or are you a calm person that looks for peace first?
Because how you decide on your narrative now, will dictate how you react tomorrow.
I have been called every name under the son, been told I will be killed that week, my house broken into and vile things will happen to my kids.
But on each occasion, I was being provoked, and I knew this.
To respond would be to have been controlled by them and I would let no one do this to me.
And so, you too have an option, in your story how do you react to threats?
But before you answer let me tell you about the sharks.
One diver once said this:
“When you dive with big sharks – and I’ve dived with tiger, bull and great hammerhead, among others – it’s surprising how uninterested they are in you.”
They aren’t interested because the diver wasn’t a threat, and if you train hard and are able to land powerful strikes, it is incredible how unthreatening people can be.