Book Review: “Facing Violence”

Many people study self-defense. Some study it as part of their martial arts training and others take classes or seminars devoted just to self-defense. What happens often in these settings is you are shown that “if the attacker grabs you by the throat you do a palm heel to his face followed by a kick to the groin”. All good as knowing various techniques for a given situation can be helpful. How often though do these same classes talk about the legal issues? How to avoid such situations? What do you do if you are ambushed? The answer tends to be not very often if at all.

To address this situation Rory Miller has released a book called “Facing Violence”. To begin to have complete training in self-defense Rory states that seven elements have to be addressed, which he does in seven chapters

  1. Legal and Ethical
  2. Violence Dynamics
  3. Avoidance
  4. Counter-Ambush
  5. The Freeze
  6. The Fight
  7. After

You should notice that “The Fight”, what the majority of people train for in self-defense, doesn’t take place to chapter 6. Have you ever discussed legal and ethical issues in your training? Have you ever discussed or trained in any of the areas other then “the fight”? If not, stop and think about your training for a few minutes.

I won’t go into a breakdown on each chapter. If you are looking for then read Jake Steinmann’s review over on An Honest Philosophy. Instead I’ve speak on a couple of chapters that really stuck out for me.

First the chapter on avoidance, which is highly neglected area in most self-defense training. From talking about absence (i.e. not being there to start), escape and evasion, to de-escalation, Rory covers a lot of material. One of the best parts was on how to scan a room upon entering. This is actually the one chapter that makes me suggest the book to everyone, even those that don’t study or have an interest in self-defense, just a lot of good information.

The last chapter on After deals with the subject just as it sounds, what happens after the fight? What should you do? What could happen to you? What could be running through your mind? This chapter made me stop and go “Hmm” more then any other. Again this is one of those areas that rarely gets talked about in self-defense training but should. Heaven forbid you ever act in self-defense and end up serious hurting or killing someone, you should have an idea of what could happen to you legally and emotionally.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, much like I did his first one “Meditations on Violence” (a must read book). Rory has a writing style that I find enjoyable to read, offers tons of good information, and I find it ties in nicely with the training I’ve received from Tony Blauer and my karate instructor Rich Pelletier. If your training involves anywhere around self-defense, either as an instructor or student, then this book should be on your required reading list. You can purchase Facing Violence from one of these locations:


Barnes and Noble


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