Throughout history, one of the things that warrior cultures have had in common is that of a battle cry. Spartans, the Roman Legions, Templars, Byzantine kataphraktoi, right down to the Johnny Rebs of the Confederate South, fighters of all shapes, sizes, and organization have utilized the sound of their voice to aid in their military tactics and their morale.
Lt. Col David Grossman, psychologist on warfare and killing, and author of several books, lists a battle cry as an historical manifestation of a more complex matrix of the “fight or flight” instinct. In his groundbreaking book, On Killing, Grossman lists intimidation tactics such as this as a soft version of the “fight” instinct. Combatants seek to avoid a fight by posturing in such a manner that causes their enemy to submit.
This week, I’d like to touch on the actual, literal ways in which it is vital we see our voice as a weapon if we are in danger. For individuals training for self-protection against a violent encounter, verbalization while you are defending yourself has immense value. Imagine yourself walking to your car after a long, stressful day of work. You are looking forward to nothing more than a good meal, your favorite TV show, and an early night to bed. But when you see your car, you see three young men surrounding it. Worse, they see you. They start to approach you, spreading out as they do to flank you. Because of your training, you know you’re going to have to fight. But what do you say during the actual confrontation?
Without getting into intricate details, my suggestion is to say anything. “Get back” works, as do a lot of other things. Most any strong command to stop would work as long as it’s loud, angry, and repeated. Here are a few reasons why this is so important:
So, your voice is a weapon. It can work for you in a violent confrontation if you make it a part of your training. Next week, as in many of my other posts, I’ll be expanding on this idea for the more general “assaults” we all face throughout the course of our life.
For more on Lt. Col Dave Grossman and his research, click here.