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The Mystery of the Broken Nose

Tim Larkin 12-17

broken noseConsider for a moment the man with a freshly broken nose:  his head explodes with blinding light; vision, breathing, movement, thought all suddenly interrupted.  The physics of the collision move him in unintended ways, the body reflexively yanks the head away from the offending thing.  Intent is shattered, if only for a moment, and chaos reigns.

Injury is the alpha and omega of violence; it’s where it starts and ends, where things get simultaneously interesting and academic.  Interesting because of the dramatic state-change that occurs within the injured man—where he was once strong and assured he is now crippled and confused.  Academic because while it’s a difficult thing to best a man in the ring it’s nothing to take him while he’s lying in the street with a broken leg.

If we enter the worst day of your life, where your existence has bottlenecked down to the moment of violence—where you will either win and live or lose and die—everything is wild and undecided until that first real injury.  The thought of going there, being there, at that moment, is terrifying and compels us to either prepare or to push the thought away and hope for the best.  But what if you could be there just as that nose breaks, as all his power and drive are turned aside and he is rendered momentarily blind and insensate?  It would be a simple thing to injure him again.  And again.

This is why we start with debilitating injury—not with moves, techniques, stances or theory.  Violence begins and ends with ruined anatomy and any training that does not start there is useless for survival.  In the end it doesn’t matter what broke the nose:  a fist, a boot, the heel of a hand or the edge of a doorframe.  It’s the fact that it’s ruined, taking vision and thought with it, that matters.

What ends things decisively in your favor in a firefight?  A bullet in the heart, a bullet in the brain.  Anything less is sloppy and exposes you to risk.  So how do we train for that outcome?  By always working toward accuracy first—one round at a time down range, adjusting for each mistake until we can put a bullet where it matters.  We do not focus on things that have no bearing on where the round goes:  the color of the grip, the style of the case we brought it to the range in, what kind of shoes we’re wearing.  We also eschew the spray-and-pray mentality, the starting point of those who have no real idea of how to achieve success with firearms.  All useful training with firearms is done in the service of accuracy because that’s the only way to attain useful results with the tool.

And so it is with your bare hands and boots.  If you’re training to “do a move” or to counter the moves he’s making—in short, to get into a fight with him—you’re focusing on the things that don’t matter.  Instead of seeing a contest where everybody gets to take turns you need to turn the whole affair inside out.

Instead of worrying about:

How do I keep him from hurting me? AND…

How do I fight back?

Make him worry about those things by focusing on:

How am I going to hurt him? AND…

How will I hurt him next?

It all starts with the broken nose—or the torn eyeball, the ruptured groin.  All training that is useful must start and end there.

There is only one way in which the nose breaks:  by being subjected to forces that exceed its elasticity.  While there are myriads of ways to get that work done, with everything from elbows to concrete, the result is the only thing that matters—just as while there are many different firearms a bullet through the brain from any of them is functionally the same.  The merit of all these things lies in their ability to ruin anatomy, in form following function, not form for the sake of show or style.

This is the reality that informs our training.  We go after a result—blindness, inability to breathe, loss of consciousness, etc.—in short, to interrupt his ability to think and move.  All considerations for how we move and what we do stem from this end result.  We don’t wade in with a flurry of blows and hope that something connects; instead we break one thing because everything else flows from that.  We break one thing to install ourselves in that moment of time where everything changes in our favor, opening up that bottleneck by uncorking his nose from his face—and ultimately his wits from his skull.

NOTE:  The broken nose, as a target, is really just the means to a concussion, as are all the various targets of the head, save perhaps the eye.  In breaking the nose we seek to move the head violently and bruise the brain as well.  And if not, then we create a moment of helplessness in which to get to work finishing the process.

–Chris Ranck-Buhr TFT Master Instructor


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