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When Violence Happens To One Of Our Own…

Tim Larkin 12-17

When Violence HappensHave you ever wondered what you would do, how you’d react, if you were suddenly face-to-face with a potentially violent predator?

Would your training instantaneously be there for you during those “critical 5 Seconds” you’ve got when violence goes down and the hot flash of fear fills your mind and body?

Recently one of our own faced that fear.

Shawna has been a longtime advocate of TFT who has trained in our system for several years, and currently works in our customer service group.

Here’s what Shawna wrote shortly after the incident: ==========

“Monday about 4:15PM my son, Johnny and I were settling down to watch a movie. He sat on one couch and I laid down on the other. The one I was on has its back facing the dining area and patio. I was almost asleep. My dog started barking and I heard the patio door blow open from the wind. I glanced over to Johnny to ask him to go close the door and his eyes were very wide. I jumped up and turned around and there was a man standing not more than six feet away from me in my dining room. I charged him and he moved quickly backwards away from me and backed out the door. I was yelling at him to get out the whole time. He made it outside and then tried to jump over the balcony but then decided to turn back around to come back in. I went after him again and he jumped over the railing. I stepped inside and locked the door and turned around just in time to hear him try to get in through the front door. He was pounding and pounding on the door and the whole thing was moving, like he was using his entire body to break it down. I ran to the door and put my weight into it to keep it from opening, in case the lock broke. I was yelling at my son to call 911. He was quickly on the phone with them. When the pounding stopped I ran to my room remembering the patio door to my room, and making sure it was locked. I grabbed my gun and ran to the front door, aiming. I was then on the phone with 911. They stayed on the phone with me until the police arrived. “When they got there the officers took my statement. Apparently the same guy was moving through the area trying to get into other apartments. A couple hours later the police called me to say that they caught the guy. They took me to identify him. They said he was heavily drugged and completely out of his mind.

“I am still shaking but it’s very interesting to me what happened mentally as the events unfolded. When I saw the look on my son’s face I was afraid to turn around. But once I turned and saw a man in my house… that is all I saw. Nothing else was around.

“What prompted me to charge him I can only say was my TFT training because charging danger is not my nature. I did not think one thought, I just moved. There was NO hesitation. What I wonder is why did I do nothing but move towards him until he left? After he left, my mouth went completely dry, it was hard for me to swallow and I had trouble talking. My tongue was sticking to my entire mouth. It’s been three hours and I’m still shaking.

“But strangely, I’m not afraid.”


As word of what happened to Shawna spread we received many comments from both TFT instructors and others in our group. We’ll touch on more of these later but here were mine and Chris’:

From TFT Founder & Creator, Tim Larkin:

“By doing what you did you protected yourself and your son, which is exactly what self-protection is all about! By you going toward him you did something that is counter intuitive to more than 99% of people on the planet, and is what got him out of your house, and kept you and Johnny out of harm’s way. You put him in the victim role, not you!

“You took advantage of the guy backing out the door (which you caused him to do) by closing and locking it, which further reduced the risk to you and Johnny. This is what I call the intelligent use of force. Why engage the “enemy” and risk injury and exposure to both you and Johnny? What if you had engaged him physically (front door open), and while doing this his 3 other buddies rushed your house – you would have then been dealing with 4 guys.

“You and Johnny are safe, and the guy is in custody. To do what you did took courage, strength, and the ability to perform effectively in a potentially lethal situation.”

From Chris Ranck-Buhr:

I cannot think of a better outcome—her direct action changed the mind of a predator, without anyone getting hurt, or worse. And her experience underscores exactly how the training works in mitigating and channeling the biological facts of fear while sidestepping psychological panic.

There is nothing we can do about the biology of fear, nor would we want to—it’s the body’s natural mechanism for preparing you for action, whether it’s fight or flight. But it’s what happens next where most people get steamrollered by the combination of biological fear and a lack of preparation. The brain goes looking for information on what’s happening: Have we seen this before? Do we have a plan? How do we execute that plan? When the answer is no, no and OHMYGODIHAVENOIDEA we move from the sensations of biological fear into the black jagged glass of psychological panic. When we have no information on what to do next, we lose our heads or freeze up.

From Shawna’s account we know she felt the sensations of biological fear, and even a moment of unreality as her startled mind went looking for answers—and found them.

She had seen this before.

She had a plan.

She knew how to set that plan in motion.

She had done this all in training, on the mats; she had considered it, looked at another person as a threat that could be broken, then dove in to get that work done. Panic was forestalled by actionable knowledge and practice. Her training took over and she went after him as a fellow predator.

This is not what criminal predators expect, especially when they believe that they’re the ones calling the shots, stepping into the everyday, unexpected and unheralded, to use the twin whips of fear and panic to control everyone else there. And beyond simple presence they’ll use violence to take everything else.

But first and foremost they expect not a fight, but capitulation.

But Shawna didn’t behave like prey. She took the initiative from him and charged to do harm. This is why he backpedaled without thought—it was nothing he planned for and was completely unexpected. If she had given ground, given him power over her, he would have stepped forward into that expected void. Instead, she moved to hurt him.

Now, what if he hadn’t been a casual (and perhaps accidental) predator, but a calculating one? Then Shawna was on equal footing—if he expected to close and injure her, she expected to do the same. One of them would get it right and win. This is the reality of life-or-death violence that we directly confront and train for—and training is where her second advantage would lie (the first one being surprise). She’s spent hours on the mats practicing for this, working problems that end in injury, clawing her way back to the rest of her life one broken anatomical feature at a time.

My money’s on her, fueled by fight-or-flight, unhampered by panic, executing a flexible plan she’s worked through a thousand times, a thousand different ways, before. Not invincible, but prepared.

We’ll never know why he was there, or what he intended to do. We’ll never know what might have been—all we have is what happened, the best possible outcome for everyone involved because Shawna was prepared.

This is why we train in the system we call TFT. This is why everyone should train.

–Chris Ranck-Buhr TFT Master Instructor




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