Strategy or Tapping into Anger?

Instructors in women’s self-defense courses often tell their trainees to tap into their “anger” when they are assaulted. This has always struck me as condescending and sexist as well as counter-productive. In trainings with primarily male participants, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that we rely on rage or any other strong emotion to counter-attack. Instead the emphasis is usually on reacting strategically.

Once a counter-attack is your safest option, a strategic mind-set serves you better than one hi-jacked by anger. Learning to see vulnerable, accessible targets and to use your natural and improvised weapons efficiently and effectively generally protects you better than rage.

Using intuition strategically is different from being fueled by anger when counter-attacking. Being able to access and react to your body sensations and your emotions, like disgust, fear, or unease, is important to increase your safety and to recognize, reduce, and avoid threats. But once you are at a point where you need to fight back, strategy will probably serve you better.

And in most encounters, it can be helpful to strive for “the cold face.” This is what the Mongols called a facial expression of a person who had mastered strategy and showed no emotion when dealing with aggression.

The Mongols

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