I´ve seen many, many videos like the one above. People losing control. Road raging. Throwing tantrums in stores. Match fighting, cock-fighting, testosterone conflict, machismo. whatever your terminology. Generally, all social violence. And they all seem to have one thing in common. A distinct lack of lethality or the will to truly inflict damage on another human-being. Now, there are obviously exceptions to the rule and some social violence has inexplicably turned lethal, though often accidentally or unintentionally. A strike to the back of the head. (Just the right – or wrong – target hit. This recent event in the U.S. involving an airman, for example) (https://www.sportskeeda.com/mma/news-mma-fighter-kills-airman-detailed-account-altercation-ross-johnson-dayton-larry?fbclid=IwAR3qjuk4tvUvHWi776HhvT1LXG3inQLFL2c2SxoDfADGMtqiaW9c0nb0scI) Someone hitting their head on the concrete after getting hit in the head/face first and going down. (Secondary impact) A previous health condition that had not made itself known until the adrenal stresses of conflict. (Tertiary health factors) They, most often, are a byproduct of another element transpiring and are almost never intentional but accidental or incidental lethality.

So why is it that we so often see – via CCTV, Youtube videos, camera takes – people so often looking so uncoordinated, awkward, and inevitably non-dangerous in social violence? That´s a question I´ve asked myself repeatedly through the years and that I have yet to see any science on to this point. But it remains a curiosity to me. And I have a theory.

I´ve come to the conclusion through years of watching videos just like the one above, that the average citizen does not have lethality or great bodily-damage on their mind, nor are most even capable of such. We see it in many videos with 1-on-1 social-violence (fighting) as well, where most generally (again, exceptions-to-rule are applicable) look awkward, uncoordinated, and inevitably non-dangerous when trying to dish out punishment to another equal-footed opponent. Yet conversely we see many survivors of violence doing the right things over-and-over again to facilitate said survival. When shit-hits-the-proverbial-fan, people so often respond with intent, coordination, power, and their own will-to-live to do the things specifically needed to live another day. Of note, that can manifest itself in any number of ways, not just with a physically-violent matching response but with any method needed to perpetuate, well, living. To shamelessly quote SERE training: survival, evasion, resistance, and escape.

It´s a strange anomaly, yet has played out countless times in comparative stories I´ve read or seen. People seem to innately, likely non-consciously, sense the differentiation between ego, testosterone, machismo, territoriality, and show, and a true survival episode. It´s almost as if we have an intrinsic 2nd- and 3rd-gear for when the time calls for real true survival instinct. Now, maybe it´s a good thing that the average civilian that succumbs to road-rage, fit-throwing, tantrum-exuding, or territorialism is not geared to do incredible damage. (driven by emotion) Maybe it´s people showing some kind of internal restraint knowing that the situation does not call for unbridled levels-of-force. Maybe it´s a moral conundrum and most are threat-exhibiting to release their frustration with a given situation or posturing to exude dominance without having to utilize actual aggression or forced that they may be incapable of anyway. Maybe simple lack of full emotional commitment. Whatever the case, this has often led me to ponder on the idea that social violence simply – or not so simply – does not trigger that true survival instinct that occurs with fight-for-life scenarios.

This holds true with my own personal experience and experiences as well. I have, thus far and knock-on-wood, responded far more effectively – calmly, intentionally, motivationally – to asocial violence than I ever have to social violence. During numerous instances of my own personal anecdotal events that involved asocial violence, I have more often than not risen to the occasion with heightened capability. Mind you, the proverbial leash has been off. Knowing that life is hanging in the balance grants a certain liberty of possibilities that one simply doesn´t have in most social situations. One instrinsically knows that a level of restraint to survive the situation is not present nor needed so one can inevitably often operate without the same worry about aftermath that one consciously or non-consciously has during social conflict.

Now, this is not at all to say that people don´t fail when survival is on-the-line. They do. Murders occur. People die. Quite frequently, in fact, and as we all know. But the chances of an intense focus on life with far more heightened capability rears itself when the chips are down. (driven less by emotion than a pure will-to-survive) Now, those with greater experience/s, exposure, immersion, nature, nurture (and the rest of our perceptual filters that we siphon life through) with violence will have an even greater advantage and be able to rise to an exponentially higher level of innate survival skill mechanisms and natural body movement to do what´s necessary to survive (generally people even less driven by emotion that can utilize violence as a tool, notice a trend here with emotion and effectiveness being on opposite ends of the spectrum) – but we´re all capable with even a moment´s notice and utilizing the positive effects of adrenaline on the body. As I mentioned, just a theory at this point, but it has yet to be outright disproved from the hundreds, likely thousands of stories, anecdotes, videos, footage, and such that I´ve witnessed or within the parameters of my own personal history.


  1. I have calmly responded on what could have been violent occasions deescalating or defending well or going what I usually teach others learners: leave the scene unharmed or at least with minimal injuries. I am always thankful for not having to resort to lethality but I believe all of us has the capacity to do so given the right circumstances thus it is my prayer that I don’t have to be lethal when matters can be settled diplomatically. I’m not the best “fighter” around and that the preacher part of me wins over my martial self most of the time. However, while there is this pain threshold that any normal man can endure, I’d say mine would be the tolerance threshold and this I have to be mindful of since I have not reached its limits. I can take hits but certainly not the sight of a family member or friend about to take a hit in front of me.

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