Violence Dynamics: The Monkey Dance

One of the things I like about Rory Miller’s writing is how he describes violence.  There are different types of violence, and they require different responses.  Just knowing that isn’t sufficient, but it’s a necessary first step.

His new article goes into some detail on one of the more common types of social violence, the Monkey Dance.  Everyone has seen it, and if you were a young man at some point, I’m 100% confident you’ve personally been in the middle of it.  As common as this may be,  it’s still good material to read and understand “academically”.  Knowing it helps you recognize it (easy to recognize when you’re outside the situation, less so when you’re in the middle of it), and if you recognize it you can avoid it easily.  If you’re a martial artist, just consider this part of your training.

A small excerpt:

This human dominance game, the Monkey Dance, follows specific steps.  You have all seen it:

  1. A hard, aggressive stare.
  2. A verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?”
  3. An approach, often with the signs of increased adrenaline: gross motor activity of arm swinging or chest bobbing, a change in color, usually with the skin flushing.
  4. As the two square-off, there may be more verbal exchanges and then one will make contact. It will usually be a two-handed push on the chest or an index finger to the chest. If it is an index finger to the nose it will go immediately to step No. 5. If there is no face contact, this step can be repeated many times until one of the dancers throws
  5. A big, looping over-hand punch.

This description is simplified and shows only one side. It must be emphasized that there have been thousands of generations conditioned to play this game in this way. It is easy to get sucked in and a very difficult thing to walk away. Backing down from a Monkey Dance, unless you take or are given a face-saving out, is extremely difficult and embarrassing, especially for young men.

I consider this necessary information for those interested in self-protection.  It’s not a long article, so read the whole thing: Violence Dynamics.

Speaking of Rory, I’ll be at his seminar this weekend.  Like usual, I’m sure he’ll have lots of material I can bring back and share in class.  I don’t know if there’s still room, but info can be found here: Real World Drills.

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