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I know people call it a force continuum, but it is not really a continuum. You can go from body language to lethal force if the first doesn’t work and the threat is that severe. It doesn’t always happen that way, but you have to be able to go from what’s not working to what will work, not from level to level like rungs on a ladder.

eJournal: Nor must we start at the very lowest level. We are allowed to counter with the minimum force needed to stop the threat.

Kane: Exactly. You want to use the lowest level of force that stops the threat, but if it doesn’t, then you use a higher level immediately. But with guns, the challenge is that you wouldn’t be actually shooting until you were under immediate, or imminent threat, which means unless you have pretty good reflexes, you are probably already hurt. Statistically a little over half of all gunfights happen within five feet. If you are that close, stuff is going really bad, really fast, and that is the hard thing that you have to be able to overcome. That is what training is for, but training always has a flaw so that you can come out of it without being seriously injured. The instructors do not always clearly explain what that flaw is. It is really important that you know what it is that you are doing for safety that makes the drill unrealistic. Frequently, you are reducing the speed, or using a pretend weapon that is padded, right? In some scenario training, the good guy always wins no matter what because of the psychological aspect of the training. Well, you have got to know what that flaw is, because if you don’t know, you are not going to overcome the flaw.

I was at a football game with a friend who is a karaté instructor when he accidentally spilled beer on a lady whose boyfriend came up swinging.

My friend check-blocked the boyfriend’s punch and threw a back fist with blinding speed, which stopped just as he touched the guy’s nose. Shocked, the boyfriend backed off and apologized. Afterwards, as we walked out I told him it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Chagrined he said, “I screwed up. I’m just so used to sparring with my students that I pulled it automatically.” Fortunately, it worked and the guy stopped, but, he said, “If the guy was really intent on crushing me, he could have, because I was so used to pulling the blows. I have got to start training differently because it is engrained in me not to actually hit somebody.”

In some of the drills that Rory and I wrote about in the book, you are doing the real thing, you are just doing it really, really slowly so that you are not training yourself to pull the blow, but you know that you would have to go faster. So you need to know what the flaw is in your training and the key is to be prepared to get around it to make that training actually be implementable in real life.

eJournal: I entirely agree, but would caution that seeing beyond our blind spots is the hardest thing to do. That’s why we read your books, to have those problem areas pointed out along with guidance on how to better prepare ourselves to survive.

Kane: You’re right. The reason we wrote Scaling Force is that you intuitively understand that you have to deal with different types of violence at different levels but no one had ever put it on paper before in this way. A lot of people will give lip service to the concepts of awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, and the like. I think everybody knows how important those things are, but few delve into the details.