What is your duty as a human being?
While I don’t typically discuss tactics or mindset, I do like to read about it. To this day, I think one of the best mindset posts I have read was written by George Demetriou. George is a career law enforcement officer that has taught officer tactics and survival for over 20 years.
George posted the piece below back in February 2011 when the story of Gurkha soldier, Bishnu Shrestha, who fought off 40 armed robbers and attempted rapists, first broke. He was armed only with a knife and this story was covered in the international media and is far better known today. It shows the best attributes of a warrior; selflessness, bravery, courage and performance under fire.
Fortune Favors The Brave….Even When Outnumbered
By George Demetriou
We firmly believe that the ability to physically (and mentally) defend yourself or another falls under the category of human performance.
One of our favorite subdivisions of self-defense is the options available when attacked by more than one attacker. This is either a topic that (A) you have never considered, (B) believe that fighting more than one person at a time is a silly notion, impossible and pure fantasy, or (C) have considered it because, while you don’t want it to happen, you realize that violent crime is often committed by more than one assailant.
Having trained in martial arts that are specific to reality self-defense as well as combat sports, we are often amused by the opinions expressed by both sides. The reality guys say combat sports don’t offer what you need to defend yourself in a “real” fight and the sport guys say the reality guys don’t train against actual resisting opponents. The intelligent members of both camps make excellent points and good arguments. We believe both camps are right on some things and wrong on others.
One of the arguments from the combat sport camp is that it is difficult enough to defeat one fighter therefore impossible to defeat more than one. This is absolutely true in certain contexts such as fighting in the ring or cage or most mutually agreed upon fights. The combat sport guys think in terms of trained fighters because that’s their world. The prism of the combat sport fighter is a fight based on skill, technique, experience and conditioning. The problem with this thinking is that the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are not trained, skilled fighters looking for a challenge or mutual agreement. They look for the “weakest gazelle in the herd”. This doesn’t mean they are not dangerous. It means the violent criminal is dangerous because his will to injure, maim or kill is usually stronger than that of his victims. They use violence of action, surprise and careful choosing of a victim. They target those who they believe incapable of putting up a fight. It also means that when events are not going according to their plan bad guys will look to bail as opposed to getting injured or getting caught. They don’t think in terms of winning or losing. They think about imposing their will and surviving without going to jail.
Just to be clear we’re not speaking about pre-arranged street fights or any fight where there is mutual agreement to fight. We’re speaking in the context of being attacked while minding your own business. Winning a multiple assailant encounter means avoiding it, running from it or doing enough damage that the violent criminal actors (VCAs) don’t wish to continue any further.
The multiple assailant encounter is fought psychologically as much, if not more so, than physically. What does this mean? To further explain I will refer to a recent incident: Lone Nepali Gorkha Who Subdued 40 Train Robbers-Bishnu Shrestha .
Before reading the link from the Times Of India we must define some terms and make some comments:
1) The word is Gurkha not Gorkha. The Gurkhas are soldiers from Nepal that serve in the British Military. The Gurkhas have done so since 1815. They have a very fierce reputation.
2) The Gurkha motto is “Better To Die Than To Be A Coward”.
3) The Gurkhas are trained with a special knife called a Kukri. The Kukri is intimidating upon sight. Wielded by someone skilled it is downright frightening.
4) A Decoit is a robber or a thief.
5) Bishnu Shrestha is a Gurkha, retired and the hero of the story.
The title is misleading as Bishnu Shrestha did not “subdue” 40 robbers. Shrestha was on a train on his way home, in India, when a gang of 40 robbers(decoits) set upon the passengers taking whatever they could. Shrestha gave up his own property without incident. Smart man. Discretion is the better part of valor when completely outnumbered and out-weaponed. The robbers were armed with edged weapons and guns. No shots were fired so it’s unclear whether or not those guns were real, unloaded, not functioning or whatever.
An 18 year old girl traveling with her parents, sitting near Shrestha, was physically attacked. The robbers began ripping her clothes off while her parents stood by in fear for their lives and feeling helpless. This is the point that Bishnu Shrestha, the Gurkha, switched on. Robbery is one thing, rape, a whole different story.
Shrestha drew his kukri and attacked as he’d been trained. Shrestha went directly to the robbers who were about to become rapists. There was no thought of self. No thought about how he would fare psychologically when it was over. No thought about legal repercussions and no thought of being wounded or killed. Better to die than be a coward.
Shrestha killed three of the robbers and injured eight. The other 29 VCAs ran. Perhaps they ran not to get caught. Perhaps it was the sight of the Gurkha swinging the kukri and the desire not to be the next one hacked to death. The point is they ran and the girl, her parents and the rest of the travelers were saved by one brave soul.
The take home lessons:
* Once he decided to take action Shrestha took action. He didn’t try to pull the VCAs off the girl. He didn’t ry to talk them into seeing the errors of their ways. He killed with extreme prejudice. When you dramatically, badly injure or kill violent criminal actors their friends lose the most important element they have: their will.The gang begins to break down as soon as they start taking casualties.Shrestha believes the VCAs believed there may have been more Gurkhas. I don’t think so. We believe the other VCAs didn’t want to be “next”. Robbers who attack in groups are cowards at their core. If they were brave they would travel alone or have real jobs. When you witness one man with a weapon causing your friends to sustain horrendous injuries it’s difficult to keep up the tough guy facade. The other bad guys were forced to make a decision: risk a kukri blade chopped into their neck or run. Most bad guys, when faced with the possibility of serious injury or death, will choose the run option.
* Having a reliable weapon, training and skill go a long way in making the event go in your favor.
* The environment favored one person. How wide could the aisles of the train be? How many VCAs could get to the Gurkha at one time? The environment probably worked to Shrestha’s advantage. The whole group probably couldn’t get to him at one time. An aisle in a public transporter has the same effect as the use of Thermopylae against the Persians by the Spartans. There’s not enough space for all the bad guys to get through at once making the assailants easier to manage.
* When Shrestha waded into the crowd of VCAs they had to be shocked. How do we know? Criminals don’t attack when they are not sure what the reaction of the crowd will be. They were confidant because nobody fought them while they were forcibly stealing property. Bad mistake decoits! Shrestha caused the predators to realize they had become prey!
* Fighting in a life and death event is not math. Not all aspects of the encounter add up. It is difficult to quantify the human spirit, motivation, bravery, preparation and good fortune. Good thing Shrestha was unaware that it is impossible to defeat multiple assailants.
* Shrestha “defeated” 40 robbers because he did an incredible amount of damage to 11 of them. He didn’t have to fight 40. He technically didn’t have to fight any of them. To paraphrase combatives trainer and former Marine, Kelly McCann, “combatives is something you do to a person, not with a person”. When attacked one must counter-attack with unbridled ferocity. You don’t need to warn the bad guys that you are about to take action. You don’t want give and take. You only want give. Causing massive damage early in the confrontation facilitates ending the fight sooner and not having to go up against the whole gang.
* Shrestha said it best: “Fighting the enemy in battle is my duty as a soldier; taking on the dacoits in the train was my duty as a human being”. Beautiful! That attitude alone will carry one well into any battle.
* Fortune favors the brave. Especially when the bravery is born of a long, proud military history and tradition. Especially when the bravery is backed by military professionalism. Especially when the bravery is combined with having a good weapon and the skill to use it.
* Cold Steel offers a decent Kukri. We only know of one man who trained others to use the kukri, but he is retired from teaching.
Do you believe you have a “duty as a human being” to stop a gang-rape in progress right in front of you?
What would you do if you came upon a young lady being raped by a gang?
What would you do if it was your daughter?
What if you were unarmed?
What are you prepared to do against violent criminal actors who choose you as prey?
What if you’re with your family or friends who can’t run?
George is the owner of Spartan Performance located in Suffolk County, New York.
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