De-escalation – its importance – and why it’s a bastard to get to grips with.

A lot of people who read this will, I am sure, agree that avoidance is a lot less messy in the grand scheme of things than getting dragged into the sort of shit we ultimately have very little control over. But we’re all human, and we all see red when the right buttons get pushed.
I’m a nice guy. I mean no harm to fucking anyone and I like people, but when some big smarmy looking fuck nearly runs me and my motorbike off the road and then spits in my face, I’m as human as the next guy in wanting to sort the fucker. This happened one morning a couple of years back. My visor was down so he didn’t actually get my face but you get the picture. I wanted to teach the bastard a lesson. So I ended up following the prick down a lane way, where it very nearly kicked off, but didn’t. At the very last minute my training kicked in. I took a look around, saw that the environment was becoming increasingly conducive to hospital or prison for one or both of us, and walked away – but I felt like shit.
That was my ego. My inner caveman, what Freud called my Id, wanted me to mimic Vinny Jones smashing your man’s head with a van door. Forty-five years of conditioning was calling me a cowardly bastard for walking away – real schoolyard stuff was going on in my head.
But with hindsight, this wasn’t a schoolyard. This was a back alley where some scumbag had stepped out of his van to put it up to me. Who or what did he have in the van? Fuck knows – but you get the picture. I could have ended up in a really bad way – then there are the ripples… My wife, kids, my job, my freedom, or my life for fuck’s sake…
Over a long career in a previous life as a Motorcycle Courier this shit used to happen a lot more regularly. The lads I worked with would exchange war stories of road rage in the boozer or the office. I really used to struggle with some of the shit that went on with other drivers. I ended up in chases that lasted for several miles – followed people – got rammed deliberately by a fucking gorilla in pick-up truck – but hey! Such is life. Whatever walk of it you’re in its coming at you one way or another.
Anyway – to the point. In more recent years I’ve done a lot of de-escalation/ verbal diffusion training with Senshido. I’m not going to say it’s a panacea for the perpetual failings of the human ego, but I get it. A lot of the philosophical side to it I was getting with anyway, over time. I gradually came to the conclusion that trouble the like of which I invited by following that muppet down the laneway is best seen in the rear-view mirror of your life. Of that there is no doubt. But convincing Captain Cavemen when the shit hits the fan is altogether another thing – it takes time, patience, and practice.
But as said, I’m not some suddenly enlightened paragon of wisdom – neither are any of us. That’s why I think the de-escalation training is so pivotal. But like all training it can become second nature to some, a lot more difficult for others, but at the end of the day – it could be the difference between life and death. Just because you want to rip somebody’s head off doesn’t mean he or she is going to roll over and let you, but do you really need the grief? Your call – I’m not here to lecture.
But personally, I can’t rate de-escalation/ verbal diffusion training highly enough. I know at a cognitive level that I’ve got nothing to prove to anybody, but I’m still a young lad at heart – a potential human tinderbox, with an ego as fragile and dangerous as the best of them. I wrote a piece a couple of years back on the importance of overcoming ego (read it here). The ability to do so renders the type of upper hand if things do kick off that very few systems train their members in.
Having said all this, however, there are times in life when we get confronted by people that the fucking Dalai Lama couldn’t de-escalate. There are situations when it’s going to get messy. I fucking hate them. Anyone who has trained with us in Ireland will no doubt be aware of the concepts of ‘dice-loading’ that we drill and learn to execute under extreme pressures. I’m not going into them here as I’m sure most of you are familiar with them. If you are not then I apologise, but at the end of the day, writing like this is academic, shit happening on the street is not. I’d recommend getting to a Senshido class at some stage.
That’s about it. De-escalation / verbal diffusion is not the most glamorous of topics. It’s a bit like when the cops get stick for there being so many gangland crimes. They often respond by saying that the ones whose plans never come to fruition as a result of effective intelligence vastly outnumber the ones that make the headlines. De-escalation is a bit like that, and is very fucking worthy.

Derek.