Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chaka Zulu will kill you

Last week, Somaserious posted a pretty good video featuring Chaka Zulu. One of the things that really caught my attention in this video was his understanding and use of the concept of the ladder of force. Chaka Zulu said (and I paraphrase)…
“If you attack me, I will go into the fight with the intent to kill you. Then, if I see that I don’t have to kill you I will de-escalate. You have to do it this way because you don’t have time in a fight to go the other way, escalating from evasion to control to injuring to killing intent.”
This appears to go against the typical thoughts on ladder of force, that you evade before you control, control before you injure, injure before you kill… But Chaka Zulu has a valid and interesting justification for his understanding – the time it takes to escalate vs. de-escalate and the potential consequences.
So, what do you think is more appropriate in ‘typical’ conflicts, escalate toward an appropriate level of force or de-escalate toward an appropriate level of force?
BTW: Nathan at TDA posted a related article almost simultaneously with this one. Check it out.


  1. Would you rather kill by accident, or be killed by accident? That would be the question if both parties possessed equal defensive and offensive power.

    For a skilled martial artist, the question might shift to: would you rather risk killing an innocent, or being injured by an enemy?

    The "benefits" of a pre-emptive war doctrine are more obvious than its costs.

  2. You answered my tough question with two tougher questions. You can't be asking me to think, are you? ;-)

  3. God knows my experience of real-world fighting isn't extensive, but in the few fights and conflicts I've had, I wasn't thinking about escalation or de-escalation or anything like that. In almost every case, I saw a clear opening to the solar plexus, hit my antagonist there, and put a halt to the situation. Didn't think about it at all, just did it.

  4. Our instructor teaches self defense like this: if someone grabs you in an office setting, or if it's someone you know won't harm you, you approach the situation using appropriate force. In other words, remove their hand from you without obliterating their face. However, if a stranger grabs you in a dark parking lot, then all bets are off. I think it depends on the attacker and the circumstances. If it's the latter, I agree with going in with maximum force. Why take a chance when you're talking about your life?

  5. BBM, I think you're right - or at least not wrong. The question, though, was which mode do you default to when you are surprised?

    It goes back to Chris' question - Would you rather risk killing a non-threat or being injured by a real threat?

    If you are surprised, before you can tell whether it is a deadly or non-deadly threat - do you default to killing force or controlled force?

    Chaka Zulu's assertion (if I understood right) was that he'd rather default to kill, then if given the opportunity, de-escalate.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...