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Transcript: Tim Larkin on The Paradox of Violence at TEDxGrandForks

Tim Larkin

Self-defense expert Tim Larkin discusses The Paradox of Violence at TEDxGrandForks event. Here is the full transcript of the TEDx Talk.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: The Paradox of Violence by Tim Larkin at TEDxGrandForks


Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is — it’s the only answer.

Being in a time in the world right now, where technology is just so amazing, and our lifestyles have just really given us all sorts of avenues that we haven’t had before, one thing that kind of gets dropped to the side is the fact that we kind of forget that we live in a physical world.

The first part of that statement, that violence is rarely the answer, is the one we all like to hear about, because we all can easily point out those times when violence is the absolute inappropriate response.

But I’m going to ask you about the second part of that statement. That’s the statement that I have built a career off of. And that is: “When it is the answer, it’s the only answer.” If you’re facing imminent violence, do you have any idea really what you do? It’s something that’s worth considering. It’s worth considering, because you all live great lives, and often times we forget that, in just seconds, that can be turned upside down by a criminal element that just wants to get whatever they want out of you. They don’t care that you’re a mother, they don’t care that you’re a father, or somebody’s son. All they care about is what they need, and yet — we, as society, have stigmatized looking at the tool of violence, and unfortunately that’s only left it with the predators.

So I’m going to ask you to bear with me. It’s always great to talk about this to a new group. But it’s always best if I put it in context, because you hear me say: tool of violence. And what does he mean by that?

So, what I’d like you to imagine is, imagine a young mother, she is in the kitchen area, and she’s cleaning up. She’s getting ready to go to bed. She put her infant son to bed. Her husband’s on a business trip, and all of a sudden, through the back door comes somebody crashing through, and a stalker is there who has made his chance — this is his chance to attack her, he’s come in. He comes in, grabs her at the kitchen counter, and an epic struggle goes. He didn’t expect her to fight back, but she’s trying to fight back. She’s frantic. She knows her little boy is upstairs. She has no idea what this guy’s here for, but she knows it’s not anything good.

He gets very frustrated because it’s not going the way he wants it to go. She gets to the point to where she’s trying to fight, but he’s bigger, he’s faster, he’s stronger than her, but she’s still going to try, and in her attempts she ends up clawing him in the face, very deeply in the face, drawing blood. It enrages him. It enrages him to the point to where he sees, on that kitchen counter, that butcher’s knife. He grabs that butcher’s knife, plunges it into the side of her neck, and murders her.

We, as society, would look at that heinous act, and we would say: “That individual needs to be incarcerated for the rest of his life, minimum.” If there’s a death penalty in that municipality, he probably deserves it. At the very least, he should never see light on our streets ever again.

So, now I want you take that same scenario. Door crashes open, there she is, you know, gets attacked. She’s fighting back. Again it’s not going well for her. He’s too big, he’s too strong, and he has too much of an advantage on her at that point. But now she looks back to that counter, and she sees that knife. She grabs that knife, plunges it in the side of his neck and she kills him. As horrible as that is, we as society would want her protected to the full extent of the law. We would want her held up as an example of what it’s like for a mother to protect not only her own life, but the life of her infant child. In fact, this is what should happen if criminals ever try to invade our lives.

For the rest the talk though I want you to consider this: The knife to the side of the neck worked each time. It didn’t matter who was the good guy, or the bad guy. Violence is just a tool, and it’s available to everybody. How the tool is used will be determined whether or not is a just use of the tool, or criminal use. But it does not make us bad to look at useful information when we’re facing grievous bodily harm.

Now it’s always an honor to talk to a group like this, because my client base is 70:30. 70% of the people come to me after the fact. Act of violence has already happened to them, or a family member, or they narrowly escaped a potentially bad situation. So they’re searching for information. The other 30% that come to me have never had that happen to them. They’ve never had to deal with violence. They sought it out for self protection reasons. There’s all sorts reasons, but it’s great to get groups like that. I’m hoping the majority of you are in that 30%, because if you come to me after the fact, I can’t undo that. I can give you good knowledge, but I can’t undo it.

The more I can educate people on the realities of violence the less likely you are, once you have that information, to you put yourself in those situations. Anything you can avoid, you will avoid. But in order to do this we’re going to have to bear with some uncomfortable truths. Where do you look for useful information? Is it the combat sports, martial arts, some of the traditional areas that we’re looking at? I wish that was the case.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the tool of violence, the best information comes from the worst people in society. The majority of them reside in our prison systems. There violence is currency. It’s how they derive their power. So they have to be very specific in how they use it, and they have to be very good at it.

The other part that you have to understand about these people, the vast majority of them – I mean vast majority of them have zero training in combat sports and martial arts. Zero training in combat sports, and martial arts, yet they are, by far, the best at being able to kill with their bare hands or improvised tools. Why? It’s because they’re not trying to compete. They’re just trying to injure.

You have to look at competition. Does this mean that competitive athletes, martial artists, and combat sports athletes are not capable? No, that’s not true at all. I’m a huge fan of combat sports. I’m a huge fan of the martial arts. I come from that. But there are realities you have to look at. If you look at the biggest martial arts event that we current have right now is the UFC. Last time I looked at the UFC there were 31 rules, 31 rules in the UFC. Twenty seven of those rules prohibit injury to the human body. Twenty seven of the 31 rules. Why is that? Because it’s a competition. A competition is to pit skill against skill. Athletes train to be incredibly – just incredible athletes and incredible competitors. But competition is not going to do well, if [there are] injuries in the game. It’s not designed for that.

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