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As we talked about last time, we don’t have to be a black belt to know how to stay safe. Sure, having a black belt is COOL, but there are some simple things we can do, that we can teach our KIDS to do so that we can minimize what bad people can do.
If you’ve seen the movie, “American Sniper” you have heard the parable of the Wolf, the Sheep and the Sheepdog. I actually laughed out loud in that scene because I think that speech must be issued to all Texas parents, or at least military parents because I recall getting the same speech when I was a kid.
For those who haven’t heard it, the analogy goes as so. There are three kinds of people in the world. There are the wolves. Wolves prey on the weak for their own ends. They are always looking to exploit a weakness. When wolves (or any predator) hunts, they don’t go after the strongest and the fastest. They target weakness. They go for the small, the weak, the young, the old, the infirm, or the one who wandered off and isn’t paying attention. They go for the one who strayed too far from the safety of a group.
This is what wolves DO with most of their time. They hunt, they search and study and patrol LOOKING for any kind of weakness where they can take advantage.
There are human wolves. All they do is look for opportunity to exploit.
Then there are the sheep. Sheep are dumb. They are often oblivious. They follow where they are led and they will even follow to slaughter. They don’t question. They are a herd creature and they are the favorite prey for the predator.
Finally, we have the sheepdog. The sheepdog is a formidable adversary. The sheepdog is FIERCE but also gentle, loving, loyal and protective. The sheepdog watches over the sheep. Hs doesn’t exploit the sheep. If he sees a little one wandering off, he herds him back to the group and watches out for predators.
For the sheepdog, violence isn’t always the answer, but it IS an option.
Our goal in Jiu Jitsu (or any martial arts) is to train sheepdogs. Those with an interest in becoming wolves with our techniques don’t last long, and they know they will ignite the ire of a pack of nasty sheepdogs if they are discovered. So most stay away. Many people join Jiu Jitsu to be trained how to transition from sheep to sheepdog.
When I was growing up, we used to train Belgium Sheepdogs as service animals. What was SO COOL was that you could see the wiring of the sheepdog from puppy to elderly. The pups would bounce around and play in a group of small children, but if one of the toddlers decided to wander off, the pups would rush over and gently guide the baby back to the group. Same with the old dogs. We had an elderly Belgium who was an AMAZING service animal even at the age of eleven.
But sheepdogs exhibit behaviors that distinguish them from wolves and from sheep and we can learn from that. In fact, Gracie Barra training is ALL ABOUT honing and training our inner sheepdog.
Sheepdogs are NOT PACK ANIMALS LIKE WOLVES
Wolves will almost always be found hunting in packs. They are bullies and use their numbers to pick on the weak. They don’t like one-on-one confrontation because they lose advantage.
Sheepdogs have no problem with one-on-one confrontation and they don’t rely on outnumbering for advantage.
Sheepdogs are NOT HERD ANIMALS LIKE SHEEP
Yes, sheepdogs meander through the herd, they protect the herd, but they are never ONE with the herd. They don’t rely on safety in numbers like the sheep. They are never part of the groupthink of the herd.
Sheepdogs are ALWAYS Alert, Present and AWARE of Surroundings
Sheepdogs might be seen basking in the sun but trust me, they are very aware who who is where and doing what. They are always on the alert for any signs of danger and that somethings doesn’t look right. They keep an eye on those who are weak, not to take advantage, but rather to PROTECT the weak from predators who wish to exploit.
Sheepdogs Will Never Seek a Confrontation but They Won’t Back Down from One
Sheepdogs don’t go out “looking” for predators. They generally hang back and keep watch. But, should danger present itself? GAME ON.
Sheepdogs are WIRED to Be Prepared
Sheepdogs have genetic wiring that gives them the ability to take on or back down a predator.
When we train in Jiu Jistu, we are training to be sheepdogs. Unlike sheepdogs, we don’t have the same genetic wiring, so there are skills we need to learn.
I hate to say it, but I see A LOT of sheep behavior in people and it’s a good way to get hurt or killed. One of the first steps we can do to stay safe (and keep those around us safe) is to start behaving more like a sheepdog and less like a sheep.
Some Human Sheep Behaviors
I like listening to music as much as the next person, but one thing I see that vexes me PROFOUNDLY are people (particularly females) out jogging in a park alone wearing a set of headphones. To me, they look like some little lamb that’s wandered to the outside of the herd and is too busy munching on dandelions to notice the wolf.
Remember, human predators think and act A LOT like predators in nature. What better place to snag an unsuspecting victim than a park where the potential victim is oblivious to her surroundings?
If you want to jog wearing headphones, great. But get some friends to go with or do this in a contained environment like a gym. Predators back down when there are numbers. If you are alone? Ditch the headphones so you can maintain situational awareness.
I love Facebook. I like to text and talk as much as the next person. But, there is a time and a place for everything. Parking lots are NOTORIOUSLY dangerous, and yet daily I see people walking alone (usually with headphones) completely immersed in their Twitter feed instead of paying attention and looking for potential threats.
If I am busy tweeting about my latte, I can’t see that there is a panel van or an open trunk or a pack of thugs who look like they might want to go Christmas shopping with MY purse.
Put the phone away until you are in a safer place. Don’t text and talk when you are walking across the wolves’ favorite hunting grounds.
As a Stay-at-Home Mom, I totally get it. Sometimes we just have to go unleash the kids in the park. It CAN get boring watching Junior on the monkey bars and it is tempting to chat with a friend or another parent (or even get out the cell phone). This is fine so long as we limit it and keep situational awareness.
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CONFRONT A POTENTIAL WOLF
I always stay on the lookout for potential predators. One day I had my two young nephews at a park. I noticed a man walk down the hill and linger along the fringes in a copse of trees beyond the play equipment. He had no children, but was unusually focused on the kids in the park. I moved in between him and the kids and made STRONG EYE CONTACT to let him know I SAW HIM. I NOTICED HIM.
Those who are going to possibly prey on a small child are hoping we aren’t paying attention. They DO NOT like being noticed. Often, like the sheepdog perking its ears and growling, this is enough to make the predator slink away, because they have lost their greatest advantages—stealth and invisibility. They KNOW we are not going to let any little lambs wander their direction.
Again, I hope you find a Gracie Barra close or even come join us here in Mansfield. We are offering free trials so you can get a taste of Advanced Sheepdog Training. Train the pups!
Just remember, stay alert, stay calm and stay SAFE!