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CQB Kajukenbo Intermediate Requirements (L8-L15)

Entry & control vs stick/bat/club                 Surprise grab defenses / Blindfolded

750 word report: “Living the Martial Way” by Forrest E. Morgan  (ISBN-10: 0942637763 / ISBN-13: 978-0942637762)

Explain how our Reality-Based Self Defense (“RBSD”) Kajukenbo system is different from the traditional “Emperado Method”.

Advanced hubud: elbow & knife variations

Fireman’s takeover: Kneel down on one knee and simultaneously grab one of the opponent’s thighs with one arm and one of the opponent’s arms with the other arm. Pull the opponent on your shoulders & rise up slightly, using the motion to push the opponent off your shoulders, dropping him onto his back.

Fireman’s throw: from Fireman’s carry, hook the head & palm or grab his knee.  Lean shoulder down slightly and push his leg or knee up while pulling the head down

Scoop throw: Facing their opponent, drop your hips some and reach between his legs with one arm and reach around the back (over the shoulder) from the same side with their other arm. Then lift the opponent up and turn them so that they are held up by the arm cradling their back. Throw the opponent to the ground so that they land on their back.  Do not jump into the throw in training unless you are on a safe surface and your partner can take the fall; that would be a scoop slam.  This move needs about the same strength as the fireman’s carry but the leverage is different.  You may assist practicing this by placing your arm on the thrower’s thigh.  Be sure to bridge, tuck your chin and breathe out if you are being thrown.

Lubud (“low hubud”): feed A3 to start, later feed A5.  Feel free to “short-cut” when you have the drill
Walk-away armbar defense: pass one or both legs with your free hand, walk your hips and feet parallel to his while pulling your elbow to you & roll up to your knees
Turtled defense from sprawl: head high in armpit from bottom, frame his knee & pull it to your opposite hip while driving forward

Ground positions drill
Ken escapes scarf hold & comes to knees
Ron is in VT & clears VT – now mounted
Ron escapes mount with a bridge escape – now in guard
Ron passes guard & takes side control on Ken
Ken gets to his side and elbow-escapes to a guard variant
Ken sweeps from his position (removing any post) and goes sternum to sternum
Ken moves to the opposite side while keeping his weight on Ron
(spins around Ron’s head to the opposite side (on sternum)
or switches to reverse scarf / takes mount to opposite side / …)
Ken puts Ron in scarf hold
Drill repeats

Drill: Read the jab and quickly counter-jab            Drill: clinch sparring (transitions & knees only)

(2) 3 minute boxing rounds             Knife sparring vs 3 consecutive opponents, (2 minutes each)
Grappling from knees vs 3 opponents, (2 minutes each)

CWCT: Use the Closest Weapon to the Closest Target – unless you have a very good reason not to!

There are 3 types of people: Wolves, Sheep & Sheepdogs.  Which are you?

“Emulate don’t Imitate!”       What is the difference?


Stick work: takedowns & disarms also practice basic stick and punyo locking

Sombrada “box pattern” – at close range, live hand is used to always pass or check
“Bob” uses an umbrella deflection with a deep F45* step to defend “Tom’s” cleave (A12) attack.
Bob, now having moved to the outside, is about to attack with an angle 1.
Tom dives in deep stepping forward on the triangle, blocking an angle one with an angle 1. He drops low & keeps both hands away from Bob ‘s stick.
Tom shifts to attack with a low backhand & Bob steps out on the triangle with a dropstick or angle 2 block, using his free hand to stop or pass if necessary.
Bob attacks with a thrust to the midsection & Tom blocks with a point down sweep as he steps back & away with his left foot.
Tom attacks with a horizontal backhand or angle 6, to Bob ‘s head. Bob defends by taking a deep step out on the triangle using an angle 3 or wing, along with stopping Tom’s arm with his free hand.
Bob shifts toward Tom to deliver a downward attack to Tom’s head.
Tom steps deep to Bob’s outside & uses an angle 4 or roof block to defend, using the free hand to deflect or stop Bob’s arm if necessary.
Tom shifts in to attack with an angle 1, & Bob steps out deep on the triangle to block with an angle 1, keeping his free hand away from the attack; the pattern repeats

You have opponent in your guard and he is trying to punch you- extend hips and put head back on ground, as he punches swim your hands inside his while pulling him in with your hips, wrap on arm around his head and wrap the other around his arm to trap it (as you are pulling him in be sure to keep your head to the side to prevent headbutts), then place your foot on the ground (on the side you have the arm trapped) and pull your hips to that side, bring your opposite side elbow and knee together to protect your ribs from being punched.

Same as previous but this time you deflect his punch to either the left or right as you pull him in, grab around his head with your opposite arm, grab your other arms biceps to make a figure 4, grab the back of your head with your free hand, squeeze & extend

Same as last but opponent is choking you with 1 or 2 hands, extend hips, deflect arm(s) to side then proceed with last

Same as previous but opponent is choking you with your collar by leaning it across your throat with one hand, extend hips, grab over opponents knuckles with your same side hand reinforcing with your other hand and peel his hand away

He stands up to pass your guard: open guard, knees to his stomach, hook his ankles & bridge.  Walk over to mount.
He stands up to pass your guard: open guard, hook his near leg with your arm, pull close to his leg & knee bar
He stands up to punch from your guard: control an arm & open guard, block his punch with your foot, control & finish

Drill: Counters to Lock Flow





750 page report: “Strong on Defense” by Sanford Strong ISBN-10: 0671535110
* now out of print, your instructor may substitute a different book

Stocks Defense vs Fireman’s Carry: drop hips, wrap his arm at your waist & control his neck, pass arm between legs & sit out

Escape mounted position vs puncher (variation): Sit up / knee to opponents back & grab around waist to pull them down over you.   Ankle hook & pull knee through to half guard or pin arm & bridge

Crucifix: side control on “turtled” opponent, hook one leg, roll back, hook under arm, Sliding Lapel choke

Fireman’s carry defense: dropping log roll
Back-breaker from scoop throw position or from side clinch leg scoop variation

Drill elbow covers & swimming entries vs strikers


Kneeling Pass (Passing guard on the ground) – cover opponents left or right side biceps with same side hand, bring your opposite side knee up and turn hips away to create a gap, put free hand down between his legs working his leg to your shoulder, reach that hand around and over to his opposite side collar or shoulder while leaning weight forward to stack him, bring your head out and go to Side Control

Tight Guard Pass – execute a Kneeling Pass but place hand through legs and onto ground, drop knee and shift back to get leg to your shoulder then stack & go to Side Control

Open Guard Pass – drive same side knee over his leg then grab opposite shoulder with your hand on the same side as your knee is on, push opponents other leg down with free hand and mount

You can sometimes switch sides and go to a Kneeling Pass

Standing Open Guard Pass (Passing guard standing with opponents legs uncrossed) – drive your knees together grabbing his lapel for balance, reach either arm through his legs and put it on your knee, work his legs further apart and bring that arm under and around his leg then go to a Kneeling Pass

Standing Closed Guard Pass (Passing the guard standing and opponents feet stay hooked) – grab opponents lapel, pick him up and slam him on the ground hard and go to a Standing Open Pass.   If his legs drop go to an Open Guard Pass

Kneeling Pass to Ankle Lock (Kneeling Pass then opponents legs open) – wrap your arm around opponents same side ankle, scoot hips slightly away from opponent, grab biceps of your free arm (making a figure 4) and control his shin with that hand, bring your outside leg over opponents leg, use your inside leg to push against opponents other inside thigh (or figure 4 your legs), roll to your inside shoulder and lean backwards


Remember: When seconds count, help is only minutes away!







Americana from mount – grab opponents opposite side wrist with your hand (no thumb) and lean weight forward and across to drive arm down, drop you elbow down to his ear, slide other hand under his triceps to grab your wrist and make a figure 4, drag his wrist to your knee and lift the elbow

Cross Armbar from mount – he pushes your chest with one or both hands, place both hands on his chest while leaning body weight forward, swing leg around and over opponents head and swivel hip to that side, grab opponent’s arm and drop back and down, squeeze knees together and lift hips

Flag-pole armbar: Reverse armbar with hand pinned on your shoulder.  From side control & mount


1) Kimura from Guard – opponent bases with both arms on the ground (opposite sides), grab his wrist on one side, sit up on that elbow, reach over with other hand to the inside and figure 4, lean back and shift hips out to the side, same side leg over his back, keep arm bent and tight to your chest while driving it to his ear

2) Guillotine from Guard – You attempt Kimura but  opponent grabs your waist with the arm you were going to lock- put you feet on the ground and shift your hips back to sit up, wrap your opposite arm around his head to a guillotine under his chin and neck grabbing your wrist, restore the guard and extend your hips to stretch the neck.
3) Walkover Reversal to Mount – He pulls his head back and free from the Guillotine, so  bridge and step over to mount.


Apply Americana from Side Control position to attack the opposite arm

Guillotine / neck crack (From side control with your arm on the opposite side of opponents head) – he lifts his head, put your head forward on the ground while raising up, wrap arm under and around his neck, roll to that same side shoulder and step over to mount, grab your wrist with the other hand pulling arms in tight, arch your back and crank his neck

[Siu Nim Tao, Part 3]
Thrust left palm downward to side, then thrust right palm downward to side
Cover each side of small of back with one hand, palms facing out & fingers down
Sink and thrust down and backwards with palms.
Rise back to previous height and execute double low palms to front
Shoot arms straight out to your sides with spear fingers (bil jee)
Cross your forearms parallel, left on top at chest level
Swing arms forward and out at nearly full extension, fingers spread out, side chop
Reverse the chop and cross with forearms parallel, right on top at chest level
Swing arms forward and out at nearly full extension, fingers spread out, side chop
Return to right parallel cross
From arms crossed, Double Jut Sao (“jerking hand” palm or blade)
Turn the palms into a double Tan Sao then perform a double low palm block as before
followed by a double Bil gee a double Jut Sao (usually palm) again do a double low palm block
then double rising crane beaks & withdraw then to your sides to chamber





750 page report: “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (non-“business” translation recommended)

“Neutral Stance” – Feet shoulder-width apart, non-aggressive looking, hands down, crossed in front
“Fighting stance” – hunch shoulders, drop your head & tuck your chin, step forward about shoulder width from neutral, turn about 30*, toes pointing your facing direction (1/2 between boxing & grappling width)
“Hidden Stance” – fighting stance with hands open & up in a submissive manner, strong side forward, fingers at eyebrow level
“Interview stance” – strong side in back (opposite of hidden stance) with hands gesturing near chest level

“Vital areas” – these may work in place of “pressure points” to destroy or stun: eyes, temples, eardrum, base of the neck, jaw, bridge of nose (Miss Piggy), throat, brachial, liver, floating ribs, kidneys, tailbone, outside of thigh (common peroneal nerve), inside of thigh, shin, knee cap, inside/outside/back of knee, groin (unpredictable at best)
The reality of pressure points – on the street, pressure points may work less than 30% of the time.  If the opponent is drugged, drunk or enraged then they may not work at all
Drill: jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts to these vitals as appropriate vs. a stationary opponent at range with 50% – 75% power

Strategy:  Employing planning, deceit and surprise against an enemy to achieve an end goal or result
Tactics:  How you meet the goals set by strategy, especially the methods of using effective techniques and resources against an enemy

“Assertive Confidence” –  A forceful, decisive, aggressively confident demeanor

Use of force continuum (aka the Force Continuum)

1) Physical presence — in many cases, police departments will increase the effectiveness of this level of force by simply increasing the number of officers responding to an incident; therefore, 10 officers responding are more likely to gain peaceful resolution than a single officer

2) Verbal commands – direct, simple and authoritative

3) Empty-hand submission techniques (PPCT, Defensive Tactics)

4) Less-Than-Lethal Tools (e.g. baton, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds, MACE), etc.)

5) Deadly force.

“Take away the will and ability to fight!” –  Be certain the fight is ended before you flee or ease up your assault.

“Mercy is shown from a position of strength” – do not become blindsided because you turned your back on a threat.




750 word paper on the different martial arts of Japan

Rear pistol disarm: Slink back so the barrel is against your head (reference point) with your hands up, framing the weapon.  Spin back, closing the eye on that side and clear the gun.  Slide along his arm as a rail to grab the barrel and butt as best you can.  Lead knee to groin.  Roll the barrel to him as with the front disarm.  Finish the encounter.

Omoplata (leg-over-shoulder lock): Start as to execute kimura; grab the wrist and reach over the tricep, but he bends his arm.  Keep hold of his wrist but push his head away while pulling your body away some, to snake your hip over and around his arm with your foot in front of his face, over and under his chin.  Now use that foot to push away so you can pull your other leg out.  Grab his belt and position your knees down so they point away from him with your feet the same direction as his.  Your top foot may be just above your other knee.  Now gently bridge forward.
Omoplata / Gogoplata variation from side control: You attempt kimura from side and he grabs his belt or pants.  Switch your base a bit so you can step your lower leg through the hole between his his and elbow.  Pull him up as if to go to a backwards VT.  Sit on his hip and then pass that let in front of his face and under his chin like gogoplata.  Cover his elbow and fall back to your side where his elbow is (use your hand to base so you do not injure your partner) so you are basically laying on his hand with his elbow bent in kimura.   Now just straighten your leg out and raise the knee towards the ceiling.  To gogoplata, take the other foot and drive it into the heel at his throat.

Triangle choke – Foot on hip, make space, calf across shoulders, hook your ankle, then bridge and pass the arm.

Weapon retention – “Samurai throw”:  hands grabbed from rear, hand on gun, shift forward & to the side, (female triangle, pistol forward).  Step behind knee as to fold with other elbow /  arm on his throat or sternum, fold him and slide away to make space.
Thai clinch face-down takedown: Grab Thai clinch, slip back and drive his head down between your legs, pinch his head between your knees, drop your knees down with his head, scoop and surfboard both of his arms up.
Flying armbar from neck and elbow: Get good control of the elbow & step a bit forward and outside on the elbow side.  Kick foot up into his armpit on the neck side & immediately jump the other foot to his waist on the elbow side as if to jump guard.  Pivot to the neck side and then throw the 2nd leg over his neck while continuing to pivot 90*.  Drive the heel to your butt and tuck your chin as you land mostly on your shoulders.

Consider: What would you do if someone threatened you with an infected syringe instead of a knife?
Consider: How to prevent the bad guy from simply stabbing you 5 times with a knife instead of brandishing it?

Drill: Even number of strikes to mitts immediately on “go” to a takedown.  Strike even then clinch & takedown

Drill: Focus pad in front hand, knife in rear – he stabs with the knife, pass it with your lead hand and throw a cross to the mitt

Professor Harper’s Drill #1 (from left lead)
Jab – cross vs right hand, Jab – cross vs left hand
Elbow vs left hand, elbow vs right hand
Lop sao right target (from outside) then knee to right
Elbow to left & (drop left target) knee to inside of left thigh and walk through
Slip past & barn-door with hands up – coach will throw a high hook
Tip: Put tennis ball under chin to keep chin down once student is comfortable with the drill

Once learned, train Harper’s Drill #1 from right lead

KAJUKENBO K.I.S.S. PRINCIPLE: “Keep It Simple & Savage!”



750 word paper on the different martial arts of Korea

Inside Takedown: Overhooks, knee strikes, c-clamp / tiger claw, palm strike to drive chin back over his hip, slip to outside & reap the leg. Finish.  He can try to knee you & you can uppercut to the liver.

Outside Takedown: Overhooks, block his knee strike, attack his groin, pass his arm to the opposite side: opposite hand grabs his tricep, grab his wrist on the same slide and put it under the opposite armpit), slip to his back (with his arms still controlled), Miss Piggy or knife hand strike the nose (or chin) back from behind, while pulling his arm the opposite direction. Finish.

Duck Under: Underhooks, attack low to distract, head butt or bump him up, pass his arm over your head and bob & weave to his back.  Keep your back tall & straight (re: guillotine) and pull his opposite arm tight while pushing his shoulder (&/or fold his back) with your head.  Miss Piggy his head back to expose his neck, chop to the throat.

Choke Jam:  While being choked, grab each wrist (pull them down) & tuck your chin, your elbows at centerline. Then roll your shoulders back & forth to free your neck and kick once you are stationary.  If still being pushed, pivot to the side while still holding his wrists.  Then move to the Finger Lock.

Finger Lock:  Hands on your chest, reach over & across to grab a finger (your palm is facing your chest).  Drive it in towards the opponent and twist it.   Pin it to your hip, step to his back and drive him down.

Wrist Lock drop: Same position but he makes a fist, turn the fist over to the wrist lock, drive his little knuckle toward his wrist while driving his elbow down and into him then rotate it.

S-lock: Same position, pin the hand to your chest with your cross hand.  Bring the same side elbow up and over his arm while turning to the S-lock.

Standing double-lapel grab or choke – swim over or under and into a clinch.  Be sure to make space and pop your shoulder.  You can also distract and bob & weave or shoot low.  Experiment.

Escape from Scarf (variation): Instead of pushing his head back for the scissors, chisel his nose & be sure to push down on the shoulder when you scissor his neck.






750 word paper on 3 different martial arts of Okinawa


Kimura    Cobra choke
sitting flag-pole     flag-pole with foot under chin
sit back to cross arm bar

Crisis & self-defense: A “crisis situation” includes house fires, car accidents – anything that would cause an adrenal rush in your body.

Fight or Flight: Mentally train to use the “Fight” reaction
* Threat is received –  a “switch” is turned on
* Sympathetic (or Emergency) Nervous system is activated – this happens to nearly everyone except perhaps extreme psychotics or sociopaths
* Hypothalamus stimulated; results in adrenaline & cortisone (the “chemical cocktail”) being dumped into    the blood stream.
Adrenaline: releases fatty acids and glucose needed to deliver energy (so the old lady can lift a car)
Cortisone: Inhibits inflammation (swelling) and dulls pain

The Crisis Situation – Take in all the circumstances and react appropriately
(1) Asses the situation, (2) Decide on an action, and (3) Act accordingly
You must train to do this or you will often default to a “Flight” reaction.  That is why you practice and drill.
The more you believe that you should not “judge” people, the less effective you will be at tactical planning.
You need discernment and judgment to extract yourself (or someone else) from harm.
You will have to judge people, no matter how “politically incorrect” it is, to be effective in a crisis situation.
Remember that there is nothing “politically correct” about violence.

Consider: What do you have reason to suspect if your assailant has his finger on the trigger guard or barrel frame instead of the trigger?
William Kwai Sun Chow (July 3, 1914 – September 21, 1987, AKA William Ah Sun Chow Hoon) was instrumental in the development of the martial arts in the United States, specifically the family of styles referred to as kenpo/kempo.
James Masayoshi Mitose (born Masayoshi Mitose, (December 30, 1916 – March 26, 1981) was a Japanese American martial artist who brought the art of Kenpo to the United States starting in the late 1930s.
Mitose was and remains a controversial figure in the history of Kenpo in America. Many Kenpo teachers trace their lineage to him. He was convicted of murder and extortion in 1974 and sentenced to Folsom Prison.

The Problem With Pacifism:
– Used with permission

The Problem With Pacifism
Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

The Illusion of Pacifism

The problem with pacifism is not that it’s mistaken or impractical (although it is), nor that it’s an illusion indulged in by people whose own safety is protected by non-pacifists (although it is), nor that non-violence has probably caused more loss of life and suffering than it has prevented (although it has) nor even that the record of pacifists in supporting brutal, corrupt and repressive regimes is at least as bad as that of the CIA (although it is). The problem with pacifism is simply that it does not exist.

What is Non-Violence?


  • Obviously, committing violence yourself is not non-violence!
  • Hiring or encouraging others to commit violence for you also obviously cannot be termed non-violence. This includes relying on the legal system, which ultimately rests on the use of force as a last resort.
  • Goading your opposition beyond endurance to the point where they respond violently is non-violence only in the most hypocritical, specious sense.
  • So is obstructing the activities of others so much that they must resort to force to end the obstruction. The sit-ins of the 1960’s were not non-violent in any meaningful sense.
  • Putting people in the position where they either have to yield to your demands or resort to violence to stop you is emphatically not non-violence.
  • Nor is provoking a violent response in the hope of getting an over-reaction that will discredit the opposition and gain sympathy for your side.

The last four items on the list are calculated, manipulative, and deceptive practices. Neither Gandhi, nor Martin Luther King, nor the anti-war protesters of the 1960’s were non-violent. They were skilled orchestrators of violence by others. The fact that their opponents were usually stupid enough to oblige them doesn’t make the tactics any less manipulative or deceptive; in fact, often the response to an initially restrained opposition was an escalation of confrontation in order to cross the threshold into violence.

  • Can you really claim to be non-violent if you engage in activities that you can reliably predict will end in violence?
  • Can you really claim to be non-violent if you threaten someone else’s position to the point where they feel they must resort to violence to protect their interests? Civil disobedience is a form of violence.
  • There is no such thing as non-violent crime.

Certainly nobody who uses drugs can claim to be non-violent. Yes, I know all about the theory that our war on drugs is really responsible for the violence, and that if we simply legalized drugs the problem would go bye-bye. But in the world as it is, drugs are banned and traffickers are violent, and if you do business with them you are supporting their violence. Could there be anything more absurd than a vegetarian who won’t eat meat because she opposes harming animals, while at the same time using drugs and pretending that she’s not contributing to violence?

Forms of Pseudo-pacifism

The only truly non-violent tactic, in the sense that it neither commits nor provokes violence, is complete non-resistance and submission to the demands of the power elite. Even something as benign as education or public health, if it threatened someone else to the point of violent action, would be forbidden. Women would have to submit meekly to rape rather than struggle to resist. And no “pacifist” I have ever heard of advocates that. Generally, what passes for “non-violence” or “pacifism” is one of the following:

  • Relying on the law. This is not non-violence because if all other measures fail, the legal system will use force to achieve its ends. That’s why we speak of enforcing the law.
  • Maintaining a facade of pacifism while provoking the opposition to violence, or creating an intolerable obstruction that can only be removed by force, or threatening their position to the point where they feel they have to resort to violence to protect their interests. This position, as already noted, is hypocritical, manipulative, and deceptive.
  • Selective pacifism: condemning U.S. military action but not violent actions against the U.S. If you take the position that someone has a cause for waging just war against the U.S., fine. Just don’t pretend it’s pacifism. There’s no difference between a cop clubbing an anti-war protestor in 1965 and clubbing an anti-abortion protestor in 2000. Argue that one was not justified and the other is if you will, but don’t pretend that one instance is violence and the other isn’t. Even weirder are the pacifists who condemn the international community for not intervening in places like Rwanda. And do what? Hold anger management sessions for the Hutu mobs? No, intervention would surely have meant military violence.
  • Compensatory pacifism: you oppressed us for a while, now we get to oppress you. A perfect example is the statement by Mari Matsuda when the University of Hawaii was trying to formulate a policy against hate speech: “Hateful verbal attacks upon dominant group members by victims is permissible.” While Idi Amin was slaughtering thousands in Uganda in the early 1970’s, some activists in America argued that it was “racist” to condemn him, because Africans had been oppressed by colonialism and now we had no right to criticize.

I don’t have any problem with the use of violence in self-defense, or for taking down an oppressive regime, or for subduing criminals or protecting the weak. And the fact that somebody is so insecure that they resort to violence when confronted by mere demonstrations is often (not always) a pretty good idea who ranks where on the moral scale. But then again, I never pretended to be a pacifist. What I have a problem with is advocating, instigating, or indirectly causing violence while pretending to be non-violent.

What Would Jesus Do?

“The search for the historical Jesus” is generally a search for ways to make Jesus say the things we think he ought to have said if he’d possessed our wisdom. The historical reality is that Jesus lived in a society under military occupation by a foreign empire, and one swarming with insurgent groups at that. If Jesus had ever meant to condemn imperialism or endorse “liberation theology” or “wars of national liberation,” he had one of the most perfect settings in all history to do so. Not only did he not do so, but Roman soldiers are just about the only group in the New Testament who are given complimentary treatment. When a group of soldiers came to John the Baptist asking what they needed to do to be saved, he told them not to abuse their power. He didn’t even remotely suggest they should quit the army.
It gets worse. Jesus was put to death on trumped up charges. What a perfect opportunity to condemn capital punishment. Yet, while he and two criminals were dying, one of the criminals chided the other one, saying that they were only getting what they deserved. What a perfect place to say that nobody deserves to die at the hands of the state, that the criminals are really victims of unequal wealth, lack of empowerment, and poor self esteem. Jesus, apparently failing completely to understand what was at stake, said nothing. And his followers, while they condemned the execution of Jesus and some of his followers, always did so on the sophistic grounds that they were innocent and morally in the right. Not once did they challenge the right of the state to take the life of genuine criminals.
Attempts to equate Christianity and pacifism simply don’t stand scrutiny. Christianity does not teach that life is sacred. Jesus and his followers ate animal products. Christianity doesn’t even teach that human life is sacred. Christ told his followers not to fear those who merely destroyed the body, and said that he who loved his life would lose it.

Thou Shalt not Murder

But what about “Thou shalt not kill?” Notice that it’s “Thou shalt not kill,” but David slew Goliath? Why two different words?
Because the original meaning of kill was more nearly that of murder, whereas slay meant homicide in general. Although there’s some overlap in usage in the Bible, generally actions like killing in battle are translated with slay. The distinction was clear in the 1600’s when the King James Bible was published. It’s only when we became intellectually sloppy that we blurred the distinction between the two words.
This is a pons asinorum (bridge of asses) – an initial first step that has to be made before any productive discussion can begin. People who trot out “thou shalt not kill” as a basis for pacifism are revealing only their illiteracy.

The Cycle of Violence

Before we go any further, take your mouse and put the cursor on the bold lettering above.
Now, notice what you did. In order to move the mouse, you had to exert force, and very precise and gentle force at that. You didn’t rip the mouse cord out of the computer, or crush the mouse in your grip, or push so hard on it that you mashed the trackball flat. The notion that force inexorably spirals out of control is precisely that trivially easy to refute.
Now it’s probably true that resorting to unnecessary violence may very well lead to retaliation. So restraint in dealing with confrontations is usually a good idea. But all the talk about “ending the cycle of violence” fails to address the key question what do we do about people who have already turned to violence as their tactic of choice? As a problem-solving tool, “violence first” has a couple of things going for it:

  • It’s simple
  • It gets results, especially after word gets around that you don’t hesitate to use violence
  • It’s gratifying. You get to vent pent-up rage, feel dominance over others, maybe even a sexual turn-on

Most pacifists react to this issue by simply pretending that it doesn’t exist, that people either never deliberately choose violence, that violence always stems from earlier violence, poverty, or injustice, or that if people do deliberately choose violence, it’s in rare cases that are not really of great importance. But history abounds with examples of people who have deliberately chosen violence. The ease with which people from non-violent backgrounds have been induced to commit atrocities in wartime shows how easy it can be for the violent to recruit assistants, and for the gratification factor to take hold. Thus, a single individual who opts for violence because he enjoys domination may succeed in recruiting many others less bold than he is. How do we respond to people who have opted for violence? Appeasement merely reinforces the conviction that violence gets results. Moreover, it provides gratification by reinforcing the feeling of dominance. When confronting people who have already opted for violence, non-violence has a very good chance of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Retaliatory force, on the other hand, makes the results of violence a lot less simple, a lot less effective in getting results, and a lot less gratifying.
Furthermore, violence is only the far end of the spectrum of force. Every screaming brat who throws a temper tantrum in public is testimony to the fact that children do not need to be taught the use of force. And regardless how loving, benevolent and diligent a parent is in meeting and supplying the child’s needs, every child sooner or later runs into the fact that other people, much less the physical universe, will not. Sooner or later every human being has to face the fact that some desires will not be gratified.

Throwing the First Punch

Pacifists are vociferous in denouncing “aggression.” I can think of a number of cases where “aggression” either shortened a war or ended genocide. None involve the United States, by the way.

  • In 1971, civil war broke out in Pakistan, which was then made up of two ethnically and geographically separate areas. A million people died and ten million fled into India. Faced with an overwhelming refugee crisis, India invaded East Pakistan, which became independent as Bangladesh.
  • Madman Idi Amin brutalized Uganda for eight years, killing perhaps 300,000 people, before Tanzanian troops and Ugandan rebels invaded and expelled him in 1979. It should have happened much sooner.
  • The Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia killed at least a million people before being driven from power by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979. Most of the American pacifists who opposed the Vietnam War so loudly remained strangely silent while the Khmer Rouge atrocities were being committed (Joan Baez being the one honorable exception). But the U.S. government, still smarting from its loss in Vietnam, shamefully condemned the Vietnamese.
  • While Idi Amin was grabbing headlines in Africa, Jean-Bedel Bokassa held power in the Central African Republic, which he renamed the Central African Empire. He killed perhaps 100,000 people. In 1979, France engineered a coup that overthrew Bokassa. Very slick and oh so French. They took advantage of Bokassa traveling abroad to fly in a new president and a few battalions of Foreign Legionnaires, and that was that. Napoleon, if you’re looking down, you should be proud.

Not only is it morally permissible to commit aggression, sometimes it’s morally obligatory.

So What’s Your Plan?

When the Persian Gulf War broke out, critics of the war complained that we had not given diplomacy enough time to do the job. Years later, after a decade of economic sanctions have reduced Iraq to utter misery, many of the same people are complaining that sanctions should be ended because they have failed and because they are causing great suffering.
So what, exactly, was diplomacy supposed to accomplish in 1991? The only actions we can take against a country from outside are to blockade it. If blockade has not been effective after ten years, and if a blockade is considered morally objectionable if it causes human suffering, then exactly what measures were we supposed to take against Iraq?
I suggest that pacifists have a moral and intellectual obligation to answer the following questions:

  • What specific measures will lead to a peaceful solution?
  • What evidence do you have that these measures will work?
  • What criteria will we use to decide if the pacifist approach has failed?

For example, saying “The United States should have relied more on diplomacy to capture Osama bin Laden” doesn’t cut it. What specific diplomatic approaches should we have tried? What evidence is there that they would have worked? How long should we persist before concluding that they don’t work? Are there other criteria (credible evidence of bin Laden acquiring nuclear weapons, for example) that would justify immediate action?

Why Did I Even Get Out of Bed?

Sometimes you find something written by a more illustrious writer that says it first and so perfectly, anything else is almost superfluous. Here is an excerpt from George Orwell’s Notes on Nationalism (May 1945). Note: Orwell uses the term “nationalism” as a synonym for any fervently held ideology, whether attached to a nation or not. This is simply a brilliant piece of work, not just on pacifism but all forms of extreme belief.
The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. …
All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty….
If one harbours anywhere in one’s mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. Here are just a few examples. I list below five types of nationalist, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts…

PACIFIST. Those who “abjure” violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.