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"Looking Forward To Being Attacked" is a manual on self-defense by one Lt. Jim Bullard, of the Memphis Police Department. It was published in 1977, which is fairly obvious from the pictures involved, even without checking the copyright date. The book is aimed towards women, and the title refers to the fact that women should embrace the idea of defending themselves.

I have actually been a long term, if sometimes unsteady student of the martial arts, something I don't comment on because there are way too many people with way more experience than myself. I mostly picked up this book because years ago, I saw it reviewed by the inimitable Seanbaby, and wondered if it was as off-base and humorous as he would have it. Indeed it is, and not only for the ridiculous fashion contained within.

Reading this book at least gave me a small hint on the history of the martial arts, and some of the opinions I have heard expressed about them. The book is full of unlikely scenarios where a woman is grabbed, and then performs a complicated joint lock to reverse the attack, sending her male attacker into the ground in pain. It is true that most grabs are fairly easy to break out of, at least with practice. It is also true that there is, as the book says, a "weakest link" in every grab. The problem is, and this is a problem that goes beyond the martial arts, that attackers are not static. Furthermore, they will naturally adjust and defend themselves to being counterattacked.

For example, the defense against the shoulder grab is for the woman to windmill her arm around (which is a good way to break a lock), and then to continue that motion into a counter arm lock that twists the attackers elbow out of its socket. The problem with this is that an attacker is not going to simply grab someone's shoulder and then stay static while they initiate a counterattack. Even if they do, the natural tendency of a human arm held in a bent position is not to break, or even to bend. In the example given, it is the strength of the attacker against the defender, which at best is a stalemate. While the particular flaws of the counter-moves are somewhat difficult to explain, the basic problem is that while being attacked, most people don't have the presence of mind to remember an ornate series of complicated moves. And if they do, it is not like their attacker will wait patiently in place for them to accomplish their joint lock.

More than that, and more than the fashion mistakes (Did I mention the plaid pants? There are lots of plaid pants), one of the biggest problems I had with the book is it seems to perpetuate an idea that can be very harmful to both women and men. There is a subtle social belief that men are basically doltish, and that any woman, with a few simple tricks, can find ways to manipulate and outmaneuver just about any man. While insulting to men, it is a belief that be downright dangerous to women, when they come across a man who is more skilled than them at either physical or mental manipulation.

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