Joe Bad Ass – The Psychology of Intimidation


Joe Bad Ass:
The Psychology of Intimidation

When we direct our thoughts properly,
we can control our emotions.
W. Clement Stone

The psychology of intimidation can be a tricky thing. I have friends who are ex-lawmen or long-time martial artists who have asked me about the fact that people they meet seem to be intimidated by them, and I have experienced the same thing when I meet someone new or at the beginning of school when I have all new students who do not know me. Students seem to think that I am a mean, no-nonsense kind of guy, even before I open my mouth for the first time. What is it about certain people that intimidates others?

One of my favorite authors, Forrest Morgan addresses this in his book, Living the Martial Way. Morgan states, and I paraphrase, that after a certain amount of time training in the martial way, warriors develop a certain energy that other people can sense. This energy, you can call it chi or ki or whatever you like, emits a certain feeling that other people can sense. They really do not know exactly what it is that they are feeling or sensing, but they just get the feeling that you are someone that should not be crossed.

The warrior is not consciously trying to intimidate those around him at all. In fact, it can be quite frustrating to give off this energy which seems to intimidate those around you instead of endearing them to you, as those of you who have experienced this can attest to. Mind you, this unseen energy is very useful when dealing with some thug or predator, but most of us prefer not to be seen as intimidating to our everyday acquaintances or the people whom we meet at our friends’ parties.

This unseen energy develops naturally as you continue to hone your skills in martial arts or self-defense. Some sense it as a strong self-confidence and other can sense it as simply someone who is standoffish or dangerous, but I can assure you that people can sense something different about true warriors. Many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about – there is just something different about the warrior and people can sense it.

Every single thought you have can be assessed
in terms of whether it strengthens or weakens you.
Wayne Dyer
Habits put us further and further apart.

Although the true warrior appears to be intimidating to many people, it is truly not his intention (unless he is controlling and directing this energy intentionally in a dangerous situation). Predators and ruffians, on the other hand, intentionally use intimidation as a tool to achieve their dishonorable goals. The tools that they use to breed fear and intimidation can range from how they dress and look, to how they speak and present themselves. For example, take a look at the following group of photographs…

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Imagine that you are walking down a dark street on your way home from having a couple of drinks with your co-workers. Which of these guys would you find the most intimidating? Which would you find not intimidating at all? Why? As you have probably already figured out, all of these photographs are of the same person, David Beckham, but even knowing this fact, some of these shots appear much more intimidating than others. Why is that? What makes him appear much tougher or more dangerous at one time than he does at some other time?

Faces we see, hearts we know not.
Spanish Proverb

Is it the scowl on his face in some pictures? What about the tattoos or the hair style? Maybe it is the clothes he is wearing. Is someone more dangerous or deadly because he is unshaven and wearing jeans and a torn tee-shirt, than he is if he is wearing a polo shirt or a suit and tie? Under all of his different hair styles, tattoos, scowls, and poses, he is the same man. None of the external appearances make him any tougher or more dangerous. So why do we find different appearances to be so intimidating?

This is something that every true warrior needs to think about. You cannot allow your mind to dwell on the external appearance of your enemy (by enemy, I mean anyone who is a danger to you or your loved ones). Intimidation has to do with your mind, not the other person. Whether or not someone intimidates you is totally up to you. You have to realize that all of those external appearances mean very little. If things degenerate into a physical confrontation, you will not be fighting his weird hair, the ink spots on his body, or his raggedy looking clothes; you will be fighting a human being (I use the term loosely in this case).

Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they
seem… things are judged by how they look, even though
most things are far different from what they appear.

Baltasar Gracian

Your path may cross with some tough
looking thug covered from head to toe with tattoos, with long, greasy
hair, and the meanest face you have ever seen, but does any of this make
this guy tougher or more of a threat than the clean cut guy you see at
the movie theater?
All humans have pretty much the same anatomy – the same joints, ligaments, tendons, etc. No matter how scary some thug may look, his joints and bones can be attacked and destroyed just like the average Joe in the corner office, and just like your own.

Speech and threats are other forms of intimidation. It can be very intimidating when someone is yelling in your face or making overt threats to your well-being. This can make anyone uncomfortable, but remember, just as the tattoos, mean looking face, and rough exterior are not a sign of physical strength, neither is loud, boisterous speech. Many times yelling and threatening signify someone who is not capable of following through with his threats, but is merely trying to bluff and intimidate you into getting his way. It is the silent predator, who acts with no warning that is the most dangerous.

Outside noisy, inside empty.
Chinese Proverb

Things are often spoke and seldom meant.

Do not allow someone to intimidate you by the way he looks or the way he talks. The intimidation factor is merely another weapon in his arsenal; it is his crude form of mental warfare. Protecting yourself from being intimidated in high-stress situations involves training for such a situation in advance. This is one of the purposes of realistic scenario training. Being confident in the face of an imposing, intimidating threat is something that you have to develop. It does not come naturally for most people.

If you lose the battle in your mind, your body will also fall to defeat. You have to develop your mind as well as your body. Self-defense involves much, much more than learning physical fighting techniques. Allowing fear and intimidation to cloud your mind puts you at a severe disadvantage. This fact has been well-known for centuries, thus the reason that even ancient war strategies included intimidation techniques. There can be no holes in your self-defense. This means that you have to keep your best weapon, your mind, prepared to defend against the intimidation factor.

Human being, by changing the inner attitudes of their
minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

William James

Warrior Wisdom

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