By Bradley J. Steiner, American Combato
Students of self-defense tend in their early months of training to make one of two potentially serious mistakes.
They become so enthusiastic about their new found skills and confidence in their ability to defend themselves, that they tend to underestimate their would-be attackers; i.e. the scum and filth in the street or elsewhere who live with violence, and who might attack them.
Or, failing to appreciate how terribly violent and destructively effective they themselves can be (i.e. not really believing it, and not yet “feeling it in their gut”, so to speak) with the techniques of combative that they are learning, they tend to underestimate themselves. 
Either mistake is serious, and must be corrected as soon as possible. From the scummy little bastard in elementary school who bullies other second and third graders to the professionally trained international terrorist—every single individual who initiates violence for any reason other than self-defense is potentially dangerous (even lethal) and must be respected.
“Respected” certainly does not mean that such living garbage must be respected as a human being. It means that any and every unjustifiably violent person must be respected for the capacity for potential injury and harm that he may inflict upon an innocent person.
If you are smart you respect a hornets’ nest, a rattlesnake, a black widow spider, and a mako shark. In that sense you respect a violent individual. (And lest some fool out there objects to our inclusion of children who bully and attack other children in our cautions, we point out that the victims of these little school age bastards are often injured severely, and on occasion even fatally.)
Violent types are often very formidable. True enough it is rare for a serious violent felon to also possess skills in combat methods per se; but they have in many instances grown up with violence, possibly in the form of physical abuse at home; often with extensive experience in street fighting and brawling.
Their actions when they prey upon the innocent are certainly cowardly in the extreme; but these scum are not necessarily cowards. Some of them literally thrive on violence. Many are mentally disturbed, psychopathic, brain damaged (through the use of drugs, liquor, or both) and/or plainly malcontented, hateful monsters.
They do not care in the least about how badly they injure their victims; in fact they couldn’t care less if they kill them. In such instances their only concern is to avoid punishment for their crime. We insist that to attribute humanity to violent offenders and fail to condemn them as wild animals who deserve destruction, is to make a terribly serious mistake. 
The admonition of that great warrior-sage Sun Tzu, “Know your enemy and know yourself . . .” bears mentioning here.
Do not deceive yourself or allow the soft-hearted (and soft-headed) to deceive you about the core and nature of the violent offender no matter who the hell he (or she) is. For the potential harm that they may bring you, for the threat that they pose, for the despicable attitude of malice and irresponsibility for their actions that they live by, for intruding upon the innocent to indulge some of the basest drives of the human species, serious respect for the violent offender is due.
And the student of self-defense—no less than the expert!—who remembers this, will be better prepared to handle any situation in which dealing with a violent offender becomes necessary. 
While fully acknowledging that a violent type must be respected and never underestimated for his/her potential for inflicting injury, it must be pointed out with equal emphasis, that students of self-defense must never underestimate themselves! They possess physical strength and the capacity to do harm, also! 
And as they acquire quality skills in close combat, they possess a growing advantage over the scum, if with their skill comes proper mental conditioning and tactical orientation in which their willingness and readiness to brutalize and savage their attacker equals (or, preferably, exceeds) that of the violent types! 
Students of self-defense must appreciate that the techniques of combat work only when they are applied with spirit, vigor, and relentless aggression. Doubting himself—i.e. underestimating himself—will only hamstring and block off the otherwise perfectly capable student from hammering his tormentor into the pavement. 
The student can do it. HE REALLY CAN. But he must never underestimate himself when confronting scum, and as a result “shut down” his capacity to utilize what he has acquired through his training.
Even when facing attack by a larger and stronger foe, the advantage of possessing war-proven combat skills, a vicious attack-minded attitude, and the utter indifference to brutalizing and destroying the enemy right now and without mercy gives the defender/student a huge advantage. But he must realize that he has this advantage, and he must never doubt that he is 100% capable of fully exploiting it when and if he ever must do so. 
Please absorb the message here.
In a sense it can make a dangerous tiger out of a startled pussycat. Once you know your enemy and yourself, as Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy and know yourself; and in a thousand battles you will not be defeated.”

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