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Dave Explains The NESS Brothers

By Dave Spaulding

I have been studying armed conflict my entire life. After sitting down in 1976 with a veteran of the trench warfare of WWI, I became hooked on speaking with everyone I could who had been in armed conflict. I have combined what I have been told with my extensive training and personal experiences of 30 plus years in law enforcement (which included time in SWAT and undercover operations) and not only developed a methodology of instruction, but an approach to how I view the world I live in. My wife calls it “controlled paranoia” in which I trust little of what goes on around me and expect nothing when it comes to the tools I carry with me. If I expect nothing, why do I carry them? It’s not that I doubt their ability to function properly when I need them; it’s that I do not expect them to have an instant effect on anyone I might use them on. If I don’t expect the punch I throw or the rounds I fire to work instantly to stop a determined aggressor, then I will quickly launch into a contingency instead of standing there in utter amazement thinking, “Wow…it worked so good in the commercial” or “The gun magazine said this was the ultimate man stopper. WTF!”

If there is one “truth” in all of the lessons I have learned it is combat is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. John Steinbeck was absolutely correct when he said “The final weapon is the brain, all else is supplemental.” Weapons are a means to an end, not the end result. Gun people have a fascination with gear which is fine, but gear does not win the fight. The battle is won via the preparation that goes into the fight before it ever happens and the best fight is the one that never takes place. I remain amazed at the number of people who attend combative training and look forward to being in some type of altercation. It doesn’t matter if it is hand to hand, knife or gun training, here is always some wanna- be Ninja at the end of the course that can’t wait to be “tested” or get a “notch in their gun”. It’s as if they feel they will be part of some warrior club or Ninja fraternity with a greater status in life. They picture themselves the heroic victor instead of the dead schmuck. Let me give you a piece of harsh reality…every time one enters conflict they run the risk of losing! It doesn’t matter how much training you have, skilled you are or how many muscles, s@it happens and nothing can assure victory.

Even the great warrior philosopher Sun Tzu understood that the best battle was the one that never takes place. I believe there to be a Hierarchy of Threat Management that goes in this order: avoid, evade and counter. Conflict should be avoided at all costs. Don’t go to the bad parts of town, don’t hang out with questionable people, don’t commit criminal acts…basically don’t do stupid stuff, it’s that simple. That said, Murphy is alive and well and sometimes will deal us a crummy hand. Your car breaks down in a bad area of town, you make a wrong turn and get lost in “no man’s land” or you just happen to cross paths with someone who likes violence. In such situations the best thing to do is avoid conflict. If you have a flat tire, drive on the rim until you get to a more secure place, after all, you can buy a new rim but not a new life. If you see someone walking toward you that doesn’t look right, change directions, go into a store, turn around…do anything but make contact with someone who might do you harm. But if conflict comes your way and after your best attempts to avoid and evade have failed, then you must counter with GREAT enthusiasm! This is not the time to worry about liability or legal ramifications. It is the time to be an active participant in your own rescue! To think about what may happen in court after the fact will just hinder your ability to fight so don’t think about it!

For years I have advocated what I call “The NESS Brothers” as a way to remind me and my students of the proper mode of thought as I go through life. Avoidance and evasion are achieved through greater awareness while countering a threat is all but impossible without the willingness to do so. If I were to make The NESS Brothers look like a mathematical equation, it would look like this:

AwareNESS + WillingNESS = Prevail!

Both of these words mean multiple things beyond the obvious. Yes, awareness means knowing what is going on around you at all times, but is also means knowing what is normal in the environment in which you live and work, what and who should be there and what/who should not. I believe that human beings really do have a Sixth Sense (no, not talking to dead people) that tells them when something is out of kilter, the hair on the back of the neck, gut feeling or women’s intuition…whatever, but listen to it! Doing so may require no more action than just standing back and watching for a few moments but what I can tell you is whenever you are in doubt about something, there is no doubt…don’t! If you don’t know, don’t go.

Willingness is certainly being willing to do whatever it takes to prevail. Forget “survive”, that’s what you do when you have no say in what is about to happen, it means “to remain in existence” and I want to WIN! The concept of willingness has never been better expressed than in John Wayne’s last movie THE SHOOTIST when he explains to Ron Howard about gun fighting:

“It’s not being fast or even accurate that counts, it’s being willing! I found out early that regardless of cause or need most men aren’t willing. They’ll blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger and I won’t!”

After decades of study and many interviews, I have come to realize the advantage in armed conflict does not go to the man (or woman) who can shoot the tightest group or the fastest string of shots, it goes to the one who is the most ruthless, the one who kills without thought or reservation and that is very few of us. Mindset is defined as “a course of action based on a previous decision, a set path based on reason and intellect” and few normal people think about killing another human being ahead of time, most will find such thought disturbing or at least a bit strange, but it is the single biggest factor in whether or not you will win in armed conflict! It is what willingness is all about. Part of my controlled paranoia is having a plan to kill everyone I come in contact with. It’s not that I want to; it’s that I will and to be quite frank, it gives me a certain peace of mind regardless of how demented it might seem.

Willingness also means being willing to train/prepare at your own expense, willing to buy whatever equipment you might need and being willing to stay abreast of new information or techniques. The NESS Brothers is really a lifestyle commitment to ensure that when danger comes to visit you or your loved ones, you will have the wherewithal to take action no matter how much you may not want to. In the end, it is all up to you…plan wisely.