Take Their Back

Take Their Back

Posted by Matt Little on 28th Mar 2022

"In battle, if you make your opponent flinch, you have already won." - Miyamoto Musashi

In the mixed martial arts world, when one fighter gives the other their back out of fear or panic, the bout is almost always over in short order. My competitive fighting career was before MMA became a sport, but I often exploited this then. I knew if I could press my opponent enough to make them recoil and turn away, the match would be mine. Because of the assignments I held and the areas of Chicago I worked in, I was in literally hundreds of violent physical confrontations in my career as a police officer. Much as in my earlier matches, if I could make them recoil and turn, if I could take their back, I knew that as long as I kept the pressure on, I had won.

I had a gunfight as a cop where the surprise and fear my first round fired instilled in the offender as it struck him caused him to recoil away from me while attempting to fire his pistol wildly. I knew in that moment that unless I let the pressure off I had already won that gunfight. I had taken his back with my pistol in the same way a jujitsu practitioner controls his opponent with a rear mount and choke.

This is a very valuable lesson indeed. Once violence is inevitable, the time for negotiation and de-escalation is done. Your physical response should be legally defensible and proportionate to the threat, but it should also be physically and psychologically overwhelming to your opponent. Break their will to fight. Make them recoil from you in panic and fear. Take their back and keep it until the fight is done and they are no longer a threat.

This principle applies to teams and larger units as well in combat. Like all the other principles of conflict it’s true on the small scale and the large one. Breaking the resolve of the enemy so that they lose discipline and cohesiveness assures victory. Fighting is fighting, and the will is all. Break the enemy’s will and impose yours and you will certainly prevail.