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When Violence Is The Answer: Self-Defense Instructor Says We Should Be Ready

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Hanna Barczyk for NPR

"Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it's the only answer." 

That's one of the best lines to summarize Tim Larkin's ideology on violence. Larkin is a former military intelligence officer and a self-defense instructor.

An overwhelming majority -- 70 percent -- of the people who come to Larkin have already had an incident occur where they could have used violence. 

Which is why he wrote the book, "When Violence Is The Answer: How To Do What It Takes When Your Life Is At Stake."  He wants to reach the other 30 percent. 

Most of us are taught from a young age never to use violence as a solution, therefore, it has moved out of conscious belief that sometimes it might actually be necessary. 

"We're basically told that if you even look at the subject of violence, you're almost criminal," Larkin said. "The problem is we've stigmatized it so much, that it's only available to predators." 

Larkin said he's making the case that it's simply ok to study the subject, and know how to use it if your life depends on it. 

“My goal is to make sure that by understanding the tool you circle yourself with all of these different layers and make it harder for violence to ever enter into your life,” he said.

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Larkin himself makes a formidable impression - his former military training evident with his physical stature. But he wants people to know physical and mental preparedness is not just for the, as he calls it, "physically elite."  

"Knowing the delineation between what you have to respond to and what you don't have to respond to allows you to live a much more peaceful life," Larkin said. 

He believes one of the most important lessons for people to learn about when to use violence is when to avoid it entirely.

He said people put themselves in situations that put them at risk under the mistaken belief that "they should be able to" park where they want or walk where they want or say what they want to who they want.

He said making better choices can keep a person out of a situation where violence might be needed. 

When it comes to what we should teach kids, Larkin said it comes down to individual maturity levels, but young women usually use the information better than young men. 

"Sexual assault against women is at an all-time high," Larkin said. I've found that training younger men ... they don't have the maturity to understand how to use the information. Women have no interest in communicating with violence, but [they] have to know how to protect themselves." 

Guests

Tim Larkin, author, "When Violence Is The Answer"