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Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Survival Favors the Prepared Mind--Robert Crowley

This book stands alone as an introduction to the context of self-defense. There are seven elements that must be addressed to bring self-defense training to something approaching 'complete.' Any training that dismisses any of these areas leaves you vulnerable.

1. Legal and ethical implications. A student learning self-defense
Paperback, 223 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by YMAA Publication Center
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Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, comprehensive book on PREPARING YOURSELF for facing unexpected violence. If you are looking for an encyclopedia of techniques on different ways to beat up people, this IS NOT the book for you. In fact, there are only a few techniques discussed in this book. As Miller makes clear, getting out of a situation unhurt is the ultimate objective. Use of proportionate force should only be a last resort and only for very good reasons (saving "face" is not a good reason).

I have always avoide
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any student of martial arts
The mission of this sobering and thoughtful book is straightforward: to prepare the reader for every aspect of a possible violent encounter. The book contains lots of graphic examples of violent situations (many from the author's long personal experience as a corrections officer) and a great deal of very practical advice. Like any good book on violence, its clear, overriding message is that the best approach to violence is to avoid it; in fact, the "Avoidance" chapter is the longest chapter in t ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the VERY BEST books on self-defense EVER! Rory tells it as it is...upfront and in your face. You will be surprised as to what you can learn from this book that might save your life.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book on self defense by Rory Miller. The key point here is that the "fight" itself isn't the only part -- there's a lot of pre-fight preparation, escalation, and then post-fight response as well. The one area where I'm not totally sold is the trying to distinguish the types of attackers ("Monkey Dance" vs. "Social Monkey Dance" vs. more transactional/resource predators, "process predators", etc.). I like to keep things simple, especially for someone for whom violence isn't a primary occu ...more
Kater Cheek
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I can't say this book was notably different in quality than MEDITATIONS ON VIOLENCE, which I gave 5 stars, but I didn't like this one as much. This book covers a lot of the same material as MEDITATIONS ON VIOLENCE, except that it has a brief overview of force law. The information wasn't better the second time around.

I can sum up the content of this book in one sentence "If you think you're good in a fight, you're a dumbass who is going to get himself killed." Basically, training in a dojo is not
Rory Lynch
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psych, must-read
Reasonably often, I read a book and think "So-and-so would get a lot out of this book." Sometimes I read a book and think "I really wish I'd read this earlier." Facing Violence falls into a unique category of "I really wish I'd read this earlier", "I'm going to read this again", and "literally everyone should read this book."

Facing Violence covers all of the aspects of being assaulted other than the actual physical violence. The author covers everything from how to recognise developing threats,
Kimberly Gallagher
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is great for everyone. It brings up excellent psychological and physical aspects of self defense, how to use situational awareness to keep you out of dangerous situations in the first place, when and how to de-escalate building situations, when to run, and what to do if you must stand and defend yourself, and the possible legal repercussions of going to far. It deals with mental, emotional, and physical effects of violence, fear, and adrenaline rush. Excellent and very comprehensive!
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is quite an eye-opening book, especially for readers like me, who never really thought much about violence from the first person perspective. It's also alarmingly unsettling to imagine how I would react (or rather, the lack of reactions) to any of the scenarios mentioned in this book. It gives me chills and lots to think about in terms of where to place myself to avoid becoming part of the engagement.

I would recommend this book to all women in particular. A 3.5 star book for me.
Susan Peterson
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you teach martial arts or self defense, especially if you teach young men, you must read this book. It covers the dynamics of violence, both violence perpetrated by social predators and violence that stems from social posturing and dominance behavior (the "monkey dance").
As an author, I have a lot of respect for Sgt. Miller's writing abilities. The book is nicely structured and tightly written. The style matches the content perfectly--clear, straightforward, no-nonsense. As a martial artist w
Nathaniel Cooke
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly insightful and well written; laud out in a very clear way Facing Violence takes you through the psychology of aggression and proposes some very effective ways of managing.

Author Rory Miller's obvious and extensive experience in this field speaks through the pages of his book and gives the author an in-depth insight into his field whilst ensuring the book is accessible to the every-man - not an easy thing to do when discussing a topic most people will (thankfully) have very little expe
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
After months of being on my "reading bookshelf" I have moved Miller's book back to "to read." I cannot seem to finish this book. The book has it's moments, but the content, in my opinion, is too dry. He addresses nearly everything a person will face and experience in a violent situation. Even so, as he himself says in his book, a book cannot prepare you. Similarly, reading a car manual will not completely equip you to drive a car. The book shares Miller's experiences and illustrates his techniqu ...more
Timothy Nichols
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a number of other readers have noted, there's a lot of overlap between this book and Miller's first offering, _Meditations on Violence_. Reading both of them won't kill you, but if you're going to read one, read this one. With the benefit of additional time to reflect and additional years of teaching and practice under his belt, Miller returns to the same basic subject matter with a stronger presentation.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book overall, but chapter 4 (the chapter on avoidance) is absolute must read material for any man who wants to diffuse or deal with what the author calls the "monkey dance" of male on male predatory violence.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the second of Miller's books that I've read. This one has a bit of "how-to" feel at times. Worth reading, especially since my work brings me into contact with some unsavoury characters.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A thorough book which gives practical advice on how to prepare yourself for facing violence, everything from legal, to mental, to ethical.

You won't find specific fancy ninja CIA moves in here, Miller deals primarily with identifying situations and how to get out of them without physical conflict. There is a significant amount of personal anecdotes which show how he himself has de-escalated certain situations, or read their coming and hoofed it out of there before it became inescapable(always a w
Charles J
While “Facing Violence” is an interesting book, it seems to me its practical usefulness is limited. It will probably help, to some extent, in “Preparing For the Unexpected.” But the reader shouldn’t get overconfident as a result. It’s like being an armchair general—there is nothing inherently wrong with analyzing things from the comfort of your chair, but it’s not the same thing as, and does not prepare you for, actually being a general. Same here. Moreover, the book is dated by its complete omi ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this interesting and helpful in thinking about situations I hope to never encounter in my life - and what I would do if I did. That said, the book is mainly written for law enforcement pros, it seems, quite directed to them and also to a decidedly male audience. Seems to assume no women would ever read it, and in this #metoo moment, it has a number of sexist passages. Also, it has a heterosexist bias, as in, when the author is addressing his expected male audience, he's also assuming the ...more
A while back, I wrote a short facebook status that said "Finished my first read through of Rory Miller's Facing Violence last night. Will be starting a second read through before reviewing it. Short version: if you teach or train self-defense, read this book."

Upon a second reading, my views have not changed substantively. Facing Violence is an extremely important book, and anyone who has any reason to want to understand how to deal with violence should read it. Martial artists and self-defense i
Aleksander Styrvold Kristoffersen
A well written and understandable book. The author knows his stuff. And as he says; this is not a book for those who urge to pick a fight, this is a book for those who want to avoid fights. You can easily avoid fights if you learn how to read situations around you, and how you deal with them will determine your outcome. And if you get into a fight you should know the consequences of your actions. That’s what Miller explains in this book.

I will read this book several times in the future. I highly
Jon Keeling
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you have a serious interest in protecting yourself, you should consider reading this book and everything else Rory Miller has written.

If you teach self-defense professionally, you MUST read everything written by Rory Miller if you care about doing your job the best it can be done. This is not debatable. Every competent self-defense instructor would agree with this statement.

I teach Karate and self-defense internationally and have for several decades. And I talk about Rory Miller often. When
Janne Tyni
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A practical book explaining the different kinds of physical violence (predatory, educational, grouping, monkey dancing..) and how to react (avoid) conflict. Also touches on how to react when there's no way out and the things one should have already worked out before anything happens + what one should expect after the unexpected has happened.
Can recommend to everyone who has to deal with different kinds of people, but do go ahead and skip the 2 chapters on US legal proceedings as they don't apply
Matthew Dambro
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant analysis of violence facing the individual. I have read other books by Sgt. Miller and he never disappoints. He looks at the entire transaction of personal violence from start to finish. This book should be savored a few pages at a time. Sometimes, I could only read a few lines and then had to set it down and think deeply about the passage. This slim volume will change your whole frame of reference about violence.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pleasantly surprised with this one. Focuses on the difference between escalation and deescalation and how the best way to win a fight is to prevent it from ever happening. Could have titles it “how to step away from the brink”.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very useful and interesting book to read, in these not so nice days.

It takes not to long to read and it is easy to read and understand.
I recommend it to everyone that maybe involved in some form of violence.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rory does it again! Excellent coverage of planning for the unexpected!
Chris Hess
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really outside my normal purview, but some interesting insight on some situations I hope to never find myself in.
Jericka Beeman
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rory Miller is an easy read. Informative, but you don't feel like you're being talked down to. --Not afraid to tell you to grow up.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I thinking person's guide to dealing with violence.
April Hardy
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book includes good information on the legal aspects of self-defense. It's a good book to read.
Helena Handbasket
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent resource for writers who would like a better and more realistic understanding of how action scenes play out in real life.
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Sergeant Rory Miller is a corrections officer, a martial artist, and an instructor in both of those areas.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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