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The First Rule


J. D. Pendry


When I accepted that I wasn’t going to be a rock star, I decided I was going to be Bruce Lee - at least a hillbilly version.  I trained 6 days a week.  I learned enough to be dangerous – mostly to myself.  That was many years ago.  Now that I’m old and decrepit, I can defend myself as long as the moves require both feet to remain firmly planted on the ground.  Colt makes my martial arts weapon of choice.  I’ve forgotten much over the years, but I’ll always remember the first rule of self-defense.  Destroy your opponents will to continue the fight.


When I accepted that I wasn’t going to be Bruce Lee (I know, another failure.), I ended up teaching basic self-defense to college students who were trying to decide if they wanted to be military officers.  Aggressive young men were more easily convinced of the first rule than were timid young women.  You could coax a teenaged male into charging at you.  An instant later, you’d be sitting on his chest demonstrating the ease with which you could break both clavicles and his nose – probably significantly diminishing his desire to continue the fight.  The young women were tougher to convince.  Forget about the Kill Bill movies.  They’re not going to toss around someone that outweighs them by a hundred pounds and they don’t walk around with Samurai swords.  So, you teach them some evil.


If he grabs you and leaves your hands free – he looses.  Immediately jam your finely manicured thumbnails and thumbs into his eye sockets.  Try to rip out his eyeballs.  When he lets go of you to grab his bloody eye sockets, run like hell.”




“If he grabs you from the front and pins your arms, smack your forehead into his nose with all the force you can muster.  Place your hands against his belly.  Make a hard and sudden push away.  You only need a little separation.  When you get it, grab his change purse with both hands and squeeze until it explodes.  As soon as he releases his grip, to fall to his knees and start puking, run like hell.”


“What’s a change purse?....”Eeeewwww.”


And that’s where we are.  We seized the initiative following 911, now it seems we’ve forgotten the important first rule of self-defense. 


Do you suppose we have what it takes to destroy a fanatical opponent’s will to continue the fight?  Do we have a national will stronger than the will of the Islamo-killers?  We all run around with little magnet stickers on our cars.  Does that demonstrate anything?  I think it shows that the car magnet business is booming and people are buying them from guilt.  Slap one of those puppies on your car and you’ve done your part for the troops – and America.


Can I explain to you what it takes to destroy an opponent’s will?  First, you have to pound them relentlessly where it hurts.  You have to take away what they most want.  You have to be willing to pay the price.  When we firebombed German cities and dropped atomic bombs on Japan, we were about destroying the national will of those countries to continue the fight.  We made it too painful for them to continue.  The killers in Iraq are in a concerted campaign now to destroy the will of the Iraqi people.  How long can the Iraqi people hold out?


Our problem is we are fighting different wars.  We’re focused on the sensitivities of the “Arab street”, when the Arab street wouldn’t urinate on us collectively if we were on fire.  While we’re doing that, Abdul-al Killer is trying to destroy our will to continue.  It’s time for us to put our national interests and the security of American soldiers ahead of the sensitivities of the mythical Arab street.


4,000 Americans died on D-day at Normandy.  More than 400,000 died in the war that broke the will of the Imperial Japanese and the Third Reich.  Today, parents won’t even allow their young men to volunteer for military service.  Schools are tossing military recruiters out.  The American news media takes every opportunity to vilify our Armed Forces.  Politicians stand in the halls of Congress posturing for the cameras and debating endlessly and stupidly about nothing.  Sadly, our country does not seem to have the collective will needed to bring our fight with the killers to an end.  Hell, most of us don’t even realize that we are in a fight for our very existence!


This might not be the Memorial Day message you expected, but it’s what I got for you.  On Memorial Day, look into America’s mirror.  Ask the person you’re looking at if he or she could’ve done more to help those who are making the sacrifice and taking the fight to the enemies of our way of life.  Ask if America has the will to finish the job.  Oh, and have a safe, secure holiday.



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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.


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