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On Killing

February 4, 2010 Leave a comment

In movie combat we often see one individual grab another by the throat and attempt to choke him. And Hollywood heroes give the enemy a good old punch in the jaw. In both instances a blow to the throat (with the hand held in various prescribed shapes) would be a vastly superior form of disabling or killing the foe, yet it is not a natural act; it is a repellent one.

This quote comes from Lt Col Dave Grossman’s book, On Killing, which I picked up after reading the though provoking review at the TKRI blog.

There are plenty of reasons to read Grossman’s book “On Killing”; there are historical lessons to be gleaned, there are matters of strategy to be considered, there are lessons for society regarding the importance of honoring the service of members of its military, there are the lessons regarding drilling and conditioning, Grossman’s discussion of PTSD is very insightful, the list could go on and on. This is an incredibly rich book that not only offers the reader profound insight into the psychology and history of killing in combat, and of preparing men to kill in combat; it also examines and reveals the deep humanity at the heart of professional soldiers.

Personally, I found the book cranked how I thought about fighting 180 degrees. As martial artists, we spend a great deal of time thinking about how to avoid force, and when no other option is available, how to apply it with precision. Grossman’s book talks about the rules governing military combat (which I find fascinating), and then goes one step further to talk about how those who have engaged in extreme violence live with the memory.

If you’re interested in the review (and it is excellent), you can find it at the TKRI blog. If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a copy of the book, it’s currently on sale for 6.99$ at Munro’s Books on Government Street.

Categories: Reviews