GC-152 Experience in Violence with Varg Freeborn

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Varg Freeborn is one of the most experienced men I have ever met in terms of observing violence and criminal behavior first-hand as well as being an active participant in violent encounters. His views, concepts, and ideas are straight to the point and well-articulated.

Varg Freeborn interview: Jump to timeline and some excerpts.

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More information, background, and learning opportunities: https://vargfreeborn.com/.

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20:00 Varg Freeborn: introduction

22:00 Harder to kill: qualifications to instruct

25:00 Violence: on the receiving and giving end…and going to prison

39:02 Violence and physical training

43:46 Reading the crowd, Avoidance, and the vibrations of a room

51:11 Human predatory skills and behavior for defense

01:11 What the training community gets wrong

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[I teach mostly] things that have to do with fighting up close and personal with a firearm or loan and that is more likely geared towards civilians or lone patrol officers, that type of situation. So I try to stay very clearly in my lane, of experience there.

I have a lot going on, but it all has to do with coaching and making people stronger, better, safer, healthier, and harder to kill.

Harder to kill: qualifications to instruct

I try to stay pretty humble, so I’m not gonna get grandiose with this, but the thing that I think would make me qualified is that I talk from experience. When I talk and I teach from experience. I’m passionate about it because these are often things that either kept me alive or mistakes that I’ve made that nearly cost me my life  ̶  or mistakes that I made that did cost me large pieces of my life that I can’t get back. So that makes it very important information to me.

So when I’ve passed that information on to other people, that information is coming from a very intense place. It’s not just something that was dreamed up in a dojo or on a range somewhere. It’s information that is driven by a personal experience that had a great cost.

Prison violence: Varg Freeborn on the anatomy of a prison yard ambush.

Violence, on the giving and receiving end…and going to prison.

When I was 18, I was involved in a pretty serious fight… and I was cornered by three very intoxicated and high individuals that were in a very dangerous condition. I fought my way out of that and I ended up stabbing one of them a couple of dozen times. That led to me being charged, which also led to me, being locked up for five years in prison. So at 19, I began a prison stay that lasted for five years. So 19 to 24 I spent in the brutal world of the penitentiary.

That was a very enlightening experience…a very strong development in my life in terms of who I am…that shaped a lot of my views on violence, my views on fighting, and my views on criminal mindset…I was simultaneously one of them, and also an observer. A person who disliked the people I was around, which made me very tuned into what type of people they were, how they operated, watching every manipulative behavior, predatory behaviors, all of those things were necessary for survival. But also, I was driven by just my sheer dislike of these people. That made me have to understand how they operate.

Violence, true self-defense, and fitness.

You have to get a higher fitness level, but you can’t break yourself down and exercise so hard that you can’t move the next day. You have to be physically capable of fighting to protect yourself, your wife, and kids.

I was in prison during the “good old days”, when we still had free weights and we still had a weight pile and it was still a man’s prison. The fitness journey that started for me there was driven by the need for size and the need for strength, but also the need for speed and agility and readiness.

There was no going and doing a leg day until you can’t walk the next day, because that next day might be a day that you need those legs in a way that will save your life, right? So you learned real quick…and this was down to a science already because there was a generation of guys that have been doing this already, so it wasn’t like this was you were figuring this out. You’re walking into a population of people that were already at their fittest. And they were already at that level where they’re prepared in every single way. So that’s the drive behind that type of fitness.

So when you come out into the free world, here, the majority of the guys that are in a gym are driven typically by some type of egotistical drive: to get big, to be strong, to look good. They wanna pick up chicks…There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s not an element of, I need to do this so I don’t get killed tomorrow. I need to do this quickly so that I can be a competitor in this very dangerous environment.

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Avoidance and reading the vibration of a room.

Situational awareness is important, but few people understand it or train on it. When you walk into a room, you should be thinking, what frequency is this room vibrating at? I know that’s a very esoteric concept but there’s no other way to put it. It’s a feel, you develop it and you can come into a room and you’re like, there’s tension here.

I think these skills become very refined and you could
become extremely accomplished at that so much so that it allows you to become a
very adept predator yourself.

Understand how all of these things work and understand how people react and you can create the illusions of tension where there’s not, or you can create the illusion of relaxation where there’s tension. You understand all these things at that level. And that’s where I get deep into my work on concealment. One of the topics I really work on hard is conveying that to the average person what concealment really means and how far you can use that as fieldcraft, which is what it is.

Concealing how much you’re observing is one of the most important points to address when talking about picking up on cues. Don’t let on what you know and are learning. There are many cues you’ll never pick up on if you’re caught…if you’re detected observing.

“Avoidance doesn’t look good on Instagram. You can’t pose with your new avoidance. There’s no gear, there are no accessories, there’s no cool shit. But avoidance is often the best way to win a fight.”

Human predatory behavior as a part of self-defense

The reason we thirst for savagery is because we’ve tasted
savagery.

We’ve tasted blood. I’ve been soaked in my enemy’s blood. So
I know exactly what it feels like. I know the level of satisfaction that comes
with that on a very personal level. I have to be very careful about how we talk
about this…it can be misunderstood very easily.

People’s orientation to violence and aggression is colored by their upbringing…this upbringing of not being allowed to do it and that violence is wrong. So they feel very strongly against it and you have to change that cultural input. You have to change that hesitation or dislike in order to have a solid, reliable decision-making process during a high-stress life or death event. That has to happen before you can have a reliable thought process during such an event. You have to change those things…but it takes time.

What the training community gets wrong about violent criminals.

I try to push the concept of the higher-order predator. I try to battle two concepts often misunderstood or mistakenly taught. I’m not saying they’re incorrect, but to teach them as if they were universal principles is wrong.

The first thing is that they’re stupid and they pick on the weak, right?

That’s not always true. Some of those guys are straight-up warriors. I’ve met some guys that were incredibly intelligent, incredibly strong and fast. They’ve trained and keep training for the purpose of fighting. There are gangs that have very strict codes about being physically fit and training your mind. They read Clausewitz, they read Sun Tzu…these things are known inside.

The second is this, they’re not like you attitude. This whole mythology about how they’re not like you, they don’t think like you, they’re not like you.

The problem with that is, you wind up looking for unusual, identifying behavior to pick them out, and there might not be any. You’re in line at the grocery store, or somewhere you deal with these people on a daily basis, and you don’t know they’re a threat..because they look like you and they act like you and they talk and walk like you.

Stop looking for things that are different because you’re gonna miss the wolf that’s right next to you.

If you really want to train to defend yourself from criminal violence you should understand criminal violence from violent criminals.

An early draft Varg Freeborn’s Violence of Mind as it was being written.

See live video discussions, join in chats, or ask questions during future conversations by following Daniel on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/danielshaw0369

Support the show! Use the free Twitch Prime subscription that comes with Amazon prime to subscribe on Twitch. Hit that donation button if you’d like, but remember: the best way to support the show is always to share it with your friends.

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