JUST THE OTHER DAY our district attorney responded to increasing student violence in our schools with a proclamation (printed in our local paper) that any teacher who intervenes in a fight(s) between students, or a melee between a group of students will not be prosecuted by his office.  I think the DA’s actions are commendable because something has to be done and for eons teachers have been timid about intervening in fights out of fear of being prosecuted, fired, sued, and, oh, yes, injured.

Thing is, giving teachers carte blanche on the ramifications of intervention is a good thing, save for the fact, as I am about to point out, that without proper training, intervening might not be the wisest thing a teacher can do for tactical, legal and medical reasons>

Why?  I hope you are asking.  

Untrained teachers (and security/police, for that matter) will rely on their natural (untrained) instincts to separate fighting students, some of whom may be bigger, stronger, meaner than said teacher.  Meaning, more often than not, they will try to step in between the fighters and shout out instructions, such as “Jon, Larry, stop fighting!”

Why Won’t This Work?

Basically, both fighters are under the influence of Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight).  One fighter is angry & aggressive.  The other is probably afraid for his or her life.  Both aggression & fear are triggers for SNS Activation!  Under SNS, the fighters’ brains and bodies are flooded with stress hormones (epinephrine, nor epinephrine, cortisol) resulting in the following:

  • Loss of the ability to process the consequences of his or actions.
  • Auditory Exclusion.
  • Visual Dysfunctions, such as the loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision), loss of near vision, inability to focus.
  • Loss of ability to think & communicate (selective attention).
  • An Inability to distinguish a teacher giving commands from the sidelines as a teacher.
  • An Inability to hear a teacher’s commands!
  • And, If & When a Teacher Steps in between the Fighters, a Tendency To Interpret the Teacher as another Fighter Trying to Join the Fray, Meaning..
  • Chances are good one or both fighters may attack the intervening teacher!

In short, the fighters lose the ability to think and act out of their new cortex, or Smart Brain.  Instead, almost every thought and action stems directly from their (Lizard) Primitive Brain.


  1. Always approach fighting student from the rear.
  2. Give loud, repetitive commands to break through the auditory exclusion!
  3. Identify yourself as the teacher/security clearly.
  4. Use a prescribed balance displacement separation technique in such a manner as to protect the student you are separating.
  5. Move the student’s center of gravity (COG, or Pelvic Bowl) quickly so that he or she is removed from the battle-scene quickly.
  6. Verbally reassure the student.  Provide medical treatment, if required.

Balance Displacement Techniques are easy and simple.  However, some training is required.  I teach a course called Disruptive Student Management (DSM).  Contact Action Fighting Arts, LLC. for more information (

In the next post, I will talk specifically about separation techniques.

Until then, stay safe.

The Hammer

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