How to kill like Wyatt Earp – Deliberately

Killing someone deliberately is self-defense?


(Spoiler alert: it’s better than killing them “accidentally”)


Gabe Suarez has put out another great article. It’s thought-inducing, has very good points, and is mandatory reading for those of us who are protectors. In it Suarez looks at what Wyatt Earp considered the key to winning gunfights (it is not this). At this point it might be worthwhile to remember that Suarez has won a gunfights (possibly several, I honestly don’t know), and Wyatt Earp is, well, Wyatt freaking Earp.


On the topic of winning gunfights Earp had this to say:

“Perhaps I can best describe such time taking as going into action with the greatest speed of which a man’s muscles are capable, but mentally unflustered by an urge to hurry or the need for complicated nervous and muscular actions which trick-shooting involves. Mentally deliberate, but muscularly faster than thought, is what I mean.”


And Suarez had this to say:

The dichotomy of speed – or taking one’s time quickly – is simply boiled down to “Being Deliberate”.


Now I agree with both of them. Wholeheartedly. But I think we need to clarify this a bit further. I think Suarez came much closer to getting to the heart of matter when he wrote the following 2 things:

“An attack dog bites deliberately, whereas a frightened dog bites out of fear aggression”

And talking about people he knew who had won more gunfights than others he knew:

“They were predators in their hearts and in their minds. And their deliberate actions reflected it.”


What Wyatt Earp and Suarez are getting at is that the people who win the gunfights know exactly what they’re going to do. Not in the sense of “step left, fire once, pirouette clockwise”, but rather they knew they wanted to get home alive, and that they might have to kill someone to do that. They knew what their goal was, and they had decided what price they were willing to pay before  they walked out the door in the morning. So when a situation started developing there was no waffling, no indecision, no uncertainty. They were able to recognise a bad situation, know what needed to be done, and then actually do it.


If shit went down there was no “WhatshouldIdo?Idon’tknow,Idon’tknow!” This kind of man has his “mind right”.


There are 2 different things at play here that we (as self and family protectors) need to get right

1 – Mental game: Wyatt Earp knew his goals. There was no waffling around, he knew he was going home alive that night and because of this he knew he might have to kill someone to do it. He knew what price he was willing to pay and he made his peace with that. He was willing to kill. And not just in a kinda, maybe, “I’m sure I could do it” kind of way. This is a predator mindset, there are no mixing words about this. The Tiger isn’t happy, or excited to kill his prey, but he’s hungry and will hunt, stalk, chase down and kill as quickly as possible.


For humans this does not translate to being eager or enthusiastic. Nor does it mean being afraid and scared. You don’t get all excited when you slap a mosquito. And even if you’re terrified of the spider in your bathtub you don’t kill it in fear – you calculate angles and trajectories, time it just so, then you launch the phonebook at him. Just like you don’t have emotions when cutting you piece of chicken for supper, so to you can deliberately take the life from the man in front of you the second you’re certain that he’s going to try kidnap your wife.


If your mental game is right then you kill the threat on purpose, deliberately. The alternative is to kill him “accidentally”, like the dog that bites out of fear.


This is the essence of the mental game. If you’re deficient here then nothing but luck (and the well-timed application of overwhelming violence) will save you. Predator mindset (Tiger is hungry; goal is to eat and live; actions are kill this thing as quickly and low risk as possible).


2 – Removing uncertainty: Wyatt Earp was not a man full of doubts. When someone was going to try kill him I doubt Wyatt Earp didn’t know exactly what was going down. The more uncertain you are, the less likely you are to do what needs to be done. If you can minimise uncertainties (if you can KNOW that the guys walking up to you are going to attack) then you will have far fewer qualms about hitting the BG before he can become a danger to your family.


You need to know when bad shit is going to happen – and this means you need have a well-ingrained list of shit is/is not about to happen factors, and the awareness to look out for them in Fringe Areas. The three guys spread out along the wall (positioning) of the parking lot (fringe area). The young guy with the too big smile (anomaly) suddenly stepping in front of you (positioning) to ask the time (interview). The sudden pain behind your ear (attack). The quick shuffling of feet behind you (positioning & attack).


Also, if a guy walks up too close and asks for a light, but then you create space and begin orbiting him – and he let’s you and never comes closer, well, this guy is probably just fine and doesn’t need punching.


Of special note here: BG’s prefer surprise attacks for exactly the reasons you seek to avoid them/minimise the surprise part of them. So count on being surprised or overwhelmed or (more likely) both. Your training should reflect this as much as possible. The reason why we study the Interview and Positionings (out situational awareness game) is to minimise the chances of being surprised.


Know the Interview techniques. Know the BG Positionings. Work on your flinch/default position. Wyatt Earp probably didn’t stand around looking puzzled when a bullet cracked past his head – he probably acted.


You are the predator

You’re putting the groceries into your car and as you grab the next bag you see feet next to your trolley. When you look up the guy smiles at you and you notice he has friends around him (actually around you). Are you going to hit the closest guy? Are you going to ask “Can I help you?”. What are you going to do? Not sure? Uncertain? Kinda kills your decisiveness. Feels like you’re more the prey now?


You saw the guys checking people out as they walked out the shop (analysing, not perving). Then they followed you towards your car. They even changed directions when you did. They keep checking around and behind them as they close in. Now how much are you going to hesitate in trying to get back to the shop and dropping any one of these guys that tries to stop you? Feels more like being the predator and they’re the prey if they try anything.


Having the correct predator mindset is much more useful if you can spot the trouble coming.


It’s actually a life lesson

This is actually about more than just self defense – it’s about being purposeful, deliberate and decisive in everything you do in life. If you aren’t purposeful in your life, then your life is accidental. If you don’t figure out the choices you can make in your life, and you aren’t decisive about them – then you can’t go whine about things happening to you because you let them. If you’re not decisive, then you’re choosing to let circumstances dictate your life for you. Life doesn’t happen to you, you chose to give up control over it (just like weeds don’t just take over your garden – you chose to prioritise watching TV over taking care of your garden).


You have a choice every day. You can let life happen to you, or you can to happen to life.


2 thoughts on “How to kill like Wyatt Earp – Deliberately”

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