Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Woof?

There is a technique called woofing that involves extreme domination of another individual, either verbally or physically or both. I first learned it from Rory Miller when he came to Austin to teach a seminar.

A common example of woofing is to completely immobilize the person & whisper something in their ear like, “The rest of the class thinks this is just an exercise, but I’m about to make you bleed. There’s nothing you can do to stop me, and no one will help you, they’ll just stand there and watch because they don’t know it’s real...”

The goal might be one of a few things. It might be to incite someone to fight at a higher than normal level of intensity because their adrenaline level skyrockets. Or maybe it’s to see how the person will react. Will they struggle, freeze, cry, give up?

It’s a dangerous game, because to work it must be very convincing and frightening - but it’s also the kind of behavior that can destroy relationships.

Twice this month I’ve been called upon to woof students as the first step of a long drill in which we were trying to get untrained female students to overcome their social conditioning and “unleash the beast”. Both were large groups of women I mostly had never met before.

The first time I was too soft on them and was just being generally annoying, like an older sister teasing her younger siblings. I was told to stop being so nice and do it right. To be effective I had to act like a real predator, saying things like, “I’ve been watching you for weeks, and now that I’ve got you tied up I’m going to fuck you in the ass so hard...” So I said that to the next student up, and it worked, but she never looked me in the face again for the rest of the day, which rattled me.

The next time we did the drill was a couple of weeks later, and I took a different approach. I knew a couple of students were from SafePlace, a battered women’s shelter, but I didn’t know who they were. I wasn’t willing to take a chance on re-traumatizing someone who has actually been assaulted, but I had to get their adrenaline levels up fast or we were just wasting their time. So I grabbed each one by the face, like palming a basketball, shoving her back & pinning her hard against the wall by her face & head. With the other hand I pulled out her ponytail or braid & messed her hair up while saying cruel things.

If they were carrying a few extra pounds I called them a fat-ass.

If they were petite I told them they were weak and pathetic.

If I knew they had children I told them the kid was ugly and stupid and would always make bad grades and be a loser.

I told pretty much everyone they sucked.

It was fascinating to watch their behavior. Some tried to immediately fight, others started breathing heavily, but did not try to fight (they were instructed not to fight me). Others endured calmly, calculating, waiting, plotting ...

After about 10 or 15 seconds I’d release them, yelling “GO!!” and giving them a shove toward their first target.

It was also fascinating, to me, to observe my own feelings about what I was doing. Saying cruel things to people was stressing me out so much my stomach was in knots for hours afterward. But physically dominating them was actually kind of fun. Maybe there’s hope for me in sparring, after all.

Some women chose not to participate, and that’s fine, too. I like that they drew a boundary and stuck with it.

The last two women to go through the drill were friends of mine, which changed things considerably for me. It’s one thing to jack up the adrenaline levels of a stranger when I know it will help her in the end. It’s a whole other ballgame to poke at people you personally care about. But it’s also unfair to them to give them a half-assed version of the drill. So, I told one of them I was having an affair with her husband & told the other her son was stupid & I never liked him. When I released that one, she yelled, “Get the fuck out of my way!!”

Incidentally, it’s hard to woof the woofer, so when it was my turn to go, the first time we did the drill, my instructor, Kelly Campbell, was my woofer. I just shook my head & grinned, so she let me go then suddenly attacked me from behind. She is STRONG! I wasn’t grinning then! I struggled, unwilling to strike her. I wormed and wiggled as hard as I could until she let me go so I could complete the drill. Yes, my adrenaline level was UP!

I want to thank everyone who participated in the ladies seminars in April, especially Kelly and Linda Lyra. Woofing is hard to do (the talking part is, anyway) and hard to endure, but it serves a very important function. I hope the females reading this will come to my monthly ladies-only class at Fit and Fearless in Austin. Held the first Saturday of every month at 11:30, it’s free to any female, so come train and I will only say nice things to you.


  1. 'extreme domination of another individual, either verbally or physically or both.'

    Trust me Parker, you are a natural

    Miss you tons


  2. I miss you tons, too, R! Skype me!