The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World (Hardcover)

The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World By Matt Thornton, Peter Boghossian (Afterword by), Robb Wolf (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World (Hardcover)

By Matt Thornton, Peter Boghossian (Afterword by), Robb Wolf (Foreword by)


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In today’s modern world, we are largely isolated from the kind of savagery our ancestors faced on a daily basis. Although violence was as natural to our evolutionary development as sex and food, it has become foreign to most of us: at once demonized and glamorized, but almost always deeply misunderstood. Our hard-earned and hard-wired instincts—our evolved and trained ability to survive and overcome violent encounters—have been compromised. Yet, as even a cursory look at news headlines or a police blotter will reveal, the threat of violent crime is ever-present, and those we’ve entrusted to protect us cannot always be relied upon. The Gift of Violence tells the story of this vulnerability and provides the average person with all the knowledge they need to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of violence and to increase their chances of surviving a violent encounter. Based both on the author’s decades of experience teaching everyday people how to defend themselves and on a rational approach to the scientific data, The Gift of Violence offers clear, easy-to-remember lessons for people of all ages and abilities. It is designed to empower those who’ve been affected by violence or are concerned that they or their loved ones could be—in short, it was written to help good people become more dangerous to bad people. Every reader will be armed with the necessary knowledge to harness the power of violence for him- or herself—and, in the process, to be not just smarter and stronger but also safer.

Matt Thornton has been teaching functional martial arts for more than thirty years and holds a 5th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His organization, Straight Blast Gym, has more than seventy locations worldwide and has produced champion MMA fighters as well as world-class self-defense and law enforcement instructors. He lives with his wife Salome and their five children in Portland, Oregon.

Robb Wolf is a biochemist and author of The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat.

Peter Boghossian is a philosopher and coauthor of How to Have Impossible Conversations.

Product Details ISBN: 9781634312301
ISBN-10: 1634312309
Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing
Publication Date: April 11th, 2023
Pages: 400
Language: English

“Violence as a ‘gift’? Sounds topsy-turvy—and yet Matt Thornton presents his contrarian take at a moment when society itself has gone topsy-turvy. Writing amid a shocking uptick in violent crime and anarchic calls to defund the police, Thornton lays out a proactive regimen for negotiating a world that increasingly feels like ‘every man for himself.’ Or too often, sadly, every woman. This is not just some warmed-over martial-arts primer; it is a seamless mindset with anthropological and sociological underpinnings. And if anyone is qualified to write such a book it’s Thornton, as even a glance at his resume confirms. Consider this a survival textbook for a troubling new era in American life.” —Steve SalernoNew York Times best-selling author of Sham

“For many years Matt Thornton has been one of the most passionate ambassadors of the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu. His new book, The Gift of Violence, examines violence in the twenty-first century. Matt encourages his readers to apply lessons he has learned in Jiu-Jitsu to every aspect of their lives. Above all, The Gift of Violence makes it clear that Jiu-Jitsu is not just a sport; it is also a philosophy that makes one strong enough to forgive, and when necessary, confident enough to fight.” —Rickson Gracie, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts legend

“There is an evolutionary logic to violence that makes it part of human nature. The sooner we understand this fact the better we will be at knowing when and where to apply violence in the most moral and practical manner, both politically and personally. To the latter end, this may be one of the most important books ever written on self-improvement, inasmuch as the lessons imparted within will make you stronger, smarter, and safer. Read it and grow.” —Michael Shermer, founder and publisher of Skeptic Magazine

“Our immediate instinct may be to turn away from violence—to ignore it even, but as Matt Thornton’s book powerfully illustrates, it’s only through fully understanding violence as an essential part of our society and psyche that we can ensure that its appearance in our own lives is minimized. Thornton’s book is an important encyclopedic and philosophical record of our relationship with violence, asking us to consider why it’s important to recognize its early signs, how it can be used effectively as a deterrent, how it can be controlled within us and others, and why we need it at all. . . . At the wrong time and with the wrong intention, violence is destructive and cruel. Given the correct conditions though, it becomes a moral imperative.” —Katherine Brodsky, journalist

“Matt Thornton's book is something surprisingly rare: a serious and empirical examination of violence, and more broadly of human nature and particularly male human nature. A remarkable number of smart people today, as me sainted mother once put it, ‘feel guilty about the fact people are a predator species.’ That is, they begin with the starting premise that our nature is flawed, there is something wrong with biological reality, and we ‘should’ almost all be very different creatures from who we are. Thornton, a martial arts master and skilled writer, avoids this fundamental error. In an enjoyable 400-pager divided into five distinct sections, he discusses the actual biological and cultural roots of violence, the ‘folly’ of both pacifism and bluff machismo, the strategic behavior of predators human and otherwise, and the best empirical techniques for avoiding having to suffer or deal our harm. The book is, if you will, a hit.” —Wilfred Reilly, associate professor at Kentucky State University and the author of Hate Crime Hoax and Taboo