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Ta Kung
05-15-2003, 05:40 AM
Hi!

Is it just me, or do other people also see a BIG difference between a self defence situation and a fight?

Most people seem to mix these things up. IMHO self defence is about neutralizing a threat, preferbly before it occors, or (failing that) when it occurs. A fight is merely "I'll punch you because you punched me" and so forth, until a bouncer or cop stops it. Or until one gets KO'ed.

Some people use sparring as a measure of how effective your self defence is. I think that's wrong. It's only a measure of how good a fighter you are. Maybe I'm nitpicking here, as I'm well aware that a good fighter surley has a big advantage when he get's into a self defence situation (or a fight). A forceful blow can end the situation in a sec.

Also, a self defence situation can easily lead to a fight, if you don't get it over with quickly.

Any thoughts? Or am I just fumbling in the dark and playing with words here?

Best wishes,

Patrik

paw
05-15-2003, 06:04 AM
Any thoughts?

Well, they may not be helpful, but....

To me, "self-defense" is more of a legal term. Does a particular person have a legal right to defend themselves in a particular situation? And if so, what level of force is allowable by law?

A "fight" is more of a sporting term, where two or more individuals agree on a time, a place and possibly some rules and then engage each other within that context.

But a fair number of people use the two terms interchangably.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
05-15-2003, 06:48 AM
Agree with Paul in part, self-defence always puts me in mind of a more formal description of an altercation with a slight levening of self-justification. Can't agree with Paul's definition of fight = sport as I've heard it used to describe everything from a gang-fight to a heated discussion between partners. Essentially, I think they're the same, but just used in different contexts with fight being more informal and self-defence normally meaning you were involved.

bob_stra
05-15-2003, 06:51 AM
Hi!

Is it just me, or do other people also see a BIG difference between a self defence situation and a fight?

Patrik
Yes, but I prefer to think of it as self defence and self offence.

I agree that folks confuse em though. From both sides of the table (combatives Vs Sporting).

Charles Hill
05-15-2003, 07:25 AM
My own personal definition is that a fight is where all participants have chosen to be involved in the altercation. Self defense is when at least one person has not chosen to be involved. The goal of a fight is to hurt another person, while the goal of self defense is not to get hurt.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-15-2003, 07:56 AM
That's pretty good Charles.

Isn't fighting a much narrower activity? Regardless of how, why, or what the legal ramifications are, it seems like a fight would at most describe the actual situation where two people are... um... altercating.

On the other hand, self-defense could include an altercation but also all kinds of smart decisions and actions taken to avoid getting into a direct altercation, like avoiding certain places, traveling with friends, pushing an elevator button and going back upstairs, calling for help, locking the car door, showing the potential assailant the .45 tucked in your belt, etc...

Jeff R.
05-15-2003, 08:51 AM
You can be fighting me while I'm defending myself.

A fight encompasses resistance, escalation, battle. Self-defence is just the way it sounds, keeping oneself from getting hurt. In defending oneself, one may put up a fight.

"Fight" tends to be offensive, whereas self-defense SHOULDN'T be.

In most martial art--Boxing, Tae Kwon Do--defending oneself involves escalation, offensive-defense, i.e., blocks that are also strikes, and this creates escalation. However, the purest form of defense--self protection--is putting up no resistance, causing no escalation, not feeding into the attack. Since a fight represents resistance, if there isn't any, then there is no fight, Ainuke.

DGLinden
05-15-2003, 09:22 AM
Wow, these are all good thoughts.

Let me ask a question. Have you ever had your sensei ask you to attack him? Remember how that felt? Do you remember looking for an opening and feeling, frustrated, helpless and a bit afraid? There were no openings!

Well, that was not a fight. That was self defense. However when you attacked one of your sempai and he and you wrestled all over the mat, well... that was.

I hope I have been clear here.

Paul Klembeck
05-15-2003, 12:14 PM
IMHO fighting and self defense are totally different. In a fight the two parties agree to fight and consequently each assumes the other has some ability to hurt them, so the fight operates much like sparring, with defense and offense balanced.

In a self defense situation the attacker has already decided that the victim is a pushover and will generally just attack (often without warning) with little thought of defense (otherwise they would just pick an easier target, self defense situations aren't about honor). This gives the defender a major suprise advantage if they resist and avoid the initial blow. Consequently the dynamics of the encounter are very different.

Bronson
05-15-2003, 01:09 PM
My own personal definition is that a fight is where all participants have chosen to be involved in the altercation. Self defense is when at least one person has not chosen to be involved. The goal of a fight is to hurt another person, while the goal of self defense is not to get hurt.

I'd agree with that.

I once asked an officer after class about the legalities of self defence. He did his best to explain it in layman's terms. What it (kind of) boiled down to was this: If someone has there finger in your face and is threatening you and you step up and say "bring it", you have now agreed to fight. In the eyes of the law you are both equally at fault. In that same situation if you just kick him in nads, it was self defence (provided you can convince the jury that you felt your physical being was in immediate danger and that the assailaint had the ability and opportunity to carry out his threats, and there was no available opportunity to escape without putting yourself at more risk of injury.) :confused:

Bronson

Mary Eastland
05-15-2003, 08:09 PM
For me, self-defense is what I do if someone tries to hurt me....verbally, emotionally or physically. I don't fight.

I do practice Aikido......I liked what Mr. Linden wrote...I have experienced both.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido

Charles Hill
05-16-2003, 09:41 AM
I think that it is important to realize that these are all personal definitions (except for the legal ones, of course.) For me, I look for the definition that is most useful for my training. The meaning of the words is the meaning we attach to them.

To be very specific, I think we are talking about a self defense situation, not self defense. With "self defense," Kevin's definition, "smart decisions and actions," seems to cover that pretty thoroughly.

As far as the legal aspect, I have heard that if I use abusive language leading up to a situation, the judge will likely view it as a fight, not self defense. Does anyone know about this?

Dave Miller
05-16-2003, 09:48 AM
At the risk of stepping on some toes, I think that the notion of "what self-defense means to me" is fairly pointless. The simple fact is, standing before a judge saying, "from my perspective, it was self defense" will still get you thrown into jail if it was not, in fact, self defense.

It seems to me that the crux of this debate lies in the "my style can beat up your style" type of discussions. "When I see an aikidoka in the ring with a kick boxer" is talking about fighting, not self defense. I think that it's pretty clear, historically, that this sort of "exhibitionism" is not what the founder had in mind.

This dichotomy also speaks to the issue of the "realism" of aikido attacks and other related topics.

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.

;)

stoker
05-16-2003, 10:00 AM
The 'self-defense' argument I hear is the "Drunk Uncle at the superbowl party who mistakes you for a referee and takes a swings at you but you don't want to hurt him" and all you want to do is quickly control him without hurting him. You may WANT to send the uncle in to orbit or you may just want to lock him up quickly but YOU have control and make the decision.

Dennis Hooker
05-16-2003, 10:01 AM
For my opinion please see the following at the Shindai website

http://www.shindai.com/articles/hooker/fighting.htm

Dave Miller
05-16-2003, 10:10 AM
Nice essay, Dennis. I like that a lot, especially the part about how the military, Karate, etc taught you how to fight but only Aikido taught you how not to fight.

ian
05-16-2003, 11:44 AM
I don't really go for the legal seperation of fight and self-defence; I think that assumes your morality is necessarily based on the law.

I'd pretty much go with Patricks original seperation and I think the distinction is enormously important in self-defence training.

Many martial arts developed 'sports' aspects for fitness esp. for children. Aikido is about dealing with an altercation. The graded response it allows (n comparison to competitive martial arts such as karate) enables you to prevent a fight; and I don't mean in a wishy washy fight avoidance or 'lets all hold hands man' way. Simple grip breaking techniques and body movement can prevent a fight ever starting.

For example, down a night club one night there was a drunk bloke who kept trying to bounce into us ferociously; I moved out the way, just utilising timing, and he fell into the middle of our group flat on his face, and never came back to bother us again; try and simulate that in a competition!

paw
05-16-2003, 03:53 PM
David Stokes wrote:
The 'self-defense' argument I hear is the "Drunk Uncle at the superbowl party who mistakes you for a referee and takes a swings at you but you don't want to hurt him" and all you want to do is quickly control him without hurting him. You may WANT to send the uncle in to orbit or you may just want to lock him up quickly but YOU have control and make the decision.

Mr. Stokes, as best I understand the laws in my area, I am under a legal obligation to leave the area unless I reasonably cannot. If I cannot, I still have to demonstrate that whatever I do does not exceed the level of force allowed for the situation by law.

Yes, if my uncle's actions are threatening my spouse\lover\kids\whatever .... that may be justification for me staying and attempting to flee with my spouse\lover\kids\whatever .... it's still not a justification to engage my drunk uncle unless I can reasonably show there was no other option.

In other words, as Dave Miller wrote:
At the risk of stepping on some toes, I think that the notion of "what self-defense means to me" is fairly pointless. The simple fact is, standing before a judge saying, "from my perspective, it was self defense" will still get you thrown into jail if it was not, in fact, self defense.
Regards,

Paul

Kevin Wilbanks
05-16-2003, 04:11 PM
Depends on what state you're in and where the superbowl party is. If it's Florida, and the party's at your house, you can probably kill the uncle - just tell the police he wasn't invited. Just to be sure, you might want to rip the DVD player off its perch and tuck it under his arm...

I think in most states you have the obligation to leave the scene if possible, rather than unleash any kind of destructive force on another person, even if it seems like legit self defense... unless you're already at home, in some cases. Florida has a 'castle law' which gives you a lot more options on your own private property (like shooting them in the back as they flee the scene, for instance).

In the case posited, it seems like BS to me, of course. I'd say the uncle deserves any bruises or other minor injuries that might result from being harmonized.

Ta Kung
05-16-2003, 04:22 PM
Good answers all around, thanks a lot! It is interesting to see what other people think about this subject.

For those who question Aikidos function as a self defence system, consider this: maybe Aikido IS self defence training, and fighting (sparring etc) isn't? Maybe Aikido works in self defence, but not as good in a fight? Can you compete in self defence? I think not.

Best wishes,

Patrik

shanman
05-17-2003, 12:18 AM
I really don't see the difference between fighting and self-defense. I believe that you are self-defending when you are in a fight; whether skilled or unskilled.

I don't consider sparring fighting because there are rules etc. Being good at sparring doesn't necessarily mean being good at fighting. I've seen this in practice.

If you doubt Aikido's effectiveness in sparring or fighting or self-defense I'de like to point out the many videos of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I have no Aikido examples,only Judo (and not just Gracie jujitsu) I consistently saw the Judo guys takedown, pin or choke out the other styles...especially kickboxers. To me there is a parallel between Jujitsu and Aikido. It was one reason decided to stop Taekwondo/ Escrima and switched to Tomiki Aikido. It was a hard decision between Judo and Aikido. I'de rather face a kickboxer than a Judo guy anyday.

Mary Eastland
05-17-2003, 08:34 AM
Since there is no competition in Aikido I have some trouble understanding the whole "who wins" part of this thread. I train partly because I never want to be raped again and because Aikido gives me responsibility to look at my part of every situation in my life and because it enriches my spiritual life. But mostly I train because it is so fun and both uke and nage win.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido.

Jeff R.
05-17-2003, 01:32 PM
I really don't see the difference between fighting and self-defense. I believe that you are self-defending when you are in a fight; whether skilled or unskilled.
When you strike at a pool of water, does it fight, or does it yield? If you are doing Aikido, then you should be like the water; no fighting, no resistance, only yielding and redirection. Self-defence; no fighting.
I don't consider sparring fighting because there are rules etc. Being good at sparring doesn't necessarily mean being good at fighting. I've seen this in practice.

If you doubt Aikido's effectiveness in sparring or fighting or self-defense I'de like to point out the many videos of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I have no Aikido examples,only Judo (and not just Gracie jujitsu) I consistently saw the Judo guys takedown, pin or choke out the other styles...especially kickboxers. To me there is a parallel between Jujitsu and Aikido. It was one reason decided to stop Taekwondo/ Escrima and switched to Tomiki Aikido. It was a hard decision between Judo and Aikido. I'de rather face a kickboxer than a Judo guy anyday.
It's interesting because if you can apply a technique, strike, or throw TO someone, then you are fighting, forcing. You can't offend or Aikido someone, or you're no longer doing Aikido.

L. Camejo
05-17-2003, 01:54 PM
Nice concepts folks.

This is an interesting question, since in my book self defence is about defending yourself, i.e. protecting yourself from being destroyed by whatever means may be necessary.

The "means that may be necessary" is directly linked to one's own skill in self protection (regardless of type of training) and ability to effectively use that skill with/against an aggressor and the intensity of that aggression.

The circumstances of defence as well are also important, so self defence may be simply avoiding conflict before it happens, to not enter the need for physical defence, or effectively neutralising the aggression so that it is no longer a threat to your safety in whatever form works at that point.

A fight on the other hand, connotes struggle or use of force that is being successfully resisted at some degree, leading to either a refusal to continue to fight or utilisation of more force, and tactics to gain control or to win.

Self defence situations can escalate into fights in my book, if the situation is not diffused from the outset and the aggressor is capable of resisting whatever solution you put forward to end the conflict, whether it be physical or otherwise.

The Aikido response makes it even more interesting. To me, Aikido is about avoiding or dealing with conflict from the outset (if not before), and not allowing things to escalate into a fight, where a struggle occurs.

However, as a person who does competitive Aikido (and yes it does exist:freaky: ) there are many times when resistance may effectively negate your technique and the situation may "look" like a fight, as you keep trying to do something that effectively puts you in control of the conflict, while the other person tries to stop you.

I think though, that against properly applied Aikido principles, resistance is truly futile, as it presents the opportunity and power for your next technique (whether physical or non) as you blend with the mind and force of the aggressor. The sensitivity of the Aikidoka though, to these changes in tension is another story entirely.

Just my $9.99 on the subject.

Arigato Gozaimashita

L.C.:ai::ki:

Jeff R.
05-17-2003, 02:46 PM
Totally.

Fighting is offensive, an applied force in opposition, resistance.

Self-defense legally represents "by whatever means necessary." But theoretically it can be offensive or defensive.

Boxing, war--defense through offense.

Aikido--defense through non-resistance, no offense.

Competitive Aikido--oxymoron . . . but I don't doubt that it exists. I think we probably just call it by different names.

bob_stra
05-18-2003, 11:35 AM
I'd like to add two more thoughts to this.

First the humorous one

I have an acquaintance that is a high-ranking judoka. In his house, by the door, is a very prominant baseball bat. I found that odd so I asked him about it once.

"Oh, that. That's for the bad guys."

"Makes sense...." I sez.

"Yeah, see, if they're armed, then I don't have to hold back".

;-)

Secondly, I get the feeling that aiki folks poo-poo the idea of "sports competitions" / sparring et al. IMHO I view this type of thinking as a distinct detriment to the study of Aikido. Why is this opinion held so widely today?

L. Camejo
05-18-2003, 12:56 PM
I'd like to add two more thoughts to this.

Secondly, I get the feeling that aiki folks poo-poo the idea of "sports competitions" / sparring et al. IMHO I view this type of thinking as a distinct detriment to the study of Aikido. Why is this opinion held so widely today?
I wonder about that myself sometimes, Bob.

To me, Competitive Aikido = Aikido against someone who knows exactly what you may do and knows exactly how to resist it.

In this practice, the integrity of your technique (kata) can only improve, since you really have to apply what you understand of the principles for them to work against skilled resistance.

This is important in the self defence scenario, as one may find themselves dealing with someone who knows exactly how to negate both verbal and physical aikido pretty effectively. In these times, the options are to switch to a different tactic or dig even deeper to MAKE your Aiki response work by being even more centred under the increased reisistance, and "sticking to your game" so to speak.

I aim to make my Aikido work as well in non resistant situations as in those where people are resisting to their very best. If Aiki is meant to bring harmony out of any type of conflict, then it should be able to work against resistance if the situation arises, without the Aikidoka having to enter the fight (i.e. struggle, war, win/lose) mindset.

To me, competition style randori training helps to a good degree in that area, as we learn to adapt even more with the tactic and rhythm of the attacker, while staying centred and applying the principles, even in the face of skilled and focused resistance.

Just &4.99 to add to the rest.

Onegaishimasu

L.C.:ai::ki:

Jeff R.
05-18-2003, 01:17 PM
I wonder about that myself sometimes, Bob.

To me, Competitive Aikido = Aikido against someone who knows exactly what you may do and knows exactly how to resist it.
But that's the whole point. Aikido techniques are performed well beyond the constraints of thought. Anticipating what Nage is going to do leads to Uke's injury. And if Uke is giving a true attack, then there is little room for making split-second adjustments and resisting, as long as Nage's technique is pure. Of course there is Kaeshiwaza, but I don't know if that can be classified as competitive, as it is simply alternating redirection.

I guess what I'm thinking of as far as defining competition, is more along the lines of grappling, or maybe it's defined by the outcome--whoever gets the pin.

I definitely don't hold anything against competitive martial arts, and I believe that without conflict, Aikido couldn't exist (as the principle of Aikido is 'obtaining harmony through the resolution of conflict'), but as far as competitive--I guess I'm not grasping the working definition.

L. Camejo
05-18-2003, 02:38 PM
But that's the whole point. Aikido techniques are performed well beyond the constraints of thought.
I agree totally.
Anticipating what Nage is going to do leads to Uke's injury.
Not if Uke does not plan to let you get his centre and balance from the beginning and knows exactly which techniques you are capable of doing (the Randori no kata (http://www.ttac.0catch.com/animtech.htm) - 17 basic techniques used for competition).

This is not cooperative paired kata practice, Tanto (Uke) is trying to get you with a quick, and dedicated (though not always) tanto tsuki to the chest, side or back target area, in whatever way that may be possible. There is a lot of faking, jabbing and other distractions designed to set Toshu (Nage) up to be hit with the tanto. The idea is not to even give Toshu (nage) a chance to properly evade the attack, much less get off a technique. And even if nage does start a response, Tanto (Uke) can employ counters from 5 different basic techniques. Of course, both players are aware what the other is allowed to do - rules and stuff, which can be found here (http://www.tomiki.org/rules_shiai.html) .
And if Uke is giving a true attack, then there is little room for making split-second adjustments and resisting, as long as Nage's technique is pure. Of course there is Kaeshiwaza, but I don't know if that can be classified as competitive, as it is simply alternating redirection.
Right, well for the "true" attack thing see above. As may be the case in self defence, when an attacker realises you may be trained in some from of personal defence they are not so willing to offer their limbs all of a sudden. This is why IMHO as Aikidoka we try to get things done right the first time, if not evading the conflict altogether.

Kaeshiwaza is more than just directional change, its sensing for the flaws in Toshu's (Nage's) technique and exploiting them with a tech of your own.
I guess what I'm thinking of as far as defining competition, is more along the lines of grappling, or maybe it's defined by the outcome--whoever gets the pin.
Getting the pin is part of it, but far from all of it. Similar to Judo, more points are awarded the more cleanly the techs are executed. Hence, if your tech looks/works in shiai the same way it looks/works during kata, you should get an ippon. Of course, techs applied with a compliant uke and those applied a moving, resisting tanto wielding competitor are hard to compare. This is where adaptation and evolution of the kata starts taking place.
I definitely don't hold anything against competitive martial arts, and I believe that without conflict, Aikido couldn't exist (as the principle of Aikido is 'obtaining harmony through the resolution of conflict'), but as far as competitive--I guess I'm not grasping the working definition.

Understandable, and I agree. It took me a while too :cool: and have had to explain it to almost every Aikido sensei I have ever personally met from other styles. Part of the neverending development process I guess :)

Hope this helps to clarify - the best clarifier though tends to be experience. Apologies for diverting from the main topic all.

L.C.:ai::ki:

Jeff R.
05-18-2003, 05:00 PM
Yeah, I hear you. (And I have to say that I appreciate your taking the initiative to have conversation rather than resorting to trivial sarcasm and blatant-straw-man-misinterpretations that I have seen all too commonly in other posts. Thank you.)

What you're talking about sounds a lot like the Mongoose Aikido I've mentioned before. I think it just boils down to semantics for me, because I thoroughly enjoy the more "combative training" as well.

What some may call Competitive Aikido, I think I am calling Mongoose Aikido. Regardless, however, I am always interested in learning other methods and indulging in productive conversation.

Thanks again.

bob_stra
05-19-2003, 12:15 PM
but as far as competitive--I guess I'm not grasping the working definition.
I think this carries the flavour of what I'm trying to express.

(Please excuse / ignore the sales pitch)

http://www.rmax.tv/nature.html

I think of sparring as "hard work" and the bulk of our paired practice as "soft work".

Dave Miller
05-19-2003, 12:59 PM
Lest we forget, there is indeed a school of competitive aikido. Tomiki, who was a world-class Judo player (trained under Kana), had the notion of applying the sport principles of Judo to Aikido as a way of making it more popular and accessible. As a result, there are two broad categories of Tomiki ryu today. One is the competitive, "sport" version, often called "Shodokan Aikido" and the other is systems such as Fugakakai and KiHara.

Hanna B
05-21-2003, 10:00 PM
Hi!

Is it just me, or do other people also see a BIG difference between a self defence situation and a fight?

Most people seem to mix these things up.I could not agree more. Mark MacYoung (http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/) has an interesting page on self defence (although I do not agree on everything).