@Ellis...those stories are so weird thay have to be true....thank you for sharing them and thanks for your new columns.
@ George...My feeling about self defense is not to second guess what happened. He was there and he was safe. He was paying attention and knew what to do...who are we, who weren't there to say that we know better than him?
My point was not to second guess anyone's actions. I pretty much take the view that if something worked out, it was the right thing. Often in these things there are multiple "right things". Anyway, make all sorts of decisions under pressure like that, the process pretty much bypasses the rational part of the brain. Almost never can anyone tell you exactly why they did what they did unless they were trained to process under pressure.
I always like Ellis's story about the predator on the train... Ellis was aware, left no openings, and the result was a classic Aikido story of non-violent outcome ny neing impeccable. Except that this was a genuinely nasty person and almost certainly went off and hurt someone far less able to cope with him than Ellis. Was this REALLY the best possible outcome?
I had the same thing with one of my police students. He got called to a ocal mental health facility where a guy had showed up saying he felt like going downtown and shooting someone and the he had guns in the car. The staff got his car keys and kept him busy until my friend arrived. He confronted the guy, who had now pulled a knife, and went through the whole drill about putting down the weapons, truning around etc. The guy ignored him, kept coming down the hallway towards him, and finally, my friend made the decision to shoot. The moment his intention changed, the guy put the knife down and truned around and submitted. My friend had done everything he was trained to do, had stayed cool, didn't panic. exercised restraint, and finally was decisive when it was time. The outcome was just what it should have been.
The problem was that this particular guy was a crazy Neo-Nazi who, two months later walked into a Jewsuh Community Center in LA and shot some children. So, once again, was this really the best possible outcome? Iknow my friend doesn't spend much time second guessing himself, he did his job exectly as he was suppsoed to. But I know he has thought about the fact that he had this guy in his sights and had he pulled the trigger, those children would not have been shot.
I think these stories often have a more complex dimension to them than is generally perceived. The whole non-violence issue is interesting... I think that people prefer the simpler initial result that conflict was avioded. But the fact is that most criminals repeat their offenses over and over before they are caught, The average rapist, for instance, has committed fourteen rapes before he gets caught. So, anything that would have interupted that string of victims would be a good thing.
Only about 1% of the popluation has any interest in martial arts training. Of those folks only a small percentage stays in long enough to acquire any real skills. So, statistically, the chances of a predatory type running into a trained martial artist is very small. On some level, I find the stories about the martial artist who succesfully avoids the conflict and walks away unsatisfying. The one person the predator encounters who actually has the skills to handle that predator and he walks away. It is virtually guarenteed that this same predator will go off and find another victim, one who has little or no ability to defend himself or herself.
Anyway, each person makes his own decisions in these things. I don't think there is any right answer.
But the discussions should be a bit more nuanced than they often are.