Re: My forum pet peeve: "I never got in a fight - the ultimate self-defense!"
I am sure they are!
I suppose my concern is that there seems to be a psychology in Aikido that somehow we can gain these tremendous insights into conflict resolution and gain a great deal of skillfullness in "verbal aikido" or something along those lines. That may be true in many cases I suppose.
I tend to see these not as primary, but secondary. that is, we gain these insights and abilities through first being able to understand the physical aspects of violence and how to physically deal with this stuff.
I believe that once we understand this, and can apply it some what, then we gain more insights to verbal or even non-verbal cues that inform us "more correctly" about what we are experiencing.
I agree that you need to understand where your redlines are in the cool light of day. I firmly believe to do that, you need to practice in a very real and authentic physical manner...not a philosophical one.
Failure to do this results in a disconnection and a dissonance that is experienced in the heat of the moment.
I can tell you I have probably retreated more from situations that I knew were probably not good ones that I would "win" since I have been practicing budo than I have engaged in. So, ironically, I learned to do exactly what the original poster states in the header...the ulimate self defense is the fight I never got into!
I think some fights are simply not worth fighting and as Mushashi is keen to point out, live to fight another day! It is better to yield on the tactical fight than to lose the strategic one!
However, there are some fights that cannot and should not be avoided. For those, we need to completely commit ourselves to our calling and make sure we make appropriate and correct choices in the heat of the moment!
Thanks for the comments Michael!