Re: Non-Harmful Techniques
Tohei Akira Sensei once said: "Harmony is very important in Aikido. If you are attacked by a man with a gun, don't respond with a tanto." (my translation from the Japanese) Basically, good harmony means "don't bring a knife to a gunfight." By the way, he said this years before Sean Connery said it in "The Untouchables."
Harmony does not mean being a strict pacifist. Join, then lead. If a person is being an asshole, maybe pitching them with a kotegaeshi is not the answer. Maybe you should find out why that person is being an asshole. Maybe they have a perfect right to be an asshole at that point.
Most people trying to diffuse a situation make the mistake of getting in between the people in a dispute. That just puts the focus on you and makes you the new target. You have to stay off to the side and lead both sides to a new direction rather than direct confrontation. That is best done from an oblique angle.
I remember not knowing this back in my bouncing days and getting smacked in the back of the head with an ashtray by the woman being hit around as she tried to protect "her man" that was abusing her and I was trying to stop.
I learned to stay off to the side and engage both sides of the conflict from the side unless there was the danger of imminent grievous injury to someone. I also learned that people who become violent become violent because they feel that they are losing control of the situation and violence is one way for them to feel like they are back in control. To diffuse the situation, you have to let all sides feel that they are back in control of the situation. You can only do that by not intervening physically. Once you do, you become part of the problem system and will not be able to extricate yourself without controlling everyone (a very difficult thing to do without putting them all down on the ground in a heap). You have to intervene without physical contact and lead them to a satisfactory conclusion by joining with their emotions and needs (understanding and providing them with some of what they want -- a sense of control over their situation).
In the cases where that is not possible, where they will not be led to a peaceful conclusion, destroy and have no qualms.
On the other hand, you better first ask yourself, what makes you a better person than the ones in the dispute? What makes you an appropriate arbiter? If you decide that is because you are calm and can see both sides of the problem, then you should be able to lead them to a peaceful conclusion without physical intervention.