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Old 08-15-2011, 11:51 AM   #26
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: To help or not to help

Basically, I think that someone who pursues Budo as a Path has an obligation to use those skills to protect folks who are not capable of protecting themselves. What else is your training for?

That said, you have to be realistic and understand that ANY time you intervene it could instantly and without warning become a life and death matter. If you don't go into it with that mindset, don't intervene. Also, in a violent confrontation, it makes no sense to intervene unless you actually have the skills to back up your words.

In Seattle during Mardi Gras a number of years ago there was a woman being assaulted by a group of guys and a young 18 year old intervened to help her. They killed him. Just like that. Good intentions without skills just add to the victim count. I suppose you could say that he saved her... but he died doing it and I don't see needless sacrifice as much of an improvement.

Mindset is everything. You get involved in a confrontation, you have to be impeccable. By that I mean you have to accept the fact that you could be seriously injured or killed and you have to be willing to do what is needed to protect yourself and the victim you are intervening to help. Willingness and commitment to do what is necessary and knowing you have the skills to do whatever becomes necessary without hesitation... if you don't have these, it's better not to intervene. Call the police. Make lots of noise, set off a fire alarm, something... But don't get directly involved unless you can take it to the finish if it goes badly. There's simply no point in substituting one victim for another or simply adding to the victim count.

That said, in my own mind there are certain situations in which you simply do not consider your own welfare. A child needs help, a woman is being assaulted, you go to the center and do what you need to do. But you need to be clear that you could die doing it. The power that comes with the clarity that accompanies that willingness is quite tangible and is often enough to take care of an issue. Predatory types are both good at identifying victims and good at deciding when it isn't worth the sacrifice to get what they want.

I have had this conversation wit my sons. My eldest had a good object lesson. Several years ago he spent the summer with his jaw wired shut after he tried to break up a fight at a party. A guy no one even knew came up behind him and cold cocked him, breaking his jaw in two places. The guy wasn't even one of the guys in the fight. I explained to him that there was a reason why the police don't do anything without back up. I told him that, while I wasn't opposed to the idea of intervening, he should never do so without someone watching his back. Anyway, in hindsight it was a cheap lesson he will NEVER forget.

My other son stepped in one night when a couple of guys were drunk and were being abusive to their girl friends. He took issue with their behavior... they took issue with his interference. He showed up back home with a black eye... I asked what had happened and he said "I had to beat them up. Afterwards I helped the girls put them in the car so they could take them home." So, while I was pleased to know that my son's assessment of his ability to handle himself was realistic in the case, I talked to him about the risks involved with fighting at all, even when you are sure you can win. I told him about the Univ of Wash student who took one punch at a party and died on the spot. Now the idiot who punched him is a murderer. So, we had the discussion about doing everything one can to avoid having to get physical while still doing what is right by protecting the ones that need protecting.

I think it helps clarify what you really believe on this subject when it's your kids you are talking about and not just yourself. It puts risks and consequences in perspective.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 08-15-2011, 01:20 PM   #27
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
... it makes no sense to intervene unless you actually have the skills to back up your words....

...Good intentions without skills just add to the victim count. I suppose you could say that he saved her... but he died doing it and I don't see needless sacrifice as much of an improvement....

Willingness and commitment to do what is necessary and knowing you have the skills to do whatever becomes necessary without hesitation... if you don't have these, it's better not to intervene...

That said, in my own mind there are certain situations in which you simply do not consider your own welfare.
Here's a question: if you change the scenario slightly, from being assaulted by a thug to being drowned by a river, does this change your response and the logic behind it? Why or why not?
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Old 08-15-2011, 04:53 PM   #28
Janet Rosen
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Re: To help or not to help

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Here's a question: if you change the scenario slightly, from being assaulted by a thug to being drowned by a river, does this change your response and the logic behind it? Why or why not?
I can't see that anything is different except each respondant's assessment of personal risk will vary depending on their relative skill level in each of those two situations.

In any case I would be doing a rapid risk analysis and going with my gut - there are times I have interceded/will intercede and times I didn't/won't - personally I'd be less likely to jump in the river because I think my risk of throwing my life away in vain is much greater in the river. Based on my life experience to date I have much more faith in my ability to handle human situations than to swim that well in a river (don't get me started on the people who drown trying to save their dogs...).

Janet Rosen
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:43 AM   #29
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Re: To help or not to help

I believe that every real life and death situation is unique and it has its own parameters and...x factors.Although the topic is very interesting, its analysis is difficult because it's like you are trying to put yourself in a hypothetical scenario. So,in essence,you don't know what is the right way to act, unless you're already there facing the danger, where all your training should come out and act accordingly.In real confrontation there is no "invinsible warrior", but then again there aren't "no winning scenarios" either.The spirit of true budo has nothing to do with the outcome.A warrior that died while deffending himself or others is still a warrior, he doesn't have to be victorious, in a real fight you never know.So i guess it is just a matter of perception and personal choise...
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:31 AM   #30
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Re: To help or not to help

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(don't get me started on the people who drown trying to save their dogs...).
Lol. We have a local radio talk show host who one morning during rush hour traffic got out of his car and stopped four lanes of speeding cars to allow a mama duck and ducklings cross the road safely.

dps
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:46 AM   #31
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Re: To help or not to help

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I can't see that anything is different except each respondant's assessment of personal risk will vary depending on their relative skill level in each of those two situations.

In any case I would be doing a rapid risk analysis and going with my gut - there are times I have interceded/will intercede and times I didn't/won't - personally I'd be less likely to jump in the river because I think my risk of throwing my life away in vain is much greater in the river. Based on my life experience to date I have much more faith in my ability to handle human situations than to swim that well in a river (don't get me started on the people who drown trying to save their dogs...).
Hi Janet,

What prompted me to ask my question was the phrase "That said, in my own mind there are certain situations in which you simply do not consider your own welfare", which was a bit at odds with the rest of the post (paraphrased: don't risk yourself to try to help in a situation where you don't have the skill to actually help). The situations may not be analogous, but then again they may be. It's not completely impossible to save someone while drowning in the attempt, it does happen, but much more commonly both victim and would-be rescuer drown (and, possibly, the victim might have lived if the rescuer had run for help instead). It's perhaps somewhat less unlikely to save someone from an attack while getting hurt or killed yourself, but I don't know.

A lot can be encompassed by the phrase "try to help", and maybe that's what we need to focus on. If you take a lifesaving course, they teach you to "reach, row, throw, go" to a person in trouble in the water, in that order -- all ways to try to help someone. A swimming rescue is the very last choice, to be used if other options (safer for you and more likely to have a good outcome for the victim) have been tried. "Try to help" in an attack should be regarded the same way.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:37 AM   #32
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Re: To help or not to help

I think George Sensei is correct, budo is about empowering yourself to make better decisions and be a better person; as a better person, you inherit obligations to improve the world around you. What have you contributed with your life if you do not improve the world around you?

That said, I think the fantasies of thwarting a mugging or saving a baby from a burning building are hypotheticals that are entertaining but not practical. We all have our opinions of what we would do, but the safety to know the chances of encountering the scenario in question are pretty slim. I am impressed by those individuals who I know that have encountered those dangerous situations and I appreciate their actions even if they are not consistent with what I believe.

There are the everyday decisions that we face that take courage and conviction. For some, the two are the same; firefighters, police, military, physicians, etc. These people entertain dangerous scenarios as their role in society. Lifeguards, for example, are equipped to conduct water rescue. Lifeguards receive special training to empower them to perform water rescue. Civilians do not have that special training - a few classes at the YMCA is not training.

However, there is that rung down. A more practical question for most of us, I think, is how can we exercise the fruits of our training in our daily lives? How do you tactfully tell your boss she is wrong? How do you decline a beggar with dignity but conviction? How do you keep your distance from a stranger? How do you compassionately chastise your child?

This is where we prove our hypocrisy, right? We preach on about samurai spirit and courage in class. Enter under the blade, blah blah blah.Then we leave class and avidly avoid confronting our problems.

Helping can be a big thing or a little thing. There is risk in helping. Unfortunately, even asking someone to turn down the music is dangerous. That's a critique about the tolerance of society though. Some people can help big. They have training and skills to inherit danger and manage risk. But even if you can't help big yet we can start small. When was the last time you mowed your neighbor's grass? Or helped an old lady cross the street? Bought the groceries for the single mom in line behind you? Do you call traffic police when you see a car broke down on the side of the road? I think budo is about transforming the answers to these questions from "that's not my responsibility, some else will do it." to "I am able to help so I will".
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:58 AM   #33
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Re: To help or not to help

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I think budo is about transforming the answers to these questions from "that's not my responsibility, some else will do it." to "I am able to help so I will."
Hear, hear.

I don't think the mere presence of risk should dissuade us. It is the level of risk we need to take into account.
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Old 08-17-2011, 06:56 AM   #34
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Re: To help or not to help

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
Lol. We have a local radio talk show host who one morning during rush hour traffic got out of his car and stopped four lanes of speeding cars to allow a mama duck and ducklings cross the road safely.

dps
and then there are those who wouldn't stop to help a hit-n-run victim. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=5013503
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:26 AM   #35
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: To help or not to help

All answers are in the moment...
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:04 AM   #36
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Re: To help or not to help

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Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
All answers are in the moment...
I agree Mary.
Herein lies the difference for in the moment there is no fear, there is no danger, there is no opponent.

Thus there is only help, selfless harmony.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:03 AM   #37
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Re: To help or not to help

[quote=Graham Christian;290682] in the moment there is no fear, there is no danger, there is no opponent.
QUOTE]

Nice phrase, i believe you' re right!
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:08 AM   #38
Michael Hackett
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Re: To help or not to help

Graham, when Mary wrote that all answers are in the moment, I thought I understood her to be saying that at that moment in time, a person would know what to do. Then I read your last comments and simply have no idea what you are saying. Difference in what? Why do you suggest that the various qualities of life disappear "in the moment"? Why would certain qualities be displaced by others such as help and harmony? Please explain further or send me a bicycle helmet to wear during training, although that may be too late apparently.

Michael
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:24 AM   #39
graham christian
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Re: To help or not to help

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Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Graham, when Mary wrote that all answers are in the moment, I thought I understood her to be saying that at that moment in time, a person would know what to do. Then I read your last comments and simply have no idea what you are saying. Difference in what? Why do you suggest that the various qualities of life disappear "in the moment"? Why would certain qualities be displaced by others such as help and harmony? Please explain further or send me a bicycle helmet to wear during training, although that may be too late apparently.
Michael.
I'm talking Aikido. It's spiritual discipline which indeed does lead to quantities rather than qualities of life dissappearing in the moment. The best relationship for you I can give is zen, here and now, living in the moment.

Then zanshin is understood as is hara. Only from there may you experience your true self, your true nature and indeed get a grasp of what O'Sensei meant when he spoke for then you will notice what I have said.

And yes, 'normal' dualistic mind is no longer and what it is replaced with is what is natural to your true self, such as the spirit of loving protection and the doorway to Aikido.

Regards.G.
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Old 08-20-2011, 01:51 PM   #40
Michael Hackett
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Re: To help or not to help

Thanks for your efforts Graham - send the helmet.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-21-2011, 01:19 PM   #41
graham christian
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Re: To help or not to help

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Thanks for your efforts Graham - send the helmet.
You're welcome Michael. Especially for you I'll send a blindfold. Ha,ha.
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Old 08-21-2011, 03:42 PM   #42
Michael Hackett
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Re: To help or not to help

Nah, send me a big German Shepherd instead.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:38 PM   #43
graham christian
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Re: To help or not to help

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Nah, send me a big German Shepherd instead.
Ha,ha, Don't forget your gun and your cannon.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:44 AM   #44
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Basically, I think that someone who pursues Budo as a Path has an obligation to use those skills to protect folks who are not capable of protecting themselves. What else is your training for?

That said, you have to be realistic and understand that ANY time you intervene it could instantly and without warning become a life and death matter. If you don't go into it with that mindset, don't intervene. Also, in a violent confrontation, it makes no sense to intervene unless you actually have the skills to back up your words.
There are so many thoughtful things written in the post that it'll be embarrassing to voice out dissent. And logically I agree totally with mr ledyards post, do budo? Protect others. However don't do it if you can't and don't do it without back up.

However, I think though we do budo as something tangible in our training, the spirit of budo exists regardless. It also remains absent regardless. The spirit of budo is upon your true self to manifest.

Thus having a spirit of bushi/budo the question or choice to protect others is moot. You either do it or you don't have it.

There are situations where categories of protectees exists (is that even a word) that require you to prioritize but all in all, it's your responsibility to protect the right.

Logically, do it when you can win. But when is that ever certain? A seasoned combat veteran gets stab by a kid after a long campaign. An undefeated warrior, gets run over by an assailant who lost earlier... Such is the world of violence. Thus you can only do your best and hope for the best. A famous general said something along the lines of an imperfect plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow, essentially saying sometimes time is of the essence and we can't be 100% of anything. Having said that, entering training, getting experience are ways to improve your chances. But a gamble it remains.

Waiting for back up. Well that's all well and good when you're in uniform. In a mob... You do what you have to do.

Finally of course, a smart warrior is a live warrior. A brave warrior is a dead one....

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-22-2011, 07:48 AM   #45
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Re: To help or not to help

It depends on the situation for me, to be honest. Well, first of all, I can't say definitely what I'm going to do or not, cause people often say those types of things but then they find themselves in the actual situation and it's all different.

But anyway, if I think I have an actual chance of doing something (like I wouldn't get in an argument between big groups of men or somebody with a gun, which could result in me getting killed, as well as the person I was trying to help), I think I would try to intervene. My self-preservation instinct isn't that strong anyway
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:52 PM   #46
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Re: To help or not to help

I have worked the past ten years on a prison yard. My partner and I supervise about 200 of California's finest citizens. The answer to whether or not you intercede in an altercation is entirely scenario specific. A proper threat assessment, is paramount. What is a proper threat assessment? Maybe we should consult Sun Tzu. Know your enemy, know yourself, know your environment.

In first aid you are taught that your safety is paramount in attempting to render any kind of aid. I think, in this subject, the tenants of first aid hold up. First you call, to summons help; then you take whatever action you can safely take, within your scope of knowledge or ability, as long as the scene is safe to do so.

Now you have already called for help, or had someone call for you. Next, identify the players involved. This may prove difficult. How do you tell if a particular onlooker or group of onlookers is associated with one of the combatants? The easiest solution is to assume all of the onlookers may be associates of one of the combatants, or at the very least hostile toward you for trying to interfere with the fight. If there are onlookers not trying to break it up, assume they are hostile. Try to get some of them together to assist you in ending the fight. Who knows, maybe both combatants are equally represented and either side can successfully pull their guy from the fray. You have to know your abilities and whether you can successfully convince a good number of them to help.

Knowing yourself and your abilities is important, because you don't enter a fight unless you know you can win. You can't know this unless you have seen your adversary in action and are honest with yourself and what you can accomplish. If there are no onlookers, you had better be sure of your skills before you attempt to break up the tussle.

It is much easier to apply Aikido techniques as a third party for sure. The two are focused on each other and the window of opportunity to slap on a sankyo or nikyo is wider, than if one was focused solely on harming you. If two are actively fighting and able to defend themselves, I wouldn't intercede till one was unable to put up a successful defense anymore. A this point, you aren't likely to face two who turn on you, and/or the dominating one is more likely to listen to a third party saying he won, or the other has had enough.

Obviously if there are weapons involved, unless you have some sort of force multiplier to answer whatever force is present, the scene is unsafe for you to intercede. About all you can do, after calling for help is be a good witness. Even if you spent three classes a week on tanto-dori, you most likely won't want to intercede in a scenario where someone has already shown the willingness and ability to use the knife on another human being. The threat of death or great bodily injury is present, and the gun carriers on here would be justified in the use of deadly force in many places.(check your local laws)

As a parent, or someone with anyone else in my care, interceding while with the kids or maybe a girlfriend, or wife, is never wise. For one, you don't know what you may be called to do or what they may see. If you go down, they have no advocate. You commit those with you to something they may not be prepared for. Still, take what action you can safely take. If this means simply calling for help, then that's all you can do.

As an average citizen, are you legally obligated to help someone? That depends on where you are, and what the law says. I believe most places, today calling the authorities is enough to satisfy any obligation. If you feel you have a moral obligation, because you train in Budo or whatever gives you the feeling of obligation, weigh your obligation to the stranger to the obligation to your family, friends and employer. I still hold that you are not obligated to render aid if the circumstances of the scenario are beyond your abilities.
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Old 11-22-2011, 08:43 AM   #47
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: To help or not to help

Great post from both Jon Reading and George Ledyard...as well as a few others too!

Where to start? Not sure, but a few thoughts come to mind based on my experiences, military of course.

In my community, a smaller subset of the military, we talk about sheeps and wolves. Overly simplified of course, but I think for the most part this is true. You can divide most people into two categories, sheeps and wolves. I was on a subway train once and a lady got her arm stuck in the door. I am a wolf, I had to get up, walk past several abled body males that could help that were standing there not doing anything processing her plight. They were sheep.

Wolves take action, sheep follow the herd. I think we are training to be wolves in budo. That doesn't mean we aimlessly prey on the weak and helpless as you might think, but wolves are out there, watching, acting on their own accord, making things happen. Sheep, well they follow the herd and keep their head down and eat grass. Staying in the herd is safety for them. A small border collie is all that is needed to keep them in check. They don't question the herd or their situation, they keep there head down and eat.

So, I think the first question you have to ask yourself is are you a sheep or are you a wolf? That is, do you determine your own actions or do you rely on the herd for safety.

THis is not really related to the sheep/wolf analogy, but I think it is important.

Taking action. I have found that I know when to step in and do something. I know when it is right and I don't think to much about it...I just do it because it is the right thing to do. How much do I weigh my own safety? It depends on many, many factors...but sometimes you just do things cause it is the right thing to do even if you are placing yourself in great personal danger.

That said, knowing the difference between help and futility is a good thing and that does have to come into play I think at some point, however, for me, if there is any chance I can do some good then I will do it. Sometimes you just have to run into a burning building cause it is the right thing to do and you know it is, what can you say. Heros are special people for a reason.

I have had the fortune of knowing some very extraordinary people that have done extraordinary things at great personal risk and sacrifice. I can only say to that...it gives me hope for mankind that we have people that will do things for others without regard for themselves.

I think Jon and George covered it very well. Of course there are some things that you just need to walk away from, or you call 911 for and get help for....absolutely. I think good judgement and common sense comes into play in many situations. However, there are times when it just doesn't apply.

I think budo at least philosophically is about preparing us to deal with not only life, but death. If we are living a good life and are at peace with ourselves, have clairity of mind and calmness, it hopefully allows us to see the honesty of a situation and allow us to simply make the right decision for ourselves when the time comes to make that decision.

Trust. Trust is probably the most important thing. We have to trust ourselves and others in dangerous situations. We are putting ourselves out there on the line and trust is all we have when it gets down to it. We have to trust our training, we have to trust others will help, we have to trust our opponents will act the way we want them to.

I was running around in the Afghan mountains last year with about 20 Afghan commandos that I had never met and knew very little about. By myself and miles from anyone, I had to simply trust that they would do the right things, protect me, and not harm me. There were no guarantees...period. That is the thing about dangerous situations....no guarantees that it will work out for you the way you want it to. Trust is important. Trust yourself, your training and others...might also call it faith, but I think trust is a better word as I don't put much stock in faith as faith implies that I am "hoping" that things work out the way I want them to. Trust to me implies a much simplier concept in which I already know I want things to work out favorably (duh), and I am placing trust in the fact that they will. I participate in the process of trust. In faith I am turning my participation over to something external. For me, Sheep have faith. Faith in the herd for instance.

Anyway, rambling thoughts on the subject.

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Old 11-22-2011, 09:18 AM   #48
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post

Thus having a spirit of bushi/budo the question or choice to protect others is moot. You either do it or you don't have it.

There are situations where categories of protectees exists (is that even a word) that require you to prioritize but all in all, it's your responsibility to protect the right.

Logically, do it when you can win. But when is that ever certain? A seasoned combat veteran gets stab by a kid after a long campaign. An undefeated warrior, gets run over by an assailant who lost earlier... Such is the world of violence. Thus you can only do your best and hope for the best. A famous general said something along the lines of an imperfect plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow, essentially saying sometimes time is of the essence and we can't be 100% of anything. Having said that, entering training, getting experience are ways to improve your chances. But a gamble it remains.

Waiting for back up. Well that's all well and good when you're in uniform. In a mob... You do what you have to do.

Finally of course, a smart warrior is a live warrior. A brave warrior is a dead one....
Good post and agree with alot of what you say for sure. Agree either you do it or you don't have it. This harkens to what I was getting at with sheep/wolf analogy.

Do it when you can win. Well I think winning has very little to do with it. Of course we all want to win in a bad situation. We want to come out on top and uninjured. However, from my experiences and looking at the experiences of others that have made great sacrifices they put much bigger things ahead of their own personal safety and do these things without regard for their own personal safety or concern for "winning". You could argue that "winning" for them was doing what they did, because in the greater scheme of things, failure to do so would equate to losing. People that do dangerous things and make personal sacrifices typically do these things because the thought of living with themselves by not doing anything was unbearble to even consider. So I think the pyschology is much more complex than this. Budo, I believe, is as much about being prepared to die than it is about living and understanding yourselve and what you are willing to do. There are situations in which I have no issue with going into in which I may not come out alive. I've done it without regard for my own personal safety and would not hesitate to do those things again. Losing was never an option in any of those cases or considered. I also did not think about "winning" or look at the odds. I did what I needed to do cause it was what I needed to do and just did it.

I had to laugh about getting hit by a car. When I come back from "down range" I think about that alot. Great just went through alot of dangerous stuff and I get hit by a teenager texting! I worry more about this kinda stuff than I do about bad guys with bombs to be honest!

" Thus you can only do your best and hope for the best" I think this beckons to what I was talking about with trust. Do your best...always. That is all you can do.

"Finally of course, a smart warrior is a live warrior. A brave warrior is a dead one...."

A warrior is a warrior...period. that is, if he is indeed a warrior. Defined as such dead or alive you can pass no judgement on "smart" or "brave" based simply on defining success based on living or dying.

I guess that is what bothers me a little about some of the connotations concerning the valuation of risk in this thread. Alot of emphasis is being placed on the value of your personal life and success being defined on how you end up in the situation. Sure it is important, but for a warrior, it is secondary to many, many other factors.

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Old 11-22-2011, 11:51 AM   #49
genin
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Re: To help or not to help

In some martial arts, like ninjitsu, warriorship is based primarily on survival. I think the notion of bravery being associated with dead warriors came about as a way to make the deceased person's family feel better.

To me, bravery just means that you are able to overcome fear. It doesn't mean you are fearless. Also, you can be a smart warrior and be brave. In the Civil War, both armies lost thier best, most aggressive soldiers very early on in the war. The reason is because those were the soldiers who ran the fastest and led the charges--only to be shot down first. Many of them probably never even got the opportunity to fire their weapons before being killed. I see this is as stupid, not brave.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:35 PM   #50
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: To help or not to help

Roger, I disagree with your assumptions and conclusions categorically.

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