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Old 04-21-2012, 04:30 PM   #1
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The Consequences of Fighting

I wanted to share an event that happened at my workplace a little while ago. And while I am only a minor character in this event, I believe I have learned a lot from it about the power that is built into the Aikido philosophy.

While working I hear desperate calls for me (as one of the managers at the store I work at) to go to the front of the store. Upon exiting the store I'm confronted with images that don't click very well with what I'm used to. And I'm pretty sure steam was pouring out of my ears as I tried to process what I was seeing. An employee who was coming to work sitting on the curb (we'll call him Jim), a bike laying in the parking lot, a homeless man laying unconscious on the asphalt with blood coming out his ears, and about 30 customers all gawking.

The police, ambulance, and fire truck already on the scene were putting Jim in handcuffs and put him in the back of a police car. The paramedics putting the newly conscious homeless man on a stretcher and racing him to the hospital. My boss walks up to me and tells me to go look at the security cameras and see what had happened.

Upon finding the footage I see Jim running with the bike (which he uses to get to work) while being chased by the homeless man. The man kicked the bike sending it flying and starts swinging at Jim. After being hit three times in the head by the man I see as Jim takes a boxing stance and with one punch hits the man in the jaw knocking him unconscious. The man falls to the ground hitting his head, while Jim goes and sits on the curb.

Taking the information down to my boss, I see Jim has been released from the police car. He was still shaking from the shock of the whole experience. While kneeling down to give him some gentle words I see two large gouges on his hand from being cut by the mans teeth. The paramedics treated his wounds on the scene but told him to go get a tetanus shot from the hospital.

After a far to long, the scene wound down and everyone involved was exhausted from dealing with the events. We learned later from the police that Jim was completely innocent as the event was all self defense. Everything was all fine and dandy, right?

A few things happened afterwards that really put everything into a different light.

1) Jim's hand got very infected, which is common for wounds cause by someones mouth. Its a very dirty place.

2) The homeless man went into a coma in the hospital and had to be put on life support. (He's currently not expected to live)

3) Jim has to deal with two very scary possibilities. The homeless man had hepatitis and HIV. So now Jim has to get testing done to determine if he was infected with either.

In asking myself what if I was in Jim's place, what would I have done. Well we don't know how the origination of the confrontation started. But I could say I never would have gotten into the starting confrontation. Would I have run like Jim if I was in his place? definitely. Would I have hit the guy like Jim did? I don't believe anyone can truly predict how they would react, but I hope all my years on training would have ended the situation without the possibility of killing someone even if it was not intentional. I think the moral of this experiences is, fighting no matter the reason will have consequences. SO DON'T FIGHT!

Any other perspectives would be appreciated,
Stephen
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:18 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

The outcomes are indeed very sad.
However I don't think what happened was a fight. I think what happened was one person was attacking another. When the person being attacked felt he could no longer run away, he took appropriate steps to defend himself.
It has to be understood that nobody can control the universe or all variables therein. Doing the right thing, or perhaps to put it better, "a right thing" doesn't guarantee a good outcome. It doesn't guarantee peace of mind. It only guarantees that you have acted in accordance with your principles and ethics.
Me, I might have done a different thing from the punch to the face, but I definitely would have taken SOME kind of action like that. And yes, live with the consequences because I'd rather that than have been the one dead on the ground.

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 04-21-2012 at 05:21 PM.

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Old 04-21-2012, 08:20 PM   #3
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

I think what "Jim" did was perfect. He was there and he did what he needed to do to protect himself. It sounds like a scary situation for him.

I used to work in a library. There was a homeless man that harassed us all the time. One time he came charging at me because I asked him to get off the computer as we were closing. He was big and he knew he was scary. As he came through the first set of doors, I slipped out the next set and came back in the side door and locked him out. I knew exactly what to do because I was paying attention and went with my gut. He was mad because he got locked out but I was safe I and I really didn't care.

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Old 04-21-2012, 09:32 PM   #4
Basia Halliop
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

It's true that we don't know the beginning of the 'story' or the history of the attacker. Maybe there was some argument or altercation first that led to the homeless man chasing Jim, on the other hand maybe the homeless man was crazy or drunk or something and attacked unprovoked. Did he want something? Was he just in a rage? Could the situation have been prevented? I don't know.

But if the suggestion is that the negative consequences of what happened are due to Jim's choosing to 'fight' back, then it seems only logical to point out that NOT fighting back in such a case also has consequences. Every choice has consequences. There's just no consequence-free choice. And the consequences are never entirely predictable. E.g., most people punched in the head don't go into a coma or die, even if it's obviously not good for you. (In your story Jim got hit in the head multiple times himself).

We'll never know what would have happened if he never hit back because it didn't happen, but there's no reason I see to believe the consequences would have been less negative. Seems rather more likely they'd be even more negative.

Maybe Jim would have been beaten to death and the homeless man shot by the police. Who knows.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:00 PM   #5
Alic
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

It is extremely sad that this should happen... What Jim did was perfectly fine, since he had done all he could to stop the violence. He tried to remove himself from the bad situation and didn't throw the first strike. Now, perhaps away from the camera he had said something to start all of this drama, but he was already choosing to disengage from the violence. At that point, it became the homeless man's fault for choosing to continue the violence by chasing and attacking a fleeing man. He CHOOSE violence, and as a result, he lost his life by this choice.

This isn't the greatest result, sure, but neither is Jim being murdered in cold blood for any reason. He tried to escape, and was cornered. Already chased down and attacked, he probably thought that he had no more chances of escape, and decided to stand his ground.

Perhaps this wasn't the best choice he could've done, and maybe he should've came into the store to ask for help, but what if that caused others in the store to get pulled into the dangerous situation? He did what he felt was necessary, and he was able to put an end to the danger, however brutal an end it was. He is still alive, thanks to his choices and actions, and even if he was infected with those dieases, at the very least he's still alive to talk about it. No one could've predicted that the homeless man would die from those injuries. Many people all over the world take those kind of hits, and they were usually injuried but otherwise fine after. Since Jim had not intended on ending the homeless man's life, he shouldn't be blamed for what is essentially an accidental death.

Perhaps if Jim had known Aikido and used an Osae-waza, he couldn't ended this confrontation without becoming injuried and possibily infected, and perhaps the homeless man would've lived. Let's hope the homeless man is able to cheat death and recover, and Jim is not infected. After all of this ends, perhaps Jim will benefit from some Aikido training? Certainly, it would help him recover a bit from this episode, if anything...
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:05 AM   #6
Michael Hackett
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

I have no concern about Jim's conduct as it has been described. I'm glad he's OK and sorry the homeless guy was so severely injured. Our homeless population here in Southern California are legion and a very high percentage are seriously mentally ill. Some can be quite volatile and dangerous. It is a damn shame that we haven't the resources to truly help these folks and this is just another example of how our system here ignores these invisible people. I suspect Jim will suffer over what he was forced to do and will have scars of his own. Tragic in all respects. Sorry for the thread drift, but I've been hopelessly dealing with these folks for many years and have seen this same scenario played out many times.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:31 AM   #7
sakumeikan
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Hi,
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding this affair , assuming that the homeless man dies,Jim will be affected by the experience.Jim might well learn to live with this but he certainly will not forget the incident .Cheers, Joe.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:10 AM   #8
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Good topic for thought.
Jim did the right thing in defending himself.

Will Jim have hiv, hepatitis, or other health problems from this incident. Does he have health insurance or pays for his own medical care. Will Jim get sued by the homeless man, his relatives or an advocacy group. Will he lose his job over this?

What affect could any of the above have on his relationship with his girlfriend, wife, children, friends or coworkers?
Without becoming paranoid what steps can you do to prepare for the aftermath of an incident like this?

dps
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:13 AM   #9
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Stephen Watkins wrote: View Post
In asking myself what if I was in Jim's place, what would I have done. Well we don't know how the origination of the confrontation started. But I could say I never would have gotten into the starting confrontation.
Hello Stephen,

With all respect for the upsetting situation that you've been placed in, without knowing how the thing started, I don't think you can know that you wouldn't have gotten into the confrontation. By virtue of your training and perhaps other life experiences, you have more options than Jim, and also more exposure to ideas that could allow you to see what options are available in a situation. Whether any of those options would have been available in this situation is unclear, however.

It is always good for all of us to be reminded of just how easy it is to harm another human being, and how lasting the consequences of that harm can be. Whether experienced at first hand or read about on an internet forum, these reminders are deeply disturbing to any reflective and imaginative person, and so they should be. Our training can save us from some things. Our life experiences, in combination with our imagination that allows us to foresee possible consequences and outcomes, can save us from many more. Ultimately, though, we need to be humble and recognize that no matter how we prepare and no matter what we think we're capable of, life can always throw us a situation that we don't handle gracefully. We need to be humble, because in the end, life will always humble us.
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Old 04-22-2012, 11:14 AM   #10
graham christian
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Nice story and a great emphasis which truly shows there is a something which is not 'self defence' which would have been better to do. This is Aikido in my experience, this something else.

Unfortunately it's hard to see because without the concept of self defense we tend to think there is only giving in or flight. Aikido to me is none of these things and includes neither fight, (self defence) flight or doing nothing.

So I believe you did recognize the power built in to the Aikido philosophy.

Peace.G.
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Old 04-22-2012, 11:38 AM   #11
philipsmith
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

"Jim" did exactly the right thing.
I agree it may well have serious consequences for both people involved but any feelings of guilt (although inevitable) for the homeless guys injuries are misplaced in my opinion (you reap what you sow).

As for the comment about not getting into the situation:

a) you can't possibly know that
b) it's very judgemental

Hope both protagonists in this conflict recover
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:57 PM   #12
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

I can't see how "Jim" could have acted any differently from a moral or ethical standpoint, so his conscience will adjust. However, this incident does point out how truly dangerous it can be to allow yourself to get bitten, or to punch somebody in the mouth as a way of defense. I think that, if a similar thing were to happen to me (and it has), I'd try to go with a different move if available. In this case, it might have been safer for both of them if Jim had hit him with the bicycle.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:37 AM   #13
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Stephen Watkins wrote: View Post
...but I hope all my years on training would have ended the situation without the possibility of killing someone even if it was not intentional.
If you want to avoid the possibility of killing someone you will need to submit.

Lyle Laizure
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Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:20 AM   #14
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
If you want to avoid the possibility of killing someone you will need to submit.
what if that someone is you?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:30 AM   #15
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

IMHO, there are always consequences for fighting and there are consequences for not fighting. Life is very cause and effect that way. Perhaps the biggest question is which set of consequences you can live with?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:17 PM   #16
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Stephen Watkins wrote: View Post
(...)

A few things happened afterwards that really put everything into a different light.

1) Jim's hand got very infected, which is common for wounds cause by someones mouth. Its a very dirty place.

2) The homeless man went into a coma in the hospital and had to be put on life support. (He's currently not expected to live)

3) Jim has to deal with two very scary possibilities. The homeless man had hepatitis and HIV. So now Jim has to get testing done to determine if he was infected with either.

In asking myself what if I was in Jim's place, what would I have done. Well we don't know how the origination of the confrontation started. But I could say I never would have gotten into the starting confrontation. Would I have run like Jim if I was in his place? definitely. Would I have hit the guy like Jim did? I don't believe anyone can truly predict how they would react, but I hope all my years on training would have ended the situation without the possibility of killing someone even if it was not intentional. I think the moral of this experiences is, fighting no matter the reason will have consequences. SO DON'T FIGHT!

Any other perspectives would be appreciated,
Stephen
It has been recently emphasized that in a real situation your best option is an armlock:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19209

That's sound advice by guys who have been there.

ps unfortunately the armlock positions are all positions whence also a kotegaeshi may flow out of your hands naturally, particularly if uke escapes your armlocking attempts because odds that you end up precisely with his wrist in your hands are significant (there is a reason why at least 2 persons said in that thread that armlock is your first choice and kotegaeshi the second one).
However, the consequences of a succesful kotegaeshi on concrete or in a bar may be devastating.

Last edited by Alberto_Italiano : 04-25-2012 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:39 PM   #17
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

About my reply above, since we're speaking of dire consequences, I forgot another important detail:

when armlocked, never tenkan if in bars or places where there is furniture. Do only mild tenkans, watching what's around you and uke's head.
Tenkan controls grounding, but not what happens to uke while spinning - if after a succesful armlock you vigorously tenkan in a bar, odds that the bent guy crushes his head against marbles or wood or steel are high.

However, also while grounding, you may bend a live guy and ground a dead one, if while bending him he hits violently the corner of a nearby table, or gets a glass shoved into his eyes.

You may be justified only against an armed opponent.

Armlock without mercy - after that, with all cautions.

Last edited by Alberto_Italiano : 04-25-2012 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 04-26-2012, 05:32 PM   #18
Benjamin Green
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

It sounds more like the consequences of hitting someone in the head with a closed fist. If he'd smacked a palm strike in the guy's forehead he'd not have cut his hand. If he'd kicked the guy in the gut, he'd not have cut his hand and, in all likelihood, not have killed him....

He reacted, which is most of what anyone does in a fight. He was unlucky in that his reaction didn't meet all the standards he might have wished for from it. Perhaps he trained as a boxer, that would explain a lot about why he punched to the head.

In any case, I don't think his reaction serves a good general argument against fighting. There are equally negative outcomes in some situations from not fighting.
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Old 05-01-2012, 12:19 PM   #19
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

I'd love to know why Jim was running with the bike instead of riding it, and why the altercation started in the first place.

He handled the situation appropriately. Regardless of the technique he chose to use to defend himself, it worked--that's all that matters in combat! He was not obligated to use the minimum force necessary, especially given the circumstances. If I was dealing with an inferior opponent, I might resort to good ol' fashion boxing as well. However, face punching is always dangerous for both parties, as we have seen.

As far as what could've been done to avoid the fight, we'd have to know what led up to it. I've not known many homeless people to be raving lunatics that violently assualt passers-by. Clearly this individual was in attack mode for whatever reason, and that led to his undoing. It's unfortunate, and I hope that at least Jim makes a full recovery, if that outcome is not possible for both individuals.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:03 PM   #20
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, there are always consequences for fighting and there are consequences for not fighting. Life is very cause and effect that way. Perhaps the biggest question is which set of consequences you can live with?
Hello, again everyone! You don't think this way when you are young, especially young men where testosterone gets translates into aggression and violence.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:48 PM   #21
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Jackie Adams wrote: View Post
Hello, again everyone! You don't think this way when you are young, especially young men where testosterone gets translates into aggression and violence.
I dunno, Jackie. Biology is often cited, but when there are so many social and cultural factors that give tacit approval to fighting and aggression from men, I think it's hard to know how much of a role biology plays. Certainly I'd like to think that this kind of behavior isn't biologically determined.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:32 PM   #22
Michael Hackett
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Roger, in most jurisdictions, Jim WAS required to use the "minimum force necessary". By definition, any force beyond the minimum necessary in the circumstances is legally considered excessive force. That terminology creates a whole new can of worms in that the legal standard and analysis changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the bottom line is that one is required to use the minimum force necessary to rely on claims of self-defense or justification. How that is defined and determined is jurisdiction specific.

Michael
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:01 PM   #23
jackie adams
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I dunno, Jackie. Biology is often cited, but when there are so many social and cultural factors that give tacit approval to fighting and aggression from men, I think it's hard to know how much of a role biology plays. Certainly I'd like to think that this kind of behavior isn't biologically determined.
Hello Mary Malmros, It is nice that you responded with a good point. They walk hand in hand.

Young men are quick to grab and wheel the sword. Older experienced men contemplate the consequences at hand, first.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:24 AM   #24
genin
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Uh oh, nature vs. nurture discussion, look out...lol.

I'm not sure how old Jim is. Maybe he's a fairly young guy. The testosterone thing only goes so far. These aren't wild Grizly bears in the peak of mating season. They are socialized human beings who have full control over themselves and their actions.

I would be more inclined to say that his choice to swing on the homeless man was a reflection of his personality and maturity level. And I don't mean anything negative by that. It's just that some people are not combative or confrontational and would never engage in a fight even if provoked. Others might draw from previous life experiences and realize that this mentally ill person who is acting out can just as easily be shooed away as violently assaulted. These are all considerations, choices, and actions that have to be taken together as a whole in a single moment.
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:15 PM   #25
Michael Douglas
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Re: The Consequences of Fighting

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
...However, the consequences of a succesful kotegaeshi on concrete or in a bar may be devastating.
Alberto your last line is interesting but I have to point out that 'devastating' would imply a consequence other than a broken or torn arm : non-aikidoka when "kotegaeshid" do not hit the ground with their heads. (You can all argue that point, you're welcome.)

What would Ueshiba have done?
Stotted him in the throat with the bike. No, really.
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