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Old 07-19-2002, 07:35 AM   #1
DaveO
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Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Hello, all!

You know, I've been thinking about the whole run/fight thing that's been going on in the forum, and trying to put my own beliefs into words. (Deep breath) Well, here goes...

There appear to be two lines of thinking on this forum with regards to a hostile confrontation. Use your aikido and fight him? Or use the philosophy that Aikido teaches and withdraw? (Some, myself included, have used the word 'run' in this context - unfortunate, perhaps.)
Now, no-one wants to just run away from a potential attacker. For us guys, the very idea is anathema - pride says 'stand your ground!', we can think of a dozen good reasons to fight. Often, these reasons are good: defending a lady, warding of hostile drunks, the bully at school who won't back down. The danger is, of course, that in this day and age a simple punch-up can turn deadly fast - knives are common on the street, and readily used in some places. So, the best thing to do is run, right? I mean, if there's even a chance you can wind up dead or injured, get out of it, right?
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Run from a schoolyard bully, he'll be waiting tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. Women, in particular, have this problem - an abused wife CAN'T run (for whatever reason), or she would've been quits with the creep long ago. You can be surrounded on the street, making running away impossible. A woman may be threatened in front of you - and sorry, but I have to be blunt here: to my mind, any man who would stand by when a lady is being threatened is no man at all. (Ooooo, I'm gonna get some response to that!) So, there are very good reasons for both fighting and running. The trouble is, which to choose?
Here's my take on it:
Fighting, whether you are using streetfighting skills, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikdo or whatever, is a dangerous, chancy business. It is also very frightening to those who are not familiar with it (and to many who are). There is nothing positive about it; only in the intent and resolution. What I believe is, unless one is completely, utterly confident in one's fighting ability, one should not attempt to fight. Confident; not over-confident, or falsely confident. In this case, fighting ability includes the skills required to size up your opponent(s) and gauge your success beforehand.
To put it short, if you have to ask 'are my skills good enough', they probably aren't, so withdraw. Say a guy's got a knife out, demanding your wallet. Unless you know you can disarm him and escape/arrest him, give him your wallet! Same goes for the drunk in the bar. 'Discretion being the better part of valour' should be in everyone's tactical r'epertoire.
This knowledge, this confidence, only comes with time and experience, and lots of both. I'm sure there have been plenty of poor saps out there at my lowly level who have said 'Kewl; I know Aikido now!' and wound up picking bits of themselves out of the barroom wall. I'm equally sure this has happened to Shodans as well. You see, Aikido is not fighting. Neither is Karate, Kung-fu, Tae-Kwan-Do, et cetera, ad nauseam. Martial arts are skills to use when fighting. There's a difference, as anyone who has battled on the mat and in real-life will tell you. The difference between success and failure is not your skills, but how and when you use them.
So I personally think the two questions: 'should I fight/run' and 'does aikido work' are really moot; both rely solely on the individual for an answer.
I can say without ego that what little Aikido I've learned I'd be able to use effectively, because I'm an experienced fighter. My instructor, on the other hand, probably wouldn't - despite her years in Aikido, she's not a fighter - although I'm certain anyone who tried to mug her would be in for a major shock.
I hope, in this rambling, confused message, I've helped one or two people find their own answers to these questions; I hope I recieve plenty of good commentary. This isn't an easy topic to think about or discuss, since much of it involves variables that are different from person to person. I can only hope that should any of us need to make these decisions, that we'll do the right thing at the right time.

Thanks, friends!

Dave
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Old 07-19-2002, 08:28 AM   #2
Carl Simard
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I think you have understand what people means when they tell "run away"… Sure, if you get in a situation where you can't evade the fight, it's not option… But then, your skills doesn't mean a sure win. They simply tip the balance a bit more on your side… It's only a question of "What I've to win/lose ?". All other things being equal, the decision between fighting to defend 20$ in your pocket or fight to defend the life of your wife/children can be totally different ("evade" in the fist case, fight in the second) simply because the "win/lose" equation is different. Since each situation is completely different, it's impossible to have an absolute answer that is appropriate for all situations… The only thing we can do, is to try to evaluate the situation, take what we then think it's the most appropriate actions, and hope that all goes for the best…

It's simply remind me of the writings of Sun Tsu: if don't know yourself and your opponent you will lose the battle, if know yourself but not your opponent you will lose as much time as you win, if you know yourself and your opponent then you have already win. In self defense, you don't always know your opponent and, add to that to having overconfidence in your skills means that you may not know yourself…

Last edited by Carl Simard : 07-19-2002 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 07-19-2002, 11:54 AM   #3
Bruce Baker
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What 'cha gonna do?

We all have the growing pains of bullys, muggers, and even overinflated ego's of encounters in social meeting places to enjoy social interactions and "sex" shopping for partners. Within the many variables of encounters, there are very few black and white situations that are clearly defined, this leads to the point of acting meet, walking away, or the more macho stance of standing up for yourself.

The problem with effecting violence to resolve a situation is the after effects of it upon you, your family, and maybe causing injury that will come back to haunt you later. This is not always the picture of the strong secure human being who stands up for his/her rights or cuts to heart of a situation as many training doka's put forth by O'Sensei ... Yet it is the reality of finding the harmony of your own life.

Sometimes, being the dissuader, the neutralizing force that disarms a situation is mere presence, or observing the futility of the situatiom in the great scheme of life, but finding the means verses the physical defense/offensive skills of a martial art does involve letting the lemmings run into the sea.

They have chosen their own course of action, they are pulling you into a world that leads to jumping off a cliff, or being slammed into an oncoming carwreck for their lives and anyone who gets pulled into their life, don't let the your ego to become the great fighter or hero affect your observation of what is happening. Walking away, which is sometimes termed running away, should not be taken lightly ... just as physical intervention should not be taken lightly.

So it is, we train so that we have the physical capability plus the observation skills to determine a situation, but be advocate peace because we have these skills.

You could say, we are giving our political promise to not use these methods unless we absolutely have to. There will always be that opening clause to allow us to use our skills if pressed into a corner, but our advertising policys are to find ways of peace and harmony within all phases of training, life, and our society.

I guess the point of saying "Run away" is to curb instinctual aggression of the herd or the pack to become the strongest within a group. It is something that is within all living creatures, and it must be relearned to be controled ... sometimes learning to "Run away" awakens one to the much larger picture.

There may or may not be a time in your life when you will have to stand and fight to control a situation ... pray you don't have to go the point where serious injury or death occurs. This is the most scarring emotion you will carry with you, so that is the point of "Run away."

On the other hand, what you learn from Aikido practice should immensly help you to protect yourself and diffuse a situation should you get your back against the wall.

Yeah, there are two sides to this coin.
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Old 07-19-2002, 02:12 PM   #4
opherdonchin
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Wink That philosophy thing

I'm not certain that AiKiDo philosophy has taught me to 'run away' or 'avoid conflict.' I think it has taught me to (1) notice all my options, and (2) operate out of respect for the other ('loving protection for all things'?). These two things have added up (in my life and after some training) to a practical and pragmatic understanding that entering conflict is almost never the best answer I can find. I simply achieve more by noticing other solutions to the situations I find myself in.

I guess what I feel like what I've learned most is to notice that by asking 'fight or flight,' I'm usually locking myself in and limiting my options.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-19-2002, 02:47 PM   #5
chadsieger
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Thumbs down Well said

Quote:
(1) notice all my options, and (2) operate out of respect for the other ('loving protection for all things'
Well said Opher. Aikido teaches cause/effect, attack/response, building your mind to "see" all options. O'Sensei had the forsight to include your second point to guide our actions to the highest possible ends.

Peace
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Old 07-19-2002, 05:53 PM   #6
Thalib
 
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I can't argue with any of you... you are all correct.

Hopefully, when one stands one's ground, one is doing it for all the right reason.

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:26 AM   #7
SlowLerner
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

I was at a friends house with my brother standing around a bonfire drinking beers.
My friends friend suddenly snapped and started attacking my brother. He grabbed him by the throat and had his fist cocked back ready to strike.
I jumped in between them and he started coming for me.
It was pitch black and after staring into the fire all night I couldn't see properly.
I tried to keep proper distance. He swung a right cross at me full power. I didn't see the punch until the last minute and just had enough time to move offline. His little knuckle brushed my chin.

I have thought about this alot since and it has deepened my understanding of the importance of maai.
If my strategy was to try to hit him, it would have put me in range of his punch and he would have knocked me out.
By staying back, he couldn't reach me, but with equal reach, I could not reach him either.
Excluding kicks, at this range the only thing reachable is arms and wrists, which is where a lot of Aikido is applied. So it puts you at a range where even if they make contact, it won't be a full power strike and you are able to apply technique where they can't.
You are safe out of reach, next safest is close up (unless they have a knife!). This is why boxers clinch. Aikido also gives you techniques and principles to apply at this range too.
(There is so much more to maai than this)

There is also a social issue here. If someone grabs you, how do you know whether they are going to escalate and try to strike you or just push you around a bit?
You can't strike them because you will be escalating the situation. You need something that will keep you safe without fighting.
Studying martial arts should give you enough self esteem to drop your ego. If you can just leave then that should always be your choice regardless of how confident you are in your physical ability.
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Old 06-03-2016, 03:28 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Quote:
Steven Wright wrote: View Post
There is also a social issue here. If someone grabs you, how do you know whether they are going to escalate and try to strike you or just push you around a bit?
You can't strike them because you will be escalating the situation. You need something that will keep you safe without fighting.
Hmmmm. I daresay I'm not the only woman who has a very different reaction to a grab than "he might just push me around a bit." I will always have to assume a grab is the first step in an attack meant to subdue and/or move me under duress, and that anything I do without a weapon that neutralizes the person and provides me with safety is indeed appropriate, yes, even strike.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:33 PM   #9
rugwithlegs
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

I read an interview of Bansen Tanaka today. He was talking about how he was told to be unassailable. There is a story of Koichi Tohei getting a jacket stolen and O Sensei chiding him for leaving the opening for his jacket to be stolen.

With the difficulty in translation, I sometimes wonder if being unassailable/without openings/safe, and apparently even ettiquette is part of this; I wonder if this fortified platform of defense is what gets translated as "run away." Or if this is a third option.
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:56 AM   #10
JP3
 
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Fight when you have to fight, leave when you don't have to.

The problem with the simple rule above is that it is sometimes difficult to know when, and which is which.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 06-05-2016, 03:01 AM   #11
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

John makes consistently good sense and clearly has some experience. I think he is spot on about being unasailable. For me this has two different ideas. One is to be overwhelmingly powerful, a sort of unemphasised "don't mess with me" ', radiation. The others is "theses are not the droids you are looking for", a sort of cloak of invisibility. To me fight or run come late in the spectrum of self defense showing your primary systems have failed. Both approaches can be cultivated through posture, body language, clothing etc, but are really the end result of your inner attitude. Both have potential problems when not fully accomplished. The big dog approach only really works when you're not trying, otherwise it screams challenge. The disappearing act only works if you are not hiding from fear but because you have something more important to do than mess around ;-)

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 06-05-2016, 12:24 PM   #12
kewms
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
With the difficulty in translation, I sometimes wonder if being unassailable/without openings/safe, and apparently even ettiquette is part of this; I wonder if this fortified platform of defense is what gets translated as "run away." Or if this is a third option.
I see being unassailable as a third option. Or, perhaps, a way to pre-empt the fight/run away dichotomy entirely.

If a potential assailant looks at you and decides to go bother someone else -- possibly without you even being aware of it -- did you fight? Did you run away? No, you just quietly went about your business.

Katherine
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Old 06-05-2016, 12:27 PM   #13
Janet Rosen
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Quote:
Alec Corper wrote: View Post
John makes consistently good sense and clearly has some experience. I think he is spot on about being unasailable. For me this has two different ideas. One is to be overwhelmingly powerful, a sort of unemphasised "don't mess with me" ', radiation. The others is "theses are not the droids you are looking for", a sort of cloak of invisibility. To me fight or run come late in the spectrum of self defense showing your primary systems have failed. Both approaches can be cultivated through posture, body language, clothing etc, but are really the end result of your inner attitude. Both have potential problems when not fully accomplished. The big dog approach only really works when you're not trying, otherwise it screams challenge. The disappearing act only works if you are not hiding from fear but because you have something more important to do than mess around ;-)
Yep. This is indeed the "third path" done in two ways, and as a kid in NYC I learned to switch into either mode as effortlessly as a chameleon decades before I'd heard of aikido, budo, etc. or knew of terms like mindfulness or situational awareness.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-06-2016, 06:18 AM   #14
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

Most people that run will run because they have no choice. If you train, then you have a choice to walk away or fight. And if you are good, you have a choice to injure, maim, or kill. If you are good at Aikido you will hardly ever meet trouble, but if you do you will seek to not hurt them too much etc etc.And if you die trying to protect yourself or others, it is not failure. It is an honourable way to go out. Just my 2c.

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Old 06-06-2016, 12:53 PM   #15
rugwithlegs
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

I guess I am reminded of a Christopher Li post. One book was translated as "Invincible Warrior." The Japanese used could be translated as "A warrior without enemies." If a phrase could mean "don't be in a position to be attacked" it could mean run away.

It might mean walking further out around a corner so that you have a few feet to see and react. It might mean if a friend can't hold his alcohol and he gets violent when he drinks, I might ask him not to drink or meet him at an alcohol free venue, or reconsider the value of the friendship. It might mean lock the doors. It might mean stand behind the counter, or stand far enough that an attacker needs to take a full step. It might mean buy a dog, or not take a drink from a stranger, or take a few steps back when "my spider sense is tingling." I do walk where the street lights shine when I walk to the parking lot. And, we do leave work walking in groups. We have security available to walk people to their cars - most people just feel too foolish to use them.

The Gracie family had a great video on the Knockout game, following one's instincts and doing a threat assessment in the environment.

Yes, there are surprises out there. In a hospital environment, post-incident analysis showed most "surprises" (heart attacks, strokes, respiratory failure) actually had indicators appearing as much as 8 hours before. Is behavior really less predictable all the time?

I have had to ask myself what I did before a violent confrontation, not merely what I did when things had already escalated to that point. Great information out there on deescalation techniques which somehow are not part of any dojo workout I have seen yet.

Fight and flight are primal instincts, base responses. These are not trained responses or strategies when the phrase is used in psychology; these are panic.
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Old 06-06-2016, 05:46 PM   #16
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

There is a big difference between fighting and self defense. Fighting may be a option that appeals for some men.

As a woman self defense is all day every day.

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Old 06-07-2016, 07:22 AM   #17
Walter Martindale
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Re: Fight, run? Some Abstract Musings

How about those of us who are too old to fight, too busted up to run? I've heard it said that you should never pick a fight with an old guy because he's too old to fight, and will just kill you.
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