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Old 04-06-2010, 10:25 PM   #1
Aikiman001
 
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To help or not to help

I was watching a short documentary on TV last night that had people tell their stories of how they were beaten up, bullied and stabbed and whether by-standers came to their aid or not.

In one story an innocent bystander was punched to the ground and kicked in the head by 2 guys until he was unconscious just for looking at the wrong person. Luckily for him an older couple were crossing the road at the time and intentionally created enough of a scene that the 2 guys strolled off and were never found or convicted. After recovering from his injuries, the victim is so thankful for the people who helped him and believe he wouldnt be a live today if it wasnt for them.

In another story a teenage girl and her friend were confronted by a pack of girls on a bus. One of the hoodlums took a disliking to one of the girls and ended up punching her to the floor and jumping on her face and chest. Despite her screams for help, none of the other passengers came to her aid and in fact was told to be quiet by one of them. This girl still suffers from nightmares and anxiety attacks since the attack, a loss of confidence in herself and others for not helping her.

The 3rd story was about this young guy who decided to help these little kids who were being bullied for money. As he approached the other group who were also quite young and confronted them, he was stabbed in the heart later dying in hospital.

Also only 12 months ago in my own city, a man who tried to help a woman who was being mugged, was stabbed to death while she got off with minor cuts and bruises and most likely some anxieties from the attack.

So where am I going with all this? I guess there is an expectation that if somebody is being attacked then as by-standers we are obliged to come to their aid even if it means risking our own life. Why is this?
Twenty years ago, before I began training in Aikido, this would have been my first impulse. I would have a righteous anger that would motivate me to help the victim and put my own life at risk. Afterall I would want somebody to do the same for me.

But today with my Aikido training I find myself less likely to want to get involved in altercations. I am more concerned with my self preservation like the people on the bus were, than to help somebody in distress. I am a little concerned about this mind set because I once believed that if I knew Aikido I would go to anybodies aid, Im not so sure now.

If you saw somebody pointing a handgun in the face of an innocent by-stander and demanding money would you intervene?
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:58 PM   #2
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: To help or not to help

It's hard for me to answer the question of "would I help" because I believe everything is situational. If I am by myself and I see someone on the ground getting kicked repeatedly I feel obligated to help. However, if I have my two young kids with me I would lean towards getting my kids somewhere safe and that may mean that I don't jump in and break things up. However, I am talking a hypothetical situation so to be honest I can't say for sure what I would do if something happens.

I went to our city's St. Patrick's day parade in 2009 and about 10 feet from me and my family an adult male and and adult female start screaming and yelling at each other about where to stand for the parade (they were great role models for my kids :-)) . In this case I left it alone because there were plenty of cops around and there was no physcial violence.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:04 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: To help or not to help

I have stepped into situations where other people later felt I was either very brave or taking a real chance, yet my own gut level reading of the situation was that it was going to be ok - and it was. Other times - only a very few - I read it as totally unsafe; ie, no way for a positive outcome via direct intervention, and retreated to summon formal help. Every time I have success in trusting my instinct, the lesson is: trust my instinct.

Janet Rosen
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Old 04-07-2010, 04:26 AM   #4
Abasan
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Re: To help or not to help

It all depends on whether you believe you're training in Budo or not. If Aikido is recreational exercise for you then I suppose you shouldn't. But if it means more to you then, your heart will decide.

I myself have stopped and intervened in 3-4 altercations and I chose to ignore 1. In the 2 cases that I intervened, it was the victim that was misconstrued as being the aggressor. It has so far all ended in a positive note, but I pray I do not encounter another one.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-07-2010, 08:22 AM   #5
Garth Jones
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Jeremy Raven wrote: View Post
If you saw somebody pointing a handgun in the face of an innocent by-stander and demanding money would you intervene?
That is a particular, and difficult situation. Approaching the gun wielding mugger openly is likely to get me shot before I can close enough to try for the gun. And even if I get there without being noticed if my technique isn't clean I will likely die. If, in that instant of seeing the problem I thought that the mugger would behave rationally and leave with the wallet without violence, then no, I wouldn't step in. If, on the other hand, I thought the guy was going to start shooting, then I might well try something. After all, if I'm close enough to intervene, I'm likely next on his list anyway.

Some kids stomping another kid - sure, I'll try to stop that.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:55 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Jeremy Raven wrote: View Post
If you saw somebody pointing a handgun in the face of an innocent by-stander and demanding money would you intervene?
No.

Not having any illusions here about how tai sabaki can stop a speeding bullet...
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:29 AM   #7
dps
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I have stepped into situations where other people later felt I was either very brave or taking a real chance, yet my own gut level reading of the situation was that it was going to be ok - and it was. Other times - only a very few - I read it as totally unsafe; ie, no way for a positive outcome via direct intervention, and retreated to summon formal help. Every time I have success in trusting my instinct, the lesson is: trust my instinct.
100% agree with this.

David
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:13 PM   #8
David Maidment
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Re: To help or not to help

In all honesty I would intervene, but not directly. I'd be more likely to creep up on the aggressor with a bit of wood than go running into the middle of things and try to fight/diffuse the situation. You've got to be realistic about these things.

"Never escalate a battle unless forced to do so by your enemy" - Zordon
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Old 04-07-2010, 03:32 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: To help or not to help

I have never regretted the times I stepped up and stepped in.
I have always wondered about times I didn't.

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 04-07-2010, 10:11 PM   #10
Aikiman001
 
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Re: To help or not to help

Thanks for everyones comments, Ill let them sink in for a while.
I hate seeing innocent people being bullied, intimidated or hurt but it would be worse if I stepped in and added to the casualties.

Smile, it can be infectious.
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Old 04-08-2010, 06:01 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: To help or not to help

Sometimes it is only a question of who is the casuality and to what extent. They set that parameter when they started intimidating the weak and innocent.

Train and walk in loving protection.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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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 04-21-2010, 05:12 AM   #12
earnest aikidoka
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Re: To help or not to help

this really depends on the situation u r in. if it is a simple mugging, stand by and see how it plays out. if the mugger is jus after cash
let him go, cash is nothing compared to ur life. however, if that person has intent to hurt or kill, wld ur conscience spare you if u fail to act?

personally, i absolutely detest those people who stand by and let others hurt people with such blatant disrespect and impunity. i knw how it feels to be alone and totally without any support or help from others and it is not a good feeling. i ignored such an incident once and i have been hoping ever since that one day i will be able to make up for it.

but, thats just me, do watever rocks ur boat, as long as u can live with urself afterwards for the rest of your life
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:22 AM   #13
Amir Krause
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Re: To help or not to help

Often, you can intervene by calling the authorities with minimal risk to yourself.

Amir
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:50 AM   #14
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Re: To help or not to help

What I found interesting in doing some reading, and its a bit off topic, is that random crime is not so common. So while the discussed cases are interesting to think about there are many others that might be more likely scenarios esp. domestic violence and altercations between those that know each other. In these situations it might be difficult to distinguish victim and perpetrator from each other and both might be likely to turn on someone that intervenes.

dan

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Old 04-21-2010, 07:31 AM   #15
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Daniel James wrote: View Post
What I found interesting in doing some reading, and its a bit off topic, is that random crime is not so common. So while the discussed cases are interesting to think about there are many others that might be more likely scenarios esp. domestic violence and altercations between those that know each other. In these situations it might be difficult to distinguish victim and perpetrator from each other and both might be likely to turn on someone that intervenes.
There you go, Dan, talking common sense...sheesh!

Seriously...everybody's favorite "what if" self-defense scenarios involve random crime, not the more likely situations where, as you say, victim and perpetrator know each other. My guess as to why is that, while the former situation is more rare, the latter situation is more frightening -- because if you accept the truth that most violence is not perpetrated by strangers, you suddenly start to feel a lot less secure in your snug little world. People would rather train for "self-defense" against a nonexistent threat than accept that they may be living with a real one.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:43 AM   #16
DonMagee
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Re: To help or not to help

For those who do not know, I carry a firearm every single place I go. This simple fact has added a whole different level of awareness to how I approach confrontation outside of the mat.

Example: I was at the mall with my wife, A small fight brought out between a group of teens and another teen. All the adults in the area where standing around watching this, myself included.

Now I wanted to help that kid who was fighting solo or at least break up the fight, but I didn't. This was my reasoning.

1) The kid was for the most part holding his own and not in any danger of being seriously hurt/killed.
2) The mall has a police station, so I was sure within the next 3-5 minutes the police would be on site. (Would be sooner, but those segways only move so fast you know)
3) If I got involved, I may be forced to use my firearm or much worse I may get my firearm taken from me by one of the 'gang'.

I think had we been in a place where the police were not going to show up any second, or if the kid had been in serious danger (say baseball bat, or even being ground and pounded) I would have attempted to break up the fight.

I guess for the most part I have reached a level where my decision to act comes down to the use of a firearm. If the situation is not severe enough to warrant the use of a firearm, then engaging is probably not the route I'm willing to take in most cases.

It's really interesting how wearing a firearm has changed by thoughts about martial arts, distance, conflict, and even living in general. For example, I am very uncomfortable when sitting in a place where my back is not facing a wall. It has changed my outlook from things worth walking away for, things worth fighting for, and things worth killing for to simply things worth walking away for and things worth killing for. I think this makes me a much calmer and less agressive person because when it really comes down to it, there are very few things worth killing for.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:57 AM   #17
Abasan
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Re: To help or not to help

Never draw a weapon you're not willing to fire. Same thing with stepping up, never step up unless you're willing to finish it.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:41 PM   #18
Rob Watson
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
I carry a firearm ...
It's really interesting how wearing a firearm has changed by thoughts about martial arts, distance, conflict, and even living in general.
This is a tough one. The possibility of escalation is so great and the outcome rapidly approaches terminal.

Lest we not fool ourselves please consider a recent event in Oakland where a father and son are 'king hit' out of the blue (according to the story so far) and the father falls striking his head and soon died from the head trauma. Seemingly out of the blue random crime with one punch becoming fatal. Not a hypothetical but 'pulled from the headlines' from a place I've walked many times - my favorite sewing machine/vacuum repair shop is right around the corner. No time for deliberation or observation and precious little time to draw a weapon or even bother attempting to intervene.

The real question for me is the case of these two fellows (the 'perps') most likely were not out for blood but just for kicks and I'll wager they have done this type of thing before. What if by not 'stepping in' this type of behavior is allowed to persist, grow and 'blossom' into fully fledged social pathology that wrecks many lives and possibly worse? It seems the personality type is emboldened by each event and unless checked (maybe even in spite of) grows more terrible.

If we are to believe that aikido (or your favorite 'do' art) is to help build a better society then either we all must train or those that do train must become more active in society. Which is more likely - all train or become active? I know, I can tend towards idealistic day dreaming but sometimes my blood boils and I'm compelled to act.

As for having kids around as an excuse/reason to stand off ... I'm of two minds. What kind of impression is left on the impressionable young minds seeing the 'bad guys' (as my son calls them) left unchecked versus seeing dad play 'good guy' and deal his brand of justice? Sometimes all that is needed is a firm word ... one time it did escalate to a face off but the old indomitable spirit was with me and my steely gaze was enough to quell to situation. My kids didn't even seem to notice that anything had happened ... or the wife for that matter.

I'm not advocating vigilante action but 'we the people' means all of us. If 'someone else' is expected to step up then just exactly who are 'they' and what does that make 'us'?

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:18 PM   #19
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Re: To help or not to help

I recently put a digest of Australian violent crime statistics up on my website. http://www.aikidorepublic.com/self-defence
(the page is still under development but its a start) Its really sobering stuff. If sexual assault is closely examined you find out that it happens mostly in someones house and by someone you know (and very often a relative)...it really turn things like self defence training on its head.

On the subject of guns and without wanting to start a flame war and continuing to head further off topic in the recent past Australia made moves to make it more difficult to own guns and keep them in the house.

I think the rationale was based on the statistics of incidents between those known to each other (80% of homicides, 60% sexual ) and in a home or dwelling(57% homicides, 67% sexual) and removed the opportunity to grab in the heat of the moment. It has lead to a significant decrease in the homicide rate.

Over whelmingly violent crime statistics point to common risk factors like young males (both the perp and victim), drugs and alcohol.

Heading really off topic It might seem that awareness / ma-ai training might be the most important skill in terms of self defence and seems to be a common thread of the collective wisdom in this thread

best,
dan

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Old 04-21-2010, 07:00 PM   #20
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: To help or not to help

I'm not a gun carrier in civilian life. Mainly for the exact reasons that Don mentions above. I have a different philosophy based around the concerns that Don mentions. So I don't carry and probably never will unless the risk factors of where I go and what I do warrant it. They don't so I don't.

That said, I think much like Don does concerning assessing the situation.

More general than that, I think it boils down to "sheeps and wolves".

Some of us in society are sheep and will sit back and simply watch as one of the heard gets picked off too scared on removed from the situation to get involved.

Others of us are wolves and will do what we need to do to protect ourselves and others when the situation warrants it.

It is not necessarily a matter of training or skill, but a matter of courage, strength, and compassion to do the right things no matter what.

Of course it helps to have training and skills and I think through Budo training that we can learn to find our courage and confidence as well as improve our abilities to make sound decisions in stressful situations.

The willingness to act in the face of danger or adversity, is what my good friend Matt Larsen says is the defining characteristic of a warrior!

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Old 04-21-2010, 10:56 PM   #21
Michael Hackett
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Re: To help or not to help

Without having a duty to intervene, it is ALWAYS safer to step back and call 9-1-1 and be a good witness. The safer route isn't always the best route and sometimes a person has to take a stand on behalf of others. I think Janet hit in on the head with her comments about trusting your instincts. If you feel you can intervene successfully, you probably can. Remember, the bad guys have instincts too and if the hair on the back of their necks stand on end, you may have a successful resolution.

Choosing to intervene in a violent situation is truly choosing to lay your life on the line for someone else. That may sound dramatic, but you can die as a result. Firearms, knives, chemical sprays, clubs, martial arts training are all great tools, but the greatest weapon in your holster is your resolve to save someone regardless of the personal consequences.

Kevin mentioned sheep and wolves. Some are also sheep dogs. Kevin is a sheep dog on a global scale. I received my kibble for many years for tending a local flock and Its hard to turn that off. I honestly believe that Janet's comments are the most valuable here and if you trust your instincts in such a situation, your choice will be much easier.

Michael
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:42 PM   #22
Rob Watson
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
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Without having a duty to intervene ...
It is my considered opinion that if one does not believe they have a duty to aid ones fellows then all hope is lost. The most fundamental building block of society is our willingness and desire, indeed, our duty, to help one another.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

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Old 04-22-2010, 12:58 AM   #23
Michael Hackett
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Re: To help or not to help

Robert, you are a sheep dog at heart. I agree that we all have some level of "duty" to help others. Some of us have that duty, even at the cost of one's own life by virtue of occupation. The rest of us can fulfill that duty, that obligation by acting according to our personal strengths and attributes. In some cases we can choose to enter the fray and in others we can provide help by summoning aid. At the very least we can summon aid - remember the name of Kitty Genovese? She was the New York woman who screamed for help while she was being stabbed to death. Many people admitted hearing her cries for help and NO ONE even bothered to call. While we all can call dial a phone, yell out, pull a fire alarm, not all of us have the capacity to physically intervene.

I used the term "duty" in the sense of a specific and legal obligation rather than a moral one. After living in the world of the former, I recognize no other way for me to behave. I will trust you and others to exercise your best judgment and act accordingly. The world we live in would be a better place if more people felt the way you do.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 04-22-2010, 07:30 AM   #24
lbb
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Re: To help or not to help

Quote:
Robert M Watson Jr wrote: View Post
It is my considered opinion that if one does not believe they have a duty to aid ones fellows then all hope is lost. .
Maybe so, but "duty to intervene" has a legal meaning. I suspect Michael was using it in this sense and not in the philosophical sense.
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:33 AM   #25
genin
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Re: To help or not to help

It comes down to the fact that we are not here to save the world. Unless you have a big "S" painted on your chest, you are not Superman. Unless you have a badge and a gun, you are not a cop. You don't have to save the world, it's simply not your job.

Half the time, the person whom you'd be "saving" from trouble played a role in getting themselves in trouble in the first place. The girl you think you are saving from being raped may indeed be a prostitute arguing with her John over money. You never know. People often will try to drag others into their own drama in order to give themselves leverage in the conflict. And they'll use you as a pawn in the process.

Realistically, you'll never be in the right place at the right time. At best, you'll strive to be the hero and try to find ANY situation in which you can jump in and save the day. But you must ask yourself, "Am I really concerned about the welfare of the world, or am I just trying to fulfill an internal need to be 'the hero'?" The way you answer this question determines what course of action you should take.
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