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Old 07-19-2002, 06:35 AM   #1
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
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!

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Old 07-19-2002, 07:28 AM   #2
Carl Simard
Location: Quebec City
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 96
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 08:30 AM.
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Old 07-19-2002, 10:54 AM   #3
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
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, 01:12 PM   #4
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586
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
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Old 07-19-2002, 01:47 PM   #5
Dojo: Minh Sensei
Location: Allentown, PA
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 107
Thumbs down Well said

(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.

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Old 07-19-2002, 04:53 PM   #6
Thalib's Avatar
Dojo: 合気研究会
Location: Jakarta Selatan
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 504
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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