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Old 05-15-2003, 04:40 AM   #1
Ta Kung
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Freaky! Self defence vs fights

Hi!

Is it just me, or do other people also see a BIG difference between a self defence situation and a fight?

Most people seem to mix these things up. IMHO self defence is about neutralizing a threat, preferbly before it occors, or (failing that) when it occurs. A fight is merely "I'll punch you because you punched me" and so forth, until a bouncer or cop stops it. Or until one gets KO'ed.

Some people use sparring as a measure of how effective your self defence is. I think that's wrong. It's only a measure of how good a fighter you are. Maybe I'm nitpicking here, as I'm well aware that a good fighter surley has a big advantage when he get's into a self defence situation (or a fight). A forceful blow can end the situation in a sec.

Also, a self defence situation can easily lead to a fight, if you don't get it over with quickly.

Any thoughts? Or am I just fumbling in the dark and playing with words here?

Best wishes,

Patrik
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Old 05-15-2003, 05:04 AM   #2
paw
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Quote:
Any thoughts?
Well, they may not be helpful, but....

To me, "self-defense" is more of a legal term. Does a particular person have a legal right to defend themselves in a particular situation? And if so, what level of force is allowable by law?

A "fight" is more of a sporting term, where two or more individuals agree on a time, a place and possibly some rules and then engage each other within that context.

But a fair number of people use the two terms interchangably.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 05-15-2003, 05:48 AM   #3
happysod
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Agree with Paul in part, self-defence always puts me in mind of a more formal description of an altercation with a slight levening of self-justification. Can't agree with Paul's definition of fight = sport as I've heard it used to describe everything from a gang-fight to a heated discussion between partners. Essentially, I think they're the same, but just used in different contexts with fight being more informal and self-defence normally meaning you were involved.
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Old 05-15-2003, 05:51 AM   #4
bob_stra
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Re: Self defence vs fights

Quote:
Patrik Eng (Ta Kung) wrote:
Hi!

Is it just me, or do other people also see a BIG difference between a self defence situation and a fight?

Patrik
Yes, but I prefer to think of it as self defence and self offence.

I agree that folks confuse em though. From both sides of the table (combatives Vs Sporting).
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Old 05-15-2003, 06:25 AM   #5
Charles Hill
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My own personal definition is that a fight is where all participants have chosen to be involved in the altercation. Self defense is when at least one person has not chosen to be involved. The goal of a fight is to hurt another person, while the goal of self defense is not to get hurt.
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Old 05-15-2003, 06:56 AM   #6
Kevin Wilbanks
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That's pretty good Charles.

Isn't fighting a much narrower activity? Regardless of how, why, or what the legal ramifications are, it seems like a fight would at most describe the actual situation where two people are... um... altercating.

On the other hand, self-defense could include an altercation but also all kinds of smart decisions and actions taken to avoid getting into a direct altercation, like avoiding certain places, traveling with friends, pushing an elevator button and going back upstairs, calling for help, locking the car door, showing the potential assailant the .45 tucked in your belt, etc...
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Old 05-15-2003, 07:51 AM   #7
Jeff R.
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You can be fighting me while I'm defending myself.

A fight encompasses resistance, escalation, battle. Self-defence is just the way it sounds, keeping oneself from getting hurt. In defending oneself, one may put up a fight.

"Fight" tends to be offensive, whereas self-defense SHOULDN'T be.

In most martial art--Boxing, Tae Kwon Do--defending oneself involves escalation, offensive-defense, i.e., blocks that are also strikes, and this creates escalation. However, the purest form of defense--self protection--is putting up no resistance, causing no escalation, not feeding into the attack. Since a fight represents resistance, if there isn't any, then there is no fight, Ainuke.

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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Old 05-15-2003, 08:22 AM   #8
DGLinden
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Wow, these are all good thoughts.

Let me ask a question. Have you ever had your sensei ask you to attack him? Remember how that felt? Do you remember looking for an opening and feeling, frustrated, helpless and a bit afraid? There were no openings!

Well, that was not a fight. That was self defense. However when you attacked one of your sempai and he and you wrestled all over the mat, well... that was.

I hope I have been clear here.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 05-15-2003, 11:14 AM   #9
Paul Klembeck
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IMHO fighting and self defense are totally different. In a fight the two parties agree to fight and consequently each assumes the other has some ability to hurt them, so the fight operates much like sparring, with defense and offense balanced.

In a self defense situation the attacker has already decided that the victim is a pushover and will generally just attack (often without warning) with little thought of defense (otherwise they would just pick an easier target, self defense situations aren't about honor). This gives the defender a major suprise advantage if they resist and avoid the initial blow. Consequently the dynamics of the encounter are very different.
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Old 05-15-2003, 12:09 PM   #10
Bronson
 
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Quote:
My own personal definition is that a fight is where all participants have chosen to be involved in the altercation. Self defense is when at least one person has not chosen to be involved. The goal of a fight is to hurt another person, while the goal of self defense is not to get hurt.
I'd agree with that.

I once asked an officer after class about the legalities of self defence. He did his best to explain it in layman's terms. What it (kind of) boiled down to was this: If someone has there finger in your face and is threatening you and you step up and say "bring it", you have now agreed to fight. In the eyes of the law you are both equally at fault. In that same situation if you just kick him in nads, it was self defence (provided you can convince the jury that you felt your physical being was in immediate danger and that the assailaint had the ability and opportunity to carry out his threats, and there was no available opportunity to escape without putting yourself at more risk of injury.)

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 05-15-2003, 07:09 PM   #11
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Self-defence vs fights

For me, self-defense is what I do if someone tries to hurt me....verbally, emotionally or physically. I don't fight.

I do practice Aikido......I liked what Mr. Linden wrote...I have experienced both.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido
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Old 05-16-2003, 08:41 AM   #12
Charles Hill
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I think that it is important to realize that these are all personal definitions (except for the legal ones, of course.) For me, I look for the definition that is most useful for my training. The meaning of the words is the meaning we attach to them.

To be very specific, I think we are talking about a self defense situation, not self defense. With "self defense," Kevin's definition, "smart decisions and actions," seems to cover that pretty thoroughly.

As far as the legal aspect, I have heard that if I use abusive language leading up to a situation, the judge will likely view it as a fight, not self defense. Does anyone know about this?
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Old 05-16-2003, 08:48 AM   #13
Dave Miller
 
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Question Matter of opinion?

At the risk of stepping on some toes, I think that the notion of "what self-defense means to me" is fairly pointless. The simple fact is, standing before a judge saying, "from my perspective, it was self defense" will still get you thrown into jail if it was not, in fact, self defense.

It seems to me that the crux of this debate lies in the "my style can beat up your style" type of discussions. "When I see an aikidoka in the ring with a kick boxer" is talking about fighting, not self defense. I think that it's pretty clear, historically, that this sort of "exhibitionism" is not what the founder had in mind.

This dichotomy also speaks to the issue of the "realism" of aikido attacks and other related topics.

I hope I haven't muddied the waters too much.


DAVE

If you're working too hard, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:00 AM   #14
stoker
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The 'self-defense' argument I hear is the "Drunk Uncle at the superbowl party who mistakes you for a referee and takes a swings at you but you don't want to hurt him" and all you want to do is quickly control him without hurting him. You may WANT to send the uncle in to orbit or you may just want to lock him up quickly but YOU have control and make the decision.

dave stokes
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:01 AM   #15
Dennis Hooker
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For my opinion please see the following at the Shindai website

http://www.shindai.com/articles/hooker/fighting.htm

Dennis Hooker: (DVD) Zanshin and Ma-ai in Aikido
https://www.createspace.com/238049

www.shindai.com
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Old 05-16-2003, 09:10 AM   #16
Dave Miller
 
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Nice essay, Dennis. I like that a lot, especially the part about how the military, Karate, etc taught you how to fight but only Aikido taught you how not to fight.

DAVE

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Old 05-16-2003, 10:44 AM   #17
ian
 
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I don't really go for the legal seperation of fight and self-defence; I think that assumes your morality is necessarily based on the law.

I'd pretty much go with Patricks original seperation and I think the distinction is enormously important in self-defence training.

Many martial arts developed 'sports' aspects for fitness esp. for children. Aikido is about dealing with an altercation. The graded response it allows (n comparison to competitive martial arts such as karate) enables you to prevent a fight; and I don't mean in a wishy washy fight avoidance or 'lets all hold hands man' way. Simple grip breaking techniques and body movement can prevent a fight ever starting.

For example, down a night club one night there was a drunk bloke who kept trying to bounce into us ferociously; I moved out the way, just utilising timing, and he fell into the middle of our group flat on his face, and never came back to bother us again; try and simulate that in a competition!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 05-16-2003, 02:53 PM   #18
paw
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David Stokes wrote:
Quote:
The 'self-defense' argument I hear is the "Drunk Uncle at the superbowl party who mistakes you for a referee and takes a swings at you but you don't want to hurt him" and all you want to do is quickly control him without hurting him. You may WANT to send the uncle in to orbit or you may just want to lock him up quickly but YOU have control and make the decision.
Mr. Stokes, as best I understand the laws in my area, I am under a legal obligation to leave the area unless I reasonably cannot. If I cannot, I still have to demonstrate that whatever I do does not exceed the level of force allowed for the situation by law.

Yes, if my uncle's actions are threatening my spouse\lover\kids\whatever .... that may be justification for me staying and attempting to flee with my spouse\lover\kids\whatever .... it's still not a justification to engage my drunk uncle unless I can reasonably show there was no other option.

In other words, as Dave Miller wrote:
Quote:
At the risk of stepping on some toes, I think that the notion of "what self-defense means to me" is fairly pointless. The simple fact is, standing before a judge saying, "from my perspective, it was self defense" will still get you thrown into jail if it was not, in fact, self defense.
Regards,

Paul
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Old 05-16-2003, 03:11 PM   #19
Kevin Wilbanks
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Depends on what state you're in and where the superbowl party is. If it's Florida, and the party's at your house, you can probably kill the uncle - just tell the police he wasn't invited. Just to be sure, you might want to rip the DVD player off its perch and tuck it under his arm...

I think in most states you have the obligation to leave the scene if possible, rather than unleash any kind of destructive force on another person, even if it seems like legit self defense... unless you're already at home, in some cases. Florida has a 'castle law' which gives you a lot more options on your own private property (like shooting them in the back as they flee the scene, for instance).

In the case posited, it seems like BS to me, of course. I'd say the uncle deserves any bruises or other minor injuries that might result from being harmonized.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 05-16-2003 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 05-16-2003, 03:22 PM   #20
Ta Kung
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Good answers all around, thanks a lot! It is interesting to see what other people think about this subject.

For those who question Aikidos function as a self defence system, consider this: maybe Aikido IS self defence training, and fighting (sparring etc) isn't? Maybe Aikido works in self defence, but not as good in a fight? Can you compete in self defence? I think not.

Best wishes,

Patrik
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Old 05-16-2003, 11:18 PM   #21
shanman
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I really don't see the difference between fighting and self-defense. I believe that you are self-defending when you are in a fight; whether skilled or unskilled.

I don't consider sparring fighting because there are rules etc. Being good at sparring doesn't necessarily mean being good at fighting. I've seen this in practice.

If you doubt Aikido's effectiveness in sparring or fighting or self-defense I'de like to point out the many videos of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I have no Aikido examples,only Judo (and not just Gracie jujitsu) I consistently saw the Judo guys takedown, pin or choke out the other styles...especially kickboxers. To me there is a parallel between Jujitsu and Aikido. It was one reason decided to stop Taekwondo/ Escrima and switched to Tomiki Aikido. It was a hard decision between Judo and Aikido. I'de rather face a kickboxer than a Judo guy anyday.
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Old 05-17-2003, 07:34 AM   #22
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Self-defence vs fights

Since there is no competition in Aikido I have some trouble understanding the whole "who wins" part of this thread. I train partly because I never want to be raped again and because Aikido gives me responsibility to look at my part of every situation in my life and because it enriches my spiritual life. But mostly I train because it is so fun and both uke and nage win.

Mary Eastland

Berkshire Hills Aikido.
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Old 05-17-2003, 12:32 PM   #23
Jeff R.
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Quote:
Shannon Crockett (shanman) wrote:
I really don't see the difference between fighting and self-defense. I believe that you are self-defending when you are in a fight; whether skilled or unskilled.
When you strike at a pool of water, does it fight, or does it yield? If you are doing Aikido, then you should be like the water; no fighting, no resistance, only yielding and redirection. Self-defence; no fighting.
Quote:
I don't consider sparring fighting because there are rules etc. Being good at sparring doesn't necessarily mean being good at fighting. I've seen this in practice.

If you doubt Aikido's effectiveness in sparring or fighting or self-defense I'de like to point out the many videos of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I have no Aikido examples,only Judo (and not just Gracie jujitsu) I consistently saw the Judo guys takedown, pin or choke out the other styles...especially kickboxers. To me there is a parallel between Jujitsu and Aikido. It was one reason decided to stop Taekwondo/ Escrima and switched to Tomiki Aikido. It was a hard decision between Judo and Aikido. I'de rather face a kickboxer than a Judo guy anyday.
It's interesting because if you can apply a technique, strike, or throw TO someone, then you are fighting, forcing. You can't offend or Aikido someone, or you're no longer doing Aikido.

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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Old 05-17-2003, 12:54 PM   #24
L. Camejo
 
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Thumbs down

Nice concepts folks.

This is an interesting question, since in my book self defence is about defending yourself, i.e. protecting yourself from being destroyed by whatever means may be necessary.

The "means that may be necessary" is directly linked to one's own skill in self protection (regardless of type of training) and ability to effectively use that skill with/against an aggressor and the intensity of that aggression.

The circumstances of defence as well are also important, so self defence may be simply avoiding conflict before it happens, to not enter the need for physical defence, or effectively neutralising the aggression so that it is no longer a threat to your safety in whatever form works at that point.

A fight on the other hand, connotes struggle or use of force that is being successfully resisted at some degree, leading to either a refusal to continue to fight or utilisation of more force, and tactics to gain control or to win.

Self defence situations can escalate into fights in my book, if the situation is not diffused from the outset and the aggressor is capable of resisting whatever solution you put forward to end the conflict, whether it be physical or otherwise.

The Aikido response makes it even more interesting. To me, Aikido is about avoiding or dealing with conflict from the outset (if not before), and not allowing things to escalate into a fight, where a struggle occurs.

However, as a person who does competitive Aikido (and yes it does exist ) there are many times when resistance may effectively negate your technique and the situation may "look" like a fight, as you keep trying to do something that effectively puts you in control of the conflict, while the other person tries to stop you.

I think though, that against properly applied Aikido principles, resistance is truly futile, as it presents the opportunity and power for your next technique (whether physical or non) as you blend with the mind and force of the aggressor. The sensitivity of the Aikidoka though, to these changes in tension is another story entirely.

Just my $9.99 on the subject.

Arigato Gozaimashita

L.C.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 05-17-2003 at 12:59 PM.

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Old 05-17-2003, 01:46 PM   #25
Jeff R.
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Totally.

Fighting is offensive, an applied force in opposition, resistance.

Self-defense legally represents "by whatever means necessary." But theoretically it can be offensive or defensive.

Boxing, war--defense through offense.

Aikido--defense through non-resistance, no offense.

Competitive Aikido--oxymoron . . . but I don't doubt that it exists. I think we probably just call it by different names.

Exercise and extend your Ki with conviction; feel its awesome power--just smile.
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