Sensei's Corner - March 2007
Many in our culture are obsessed with fairness. Although we hear it stated often, and quite accurately, that, "life isn't fair," many still feel that it should be. This desire to make life fair has manifested itself in a number of ways from the way we approach sports to trend in business ethics and social laws. Although it feels good to be treated fairly and to treat others fairly, we must recognize that the condition of being "fair" is a man-made condition. That is, a fair interaction only exists if everyone chooses to act fairly. Fairness does not exist naturally.
What image comes to mind when you hear the term, "sucker punch"? Obviously to hit someone when they aren't ready - or maybe not even looking - isn't fair. Those of us who have a desire to be fair may not even consider that, in a real fight, the sucker punch is a valid - and under certain circumstances legal - tactic for self-defense. This is precisely the attitude that a smart martial artist maintains when considering self-defense situations and the tactics to employ that will avoid or quickly end unlawful physical assaults.
We live in a society that places value on human life and well-being. This is the reason why we have rules around violence towards others. As good citizens and community leaders we have an obligation to uphold those laws, but we must always remember that violent criminals do not behave consistently with them. Statistically, if you are attacked your attacker will likely have done one or more of the following:
- Been in numerous street fights
- Attempted to kill someone >
- Severely injured or killed someone unprovoked
- Served time in prison
- Been addicted to or currently on drugs
Is it reasonable to expect this person to behave in accordance with the law let alone our moral compass for fairness? Of course not. Therefore, we must abandon the concept of fairness and develop tactics and abilities that will ensure our safety and the safety of those around us in avoiding or quickly ending unlawful violent attacks.
Does this mean that we have to act dishonorably to effectively defend ourselves? No. Miyamoto Musashi, Medieval Japan's greatest swordsman, was a master at creating an unfair fight in his favor while still operating within the rules and expectations of his time.
On one occasion, he was scheduled to duel a prominent instructor of swordsmanship. Musashi knew that this instructor intended to show up early for the duel and set up an ambush. The ambush was to be "plan B" should the duel start to go badly for him. In that case, his top students were to rush in and overwhelm Musashi. Instead, Musashi showed up the night before and spent the evening in a tree at the duel site. At the appointed time for the duel, Musashi climbed down from the tree, having seen every move his opponent made preparing the ambush. In addition, using the tree as a blocking device, he kept his enemy in front of him and was able to win the duel and fight through the ambush.
On another occasion, Musashi was to fight a duel with a another prominent swordsman. This opponent, Musashi knew, held high regard for etiquette. It was very rude to show up late for a duel - a sign of dishonor to the opponent. The duel was to be held at dawn on the beach of an island. Each was to arrive by way of a bridge and the duel was to be overseen by several local officials. Instead of following these guidelines, Musashi slept in, showed up late, and showed up via a boat that dropped him off right onto the beach. By the time the duel started, his opponent was enraged, frustrated, and attempting to fight a man who had the sun rising behind him. Musashi won that duel as well, a task that was significantly easier under the circumstances Musashi created.
Remember that rules made by man can and will be broken. Pay attention to the rules you have created for yourself and the circumstances under which it would be legal and appropriate to ignore social norms. A man lunging toward my son does not require a verbal warning before I thrash him. I don't need to turn him around first, he doesn't need to see it coming, and I am not obligated to stop hurting him until it is reasonable to believe he will do no harm. If a stranger approaches me on a dark street with an innocent request for spare change or directions, it is not rude or inappropriate to keep my distance and refuse to stop and help.
Never participate in a fair fight. Fair fights, by definition, can be won by either side. The only fight you should ever participate in is the one that is both unavoidable and tilted in your favor. You can tilt a fight in your favor by doing some or all of these things:
- Use law enforcement - the fight you are least likely to lose is the one that the police and/or our legal systems fight for you! Your tax dollars pay for these systems to be in place for your protection.
- Train relentlessly such that your level of physical preparedness exceeds that of any would-be attacker
- Carry some form of weapon that you know how to use effectively
- by design such as a handgun
- improvised such as keys or flashlight/ umbrella/ cane
- Stay in areas uncomfortable to criminals
- Close to law enforcement
- Close to crowds
- Far from escape routes
- Be aware of surroundings
- Know where the immediate obstacles and areas of poor footing are
- Foresee potential ambushes
- Identify your escape routes
- Use available mirrors and windows to peek into "blind spots" (behind you, around corners)
- Know where light sources are (to position yourself between any potential opponent and the strongest light source)
- Be aware of when and how others get close enough to you to launch an attack - use obstacles and distance to prevent it
- Don't assume anything
- People who look harmless may be armed or may be acting as a decoy for the real threat
- Being in a crowd or well lit area does not guarantee you won't be attacked
- Be a hard target
- Conceal valuables you are carrying
- Keep your eyes up and make eye contact with other people
- Be unpredictable
- Glance behind yourself from time to time
- If you feel uneasy about those around you, cross the street, walk into a store, change the direction you're walking in, etc.
- Take different routes and go at different times for routine activities
- Sensei Don Seilerinclude 'archive.php'; ?>