Friday, July 1, 2011

Avoid if possible!

Bear with me, this post is going to be a little bit scatterbrained:

July is my most favorite month of the year. For a variety of reasons. This year July is going to be even better than usual because: I will be attending Miller's seminar on the 9th. I am REALLY excited for this one.

To the point: in light of the holiday, a time when people will be out doors, and probably drinking, and thinking about the seminar I get to attend next weekend and Miller's book "Meditations on Violence" I wanted to bring up being aware of your surroundings and some other safety things.

Yes, as Martial Artists, we go to class and learn how to maim, injure, decapitate and otherwise incapacitate our adversaries. BUT, one thing that many of the dojos I have been to do not stress are what to do BEFORE you have to fight. And I only say have to, because you should never start a fight and you should never resort to violence unless necessary. Miller talks about this in Meditations on Violence... look, just read the book, its amazing.

Now, I used to be like... "Whatever, if someone starts something with me, I'm going to kick their ass!" However, Sensei Nick made me watch the broken shin kick video on YouTube. If you haven't seen it, take a look. Its only 14 seconds. I saw that and thought "Oh... Maybe I don't want to get into a fight so badly after all...."

Miller talks a lot about the monkey dance. How people escalate from insults to pushing and shoving to violence. It is to prove something. You are defending only your pride and your ego. That is the kind of fight you should always walk away from. ALWAYS. As a martial artist, you're above that anyway, you don't need to prove anything. You (should) know better. Plus, you can go to jail if you really hurt someone. I don't want to spend years in jail, I'm pretty sure you don't either.

So, with that being said, As a martial artist, we don't want to fight unless we absolutely have to, right? Say it with me: "RIGHT."

How do we avoid getting in a fight?

1) Don't be there! - If you know there is a bad area of town, or some place that is not reputable for being safe, avoid it. I want to say, especially around holidays like this when people are out partying and drinking. Drunk people do strange and stupid things sometimes. Best to avoid those who are very heavily intoxicated, right?

2) Be aware of your surroundings. When I was younger my mom made me take a few rape defense classes with her. I was usually always the youngest in the room at 14, but I learned some good stuff I still think about almost a decade later. When you are out and about, just be aware. Don't be digging through your purse looking for your keys as you walk out to your car late at night with your arms full of groceries. Have your keys on hand and ready. (better yet, get a kubaton for your keys!) Do not be text messaging or looking at your phone. Walk with confidence and look people in the face. People don't want to be recognized if they're going to attack you. Its hard to explain I guess, but try to minimize your distractions. And pay attention to where you are and what is around you. Don't park next to big vans or SUVs with tinted windows. Now, again, I probably come across as paranoid, and just because someone has a van with tinted windows doesn't mean they are a predator. But, better safe then sorry.

SO. Pay attention to where you are, pay attention to what is around you and who you are with. Just little stuff like that.

Keep in mind, this doesn't address the fact that Felicia's points out in her blog that with women most violence happens with someone you know, this is just if some crazy psycho decides you look like easy pickin's. Her post is something which is something I would like to write about in more detail in the future. For example, in Aikijustu, Sensei Nick is always saying there is a 'lets get the keys from drunk uncle bob' way to deal with someone and a 'you are trying to kill me so I will bounce your head off the sidewalk' way to deal with them. Same technique, just effective vs. potentially lethal. I want to do more research to find out if other Martial Arts Systems are like this and how that works, among other things.

The second thing I wanted to address is that, if some drunk guy stumbles up and asks for my number, I'm not going to beat the shit out of him for no reason. If he touches me or things seem like they're going to get out of hand, I will leave. Or find help. Immediately.

HOWEVER. If you truly believe that your life or your safety is in danger, and there is no escape or no way to get out of the situation, THEN you kick their ass and don't hold back. To quote Sensei Nick "Fighting with enough ferocity to scare a tiger is the only option."

Miller writes "It's better to avoid than to run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die."

There! that sums up mostly everything I wanted to get out in this post.

Really, I just wanted to say "Be safe and have a good weekend everyone".  Ha. Oops. @.@

Well... Be safe and have a good holiday weekend everyone! Enjoy the 4th!


  1. Before one: keep a calm, clear mind. If you are relaxed and can do this, you will always respond appropriately to whatever situation you find yourself in, rather than reacting blindly.

  2. Great post - and I most appreciate the mention :-). And you are so right - awareness and avoidance are so totally key - especially for women. But what sometimes happens with us - because of the way we are socialized ("Be the nurturer!") - is that even when we are aware of a potentially icky situation, we sometimes don't avoid because we talk ourselves out of it by insisting we are over-reacting or being paranoid. In other words, the warning alarms go off and we do the mental equivalent of hitting the snooze button or taking out the battery. Our "If it feels bad, it probably is" buzzer often gets vetoed, sadly. Case in point: I actually took my kubaton off my key ring recently because I was afraid of what people might think if when they saw it jutting out from my hand as I walked through the mall or where ever. How silly is THAT?!?

    And how funny is it that I was also thinking of blogging something about appropriate resistance? Yep - stumbling drunk guy asking for my phone number and blind date with the wondering hands are not the same dude and do not warrant the same type of "handling." One size does not fit all it's true...

    We also have a saying in my school similar to Miller's: Avoid before block. Block before maim. Maim before kill. Kill before die - for all life is precious. Great minds and all that ;-)

    Have a great - and safe - fourth!