Friday, September 9, 2011

Martial Training Conundrum: Take 2

My last post apparently created a huge uproar. I apologize if I stepped on anyone's toes, or hurt anyone's feelings.

I closed the comments on the last post because I was encouraged to do so, and because I needed to step away from the issue for a bit. I did what I felt was the most appropriate course of action, at that time. Honestly, I felt the questions I was trying to ask were getting lost in context of the situation I used to explain what drove me to thinking about these questions. Not because I didn't want to hear the truth or because my feelings were hurt, but because I felt comments were off topic, so I shut it down.  (Not that that stopped the comments anyway). @.@

With that being said:
I really want to try this again, without the context from the last post. I am going to ask the questions I was trying to ask in my last post, BY THEMSELVES. Ignore and disregard EVERYTHING from the last post.

Everyone is welcome to comment on this post, and believe me when I say that I DO GENUINELY want to hear everyone's opinion, and I will not shut down the comments, but please focus on the topic. THIS IS A CLEAN SLATE.


The questions I was trying postulate are these:


  • When is it ok to stand up for yourself or a friend?
    • Please keep in mind, this doesn't mean knocking someone's block off for calling you a name. To me, this means you say "Hey, leave that me/guy alone." maybe you call the cops. Those, to me, constitute action/intervention/standing up for yourself/someone else.
  • I understand our priority as Martial Artists is to always walk away from a fight. Why? Why legally and why morally as I believe these have two different answers.
  • When, or at what point, if ever, is it ethically and morally right to intervene on violence? 
    • Again, to me intervention could mean calling the police, it does not necessarily mean going up to some guy and picking/joining the fight.
  • When is it ok to use force to stand up for yourself or a friend?
  • When is it ok to use force to DEFEND yourself? (How high does the violence have to have escalated?)
    • If the answer to some of these is "ONLY when you life is on the line", WHY does it have to get that far along before you can defend yourself to the utmost of your ability? 
    • Is it wrong to end violence with a preemptive strike? Be it physical or metaphorical. (punch, call for help, etc.)
  • Why is it legally wrong to really put the hurt on someone if they try to hurt you first? Is it morally wrong? Why?

Now, context has a lot to do with the answers for the questions above. So context may be, verbal violence, physical violence, death is impending violence, etc. So feel free to use those types of context for you answers.  


Now, the second set of questions, which I think is more to the point of what I was trying to get at yesterday.  (Thanks Sam for articulating this for me, because I think this is a valid point, and something I want to know, it helps me understand my confusion I think)

  •  One of the simple answers is simply the social context. Physical violence is not acceptable because we live in a society and society has rules. You insult me, you punch me, whatever, I punch you back, society says this is not ok, therefore society makes the rules and the rules say this is not ok, in the eyes of the law you are wrong.
    • To every situation, action reaction, there are social, legal, moral, personal ramifications. Obviously you have to decide if you can live with all of these. Can you live with yourself if you do ____. Can you live with society disapproving of you if you do _____. etc.    
  • This leads me to my next point. Where, when, and why did society change to its current set of rules? 
    • Years ago, if you had a dispute, you went and dueled it out. 
    • Further back, if someone stole from you and you caught them, you could kill them. (Or beat them up, or whatever.) 
    • So, when and why did we gravitate away from these courses of action?
    • Why was it ok to go out back and duke it out, settle it, and move on back then, but not now? (I will not take, 'we are more civilized and evolved now' as an answer.)

And finally, the last of the points I was trying to make. Along the same topic as bullying. We are taught and trained to walk away from any kind of confrontation. I have asked why. But I want you to consider this when answering. We were all also taught when we were little that, "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, by words will never hurt me." In my opinion, this is a lie. I understand engaging in the monkey dance is stupid. But when someone comes after you and verbally attacks you, as a person, sometimes once, sometimes repeatedly, that damage can be more devastating than a broken nose, cracked ribs, missing teeth or a black eye. That damage is lasting, weeks, months, years... I have known people that have taken their lives or that of others, or both because they are pushed to the breaking point by this verbal violence.

So when people say "In my view the mere fact that a person asks themselves if it is acceptable or appropriate to use your training to "stick up for yourself" puts the monkey in the driving seat. I believe it was written that if something does not result in some injury you can see with your eyes and record with a camera it ain't an injury or damage." I must disagree. Maybe some people have this thick of skin, but most of us don't. And some people have incredibly sharp tongues. I promise you, the effects of that kind of violence can last a life time.

Why is it so bad that we fight it out before it gets to the point of guns and knives and even more violence? Why is it so bad to stand up for yourself? I am not talking about looking for opportunities to use your skills, going out of your way to find a fight or prove yourself or anything like that. I am talking having the human decency to help yourself or someone in need. Be it calling the police, notifying the authorities, or delivering a swift punch in the nose as the situation dictates.

Call me old fashioned, idealistic, stupid, or naive if you must, but rest assured if, somewhere, someday, I see you getting bullied, mugged or gang-raped in an alley, I firmly believe it is my moral and ethical obligation to intervene and I will help you. (AGAIN, all I may be able to do is call the police and tell them what is happened and where you are, but it is still something and better than nothing in my opinion.)



Just some things to think about... Or comment on, if you so desire. Again, I promise not to close the thread, but I do ask that comments are kept on topic and are not made personal.

Hopefully my questions are presented better this time and I look forward to reading everyone's response. 

4 comments:

  1. I must say, I was a bit disappointed that you closed the comments on your other post, but I'm glad you've opened the floor again here.

    This is really Interesting. As I think was pointed out in the last post by many who responded, there are definite levels of violence. Sure, being called a bitch or told to eff off is violent, but it doesn't *necessarily* warrant that punch to the nose. It seems to me that the point of reacting verbally or physically is to get the violence to stop. That would be my goal anyway. I hear you about words being just as hurtful as a punch, but the reality is that I can also use words to defend myself as well. Avoid before block...

    When it is OK to stand up for myself or a friend on a physical level? For me, it's once I'm touched. Don't care if it's a shove or a "Yo, lady, just calm down" sort of touch, but if you touch me (or a family member like my son, husband, niece, nephew, friend I'm dining with, person I see being assaulted in the street or whomever), it's on. Of course there are consequences to that course of action, but there are consequences to not responding as well. A court summons or law suit can be dealt with later. Stopping an attack that is/feels eminent is not something that can be put on the back burner ever. The trick, I guess, is to do what you mentioned about discipline from your parents when you were a child: let the "punishment" fit the crime. Block before hurt...

    The main reason we are taught to just walk away, I think, has a lot to do with the elevated risk of folks being totally unwilling to just duke it out and settle it - but instead to go to the trunks of their vehicles, pull out a firearm and blow your head off. A punch to the nose can do a lot of things, but it can't stop a bullet. My mom used to say that a bullet has no name on it. Why risk having it "go there" over something someone said or a perceived level of disrespect? Things deteriorate rapidly in the streets. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that deterioration - which also includes the person involved in the attack. Hurt before maim...

    Conflict is usually not pretty or tidy - and even if you decide to settle it with a swift kick to the shins, chances are you will get hurt in some way, shape or form (and if not immediately then in the form of that law suit or summons to appear in court). Personally, I'll avoid first, then block, hurt, maim or kill (as in a "me/us or you" situation), so I can LIVE to do the same another day. Societal rules aside, to me, it is usually better to be judged by 12 (jurors) then carried by six (at your funeral).

    From a martial arts perspective, I know I've been taught to follow the avoid/block/hurt/maim/kill chain to, in effect, do the least amount of damage necessary to stop the attack and/or get away safely. But you can't always avoid (because sometimes bad things just happen), but I think you have a moral obligation to at least try.

    Thanks for taking another stab at it, SGS...

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  2. You just asked some questions that have no clear cut answers.

    There are no if they do x you do y type answers.

    You can start with knowing the local laws of your state, so you know the boundaries that you need to stay in and how to explain to the authorities why you felt justified in defending yourself.

    I personally don't feel comfortable trying to give you my answers to these questions.

    Something to think on:
    http://nononsesenseselfdefense.blogspot.com/2011/09/ruminations-of-old-bouncer.html

    As to why we have abdicated our Personal Responsibility for ourown defense of self that's in my opinion a result if the PC and 'Love Not War' culture that came out of the 60's.

    Don't worry; You are asking questions and that is more than most. Have faith; you will come up with answers that work for you.

    :-)
    Josh

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  3. • When is it ok to stand up for yourself or a friend?
    ◦ Please keep in mind, this doesn't mean knocking someone's block off for calling you a name. To me, this means you say "Hey, leave that me/guy alone." maybe you call the cops. Those, to me, constitute action/intervention/standing up for yourself/someone else.

    Clarity, much better. You have to stand up for what you believe in regardless. How you do that is really the question. If you feel the need to get involved then do so by first making sure your aware of the consequences and the possible repercussions. Because communications are so complicated especially with strangers who may or may not have a chip on their shoulders may or may not escalate regardless of your good intentions. Hopefully you have made this decision long before the incident.

    Then you really have to define as exactly as you can for yourself what you mean by "stand up for yourself or stand up for others." This is complicated and it involves you deciding to get involved in something that is not your business unless it directly involved you from the get-go.

    The only time we can intervene is when it is absolutely sure that a life is in imminent danger. I repeat "Imminent!" Even then, all knowledge of any martial art, etc. aside, you must fully know and understand that your still open to repercussions regardless of your intent - actual and perceived. Even the good citizen can end up prosecuted and/or sued for actions taken. You have to know all of it and know that your willing to take that chance in a life-threatened situation.

    All other situations it is best to remain out of it and immediately find safe haven away from the threat/conflict before it becomes something that may escalate into violence that can and does become mob violence where you are now caught in it with no where else to go. You have choices and those choices can be good and not so good.

    • I understand our priority as Martial Artists is to always walk away from a fight. Why? Why legally and why morally as I believe these have two different answers.

    Legal ramifications are well explained in Rory Miller's books, Meditations and Facing Violence. If you can read his books and adequately answer the questions with full understanding then your better able to decide your fate in such instances. You have to realize your perceptive filters of life will have a unique meaning as to what is "morally" correct and what is "legally" correct. Remember that a police person, a district attorney and possible twelve individuals who will have their own perceptive filtered meaning to those subjects. Complicated. Also, the two persons in conflict, those who are witnessing, those who are videoing the situation, and their families along with their attorneys will be seeing this from their own unique perceptive filtering.

    The rabbit hole gets deeper and deeper.

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  4. • When, or at what point, if ever, is it ethically and morally right to intervene on violence? 
    ◦ Again, to me intervention could mean calling the police, it does not necessarily mean going up to some guy and picking/joining the fight.

    If you become a witness to a violent threat or encounter move off to a safe haven and call the authorities. Again if imminent death is apparent, remember your perceptive filtering, you may want to intervene. I can tell you from experience that this is not the best tactic. I was in an authority position where a fight broke out. I shocked many by arriving with a chair and a note book where I sat down and began observing the fight. There was a big crowd, about thirty five persons all male shouting and yelling and egging them on.

    I was asked later why I didn't intervene. It was logic and common sense. If I had I would have been attacked and possible the entire mob would have joined in. In a nutshell in this one particular case I would have ended up dead.

    • When is it ok to use force to stand up for yourself or a friend?

    It depends what you mean by force. I would never use that term much like I refrain from ever saying I was defending myself. Read Rory Miller's book again and you will find he addresses such things far better than I. This kind of thing carries its own baggage as well then re-read all the other comments above.

    • When is it ok to use force to DEFEND yourself? (How high does the violence have to have escalated?)

    This is a very personal question. I can only add that this question must come from a totally and completely knowledgable point in your life. Too many times defense is not defense but fighting - fighting is illegal.

    ◦ If the answer to some of these is "ONLY when you life is on the line", WHY does it have to get that far along before you can defend yourself to the utmost of your ability? 
    Here once again I have to ask how you define "utmost of your ability" and what that entails. If it entails actions that pass the defense line into fighting you are done for and will suffer the consequences. Here again Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung's postings and books explain this far better and from a far more experienced point - a point that is very important.

    Even a professional easily crosses the line from defense into fighting so when anyone who does not have this experience of as a professional must realize that it is exponentially higher degree of this occurring than at their level. This is why avoidance is the best tactic, i.e. run to a safe haven and call the authorities.

    ◦ Is it wrong to end violence with a preemptive strike? Be it physical or metaphorical. (punch, call for help, etc.)

    Your moving into how it might be perceived by witnesses and the video camera. It may not be readily apparent than that preemptive strike looks a whole lot like an attack - illegal.

    • Why is it legally wrong to really put the hurt on someone if they try to hurt you first? Is it morally wrong? Why?

    If you go first and it is not apparent that the other person is actually a viable threat, your breaking the law. It does not matter if it is morally right or wrong, it is about the law and individual perceptions. If a police person perceives you as aggressive you can get arrested and prosecuted even tho you are professing all the way there that you were only defending yourself. Once again, go back and re-read Rory's books, they explain this really, really well.

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