Nat from TDA Training Asked if I am Causing Conflict ...

Impressions, Aikido, Karate, and attacking first

A couple of months ago, there were a series of articles posted at Mokuren Dojo and TDA Training talking about several strategic concepts, basically discussing strike first or strike last philosophy.

My stance as quoted by Nat in the above post talks about the wisdom of being a pacifist in a highly-charged environment (think Ueshiba and Funakoshi). They are not entirely "representative" of their "antecedents" as Nat describes; my highlighting of their philosophical stance is just to look at the positives of their politics rather than to comment on their strategic value.

I go on (in expanding on the non-aggressive philosophy above) to describe that in my own traditional taekwondo practice that I often will start students off in a 'please don't hurt me stance' - with palms held out in a non-aggressive manner before practicing drills. This is the focus of the current post - Nat was thinking that in such an approach I may be the one who is causing a situation to escalate.

Firstly I think we need to focus on part of my quote: "One of the core things in our system is that we shouldn't engage the opponent in any way." Meaning we should avoid, not incite, seek to de-escalate, or to extricate ourselves from a situation in which there is a possible conflict that will or is occuring.

However, Nat equates this submissive posture to be an invitation for conflict to occur.

From a self defence perspective, no one wants to be victimised. Irrespective of what kind of posture you hold yourself in, if violence comes your way, there is some justification in using an appropriate level of aggressiveness to reduce the risk you face, to disrupt any sort of attack, and to extricate yourself to a defensible location. For this sort of aggressiveness to work there may be strategic value in adopting a 'please don't hurt me' stance and to launch a pre-emptive or simultaneous or responsive attack against the attacker as appropriate.

To be a pacifist in a situation where punches or weapons are being used against your body and to chase the lock or takedown while getting pummelled is ludicrous. Similarly to think that you are partially to blame for being victimised is a non-logical thought process - NO ONE WANTS TO BE VICTIMISED.

Now if you are some hot shot martial artist (whether Taekwondo, Karate, or MMA stylist) and in a situation where some home boys are talking smack and you have incite them and then pretend to walk away - this is akin to provocation and certainly would make the other person lose face. In such similar situations where you have publically engaged the opponent - whether you know it or not, the pacifist 'please don't hurt me' has a high chance of escalating a conflict. There is some wisdom in insisting the attacker back-off.

I've not been offended by Nat at all, and in fact his zero-ing in on my post is what this blog is all about. I have however been delayed in answering because of family issues and my lack of time during the holiday season.

This has been a good opportunity to also present and showcase how self defence training can overlap martial arts training. The objectives of self defence classes (teaching effectiveness in the least amount of time) as opposed to martial arts classes (who cares if you're not effective until black belt) sometimes makes for an important discussion for modern schools:
1. How can we get beginners in the martial arts more effective in a shorter amount of time? (A: Teach them less but make everything count)
2. How can we get beginners to understand the implications of self defence? (A: Just discuss them in conjunction with martial training)
3. How can self defence students be effective without lots of experience? (A: Decision making models and visualisation have to be taught by instructor before conflict ever arises.)

Related Posts
TDA: Impressions, impressions ...
Traditional Taekwondo: There is no first attack in Karate ...

Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]


I agree, these situations do need to be handled carefully. If a bully is acting out of insecurity, the worst possible response is to imply they are incapable of attack--for example, by looking away. Yet many underinformed attempts at deescalation manage to do exactly that.

Popular Posts