I dare you to define “self defense”. Go on, try it.
Most people think of self defense in terms of “punching” and “kicking”. The more sophisticated ones think they’ve got me when they say stuff like “self defense is stopping an attack”, but really, they’re still thinking in terms of hitting people. Unfortunately, “stopping an attack” can be a disastrous definition.
Stop the attack
If someone is trying to hit you with a bar stool, is it OK to stop the attack? Of course. But sometimes no.
I have no problem with stopping someone who’s attacking you. My problem is that many people can’t see past only getting the attack to stop. And ironically, stopping an attack can make you less safe.
Everybody fights to the goal, but they don’t always take note of what the goal is. Well, when you want to “stop an attack”, that becomes your goal. Nowhere in that goal is there anything about staying safe. In fact, if you’re focused on stopping the attack, you might miss a perfectly good chance to escape. And not being there is usually the safest option.
Not only that, but even if the dude puts the chair down, you don’t automatically relax. You might still feel threatened. And understandably so, how do you know the attack has actually stopped? He might just be getting ready for the next attack. And so you still aren’t looking for other solutions yet – you’re just looking for the next attack to stop. Which means you’re not thinking about other goals, like “get home”.
Even worse – emotional attacks
Emotional attacks can feel every bit as real as physical attacks. How else do you explain how so many arguments turn into bar fights?
Everybody’s been in an argument. And most arguments are about making the other person see things your way – which basically translates to stopping them from attacking your worldview.
So what’s the solution?
Must I stop the attack or not?
This one isn’t about offering solutions, it’s about getting you to think about your goals. I want you thinking of other ways to skin a cat.
For example, stopping a a dedicated attacker who has a knife is not simple. If you’re only trying to stop the attack (the knife thrusts and slashes), then you’re in for a world of hurt. Possibly a short-lived world at that. Everybody who trains needs to be training themselves to look for other options, other ways of looking at situations.