Is running away always first choice? A question that’s been bothering me for years. Martial arts and self-defense are actually one. The usability and examination of one’s own techniques for their meaning and usefulness in a fictitious fight is a permanent topic. I have the great pleasure of training with experts of the highest calibre and playing the mice with you, whether in regular training or at seminars. But whenever I’m introduced to the subject, I’m forced to say, “Running away is always the best defense.”
And every time I see everyone nodding and agreeing with that statement. “None of us are thugs.” But I always think to myself: Nope! I’m not a thug either. But I hate to run away. This has nothing to do with my slowness (at most a little …) or with an underdeveloped personality structure fighting for recognition (at least I hope so …). I just got into situations again and again, where I thought it was right not to run away but to look and if necessary to go into conflict. Hence the following thoughts.
Of course, the ten years or so I spent working in Hamburg’s bars and pubs or at the door are not entirely innocent. You experience a lot of unusual things. I only held on to normal bill-dodgers too. Only a few poor guys get violent when they get caught. If they became aggressive, however, a shake was usually enough to calm them down and clarify the situation. For this you don’t need any martial arts, only the will to assert yourself in this situation. That was there because I felt that I was right.
Another caliber is property crimes. I just look when I notice something unusual. Who’s that in my buddy’s car? He’s still working, right? And indeed – someone tried to steal the car radio from the old car. So I pulled the guy out of the car, shifted him gently towards my former place of work and “introduced” him to my buddy. When he wanted to call the police, the caught stupid guy actually attacked me with a screwdriver. Stupid idea. For him …
At that time I lived in an allotment garden in Hamburg. At night, when I came home from work, all the paths were pitch dark. So it’s funny when two guys are standing at the neighbor’s garden fence and obviously digging things up or down. I didn’t really care what they buried – allotment gardens are constantly being broken into. So without much discussion, but very tamely, I led them off the garden grounds and sent them home. It wasn’t until the next day that I found out that they had left their two bags of heroin behind when they left in a hurry. Dangerous? I don’t know, but should I whistle past the guys at night and let them fidget around in my older neighbour’s garden?
Allotment garden in general – mine was also the target of thieves. But the first time I was at home, I woke up at night thinking why the stupid cats next door were making such a racket. So out of bed for a moment, open the door, there’s a guy standing in front of me. In my house! I only thought about it when I saw that the front door was wide open. The guy was already there and I was prepared for his buddies. But they didn’t come. But the police did. And a few weeks later there was even a commendation from the Hamburg police headquarters. For moral courage and all. But it had nothing to do with courage, because I hadn’t even thought about it. And I didn’t choose this situation either.
I could go on for a while and tell you about car break-ins, bicycle theft, molesting women, threatening foreigners – but everything is similar. None of these things happened to me because I deliberately put myself in strange and dangerous situations and sought confrontation. I don’t walk through dark alleys at night and wait for bad guys. They happened because I simply did not look away.
This is neither morally and ethically particularly exemplary nor heroic. It’s probably the result of my upbringing and conditioning. I think football hooligans and mobs are shit, fascists anyway, and I may claim that I have no problem with my own aggression potential. I just can`t stand violence against weak people. And i have ability to stand up where i see wrong
I do not feel cowardly when I or others run away. Far be it from me to judge whether conflict avoidance is morally okay. I don’t really want to judge the behaviour of others in relation to conflicts as long as they are not the aggressors. But what I have learned for myself over the years is that I feel a responsibility not to simply walk past unjust situations.
Role model? Certainly not. I also tell the saying about running away when I teach SV. But people are different. I just want to make you think about whether this statement is really true for us martial artists always and for everyone in every situation. For me it is not.