Fighting Isn’t A Failure

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True or false: “If you have to fight, you’ve already done something wrong.”

If you’re male, or female but educated in self-defense primarily by males, you will say True.  If you’re female, aware of the dynamics that most commonly lead to real self-defense situations, you will say False.  If you teach self-defense, and want your students to understand those dynamics, you will say, It’s a pile of crap, and believing it could get you killed.

The whole, “If you have to fight” notion has its place.  When you’re teaching and training aggressive young men who believe physical strength is the measure of their worth—and are itching for the chance to prove themselves worthy—getting them to control their impulse to fight is necessary.  It’s also valuable for teaching the basic principle of self-defense: avoiding a confrontation, by reading the situation and/or removing oneself from it, is an excellent protection technique.

But in the real world, it’s of little practical use, and believing its absolute truth can indeed get you killed.

I imagine the originator of the quote assumed most fights would be between two men—likely an escalation of a disagreement, or perhaps an interruption of a criminal act, or even a war undertaken when negotiations went sour.  So sure, your first step should be to deescalate the situation and avoid violence.  Maybe the quote is meant to imply folks who don’t want to be attacked should avoid attack-rich environments–the clichéd dark alleys and isolated parking garages.  Okay, fine.

But it ignores the fact the majority of “fights” women will face in life don’t happen in dark alleys and scary places.  A woman is most likely to be attacked in her own home, without warning, by someone she knows.

And if you teach self-defense or martial arts, and you don’t know that fact, you are putting your female students in danger.

By telling a woman she should always avoid a fight, you encourage her to let dangerous situations escalate beyond what she might be able to counter.  By telling a woman the fight is an indication of failure, you insult the woman who decides to fight when attacked in her own room, in her own bed, by a man who has deliberately earned her trust.

And if you believe having to fight means you’ve done something wrong, I don’t want you on my side should a fight ever come around.  I want the partner who knows it takes both parties to resolve a conflict, but only one to decide violence is a better idea.  I want a partner who knows from experience that life and people are unpredictable, the bad guys don’t let you choose when an attack happens, and you don’t always get a heads-up before someone takes a swing.

Fighting back is a choice, not a failure.

 

Coming next: We Already Knew That on the odd habit men have of discovering sparring techniques aren’t effective in a real fight, and the assumption they should tell the women-folk (as if women weren’t already acutely aware of it).

 

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