Shihan often says that your goal should be to destroy your opponent’s will to fight you. This can have very different connotations, depending on the situation. In a tournament, it could mean being aggressive and relentless. In a cage match or street fight, it could mean being brutal and punishing. But my favorite interpretation is one that goes back to Sun Tzu and The Art of War…”To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
On the street, the best way to destroy someone’s will to fight you is before the fight has begun. A great example of this is a story that Gary Gabelhouse-Sensei tells about the time he was at the dojo and a homeless drunk guy wandered in, looking for a fight. The man was raring to go, and Gary-Sensei could have easily subdued or beaten him. Instead, Gary killed him with kindness. He asked the man if he needed a ride somewhere, or something to eat. Showing compassion for him, instead of responding to his anger in kind, took all of the fight out of the man. That is how you destroy someone’s will to fight you.
When my husband and I teach self-defense classes to kids, we tell them that the number one rule of self-defense is to be a nice person, then it’s less likely someone will want to fight you. Of course, that isn’t always the case, which is why we teach them practical techniques as well, but a little kindness can go a long way. By being tolerant and understanding of other people’s point of view, many conflicts could be avoided. Courtesy, manners, respect…there’s a reason these things are part of our training.
“You’re not learning this thing to fight in the street, you’re learning this thing to not fight in the street.”- John Roseberry-Shihan