Avoid fighting at all costs. This is something you often hear at pretty much any martial arts school/fight gym and sometimes it sounds very cliche. But when you start to look deeper into the situation, you’ll quickly realize the wisdom behind this approach. I’ve only been in 2 street fights in my entire life. Everything else was from training which is a whole other ball game.
First and foremost let’s analyze a few pros of avoiding fights:
1. You prevent the situation from escalating further (this varies and isn’t always the case).
2. You avoid getting into legal trouble (being sued, being arrested, or both).
3. You never know who you’re up against, who they know, how many friends they have or what they’re wielding. It’s just better to avoid it altogether.
4. Fighting can be a very stressful and dangerous situation.
5. You could get hurt or even killed.
Now let’s analyze a few cons:
1. You are in a situation where backing down from a fight hurts your reputation. Maybe you’re in school or with friends and this makes people think you’re a coward.
2. You back down from a bully only to bullied more. I’ve experienced this twice in my life and it truly sucks.
3. Pride/ego issues. What if you’re with a girlfriend/woman you seek to impress and she sees you back down and thinks less of you? Or how about if you think so highly of yourself that backing down is not going to happen and you’re ready to fight and even die for your pride.
Keep in mind this last one is based on ideas, not reality that A LOT of people may have which affects their actions. This particular one can really lead you into some serious trouble and it’s always important to distinguish pride and safety.
In short, my bottom line when it comes to figuring out what to do is this:
- Sometimes walking away REALLY means being the bigger man/woman. Do it. Do it and DO IT unless…
- You have a scenario where walking or even running away is not an option, then and only then should you protect yourself.
I’ve functioned under these beliefs for a very long time. They haven’t always served me well (or in hindsight they may have) and some people would think of me as a coward if I back down from a fight. But let me share some positive outcomes from fights that ALMOST happened to me in real life and let you be the judge:
Real Life Scenario 1:
I used to have a friend who trained with me in school. One day after finishing class, she asked me to help her walk home because she was experiencing a heat stroke. Obviously I agreed. I carried her things and mine on one hand and and held her up in the other.
As we were walking, a homeless man walks up on my left side, looks at me and sprays me with a water gun in the eye. I didn’t know whether it was a joke or he was trying to start a fight so I looked at him and said what was that for? He says I pushed him in a crowd while walking which may very well be true since this happened in NYC where crowds are large and it happens all the time.
Never the less I said I didn’t do it and he kept instigating and saying things like “Come at me *curse word*, I’ll kill you”. He stood his ground, the girl grabbed my arm and I was kind of in a bind. This guy had a wooden parrot on his shoulder and a large staff on his other hand (Not making any of this up people).
But regardless, I held my position and stared him down. I won’t lie, I was scared and this is in spite of me having 2 years of training under my belt then. But even though I was afraid, I wasn’t lost. I already had my targets picked out and knew if he stepped forward, I’d go straight for his eye (a VERY effective target).
Then he backed away, and while walking backwards said if he ever sees me again, he’ll kill me, blah blah. Truth be told at that point I didn’t really pay attention to it, just shrugged it off and walked on. No fight happened. No one got hurt.
This all happened in less than a minute but felt like an eternity of stress.
Real Life Scenario 2:
I was at a bowling alley with my younger cousin. Left of us was a family with their father who was a large 200 pound+ dude. A few times I passed his bowling area which interupted him. This was on my part by accident because I didn’t know what other way to go.
But this REALLY pissed him off and he started yelling at me and at one point we were at a stand off. I held my ground he held his, though it’s obvious I was in the wrong.
We both went our ways, sat down after about 15 minutes of me ranting on in my head about how I wanted to beat him up, I walked up to him, apologized for being in the wrong and shook his hand.
Afterwards while my cousin and I were playing, he walked up to me and complimented my swing of the bowling bowl. Everyone left home happy.
In this scenario, the trigger was on anyone’s side, but sometimes you have to look past your ego and see if you’re wrong and diffuse the situation. Think about how much worse that scenario would have become.
Real Life Scenario 3:
I was driving up to my gym and did a few circles in the parking lot before finding a spot. As I was walking up to my the doors, a guy from a distance yelled “YO!” in a very confrontational way. I stopped, turned around and looked at him.
He said “You know you almost hit me back there right?”, all in a confrontational tone. I replied “Nope”. He replies “You did.” So I smiled in a sarcastic way, turned around and said “Ok whatever”. He replies “And don’t *curse word* get pissed”. I didn’t bother with it and walked on.
I then took out my anger on the punching bag in the studio. In this scenario, I may/may not have been in the wrong, but what ticked me off was his attitude. In my neighborhood there are A LOT of douche bags who act tough and do stupid things without thinking.
Could I have walked up to him and started a confrontation? Absolutely! But I chose not to do that.
What lessons can be taken from these scenarios:
In these 3 scenarios, all of the fights could and were avoided. One of them ended happily. Could they have been worse? Hell yes. But they were because and this is SO important to note: IT ISN’T WORTH IT!
What About You? What Would YOU Do?
In all of these scenarios, the “trigger” was on my side and it was my conscious choice NOT to pull it. Would you? Let me know in the comments section below. If you have your own personal story you’d like to share, by all means go right ahead!