Martial Musing : The Courage & Wisdom Not To Fight
For years have taught my students at the public park in a predominantly blue collar town with its fair share of trouble seekers. That evening as I was working with a group of my brown belts, a drunk man walked through the class. He then went on the be less than respectful, and challenging my right to be in the park.
Two of my senior students got ready to jump in, I noticed deep anger on their faces as their neck muscles tightening. I signalled them to stay put. The drunk then wanted me to apologize for being in his way, and I took a deep breath. At first felt a little anger creep in, then I took a step towards him. Held my hand out and said “am sorry for having caused you trouble, be well my friend. I am now going to go continue my training.”
I stepped right past him firmly and respectfully, showing him am not afraid as I started teaching again. He looked at me in sheer silence for what seemed a minute and then walked away. I could still sense the anger on my most senior students face, who is respectful and feels very protective of me. “Sensei, we could have taught him a lesson. Why did you let him walk away disrespecting you like this?”
“You remember the parking lot incident? The 5’4 guy who was rude and came in to fight over a little parking spot. And he ignored the fact that his 6 year old daughter was watching , and she was terrified out of her wits? Well I walked away from that fight too. Even though I had already run more than a few scenarios in my head of how the fight would end – quickly.” They all nodded remembering another incident not to long ago. So I continued ” whats common between those two scenarios?”
“You did not fight Sensei, and let those disrespectful guys get away without teaching them a lesson.” said F.
“Well, the purpose of a fight is to win. And in both cases I won, because I kept my freedom of choice and right to be a freeman. Besides what would the two fights have achieved? What would anyone have gained? A parking spot? Respect from a drunk guy? What after that…. how would I justify the use of “trained force” .. and what would the impact of that action be on my loved ones, and their loved ones.. esp the 6 year old.”
The students now looked relaxed and surprised. And deep inside I was happy that in someways was able to demonstrate a key lesson on the warrior path. Sometimes walking away in peace, is perhaps the greatest victory. It may seem cowardly, but IMO it takes great presence of mind and courage to walk away from a meaningless confrontation.
Another student who does like to fight a bit asked “so when is it ok to fight?” And without missing a beat I answered “if I had my way Never. The only time I would be compelled to fight would be to protect a life or to stop an assualt. Thats my take, and you need to find yours. Though I want you to remember that there are serious consequences of actions. Not thinking of consequences leads to disaster all around. So the highest form of fighting is fighting your own inner urges to prove a point. That is the ultimate goal – to be in peace no matter what is happening around. And should it come down to drawing the sword, then make it quick and effective.”
As conclusion I will summarize with
1. Walk away from every fight as much as you can, this requires a lot more courage than you think.
2. Apology does not make you smaller or wrong. You dont need to prove anything. Sometimes giving the other person a way to save face is all thats needed.
3. If it does come down to an alteration then apply only “justifiable force” and think “systemic consequences.” War tactics are not needed for a simple argument and a simple hold will not suffice in a urban war scenario. Work those option out in your mind over and over again (more on this process in another post). This is the beginning of wisdom on the martial path.
4. All the years of training in the end is for learning to be at peace with violence and move towards harmony
This to me the courage and wisdom to NOT FIGHT.
As always I remain open to your thoughts and constructive criticism. Until next time Train Hard!