I’ve always been of the belief that the Martial Arts was for defense only, never as provocative measure. I still believe that. However, as the world changes, so must our thinking change. For years we taught self-defense in the context that when someone physically accosted you, then and only then was it proper to use our self-defense to ward off an attack. Even then, we taught that it was better to control rather than injure an attacker. However, there are some minor changes to this thinking that need to evolve in order to keep us safe in an increasingly violent world. I refer to this idea as Defensive Aggression.
What it means is that we are never the attackers, only the defenders. That is the foundational belief of Niseido Ju Jitsu. However, if an attack is brought on us, even without physical violence, there is a point that it becomes imperative to strike first in order to ward off the inevitable attack. A number of things happen when someone grabs you or punches you. First is the adrenaline dump, some people will actually freeze, followed by the fight or flight response, tunnel vision etc., as the body prepares instinctively to survive the conflict. This is no different from any other land animals on the planet. And yes, we are animals with more evolved brains. However, when we defend ourselves by striking at the threat first, the entire battle scenario changes. The difference between defender and victim, may save your life. I cannot fathom the idea of being a victim. It’s simply not in my DNA. The only thing that matters is staying safe and keeping your family safe.
As a manifestation of my Martial Arts experience and having trained many in law enforcement over the years, I keep my guard up at all times. When walking down a street in Manhattan or the rare occasion I’m in the subway, I assume everyone is guilty until proven innocent. This approach has disturbed many friends and family over the years as they can’t understand how I can approach life in that way even as I remain an eternal optimist. However, what most people don’t fully understand the concept of Ying and Yang. The ability to be peaceful and tranquil at one moment, only to turn into an aggressive defender the next. The worst thing that can ever happen to a practitioner of the Martial Arts and one who considers himself responsible for those he loves, is to be caught off guard. That can never happen! It would be wonderful if we could all walk around in total bliss without having to worry about those around us, but that isn’t reality. Never, do I walk in the street with my face buried in my phone. It’s just stupid given what’s happening with bicycle and moped attacks and other unprovoked assaults.
Today we must always assume anyone who is a threat, is a mortal threat. There are a lot of mentally unstable people out there, particularly in the big cities and in the subway of New York City, for example. In addition, with the horrific policy ending cash bail, and insanely lenient judges, those with nefarious intentions understand that short of felonious assault, murder or other serious felony, they will be back on the street quickly and without serious consequence. This policy has emboldened criminals which is why crime has spiked in New York City. Anyone, denying that reality, is a liar!
If someone aggressively approaches or if you see someone else being attacked, assume the aggressor is dangerous. You can’t just walk up and ask what’s going on. It takes only a second to be shot or stabbed. If you are accosted, or get involved with an attack in progress, it must be with the understanding of the potential threat. In the Arts, we say 1 is none and 2 is one. What that means is that you must always assume a person is carrying a weapon. If he displays a weapon, assume he has a second or third weapon. It means an aggressor must be subdued in any way possible in order to negate the potential threat to personal safety.
I also believe that no one should ever be allowed to enter your “circle”. What that means is, never allow someone to aggressively approach you and penetrate your space without striking. Again, defensive aggression. Your space is your space and do not relinquish it to an attacker. It might mean your life. So, if someone is yelling at you and aggressively approaches, be prepared with a kick or any whatever technique is “yours” to fend off the attacker. No longer can we assume that talking and reasoning is the correct approach. Those who are either violent or unhinged, cannot be reasoned with. In these precarious times, being prepared to defend, by whatever means necessary, is the only option.