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by Sensei Andy Dominey on October 31st, 2010

Conflict is everywhere. We see it in the playground at our kids school, in the office, on the subway, in the streets. Everywhere. In fact, most of us have probably been involved in a fair number of conflicts during our lives. Why is it then, that most of us suck at dealing with conflict situations?

Now, don’t read this the wrong way because I know some of you are looking at this and thinking “Well I’m great at dealing with conflict. Just the other day, I resolved a dispute with the bus driver over fares”. That’s not what I’m talking about. The way I see it, there are two main forms of conflict. Threatening and non-threatening. Simple.

Let’s tackle the easier first. Non-threatening is when you are in no conceivable danger from the other party, a disagreement with the boss at work for example. Not to say your boss won’t get sick of your moaning and punch you squarely in the face…..possible, but not likely. These are relatively easy to deal with for a couple of reasons. Generally you have enough time to formulate a thoughtful, articulate response to any comments and if you lose the disagreement, you’ll still go home to your family, maybe a little hacked off, but you’ll go home all the same. This is a very general analogy I know, and some conflicts of this nature have significantly more impact on ones life, but the basic principal that you’ll survive these encounters stands.

Then we have the other type of conflict. Threatening. This is where there is a real danger to you or your family and when I say real danger I mean a likelihood of violence or at least a very real threat. In this case, the rules of a non-threatening encounter do not apply. You’ll no longer have time to formulate an articulate response but if any response you give is not the correct one, you might not go home at all. Pretty harsh, but unfortunately true.

Dealing with this threatening type of encounter is what martial artists train to do. To make their instinctive reaction to an impending attack one which may save them. Unfortunately, I believe that far too many martial arts and martial artists miss the mark. Before I explain, let me just explain that I’m not suggesting every martial art is wrong. In fact, I’m not suggesting any of them are ‘wrong’. I’m merely making a suggestion that sometimes people focus too much on appreciating how something looks rather than stepping back to verify that it actually ‘works’. In a life threatening situation, I’d rather perform something that looks hideous but breaks the attacker in two than something beautiful that winds up with me in hospital.

This blog is not designed to teach you self defense. If you want to learn that, please contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss lessons. It’s here as a place for me to publish my thoughts on subjects that have been close to my heart for the past 10 years.

Many Chinese scholars and ‘masters’ wrote texts stating that it is possible for a small, seemingly ‘weak’ person to defeat a big, seemingly ‘strong’ person. True. It is also documented that to learn how to defeat someone is a mental exercise rather than a physical one. True to a point. I’ve even read that to defeat one opponent is the same as defeating one hundred or even one thousand. True if you are general of an army commanding battalions of soldiers but complete horseshit if you are fighting someone on the street outside a club.

The message I’m trying to get across is that the vast majority of us are woefully underprepared to deal with one of the only near-death experiences most of us will have any control over. Would you leave the house in a car without knowing how to drive? No? Well, why would you leave the house without knowing how to deal with a violent conflict. You could crash the car just as easy as someone could crush your skull with their boot. Not nice, but unfortunately a fact.

When you are dealing with a violent encounter, the first thing to appreciate is how these encounters happen. It’s better to avoid than to run and it’s better to run than to fight.

by Sensei Andy Dominey on October 31st, 2010

As a good friend of mine once said 'There is no shame in failing, but there will always be questions if you do not try'. Why is it we seem so enamored with the concept of winning and losing? What is it that makes these words mean so much....they are only words. Why is it 'winning' is considered an achievement whilst 'losing' means you are somehow worse off for having tried? This belief makes us scared of losing, sometimes to the point where we don't even try for fear of falling on our faces.

As martial artists, we've all done it. Wanting to win so badly, training hard, preparing, building ourselves up only to fail miserably. What hurts the most is what other people might think of us. Am I right? I know I've been there, so desperate to prove myself, to show everyone how much I've learned. Truth is, I hadn't learned very much at all, least of all that it's ok to lose.

Life, love, martial arts. They are all one and the same and they all teach us something. They teach us to be happy for who we are. They teach us that shit happens and that it's ok to cry sometimes. Most importantly they teach us that it's just as important to fail as it is to succeed. In fact, scratch that, it's MORE important to fail than to succeed. Success is measured by a degree of failure. How can one taste the glory of success without having felt the pain of defeat? This is something that I am beginning to understand and I'm hopeful that if just one person reads these thoughts and is inspired to take a risk, succeed or fail, everyone is ultimately a winner.





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