Monday, 26 January 2009

'Street activities'

Not often that I get to label a post both‘politics’ and 'martial arts'. But then it’s not often that someone disagrees with the analysis in a leaflet that you’re giving out to the extent that they start throwing punches at you.

The guy wasn’t too coherent – he had just come out of the pub – but I think the gist of his beef was that he wasn’t happy with us linking the situation in Gaza with western imperialism and oil interests. Fair enough I suppose. After a few minutes of abuse he tore up the leaflet and threw it in my face. Not really acceptable but also not worth escalating.

But then he started grabbing me and pushing me – I warned him a couple of times to back off and move on. At which he launched himself at me, we exchanged a couple of punches, I managed to get my hand under his chin and back him into a bus shelter and was ready to finish him off, but ended up giving him a very half-hearted head butt – I told him that I didn’t want to fight him and gave him a shove on his way. Nothing worth televising - really more of a stand-off than anything else.

Nevertheless with any encounter you end up replaying the scene in slow motion repeatedly in your head. Technically you could say the training worked - but in the bigger scheme of things I made a couple of basic mistakes:

I’m torn as to whether I should have finished him off when I has the chance rather than letting him go away thinking he had pulled off more than he really had. Or on the other hand maybe I should have just launched a pre-emptive strike once he had crossed the line and started putting his hands on me. Giving him a warning when I had papers and leaflets in one hand wasn’t, on reflection, that smart and it meant that for the vital first seconds I took a glancing blow that I only partially covered.

More basically though I have to question whether I should have allowed the situation to develop at all. The old adage is to either fight or not fight – and nothing in between. Instead I confronted the guy when I didn’t really want to have a stand up fight in public with all the shit and bad PR that could bring down (the reason we were there was to leaflet for a meeting not to brawl random nutters). Rather than confront him and give him no way out other than to fight or lose face I should have found a way to defuse the situation – (a warning isn’t going to make a drunk aggressor back off – he’ll only take it as a challenge). Even once we had started scrapping in the back of my mind I had the thought that I didn’t really want to be doing this and so I mistakenly tried to contain the guy rather than finishing the fight as soon as possible. I was lucky that I was able to regain the upper hand, and lucky again that once I had and I gave him the option of backing down he chose not to continue. Given a more serious aggressor the outcome could have been different.

I often hear it said that every fight in the real world being worth years of training and it’s certainly giving me something to think about as to how to manage the build up of aggression in a pre-fight situation.

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