It’s hard to do, but much of the time we should put the tactical swagger aside and engage instead through the ancient Daoist (Taoist) concept of wuwei – non-doing, or non-action. Paradoxically, perhaps it’s better thought of as the “action of non-action.”
Too Zenny for you?
I hope not, because often the more we can do by “not doing,” the better.
From the self defensive standpoint, this could mean having enough awareness of the situation and surroundings that you have an inkling something is “up,” say spying a pair of sketchy dudes further down the block that seem to be paying you inordinate attention, or noticing an aggressive panhandler at the entrance to the Safeway when you pulled into the lot, that you avoid any issue by not dealing with it to begin with – crossing the street, or going through a separate entrance.
“What??” Some might say…but I have a RIGHT to walk in this world, to go down the street or into the store, unmolested and unintimidated! And if anyone tries anything I will make them wish they hadn’t … or beg for mercy…. Whichever comes first!
That’s fine and all, and if you choose to go through life this way you likely will need the self defense skills you so carefully cultivate at some point. Too often, we seem to concentrate more on the Action part. Tactical thinking – and common sense – sometimes go out the window in the interest of a kind of tough-talking self righteous “I will assert myself” mentality.
In the cop world we derisively refer to it as the “contempt of cop” mentality.
This is bad habit, and bad practice. When you start to look at and cast self-defense as some kind of contest, or some kind of proving ground, the creep is complete and you’ve missed the point altogether.
This is by no means “go along to get along.” It is not “hug-a-thug” nor is it conflict avoidance at all costs.
It is simply choosing one’s battles, and between what should be let go, what we are willing to let go and what we know needs addressed
Non-action requires a lot a confidence. In one’s skillsets, so that one does not feel the need to be “proven,” and in our decision making, so that we can rest easy knowing that not acting was the right call. It won’t always be, but you won’t always know…
If you reasonably believe violence is imminent, you may – very often should – make the decision to act. If not, non-action is usually the best course. Of course, not acting could include lots of action – observing the scene and the facts and circumstances, paying attention to description and cues that might cause action to become reasonable and necessary, “standing by to stand by” so to speak, minding your own business while simultaneously alert and minding the situation.
This takes composure and self-assurance, and a lack of the perceived need to prove oneself.