Restraint versus none

Postby psalchemist » Sat Sep 13, 2003 2:04 am


My intention was not and is not to imply that you are in any way a 'bloody maniac', as you put it.
If this is the impression I have given, then I apologize.

The point I was trying to convey was that I have NOT undergone the same experiences as you have, and so cannot fully relate to your point of view.

I have worked many a night-shift in my youth.
I walked home at 3 a.m. every night through dark alley ways and underground train passes, the occassional rat scurrying around my feet, to then vanish into some obscure fissure unseen.
I have also encountered many a dark and looming figure, some drunk and rowdy, others very silent who just seemed to appear out of nowhere, who somehow seemed much more of a threat than the fellow too smashed to walk straight.
Many times my heart has begun thumping heavily in my chest in anticipation of a possible confrontation with these fellows.

I have been very fortunate in these matters....that none of these individuals turned out to be 'aggressive attackers'.

On some of these occasions I had to pass beside them in close quarters,in the small stench filled passageways under the trains.

Some of the less refined one's have uttered some incomprehensible, rude, or insulting gibberish at me which, depending on the degree of the insult or drunkness, I either chose to ignore, or to which I replied in a civilized manner, usually with a smile.

And the rest (the majority)of my encounters simply looked at me and continued on their way to wherever they were heading.

Noone ever bothered me. I am very fortunate.

Maybe it's my height and girth, or maybe I look ferocious and intimidating Image I dunno.

I am supremely grateful that I have not had to fight for my life as you have. If I had had to depend upon my fighting skills for survival, I mightn't be here right now to misinterpret everything. Image

Thanks for providing your life's experiences, and point of views occurring from them.
I am merely presenting mine.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 09-12-2003).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Sat Sep 13, 2003 7:02 am

Yang Jun has a lot on his plate right now - take a look at his seminar schedule and you'll see why - and has asked me to respond to questions in this forum. I am not a Yang family member and do not speak for or represent the Yangs. I am simply giving my own opinion, based on experience and culture and hopefully at least in some part on the ethical spirit demonstrated by the Yangs. First, I subscribe to David's view, that one should try to harm as little as possible. I do not find that incompatible Wushuer's statements, though I confess I haven't managed to get through all of the above discussion. Fighting, real fighting, is undesirable and should be avoided if possible. If a fight is thrust upon us, we as martial artist have a special responsibility to do our best to apply a graduated level of response, ie just enough to discourage the attacker and cause them to desist, depending upon the level and type of incoming attack. Naturally, if the attacker were a raging maniac out to kill, not a whole lot of room is left for niceties. Just as the law allows us to shoot someone actually found invading our dwellings at night, we are also quite justified in killing in self-defense, though that is highly undesirable and devoutly to be avoided, if possible. Yang Chengfu was an attractive figure in part because his style of Yang family taiji particularly featured the ability to bounce off attackers, such that they found themselves several feet away, but unhurt. What a wonderful way of convincing an uncivilized person to buzz off!
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Postby tai1chi » Sat Sep 13, 2003 10:51 pm

Hi All,

I guess David's question was whether there the Yangs or tcc itself had injunctions (or instructions) about how much harm one should inflict. I think, from the responses as well, that there is no simple answer.

Steve James
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Sep 15, 2003 5:22 pm

I said "bloody handed reaver", but maniac is close enough, I guess.
I was stating that it was my impression that some felt I was one, not that I had been accused of that by anyone.

I agree wholeheartedly that the only way to win a fight is not to get in one in the first place. Had I the opportunity to back out of the life threatening fights I've been in then I would most certainly have done so. This is not a choice you have when accosted by a knife weilding attacker bent on taking your money and your life in the middle of the night in a dark backwater of a large, crime infested city.
When that happens, as anyone else out there who has ever survived the experience will attest, you survive the best way you know how. Period. End of story. Your high falutin', pie in the sky codes of conduct will go out the window so fast your head will spin and any feeling you used to entertain about this code being "incumbent" upon your responses goes out that same window just as fast.
Doing "less" harm and hoping they go away, or responding in a "graduated" way, which leads to repeated attempts to put this attacker down instead of one, quick, clean kill which DEFINITELY puts them down, suddenly becomes a pretty large non-issue at that moment.
I sincerely hope that those who have not had the experience will never have the opportunity to learn what I mean when I say this with such conviction. I really, honestly hope that you will continue until the day you die peacefully in your beds believing that it is, by some really obscure code of martial art combat that I've never seen or heard of before, incumbent upon you to "do no harm" or even "minimal harm" in defense of your very life.
I sincerely wish that those of you who preach this strange, unsubstantiated, unbelieavable to anyone who's ever been in the situation, code of conduct for a martial artist will be able to live your lives in peace and harmony and never, ever have to defend yourself or a loved one against a person who is obviously bent on taking away everything you have, including your life and possibly that of your wife, mother or children.
Because if such an event ever does happen to you, you will lose that unwritten, unenforceable, B.S. like you can't possibly imagine it to be at this point in your obviously comfortable existance, code of conduct in one big, lightning bolt of clarity out of the sky Moment of Zen, in which you will be thinking "Damn! That Wushuer DID know of what he spoke".
THEN, I will want to hear from you on the manner in which one "should" comport oneself when faced with an opponent who is clearly, induspitably, trying to kill you. Because then and only then will you have the life experience to even lend an opinion on the matter based in fact.
Until that happens, you can only THINK how you MIGHT respond. I can tell you from this side of the experience, you have NO idea how you will react or what you will do.
None at all.
I respect your opinions, Jerry. I respect Yang Jun, a lot, though only by reputation. But until either of you can tell me, honestly, you've "been there"...
You just don't know what you will do or how you will respond. You don't, Yang Jun doesn't, no one does or can who hasn't experienced the phenomenon first hand.
Again, and I am NOT being facetious in any way, I sincerely hope you never have to find out and can spend the rest of your life secure in the unfounded beliefs of purely academic rhetoric that for some, unknown reason you will chose to "do no harm" or will attempt to inflict "minimal" or graduated harm upon the guy standing in front of you, waving a knife and screaming at the top of his lungs that he's going to kill you (or worse), then who lunges at you with that knife going for your heart.
These types of "codes" are for those who don't know what reality will force them to do when put in this situation. Those of us who do...? Well, we know better and plan our responses based on the reality of the true "kill or be killed" situation, not some esoteric "code" we think should be applied to survivial situations that was invented by people who have NO idea at all.
Not many who have ever "been there" would even consider such a code as having any kind of relevance in the real world.
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:41 pm


I think if you read my note carefully you will see that I am not disagreeing with you that there are times when all bets are off and one does whatever necessary to defend oneself. To insist as you have that all fights are the same and that you will, indiscriminately, attempt to kill anyone who attacks you (rather than break an arm or whatever if the choice presents itself) seems ill-advised and I doubt in practice that this would really be your policy, though you seem to be arguing it. Frankly, you are becoming way too belligerent on this issue and I hope you will re-read your posts and reconsider your tone.
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Postby Michael » Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:57 pm


This is a rather interesting question. I have the uncomfortable position of agreeing with you all.

First I think to arrive at agreement or at least understanding one must approach this on a situationby situation basis.

If someone attacks with a weapon, one does not have to think about "how serious is this?" There really is no consideration. One has to bring to bear all that he can. No "graduated response", I suppose if one is a "master" one could disarm the opponent and then deal with it. None of us are here. My understanding of taiji fighting principles is that the objective is to arrive eventually to the level where one ends the conflict with one move. In most situations this will not so impress the opponent that he he apologizes and walks away. This means that the opponent is no longer able to continue. Does this mean to "kill"? I do not know. I know that a dislocated elbow, shoulder, wrist, cracked ribs,...will result in the end of any fight. Do I need to crush a windpipe? Again I do not know, I guess I would have to be there. If in a fast moveing situation where conditions resulted in the opponent's throat was the available target, I had better not think about it and "decide" that I will go with punch to the ribs when it is not the appropriate action due to conditions. I may then lose. Can I leave off some energy, maybe. But will thinking of not delivering "full" force slow my response down, resulting in an inefective technique? Very likely. This again I sress is in the most serious of situations.

In less "serious" confrontations, I again want to end this quickly. As I have said before, with each exchange, the likelihood you losing increases. Is a joint lock enough, merely controlling an opponent until he can be handled by numbers, is he alone or does he have friends present? What is their disposition? There can be a lot to think about. One should not think too long. Maybe a good "knock" and "bouncing" him off, coupled with some sort of "let's be reasonable now, or...." will work. BUT the fact that you are being attacked already precludes him being "reasonable". But just maybe it works. But maybe it does not. That is the graduated response in my book. Now you need to end it. Unarmed opponent, Be nice if you can knock his breath out or numb his arm(s) or a leg, this can take care of things quickly--I love a strike to the Solar Plexus--I favor him being "unlegged" so he can't come after me as I walk away. In these examples I consider to be a "restrained" response, and much preferred to broken bones, but if need be....

As Wushuer says, you can't really know until you are in that situation. What is "appropriate" or not is a hard choice. And sometime---most often it is not left up to you to decide, it has already been decided by the attacker. "Do no harm"? That is a Buddhist thing, not a martial art thing.

In a hurry, so this may need some editing when I get back.


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 09-16-2003).]
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:03 pm

I do indeed see that you agree with most of my posts, I guess I got so caught up in my offensive tones that I forgot to express that clearly enough.
I feel strongly on the issue and while I do not wish to be "beligerant" I have found myself being steadfast in my wish to convey to people the reality of the situation when confronted in this manner as opposed to the alternative.
I have said my piece and since my tone has apparently become offensive to others on the subject, I will practice my TCC and yield.

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Postby psalchemist » Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:46 pm

Hello all,

It is very nice to witness all parties concerned merging into an agreable and shared option for accordance.

It is obvious to me that individuals involved in these present discussions are most certainly inclined towards co-operative, reasonnable and peaceful resolution.

I would assume that the martial arts were designed originally to subdue those persons who are incapable or lacking in these qualities of a peaceful nature.


I appreciate your summarization and explanations of the aspects of gradual response, well presented and well taken.


I can understand that there are circumstances where a graduated response is impossible...Where reaction must take precendence over thinking.

Thus I find it is essential, for me, to establish a certain amount of pre-conceived thought of my own personal 'code' to lay a foundation for the desired automatic responses I wish to apply.

Hopefully, as martial artists, one can(with many years of quality practice) develop the 'ultimate'control over one's reactions in the manner one chooses, to the necessary degree dependant upon the situation and the individual one is confronting.

Until that level of skill is acheived however, I guess we must do whatever is within our grasp of possibility when approached by a serious repurcussional situation.

May I also supply...The higher the degree of skill owned by the Taijiquan practioner, the more overall choice one has in handling such unfortunate incidents.

It seems to me that degree of skill in Taijiquan supplies choice and freedom to react in the manner we so choose to in any given confrontation.

Nice day everyone,
Best regards,
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