Last weekend, I posted an article on Good Men Project’s Good Feed called “Unprovoked Violence and Self-Defense.” I am a female who is exploring self-defense, martial arts, and fight behavior in both men and women. As part of that, I’m fascinated by the subject of how people stand up for themselves.
The conversation is an important one to have, anywhere that people can articulate the issues calmly and thoughtfully. In this case, there were many comments on the original post and on the Good Men Project Facebook page. But I’d also like to share with you the responses from the Martial Arts group on LinkedIn. The question I asked was,
If a woman attacked you—dropping damaging blows on you—would you hit her back?
There are a variety of answers, and of course, there is no clear-cut or right answer because each situation is different. Each of us has the right to decide how to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The difficulty is, when you’re in the heat of the battle, in the middle of everything going down, that’s when you have to stop and assess and make a decision about what you’re willing to do or not do.
In the video provided with the original posting, you can clearly see the teenage woman backing the man up and striking him. One thing I noticed as a classic defense move is that the man used his loud voice well to establish that he didn’t know his attacker. That voice and his chosen words are especially important when your attacker is a woman. Anyone turning around to catch this attack after it started wouldn’t know who started it or who to rescue.
Most of us would assume the woman was fighting back and we would make an effort to rescue her. Perhaps that’s why no one came to his aid?
Here are responses from the Martial Arts group discussion on LinkedIn:
If escaping was possible this is my first choice. If there is no escape route or I am protecting someone (e.g., a child), then I have to use appropriate force (depending on circumstance, e.g., does she have a weapon, is she with friends?) to remove the threat.
Not an easy situation.
I have been faced with a similar position before, I’ll tell you about one such situation. I was working security at a nightclub when a man was getting unruly, so I engaged him and tried to convince him to walk outside with me. He was pretty intoxicated and perhaps saw me as a threat so he threw a punch at me. I dodged it, got hold of him, and started to take him out. His girlfriend came up behind me and started yelling at me and hitting me in the back with a cue stick. She hit me hard enough that the stick broke, but she kept on hitting me over and over. When I turned to see who was hitting me I expected it to be a man, but it wasn’t. I half froze because I really didn’t know what to do. I had never hit a woman before. Luckily I was close to the back door, so I hurridly shuffled the man outside. Then I turned my attention to the women. She was still swinging the stick at me, but not doing so effectively. So it wasn’t hard to disarm her. Once I did so she continued swinging at me, so I got her into an wrist/arm lock combo and walked her out the back door. Once she was outside she still wanted to fight me, but I closed the door and she didn’t pose a threat any longer.
This is perhaps a more unique situation since I was working security and this story was about a random attack on a subway. But the principle is the same. Assess the situation, do they have a weapon or not, are you with anyone, etc. Take appropriate action and then get the threat away from you as quick as possible.
I was involved in such a situation before Christmas. It was three in the morning and the neighbors were intoxicated and playing music loudly despite me going to their door a few hours before to ask them politely to keep the noise down which they said they would. Three in the morning and I had to go and knock on their door again but this time the husband came out hurling abuse and getting more aggressive by the second and it was then that he grabbed a heavy stick from behind the door and raised it over his head and came at me. I had no choice but take him down quickly so as he grabbed my arm to pull me toward him I stepped in as he pulled and landed with a head butt followed with a palm strike under the jaw and front pushing kick to finish it. his wife came charging out and began punching me. I could never hit a woman so I let her hit me, sure pride hurts like a bitch but as far as I am concerned any man that hits a woman is no man at all. She punched me several times and then when she saw that she was getting no response she quit. That’s where self control comes in but if she had a knife or something else I would have tried to disarm and restrain (If it was possible to do so) rather than strike her. If you use force against a woman at least over here in Ireland in the eyes of the law you nothing more than a woman beater and a coward and if you are a trained martial artist then it’s even worse, so you really have to be careful how you handle aggressive women.
Women can’t be allowed to strike others simply because we refuse to hit them back. If it’s a loved one, I understand restraint absolutely. If it’s a crazy lunatic stranger they’re getting put on the ground in a hurry.
If you want to be treated like a woman, act like a woman. If you want to engage in combat, you best be prepared.
I’d be stunned at first but I wouldn’t let someone attack me without defending myself. I’ve trained for scenarios where you need to stop an attack by someone without inflicting bodily injury so I’d subdue her if she isn’t accompanied by anyone who would join in the melee and if that wasn’t possible I’d control her with a standing lock until the police arrive. I’ve never had to defend myself against a woman and I hope I never have to.
I’ve never hit a woman, but I’ve seen some big and small women stomp some men into the ground. I’m not talking windmill action, I mean women who put their hands up like Ali and punched like Tyson. In some cases the men ignored or overlooked the threat because it was a woman, and paid the price. I don’t make special rules for women or small men, I will try to use appropriate force for the given situation, period. I don’t like to hit anyone, but if I feel threatened I will do what I have to to eliminate that threat. I’m not talking about bullying, but if a man or woman is brave enough to raise their hands, a bat, a bottle, or a gun, then they have made the decision that they are willing to accept whatever whirlwind comes their way. My instructor is a fourth-degree black belt. I’m about a foot taller and at least 60 pounds [heavier]. The first time I sparred her, she had a 3-month-old. Woman whupped me good. If women (or men) don’t want to be hit, don’t hit.
Quite a conundrum for a man to find himself in, wouldn’t you agree?
I’m digging deeply into the subject of how people stand up for themselves and, conversely, how we don’t stand up for ourselves and others. The situation doesn’t have to be physical. Mostly we find ourselves in some sort of verbal skirmish with shopkeepers, loved ones, bosses, or co-workers. They sting just as badly.
If you have experiences you’d like to share or other examples on video, please send them to me or leave the information in a comment on this post.
For a related article, see the post by Derek Markham on Dads Good, “How to Be a Good Man During Confrontation.” Derek talks about the less physical kind of confrontation, but the principles may still apply.