Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Deflecting Conflict


I was chatting with my martial arts teacher after class last week about how we learn in martial arts to deflect force rather than trying to overpower force with force. As with many lessons in martial arts, this one teaches us how to handle conflict in the rest of our lives as well. I related to him this story which he thought was a great example, so I will share it with you too.

A few years ago, I was walking along a neighborhood street after dark. Up ahead there was a group of young men. As I passed them, one of them said something vulgar and sexual to me. I walked on past without reacting, but they started to follow close behind me. They were looking for trouble. There was no one else on the street.

So I did what any self-respecting martial artist would do. I turned to face them. And I said,

“When an old lady like me gets a compliment from a handsome young fella like yourself, it’s a good day!” And I gave them a big smile.

Well, they weren’t expecting that. They all stopped in their tracks and looked confused. Then, after a pause, the one who had spoken to me softened his stance and simply said,

“God bless you.”

“God bless you too,” I replied.

All the tension evaporated. We all nodded at each other, turned, and went on our way.

12 comments:

  1. That was brilliant, Galen! No need to let fear dictate your thoughts and actions. I would have loved to see those guys'faces.

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    1. I think we were all pretty surprised by how it turned out. I did what I did spontaneously. I've written before about how training will kick in when we need the skills we've been practicing. Sometimes in ways we don't expect and can't predict. Thanks for your comment, Pam.

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  2. Such a perfect story about how to deflect by changing the atmosphere. All day long I've been watching the saga about impeachment and wondering where in the world we are going. Perhaps we need someone to deflect in exactly the same way. Thank you, Galen.

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    1. DJan, you make an important point, and I like your term "changing the atmosphere." So many conflicts in our lives, big and small, can be handled in a way that does not escalate hostility. The more we "feed" judgment and enmity, the less chance we have of ever resolving any conflict in a way that will promote peace. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Wow, Galen, what a story and what an example of how to diffuse a situation non-violently. Brilliant! I will remember this one, Galen.
    Blessings!

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    1. Thanks, Martha. I had almost forgotten it until it came up in my conversation with my teacher. What we were talking about is how the best "martial arts" response is not to fight. It's so counter to our usual response to aggression, which is to "fight fire with fire." Sometimes "water" is the best way to fight fire! Thanks for your comment.

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  4. I'm thinking you had an angel on your side that night...

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    1. I like to think I always have an angel by my side, CW! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Well done! I will remember this too, like Martha!

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  6. I did enjoy your story. I imagine it was very scary but to fact it was brave and you did the perfect thing to deflect and that is to do something totally unexpected.
    Blessings and hugs for this one!

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