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  • Almost an incident

    and...I decided to use it for a paper I have to write for my TKD class...it's candid and straightforward...and most likely exposes a number of faults on my end, but I am looking for a general critique so I can modify it's form or cut from it to make it more streamlined (I've been drinking tonight, so it's probably a bit disorganized, but I think it's coherent although not quite fluid).

    Thanks.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------



    I will be the first to admit that self control has not always been my strong point. Throughout the years I have, through both concentrated and focused self reflection and learning from mistakes, been really blessed with having internalized the importance of self control.

    I am writing this the night of a would-be incident (11/08/09) wherein I felt I was able to really use this virtue. After my friend’s karaoke show (my friend hosts at a few local bars) we decided to stop by a local coffee shop and wind down for the evening. My friend ran into a few acquaintances there and we sat down and began chatting, and were generally being jovial and joking with one another like we tend to do. About a half an hour after our arrival, an individual who had been standing on the peripheral, outside of our group, came from within the establishment and loudly announced that he didn’t know what our problem was and that he was more than willing to settle things with violence. Apparently one of the off-color jokes I has made at my companion was taken out of context and another individual sitting with us the in silence for the majority of out time outside had taken offense and gone inside and snitched on us to his “big bad friend.”
    During this guy’s irate monologue, “I don’t know if you’re clowning my friend,” and “you guys have shitty attitudes that need readjusting,” I sat silently and looked at him, continuing to smoke my cigarette. Only when the man took a break did I chime in and state that I had meant no offence and wanted to clarify things, apologized to his friend (who only now decided that he should speak up and begin to “call us on”) for any misunderstanding, and generally try and defuse the situation using a calm and collected voice.
    The whole situation had seemed surreal, and I felt like it had completely come from left-field, as I had in no way intended any disrespect, nor even really noticed these people until the diatribe and vague threat of violence from this guy. After my first attempt at appeasing this person and calming the situation, this man continued his drunken posturing and began to list his accomplishments; “I have four degrees (I doubt it), I traveled around the world, I lived in Europe, I’m a veteran, none if this shit you can touch! You can’t touch me! If you guys want to settle this we’ll settle this, I won’t call the cops…” and proceeded to walk out onto the sidewalk and take off his jacket. Apparently he didn’t consider the amount of people sitting on the veranda or the relatively busy street heavily trafficked by police vehicles into his equation. My companion continued to give me sideways glances throughout this, and being somewhat na├»ve and himself ready for a fight, kept making subtle gestures and whispering things to me to try and pressure me into a physical confrontation.
    Instead of heading to the call of adrenaline (at this point, every hair and nerve in my body was ready for action, I had the full adrenaline dump and was either ready to run or to fight) and the popular ideal of adolescent and fantastical view of masculinity that states I need to resort to violence in order to “save face” or look cool I decided to truly play it cool and, using my background in psychology, make this individual lose face and look like the buffoon he was be exposing his monkey mindedness to the people within ear shot of the situation.
    I simply continued to be polite and apologies, stating that I was eager to talk to him calmly about whatever miscommunication had occurred, using “I” statements and being relatively passive. I have worked in several jobs where I was required to talk to people who have had severe psychological disorders or had undergone some sort of extreme trauma. Through these things I have learned patience and empathy, without which self-control is a truly abstract and superficial concept. Without being able to sit back and be objective and consider or even place yourself in another person’s shoes, self-control becomes nearly impossible.
    Being threatened lights me up in a real bad way. Violence, unfortunately, is not something that is new to me, and perhaps because of this I have a hair trigger when I feel I am in any way being targeted for it. Needless to say, throughout this minor ordeal something inside of me was telling me to quash this individual, regardless of the righteousness of the situation on either parties part, simply because this person approached me this way. Considering my past, even two years earlier, this would have been enough to have made the situation end poorly for everyone.
    Through first hand experience of different types of violence I was able to discern that this individual was merely posturing and although I felt under attack the only thing at stake was my ego. In truth, this individual was intoxicated and had felt wronged. He, despite the education he had claimed, decided that the only way he could deal with this so-called wrong doing on my part was to puff his chest out and walk around at a distance from me having a hissy fit. I have no doubt that I, or either his friend or my own, could have escalated this to a physical and even catastrophic violent encounter by saying or doing the wrong thing to provoke it. Although this man was offering me violence, it was clear that he didn’t want it either, and that he was afraid. The only reason people posture is because they feel threatened, either their feelings, their ego, or something else has caused them to set up a fence and draw a line in the sand. True instrumental aggression, done with the intent of doing an individual harm (or killing them outright) or taking something from them presents itself quite differently. Eventually he did, indeed, end up looking like a fool and went away. Unfortunately my friend, hopped up in the moment, continued to look for him (thankfully to no avail) before we ended up leaving.
    Pride is a difficult thing to swallow, and most of the times walking away, or even speaking in an apologetic tone can seem to be a submissive role in this power struggle…but it is an important skill to have. I have nothing to prove to myself, and certainly not to anyone else, by hurting another person. Even a push can be readily forgotten and dismissed if you know the other individual poses no real threat and had no intent to truly engage you. Far too often people engaged in the martial arts romanticize the codes of the Samurai, the Hwarang, the Moros, or whatever warrior culture their system sprang from and use them as a justification for overreacting and embellishing a threat in their own minds. We do not live in a society that condones cutting somebody in half for bumping into us on the road without a word of apology, beating people within an inch of their lives for insulting “the honor of our women,” and so on. Often times if we acted as prescribed by these antiquated ideologies, we would be doing so in a criminal fashion, as would have been the case if I had indulged this individual looking for a “fight“.
    In Gichin Funakoshi’s “Karate: My Way of Life,” the author dedicates entire sections to teaching the importance of the old maxim, “discretion is the greater part of valor.” Several other contemporary masters teach the same thing, and I am sure this is the meaning of the tenant of self-control proposed by General Choi when he founded Taekwondo. To not only have control over one’s physical acts, but their mental thoughts and actions as well. To be able to assess things from a place of objective clarity without letting one’s physiological response and pride cloud their judgment.
    I still have a great deal to work on in this area. I often find myself dwelling on things after situations like this, and being bothered by walking away. It is still a bitter pill for me to swallow, and I understand that this is a problem. I also find it hard to pick my battles in other areas of life, choosing to nitpick and let myself become upset or flustered over little things that are just as easily put behind me and forgotten. Although I realize that I am greatly lacking, I hope to build on these traits every day and eventually gain a true mastery over myself.
    Last edited by Garland; 11-08-2009, 06:44 AM.

  • #2
    ALSO...as an aside...
    how does one talk about one's experiences and background without sounding like a braggart? Frankly, I would rather not have any "cred" or whatever through truly preventable experiences like this one or others in my past...but they can be used to illustrate points or give some sort of credence to an argument...

    but I don't want to ever come off as the guy who's like "well...oh YEAH? This one time I...".

    Believe me, I don't find any of that shit cool. I've been out of highschool for awhile now.

    (and by the way...it just came to me what the guy could have been upset about...he totally took it out of context, but I can see how and why it would have planted a bug up his ass.)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Garland View Post
      I still have a great deal to work on in this area. I often find myself dwelling on things after situations like this, and being bothered by walking away. It is still a bitter pill for me to swallow, and I understand that this is a problem. I also find it hard to pick my battles in other areas of life, choosing to nitpick and let myself become upset or flustered over little things that are just as easily put behind me and forgotten. Although I realize that I am greatly lacking, I hope to build on these traits every day and eventually gain a true mastery over myself.
      Geoff Thompson calls this phenomenon the "black dog". Never listen to the black dog......it puts you under too much unneccessary stress over what you could have done or what could have happened. It happened as it happened, you can't change it and it's over.

      As a side note, I thought you handled the situation exactly how difusing and de-escalation is intended.

      Well done.

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      • #4
        Excellent display of self-control, Garland. I also try to take things in stride when possible. On top of that, you never know who you are dealing with out there for better or for worse. Its fine to keep your cool.

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        • #5
          Wherever you go, you never know when you'll have to handle some prick who wants to start something.

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