So the question is: “What should you do if someone punches you?”
Almost reflexively many people will answer, “Hit them back.”
It seems so reasonable and it certainly happens often enough. But to really answer the question you have to know what your goal is. “What are you trying to accomplish?” In the context of civilian self defense I believe the answer is as simple as — or should be as simple as — “get away safely.”
In that context is “hitting them back” really the best answer? Or at the very least should it be our first response? Please don’t misunderstand me, there are definitely situations where hitting them back is the appropriate response but I am loathe to put it forth as the primary or only response to a single punch.
When I posed this question to my class my favorite answer — though certainly not the first — was to ask the person why they had hit you. It may or may not be a safe response in a specific situation but it certainly is compelling — and it would definitely get someone off guard. Perhaps combined with one of the other responses — to back away cautiously — it might make a reasonable plan in some situations.
At any rate, the reason I bring up the question at all it to get to a less violent and more common situation — “What should you do if someone insults you?” Should you insult them back? It certainly happens often enough. But has it ever helped? My favorite response when I posed this to my class was to offer them a hug. I’m not sure that is a safe response, but the person would probably benefit from it.
Again, to formulate a response to an insult we have to ask, “What is our goal?” And again, I would suggest it is to get away ‘safely’. ‘Safely’ might mean something different in this context. I was raised back when sticks and stones could break your bones but words could never hurt you. And I believe that there is still wisdom in that. So upon receiving an insult I encourage you to consider some of the following responses: smile, say the nicest true thing that you can about them, ask them why they insulted you, or just begin to dance.
I can’t guarantee that any of these responses will make the situation better, but it’s better than responding with an insult. And it will certainly be more entertaining.
Chris Santillo, SenseiPlease follow us on. . . . . . thank you!