Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Crazy world

It's a crazy world. Ronda Rousey, one of our US Olympic hopefuls, was attacked by 8 people at a theater a couple of days ago. She managed to defend herself and extract herself and her friends from the situation without even using her superhuman judo skills... and now one of her assailants is threatening to try to ruin her career over this fight. Good grief!
You know, there's really a pretty good lesson or two buried in here and related to fighting vs. de-escalation. A pretty good discussion of this is in the makings in the comments below and for further reading, check out...
Don't forget the Call for Submissions for Carnival #5. The theme for this month is also related to non-violent resolution of conflict.


  1. It's interesting to me to read her account after reading some of the Animal's web pages on self defense. Even given this young woman's own interpretation of events, I see at least two instances where she had the opportunity to prevent a fight and instead chose to escalate the situation. I am not justifying any violence or threats of violence towards her, but I also see places where she contributed to creating the situation. Potentially (or maybe not, these guys may have chosen to harass or threaten her and her friends regardless) she would not have been in a situation where she had to fight had she 1)not thrown the shoe and 2)having thrown it, gone and picked it up.

    She says it isn't illegal to throw a shoe (and she's right), but she could have responded to the situation and rudeness differently. Her course of action likely contributed to an escalation that both ethically and, more importantly for her, legally she may be responsible for creating, no matter how wrong the other party is also.

  2. Honestly, I was hoping for some graphic descriptions of how she tossed the two big boys around much to everyones chagrin and surprise. However I will fall back on the fact that she did as best as she could in the circumstances. You never know what you're going to do...

  3. You're right, Mike, She could have probably de-escalated it in a couple of places and she could have probably acted to not incite them further in a place or two, but overall I think her response as she describes it was pretty temperate - especially considering she's only about 20 (still adolescent) and is apparently a type-A, active, athlete who is used to winning, etc. (I'm not saying she's spoiled - just used to winning physical confrontations)

    Such a person could have easily and understandably done much worse.

    What I think is crazy is a world in which two guys, backed up by six of their friends would get into such a _stupid_ conflict with a smaller group of smaller girls.

    In the world that you and I grew up in, Mike, a man would have had his butt stomped and mailed back to his momma if he'd threatened or intimidated a female in public like that. and over a shoe... Even if she exacerbated it...

    I don't know what the legal environment is like in California, but I've heard that it's pretty hard in the South to prosecute a female in such a situation even if she were to absolutely demolish the guy.

  4. Interesting situation. (Of course, I can say that, as I wasn't the one in it!) I've always been taught that the first rule of self-defense is to avoid situations where you'd have to use it, and physical force is to be used as a last resort. By her own account, she started it by throwing the shoe (umm, exactly what point does throwing someone's shoe make? and how did she get it in the first place?) AND threw the first punch. Those aren't anywhere near what I would consider acceptable responses to such a situation, even when I was 20. I am glad that neither she nor her friends were harmed, though, and deplore the actions of the men. (Eight men against three girls? Really?) I hope that either this Eric guy is exaggerating and/or the detective and her sister are right - this situation shouldn't have to affect her competition career.

    While I was home over Christmas, my mom asked me an interesting question. I study both taekwondo and Haganah FIGHT (an AmerIsraeli streetfighting system), and she asked which technique I'd go to instinctively to defend myself if I had to. Taekwondo puts more emphasis on breaking the holds or checking the attacks, getting distance between you and the attacker, and then getting out of the situation (ie, running, calling for help, etc.). Haganah teaches you to break the hold/check the attack, prevent the attacker from being able to follow, and then getting out of the situation. (Very much a Western martial art, it doesn't have the philosophy of the Eastern martial arts. It's pretty much "hurt the attacker so that he can't hurt you". It's based on krav maga, which is also what MCMAP - the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program - and many law enforcement agencies' programs are based on.) It would probably depend on the situation and the level of the threat - if I thought the person was trying to kill me or just punch my lights out, for example. Honestly, I hope that I'm never in that situation to find out!

  5. Considering that she chose to throw a shoe at the other party, I would say that she helped the situation get out of control.

    Pat mentions her competition background and that she's used to winning. Might the desire to win have overcome the common sense of just leaving?

    Would an aikido mindset have be more appropriate instead of a competitive mindset for self-defense?

    Just some general thoughts. No criticism implied.

  6. Pat, we have mutual agreement on the fact that the entire situation was stupid and crazy. I try not to project a "golden haze" on the past, but I do tend to think that our culture is cultivating more and more a very egocentric /me-centered ethos that not only enables but promotes this type of stupid behavior.

    I'm very much reminded of the old Front Porch Discussion topic of "realizing your contribution to failure." From a philosophical bent on this principle, I'd say our judoka contributed significantly to her own failure.

    I think her response was about ego - about winning. Not surprising, since certainly competition and atheletics (and being successful at it) does promote (or reinforces an already present) a healthy dose of ego and the need to win. So perhaps that combined with the brashness of youth, does make her response(s) more understandable but doesn't temper it for me so much.

    However, as we know, self-defense is not about winning, it's about surviving. And ultimately if this conflict results in some kind of ramification on her career (not that it should), then she not only failed to survive, but definitely lost, regardless of the outcome of the physical confrontation.

  7. I was inspired to comment on your comment about the Dobson book review here. You said you may post on it soon here and now you've got me thinking about a blog post of my own...

    As the Ueshiba /Dobson concept of circle, triangle, square illustrates, conflict can be resolved in these primary ways: avoidance, accomodation, competition, compromise, or collaboration /cooperation. Each has its pro's and con's. Each has its appropriate place and time. There are times where even the seemingly ideal choice (collaboration) is inappropriate. Learning when to use which is the tricky part!


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