By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, September 14, 2005.

A Martial Arts practitioner must use his intelligence to keep his wits to him when there is a confrontation in which he must decide – "fight or flight?" What are the conditions of the situation? One must evaluate very clearly whether the situation warrants action. The practitioner must honestly take into account his self-defense ability. Does one have the ability to handle the type of situation one is about to confront? Does the situation require more than one person to handle? Is one in a position where one must defend oneself immediately? One cannot go into a self-defense situation lacking clarity. Emotions of anger and revenge should not be applied to the situation. A Martial Artist must be able to view the situation for what it is (the truth).

Evaluating the situation a practitioner is being confronted with is the first step in determining whether it is feasible to handle a self-defense scenario. If a Martial Artist sees an individual being injured by a gang of people, it may not be the right decision to get involved physically. The smart thing to do would be to call the police. Even if the situation was a one-on-one situation that the Martial Artist was viewing, one must examine the conditions. Does anyone have a knife, gun, club, etc.? Another scenario may involve the practitioner receiving a surprise attack. He may have to defend himself immediately no matter what the circumstances are.

A Martial Artist must always be aware of his/her own abilities. If a situation arises, he/she must take inventory of what abilities they have to handle the situation. Obviously, a beginning practitioner may not be able to handle multiple attackers. One may not be trained to handle weapons (knives, clubs, guns, etc.). The certainty and degree of confidence of a practitioner is directly related to the number of years of training in a self-defense system. More training equals a competent practitioner. It would be foolish for any Martial Artist to involve himself/herself in a situation that one knew they could not handle individually.

It is risking one's life when one enters into a self-defense situation lacking clarity. One must be able to put emotions of anger and revenge aside. A Martial Artist must only enter into a fight if it is a self-defense scenario (protecting oneself and others). It must be done from an ethical point of view. Self-defense is only used in handling and defusing a situation. If one enters into a fight for any other reason other than what is stated above, it would be for the wrong reasons. If one is entering into a fight with anger and revenge, it will only do more damage. There is a lack of clear thinking, logic, and honest account of the truth of the situation.

There are decisions that must be made immediately after an evaluation of the self-defense situation. FIGHT or FLIGHT? It does not make one less of a person or Martial Artist if one decides to walk away after making a clear logical evaluation of the situation. If one should decide to enter into a fight, one better be certain that one can handle it.