The Art of Fighting without Fighting

There is a classic scene in Bruce Lee’s movie “Enter the Dragon.” One racist fighter is harassing the Chinese on the boat. He approaches Bruce and tries to intimidate him by looming over him. “What is your style?” Bruce calmly replies, “The art of fighting without fighting.”

“Let’s fight,” the bully responds.

“I’ll fight you, but not here. It’s too crowded.” Bruce points to an island in the distance. “Let’s fight on that island.”

The bully eagerly descends into the rowboat, anticipating the fight. But rather than get into the rowboat, Bruce Lee plays out the rope, so that it is being towed behind the ship. Bruce gives the tow line to the Chinese who had been tormented by the bully.

Bruce smiles, as the bully is trapped –he cannot get off the rowboat, because the boat is moving too quickly for him to catch up if he tries to swim. The Chinese amuse themselves by jerking the rope and threatening to capsize the skiff.

Bruce has won the fight without fighting.

It’s a good idea. I mentioned earlier how my friend Ed’s father would leave parties when he saw signs that things were about to get ugly. He always avoided fights.

My father and I were watching one of those real-life video shows where a policeman stopped two guys in a pickup. The cop found drugs and then moved to arrest them, not knowing that they were both armed.

Both drug runners drew pistols and unleashed a volley of gunfire that dropped the cop. Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest and survived.

“That was his own fault,” my dad said.

I was surprised. “How is that?”

“He brought it on himself,” my dad explained. “If it was me, I would have acted like I hadn’t seen any drugs. I would have told them, ‘Alright, guys, I’m letting you off with a warning.’”

“Once they left, I would have followed them and radioed for back up. Once backup arrived, then I would have arrested them.”

As a CHP officer, my dad was armed with a .357 magnum and a 12 gauge shotgun. It doesn’t matter: the smart move is to avoid unnecessary fights.

My kickboxing teachers, who had fought full contact, told me an old saying: “When you lose, you get hurt; when you win, you get hurt.” There are too many downsides to fighting. You think the two of you will duke it out, only to have him draw a knife. He may have several buddies who leap into it.

You don’t want to go unarmed against a knife, but if you carry a knife, things are hardly any better –you’re still facing a knife.

And if you win, you can still get sued in court or wind up imprisoned for “excessive force.” A high school student of mine had another teen call him a “p##sy,” taunting him for not having the guts to fight him. My student eventually gave in and beat the crap out of the guy who was taunting him. At which point the guy who was calling out the other for being a coward ran crying to the police and pressed charges!

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One Response to “The Art of Fighting without Fighting”

  1. this explains the art of fighting without fighting exactly the way i wanted. Thanks.

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