Winning through psychology?

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Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:06 pm

Hello everyone,

I've been reading on this site every few years or so, since my last message in 2013, and I thought that after 6 years of silence, I'd ask another question. ;) But first, a bit of my background. I've tried Judo and Taijutsu in my youth, and after a long, long break, I had 2 years of western boxing training, and after another break, another 1.5 years of training. Sadly due to the nature of my work, I travel a lot, so I've never managed to train with any regularity, so I guess you could say I'm sacrificing my health for my career in a way (yes, shame on me).

Anyway, on to the question...

In your encounters in the gym, competitions or on the street, how much do you feel that you've been able to influence the outcome through psychology? Winning without throwing a punch, or perhaps "setting the stage"?

One experience I had on the street (or rather, on the bus, to be more correct) a few years ago, was when I asked a young gentleman to remove his feet from the seat, explaining that the seat is for sitting and not for dirty shoes. This young mans reaction surprised me quite a lot. He jumped up, called me a racist and screamed at the top of his voice that he would kill me.

I tried to talk reason into him explaining that it is quite uncalled for to kill someone over leaving dirty foot prints on the seat, and that this is not the proper way to behave on the bus. The result was that he hit me with a sloppy hook on the cheek bone. Now keep in mind here that I was extremely lucky! This was on a moving bus so he could not get any weight behind the punch, he also hit me straight on the cheek bone, so probably hurt his hand more than me, and from a psychological point of view... I've been hit in the face several times before during boxing training, so although unpleasant and in a hostile environment, the experience of being hit in the face was not new to me.

So what did I do?

Instead of attacking, raising my voice or anything like that, I lowered my voice, raised my guard, and told him that it is quite a mistake to hit someone in the face for a verbal argument while looking him straight in the eyes.

I have a feeling that this was not what he expected, since he again shouted that we would kill me, but didn't hit me again, and on top of that, one of his friends jumped in between and begged me to stop talking to his friend, while his friend made half hearted attempts to hit me although in my opinion he wasn't really trying. Shortly after that the bus stopped at the next station and the two guys left the bus and so did I and we went separate ways.

Now of course I was just plain lucky, since they were 2 against 1, and he could have had a knife, been on drugs or what ever, but sadly for my mother and loved ones, I can be quite stubborn and proud in the wrong situations.

But I have a feeling that I did not give them the reaction they were used to when hitting morning commuters in the face, and that perhaps this caused them to hesitate?

Oh, and there were other people on the bus, but all of them looked the other way and did their best to ignore the situation once the shouting started, but that could also of course have added a bit of "pressure" to the guys even though no one was intefering.

Anyway, this is my experience.

What are your experiences when playing a psychological game?

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby Bao on Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:15 pm

I believe in psychology. If you don't follow the usual caveman "monkey see monkey do" you will always have an advantage.
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- To affect the quality of the day, is the highest of all arts! -Walden Thoreau
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:20 pm

I think that the highest form of "winning" through psychology is not to put yourself in these situations in the first place. But assuming that a potentially dangerous situation does arise, I wonder what can be done from a non-physical point of view, to better the odds in case you are not able to run away?

On a grand level, I remember reading in Clausewitz that in order to win, you must take away the opponents will to fight (or something along those lines). Without lifting a finger, what could achieve that? I can imagine a highly theoretical situation were the victim might be a dangerous man with a reputation, and the attackers learn who it is and choose to abort.

Another story I heard (and I don't know if it is true) is burglars who broke into the house of the well known 80s actor Dolph Lundgren (from Rocky 4) and once they realized who's house they were in, did not proceed with stealing.

Finally, didn't Sun Tzu and/or Muashi talk a lot about the mental aspects and winning without actually fighting?

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby dragonprawn on Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:11 pm

What you did was more difficult than throwing a punch. Good job.
I have had to diffuse situations many times in my work and on the street. It is never easy not to take the easy way out and just beat their ass. But it must be done if you are at all a trained and confident martial artist. It is the moral way. And anyway, you save yourself headaches or worse later if you overreact. Think of police using deadly force. Sometimes necessary. sometimes they get in trouble. In NYC where I live I even yield to feet on seats. Not even worth it.
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby Trick on Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:45 pm

ive was in a "similar" buss incident years back. similar in the way of two young men had placed their shoe wearing feets on the seats opposite to them. behind sat an eldery couple, the man spoke out that the seats where for sitting not for rest shoe wearing feets(common sence, right?) immediately they called him an racist and other strange things, so i chimed in and said that the eldery guy talked common sence to them and had nothing to do with racism..they yelled at me asking where i got air from, probably meaning i should mind my own bussiness. which i was not going to do, but where interrupted by an middleaged woman further back in the bus yelling to me and the eldery couple that indeed we must be racists and that the young gentlemen actually had very nice sneakers so it was ok for them to have them planted on the seats.....this left me somewhat speechless. all the while the buss had arrived at at its next stop, the two gentlemen got of saying it was lucky(for us)this was their station and gave me and the couple the finger....no fighting, and "saved" by a buss-stop. :) just wanted to tell since initially the incident was so similar to the op's
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby Trick on Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:04 pm

Takeda Sokaku(from the wiki)


“ The secret of aiki is to overpower the opponent mentally at a glance and to win without fighting.[25] ”
- And this is the higher skill of the chinese internal arts practice too
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby marvin8 on Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:47 pm

h4890 wrote:In your encounters in the gym, competitions or on the street, how much do you feel that you've been able to influence the outcome through psychology? Winning without throwing a punch or perhaps "setting the stage"?

One experience I had on the street (or rather, on the bus, to be more correct) a few years ago, was when I asked a young gentleman to remove his feet from the seat, explaining that the seat is for sitting and not for dirty shoes. This young mans reaction surprised me quite a lot. He jumped up, called me a racist and screamed at the top of his voice that he would kill me.

I tried to talk reason into him explaining that it is quite uncalled for to kill someone over leaving dirty foot prints on the seat, and that this is not the proper way to behave on the bus. The result was that he hit me with a sloppy hook on the cheek bone. Now keep in mind here that I was extremely lucky! . . .

Instead of attacking, raising my voice or anything like that, I lowered my voice, raised my guard, and told him that it is quite a mistake to hit someone in the face for a verbal argument while looking him straight in the eyes. . . .

I wonder what can be done from a non-physical point of view, to better the odds in case you are not able to run away?

One might "win without throwing a punch or setting the stage" by observing, awareness and de-escalating with the right verbal communication, not by confronting, lecturing or obviously raising your guard up to a younger minority. Your "reasoning" or choice of words: calling his shoes "dirty" may have escalated the situation, not de-escalate.

One of several youtube videos on self-defense and law enforcement de-escalation strategies and tactics.
The Guerrilla Self-Protection Solution
Published on Oct 25, 2018

De-escalating the situation is more about empathy with the individual. Assuming they are not predatory, you may be able to avoid a physical confrontation by choosing to not let your ego get into the battle:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cg7uHkyfzQ
Last edited by marvin8 on Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:36 am

dragonprawn wrote:What you did was more difficult than throwing a punch. Good job.
I have had to diffuse situations many times in my work and on the street. It is never easy not to take the easy way out and just beat their ass. But it must be done if you are at all a trained and confident martial artist. It is the moral way. And anyway, you save yourself headaches or worse later if you overreact. Think of police using deadly force. Sometimes necessary. sometimes they get in trouble. In NYC where I live I even yield to feet on seats. Not even worth it.


Thank you dp. =) Well, I wouldn't say myself that beating their ass is the "easy way" since I am by no means a skilled martial artist or boxer, and that in this case, there were 2 against one, and I was partly cornered in a cramped bus seat, so I imagine that I would be the one with the head ache if it would come to blows. ;)

However, 2 times in my life people tried to rob me, and they never got anything from me and it never turned violent. 1 time I had a brief encounter with a drunk who tried to push my around, but the "encounter" was never more than a split second and a deflection from my side, and an unbalanced drunk yelling at me while I continued walking. And then there was this encounter which actually was the most physical so far.

I try to think about these experiences and a certain amount of fear is always present, but somehow I managed to keep it in the background, while staying somewhat clear headed thinking about what to say and how to react (except the drunk where things went so fast that neither of us had time to think and both were equally surprised by the result).

But finally, what does strike a note with me is that you say that it's "Not even worth it" and this is what makes me sad. In my society, there is a certain apathy spreading where people don't react any longer. No ones cares, no one says anything when they encounter a wrong, no one instructs the young when they misbehave etc. If this is a bigger trend, instead of just being subjective "grumpy old me", I wonder what it means for society at large, when no one dares to say "no" any longer.

Now why is this? Is this a global phenomenon? Was it always this way and maybe I am just (hopefully) over reacting? And if not, why are we becoming like this?

I don't quite know what to think and what to do about it, but I guess I will continue to speak up until I do get smashed to pieces or until I feel like it is time for the younger generation of "grumpy old me" to take over.

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:43 am

marvin8 wrote:One might "win without throwing a punch or setting the stage" by observing, awareness and de-escalating with the right verbal communication, not by confronting, lecturing or obviously raising your guard up to a younger minority. Your "reasoning" or choice of words: calling his shoes "dirty" may have escalated the situation, not de-escalate.


Thank you for the feedback Marvin. In this case however, I would probably stick with my decision to raise my guard after having been hit in the head in order to be able to defend myself agains follow up punches.

I'm also not keen on _not_ confronting, lecturing and explaining why (dirty shoes on seat, makes seat dirty as well as takes up space for other people who might want to sit). I believe that in society, if you see something wrong, it is actually your duty to confront, lecture and explain, and it is unreasonable to expect voilence in return. I think it is reasonable to expect that you might respond verbally and have an intelligent conversation around why everyone did as they did.

However, once your respond with violence, you are the one who broke the code of society. I will watch the video, but I'm afraid I do not agree with your advice in this situation. At the same time, english is not my native language, and I don't know if it is yours either, and you were not with me in the situation, so it could be that I misunderstand you.

Anyway, thank you for the links and your thoughts.

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:07 am

Trick wrote:ive was in a "similar" buss incident years back...


Thank you for sharing Trick. I would probably be as surprised as you were by the woman! In my case, the few people that were present choose to look the other way, and after the incident, they looked a bit ashamed of themselves.

You don't happen to live in Sweden do you? It's the only country I know of, where the racist argument comes up so often and in every conceivable situation.

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Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby roger hao on Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:20 am

Dan -
You should have been prepared for the attack after you confronted the
person about the feet on seat. This rule applies to animals and inanimate objects as
well. Work on this.
Also - you were willing to stand up for dirty bus seats but unwilling to stand up
for unwarranted attacks that could have been directed at anyone - even an elderly grand mother. If you want to dabble in the higher levels of martial ability -
( fighting without fighting ) at least stand up for bullying.
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:07 am

roger hao wrote:Dan -
You should have been prepared for the attack after you confronted the
person about the feet on seat. This rule applies to animals and inanimate objects as
well. Work on this.


I wonder if this might depend on where you are living and how you grew up. In a war zone, I definitely agree with you that you should always be prepared to constantly being attacked or ambushed. But I don't live (or at least I didn't used to live) in a war zone. I grew up in a very peaceful society full of naive and kind people. I feel like walking around, being constantly prepared for an attack is an admission of defeat and failure. It is also a life style I am not willing to adopt. But I suspect I am reading too much into what you are saying, and you can be perfectly assured that next time I'm having a similar discussion I will be prepared. ;)

roger hao wrote:Also - you were willing to stand up for dirty bus seats but unwilling to stand up
for unwarranted attacks that could have been directed at anyone - even an elderly grand mother. If you want to dabble in the higher levels of martial ability -
( fighting without fighting ) at least stand up for bullying.


Could you please elaborate? Which eldery grand mother was I'm not willing to stand up for and which account of bullying was I not willing to stand up for?

Edit: Oh, I think I understand you now. You mean the elderly couple in Tricks story? That was not my experience though, and there was no elderly couple on my bus that could have gotten hit by anything.

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:20 am



Hello Marvin,

I do like and agree with the part about breathing (how many times have I not heard this in boxing class) and distance (subtly moving away/creating distance) in the beginning of the video. Would be nice to see an adaptation with multiple attackers, since in my experience, it's mostly 2 against 1 if not more. If it is 1 against 1 the psychology is very, very different in my opinion.

Oh, and another reflection, in my experience, attackers also like to isolate you in small spaces, and this also changes how you react when being attacked, compared with being out in the open. So breaking free or moving the attack into an empty space, where visibility is not restricted, is also a good way. Being able to somewhat influence the battle field before the battle is an advantage.

Best regards,
Dan
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby marvin8 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:39 am

h4890 wrote:
marvin8 wrote:One might "win without throwing a punch or setting the stage" by observing, awareness and de-escalating with the right verbal communication, not by confronting, lecturing or obviously raising your guard up to a younger minority. Your "reasoning" or choice of words: calling his shoes "dirty" may have escalated the situation, not de-escalate.


Thank you for the feedback Marvin. In this case however, I would probably stick with my decision to raise my guard after having been hit in the head in order to be able to defend myself agains follow up punches.

Yes. You should raise your hands but not in a threatening, fighting stance manner. Rather, you should be calm/relaxed and take a step back, as demonstrated in the posted de-escalation video.

h4890 wrote:I'm also not keen on _not_ confronting, lecturing and explaining why (dirty shoes on seat, makes seat dirty as well as takes up space for other people who might want to sit). I believe that in society, if you see something wrong, it is actually your duty to confront, lecture and explain, and it is unreasonable to expect voilence in return. I think it is reasonable to expect that you might respond verbally and have an intelligent conversation around why everyone did as they did.

If the goal is for an aggressive, young person to remove his shoes from a seat "without throwing a punch," you should use the verbal communication that will achieve that goal, not necessarily what your ego is keen on.

Playing the race card should not be a "surprise." That exists, as well as racism whether it's fair or not. The young man's reaction should not have been a surprise, as most people do not like being reprimanded (talked down to).

h4890 wrote:However, once your respond with violence, you are the one who broke the code of society. I will watch the video, but I'm afraid I do not agree with your advice in this situation. At the same time, english is not my native language, and I don't know if it is yours either, and you were not with me in the situation, so it could be that I misunderstand you.

Anyway, thank you for the links and your thoughts.

Best regards,
Dan

My advice is to listen to how law enforcement and security people are taught to approach these situations which occur on a daily basis. English is my first language. In those situations, one should be aware of their surroundings (e.g., other young people, minorities, etc.).

I wasn't there. However, I noticed the words you used:
h4890 wrote:On a grand level, I remember reading in Clausewitz that in order to win, you must take away the opponents will to fight (or something along those lines). Without lifting a finger, what could achieve that? I can imagine a highly theoretical situation were the victim might be a dangerous man with a reputation, and the attackers learn who it is and choose to abort.

Another story I heard (and I don't know if it is true) is burglars who broke into the house of the well known 80s actor Dolph Lundgren (from Rocky 4) and once they realized who's house they were in, did not proceed with stealing.

Finally, didn't Sun Tzu and/or Muashi talk a lot about the mental aspects and winning without actually fighting?

Thinking of winning, opponent, being in a duel, war or one is "a dangerous man" may contribute to turning asking someone to remove their shoes from a bus seat into an attack. In contrast, the posted video suggests to start by making it about them. You eat the bitter.
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Re: Winning through psychology?

Postby h4890 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 12:27 pm

marvin8 wrote:Yes. You should raise your hands but not in a threatening, fighting stance manner. Rather, you should be calm/relaxed and take a step back, as demonstrated in the posted de-escalation video.


Well, another thing to keep in mind is that there is no advice that is valid for all circumstances, and in this case, there was no space to step back, so the advice would not be possible in that case. Also, you seem to assume that I did raise my hands in an aggressive way, maybe I didn't? Anyway, I think in this case, we have to agree to disagree, since I will raise my hands if blows are being thrown and in my situation, I don't buy your advice.

marvin8 wrote:If the goal is for an aggressive, young person to remove his shoes from a seat "without throwing a punch," you should use the verbal communication that will achieve that goal, not necessarily what your ego is keen on.


I did not throw any punches. Also I think it is quite uncharitable to assume that any young person you meet is aggressive. I also think it is completely unreasonable to assume the throwing of punches to be the result of reprimands. I've reprimanded plenty of young people to remove their feet from seats, and not a single one of them resortet to punches.

marvin8 wrote:Playing the race card should not be a "surprise." That exists, as well as racism whether it's fair or not. The young man's reaction should not have been a surprise, as most people do not like being reprimanded (talked down to).


Oh yes, it is a complete surprise in this situation since race has nothing to do with feet of the seat. You seem to use assumptions about your society and apply them to my society, and I think maybe that is why I am finding it so very difficult to understand your position and how you would handle the same incident. Also by encouraging people who do play the race card by avoiding, backing off etc. in the long run, the problem is just made worse. In my opinion, it is better to deal with a problem when it arises, than to avoid or hide it.

marvin8 wrote:I wasn't there. However, I noticed the words you used:
Thinking of winning, opponent, being in a duel, war or one is "a dangerous man" may contribute to turning asking someone to remove their shoes from a bus seat into an attack. In contrast, the posted video suggests to start by making it about them. You eat the bitter.


Oh but here you completely misunderstood me. When I am talking about what I read, I'm reflecting on my question at large and referring to language used in those books. I'm not saying that I quoted those authors or used to words in the encounter. So again, you are responding to something that did not take place. As for bitterness, I'll gladly eat it, since the seats are more clean, and hopefully the guy learned the lesson that he cannot shut everyone up with threats and violence.

However, I feel that our discussion is moving away from my question at large, and we are getting stuck in how I did or did not react in this situation, and this is not something that I would like to discuss in this thread, since I'm more interested in psychological strategies to use in encounters. You did comment on (or the guy in the video) breathing and creating space, and this is sound advice.

But would you mind if we continued our discussion about me, my ego and how I act either in a separate thread or IM? It might be valuable for me and you, to better understand each other, but I don't think it is very valuable for the rest of the world.

Have a nice evening!

Best regards,
Dan
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