“The Art of Fighting Without Fighting: Techniques In Personal Threat Evasion” by Geoff Thompson is a good little book on how to deal with conflict without becoming physical. It’s written by a man, Thompson, who’s had a fair amount of fighting and violence in his life, and then some. Through the years of sweat and blood, and teaching others physical means to defend themselves, Thompson has come to realize (as many of us in the fighting, martial art, and self-defense arenas do) that there really is a better way than cracking skulls and bashing heads. We can avoid the physical violence altogether. That’s what this short book is about. Thompson says it took him nine years of constant violence and many more of soul-searching to realize that violence is not the answer. Maybe this book will shorten the learning curve for many readers. I sure hope so.
The title, obviously taken from the famous scene in “Enter the Dragon” where Bruce Lee describes his style as the art of fighting without fighting, and when the instigator insists on learning more of this style, Lee tricks him into getting into a smaller boat from the larger one they are on and sets him adrift, thus “winning” without fighting. That’s what Thompson shares here. Way to win without actually going physical.
After a short introduction, there are five chapters. Avoidance, Escape, Verbal Dissuasion, Posturing, and Restraint. Throughout these chapters, Thompson shares excellent advice, personal stories, and various strategies to to resolve situations without going physical. To beat someone with guile rather than force.
I don’t totally agree with Thompson’s chapter on Restraint. I will give him that sometimes restraining a person is not as easy as some would want you to believe, but I also have restrained people and don’t think it is as “dodgy” as Thompson says. It really does depend on the situation and the person doing the restraining. I do agree with him that trying to restrain one person by yourself when he has friends can be suicide. You don’t want to be tied up with a person and have his buddies take it too you.
I liked Thompson’s discussion on the flight instinct, and how we can train ourselves and our students to overcome this natural instinct when perhaps running away is not in our best interests. And I really liked how he talked about ego and not letting your ego get you into trouble.
Anyone who is into “fighting” should read this book. Might keep a person or two out of trouble or from being hurt or killed by continuing down that path. Those that don’t want to engage in physical encounters should read this book too. There is some great advice on avoiding violence in this little gem of a book.
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