“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 being physical. It was written by a man, Thompson, who had a lot of fighting and violence in his life, and then some. Through years of sweat and blood, while teaching others physical methods to defend themselves, Thompson has come to realize (as many of us do in the fighting, martial arts, and self – defense arenas) that there is a better way in really than skull cracking and bashing ones. We can avoid physical violence altogether. That’s what this short book is about. Thompson says it took him nine years of constant violence and much more of a soul search to understand that violence is not the answer. Perhaps this book will shorten the learning curve for many readers. I definitely hope so.
The title, of course taken from the famous scene in “Enter the Dragon” in which Bruce Lee describes his style as the art of fighting without fighting, and when the instigator insists on learning more of this style, Lee does a trick him get into a smaller boat from the one they have the most on and lays adrift on it, which “wins” without a fight. That’s what Thompson shares here. A way to win without actually going physical.
After a brief introduction, there are five chapters. Avoidance, Escape, Verbal Eviction, Posting and Restriction. Throughout these chapters, Thompson shares excellent advice, personal stories, and various strategies for resolving situations without going physical. Hitting someone with guile rather than force.
I totally disagree with Thompson’s chapter on Restraint. I will admit that it is not as easy to restrain someone sometimes as people would want you to believe, but I have also restrained people and I do not think that it is as “dodgy” as Thompson says. It depends a lot on the situation and the person who restricts it. I agree with him that suicide is possible if you try to restrain one person when he has friends. You don’t want to be attached to someone and take their friends with you too.
I liked Thompson ‘s discussion of the instinct of flight, and how we can train ourselves and our students to overcome this natural instinct when it may not be in our best interests. And I really liked how he talked about ego and not letting your ego get you in trouble.
Anyone who is “fighting” should read this book. Continuing down that path could keep one or two people in trouble or from being injured or killed. Those who do not want to make physical contact should also read this book. There is some great advice on avoiding violence in this little gem of a book.