Ego, Dominance, and Defending Against the Sucker Punch

By Scott Shaw

Recently, here in the Los Angeles area, there was an incident where an Uber driver was attacked from behind by the passenger in his car. Luckily, the driver had a dash-cam recording the entire attack.  The passenger sat there smacking the driver from behind over and over and over again. It was very troubling to watch for just like the coward who accosts a person from behind with a sucker punch, being seat-belted into your car seat and attacked from behind leaves you in an extremely vulnerable position. The attacker was wearing a short sleeved shirt and you could see that he worked out, so the attack had to be very painful. Due to the fact that the attack was recorded, the passenger was arrested, was fired from his senior position at a fast food company, and, in addition to facing several charges, is being sued by the driver.

If we look at this situation more clearly we easily come to see that no matter what instigated the attack on the driver, the attacker was using his positioning to his advantage – knowing that he would easily emerge victorious as how can a person effectively defend themselves from the position that the driver found himself in?  This is simply a coward’s way to fight.

As martial artists I believe that we must truly study our own inner nature and come to clearly define the person we are when we find ourselves in any physical confrontation. Certainly, one of the primary reasons for studying the martial arts is to gain a mastery of self-defense. But, many practitioner go far beyond this understanding and simply use their skills to beat up other people. This is simply the wrong mindset to possess as you move your way towards martial arts mastery. 

If you are a trained fighting practitioner and you use your skills to defeat an opponent simply to stroke your own ego or to falsely attempt to prove to yourself that you are better than someone else then you are missing the entire point of martial arts training. You are simply walking down the path of ego in an attempt to fill a void that exist somewhere inside of you where you desire to be dominant over other people.

The truth be told, this ego driven mindset it very common in the martial arts. Everywhere you go you will hear a certain caliber of martial artist disusing how their style, their school, their teacher, or they personally are the very best. You will hear people saying that some other practitioner is not as a good as them. In fact, you will witness many lies or altered truths being spoken about other martial artists simply to make themselves, their teacher, or their school appear to be better. Though this is a common practice, it is sheer foolishness and this style of behavior is, in fact, against the entire inner teachings of the martial arts.

What I always suggest to an individual who wishes to gage a person’s true inner knowledge about the martial arts is to simply listen to them. What do they have to say about other people, other students, and other instructors? Is their dialog based upon who is better and who is worse? Is it based upon criticism? Or, is it based upon mutual understanding and respect? Listen to a person and you will know who they truly are.

An individual’s developed mindset defines how a person will react to the physical elements of this world. Yes, there is conflict. For this reason a martial artist trains their body to effectively encounter any style of physical attack. But, once the attack has been nullified, it is what the martial arts does next that defines who they truly are.

As I often discuss, as a martial artists you train your body to effectively defeat an attacker. But, what is the limit of effective self-defense? Is it letting them know that they cannot over power you? Or, is it you beating the crap out of them?

In a physical altercation it is quite easily understood how some people, when they are being attacked, block and then hit and hit again until their attacker lies knocked out and motionless on the ground. As a martial artists you certainly possess the ability to do just that. But, is that the best strategy? I do not believe it is. Yes, you defend yourself. But, you only need to do that until your opponent has come to understand that you can and will defeat him. Then, you halt your counterattack for you have made your point. You do not have to hurt them further simply to hurt them. This is the true essence of the martial arts.

At the heart of your martial arts training must be your inner development. Yes, learn how to block, deflect, joint lock, kick, punch, and throw but consciously allow yourself to move beyond that level of physicality. Become more. Never become like the person who beat on an Uber driver from behind. Never be the person who unleashes a sucker punch. Defend yourself if you need to but do not allow your ego, via your martial art training, to cause you to hurt a person unnecessarily, no matter who or what that person may be, just because you can.

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