Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Umbrella revolution and self-defense

The Umbrella protests have been running in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks, with no sign of any rationale solution satisfactory to all parties. There has been clashes with the police who used tear gas, pepper sprays, batons, and protected with professional protective gears. On the other hand, the protestors used more amateurish stuffs: umbrellas, surgical masks, goggles and plastic wraps. In a conflict situation, it is natural to predict that the police will be the aggressor and the protestors the defender. Who is on the right side, morally and legally, is another matter. What is interesting here is that a few days ago, a pro-establishment legislator claimed that the protestors is the aggressor citing that they used umbrellas. He further supported his claims by saying that the legendary martial artist (whose life stories have been inspiring numerous kung fu movies) Huang Fei Hung (黄飛鴻) was famous for using a simple umbrella as his weapon. And nowadays students of master Huang's lineage still practiced a kung fu set using umbrella as weapon.

The questions that I am interested in are: What is the role of weapon in self-defense? And what are the objectives of self-defense?

Some traditional martial artists like to say that their art is to be used for self-defense instead of as sport, as in sports-MMA. To put their traditional practice at a higher level of prestige, sometimes they will claim that their art is more superior because they are more deadly!

Should self-defense techniques be deadly?

Professional fighters are usually prohibited by his affiliated associations to fight in the street - even self-defense pleads will be frowned upon, a high degree of burden of proof will be laid upon the fighter in case of judgment. Years ago prominent Sumo wrestler Asashōryū, one of the greatest Yokozunas, was forced into retirement after found punching a bartender (perhaps bouncer) in a casual brawl at a bar. The bodies of professional fighters are their weapons and are quite deadly, but they won't use it. Apart from the rules of his affiliated association, a professional fighter, who can be considered armed when facing a common civilian, will not dare to risk spending the rest of his life behind bars through inappropriate level of violence expressed in the slightest provocation. A friend of mine, a champion Muay Thai fighter, told me many years ago that he would try his best to avoid conflict situations. "It is only those who know little who like to engage in a street fight - besides the gangsters". The best way to avoid trouble, as he told me, is get away from it rather than fight your way out of it - because, him being a professional fighter, may end up in the losing end - either he wins or losses.

Having said that avoidance is only evading the issue of setting the objectives for self-defense. What are the objectives of self-defense, assuming that we fail to avoid a certain conflict situation?

The first objective in self defense is self-protection. Even the police, who are armed and equipped, need to protect themselves, helmet and shield are examples. In the Umbrella revolution, the protective gears (in particular the umbrellas) of the protestors aim at protection against tear gas and pepper spray. It is interesting to note that at some stage of the protests, when some police used batons, some protestors used industrial helmets and self-made forearm pads and body shields for protection. In martial art, it is blocks and evasion techniques plus the ability to absorb (minor) punches and the ability to do (simply) break-falls.

The second objective in self defense is counter attack appropriate to the level of attack. For the protestors it is a non-issue, and similar an non-issue for professional fighters in common minor conflict situations. For the common citizens, counter attack is to deter further attack rather than to inflict deadly/lethal harms, for most conflict situations. It is interesting to note that the pro-establishment legislator above had "cleverly" changing the concept of umbrella, used by protestors, as protective gears into as weapons of counter-attack. The fact is some protestors were arrested for some legal reasons (whether morally or legally valid or not is another issue) but none was arrested for "attacking" police with umbrella!

Umbrella revolution in Hong Kong

1 comment:

  1. Hi !
    Thanks for sharing such nice post about umbrella defense no doubt any little thing can be used as a weapon if used in right way.
    Meditation In India


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