If you’ve ever been verbally attacked, you might be interested to know what martial arts teaches us about anger, because our natural reaction is often all wrong.
Important Disclaimer: This is about situations without threat of violence or retaliation. if the angry person is unstable or prone to violence, the best approach is to remove yourself from the situation.
A Bad Block
If you’ve ever taken a martial arts course or watched a little bit of martial arts instruction, you might know a thing or two about blocking a punch.
By instinct a lot of people do it all wrong. When someone throws a punch our instinct is to throw another one back with equal force. That doesn’t work.
Why? Because all that energy has to go somewhere. It can result in bruises, broken bones, and shoulders thrown out of joint. What’s more, in order to stop the blow, you have to meet it with an equal amount of force. It takes a lot of energy and causes a lot of pain.
The same is true with dealing with someone who is angry. That’s why we need to understand what martial arts teaches us about anger. First, we have to think about the anger itself.
Pain Breeds Pain
Anger is the manifesting of pain. Someone who is angry is reacting to something that has hurt them in some way.
When someone is throwing around anger, they are filling the air with a lot of negative energy. Our instant reaction is to approach it with equal force. They yell at us, we yell back. But when we fight pain with pain, we simply add more pain.
Pain has a way of constantly getting passed around. A fight at home leads someone to yell at an employee at work. That employee gets snippy with a call-in customer. That customer, frustrated by the bad service yells at their kids who are making a lot of noise. Around it goes.
We would be better off to learn what martial arts teaches us about anger.
A Different Approach
In martial arts, you don’t block a blow with equal force. The best approach is to leave all the force in the action, but direct it elsewhere. You don’t remove the force, you simply redirect it. You use the energy of the blow to take the person off balance.
It’s the same way with anger. You don’t meet it with the same negative energy; pain breeds pain. That only serves to add more fuel to the fire.
Instead, you take the energy and redirect it. You don’t take the hit directly on but redirect it to find the true cause. You show them that they matter and that you hear them. You find the pain and help them resolve it peacefully.
Many people try to “fight fire with fire”. That’s a great way to burn a house down. If you want to combat anger you get to the source and apply what martial arts teaches us about anger: you redirect it and let it go.