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CronoDAS comments on Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism - Less Wrong

105 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 21 April 2009 02:44AM

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Comment author: CronoDAS 21 April 2009 02:41:14PM 7 points [-]

I'm skeptical of the value of advanced martial arts as a practical self-defense tool. The way that, say, muggers operate, I suspect that even Bruce Lee would find himself compelled to hand over his wallet. (You're walking along, and suddenly some guy sneaks up behind you and puts you in a chokehold or something, while another guy, in front of you, demands your money.) Three random guys with baseball bats could probably beat up any single martial arts expert that they got the drop on - and if they have knives or guns...

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 21 April 2009 04:11:28PM 9 points [-]

More generally, the risk of getting injured or worse costs too much to attempt violence, even if you can win in 90% of encounters. Only where you can't avoid confrontation by paying whatever moderate amount of money you have on you, there is a point in being stronger, which further discounts the worth of training, down from the already low probability of being attacked at all.

Comment author: Desrtopa 27 December 2010 09:08:37PM *  4 points [-]

Perhaps this happens occasionally, but I know several people who've been mugged, and all of them have been mugged by a single person. In fact, I know a number of martial artists through my own training who have been subject to mugging attempts, and all of them successfully defended themselves.

It's likely there's some selection bias going on, since it's rather embarrassing to admit to other practitioners that you failed to defend yourself from a mugger, but while there are certainly situations that no human, however skilled, can fight their way out of, martial arts are definitely better than useless at defending oneself and one's property.

Of course, learning martial arts is rarely the most effective way to defend oneself. It's usually more practical to stay out of situations where you'd need to use them at all. The way I see it, anyone who practices martial arts solely for self defense is in it for the wrong reason.

At least in terms of practical usefulness, it beats athletic skills like basketball, although you'll never get paid as much for it even if you're really good.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 December 2010 09:45:06PM 5 points [-]

A small non-random sample, but I saw a discussion of the usefulness of martial arts where about half the participants said that what they'd actually used is the knowledge of how to fall safely.

Comment author: Kenny 11 October 2012 03:24:30AM 3 points [-]

I can attest that falling safely is in fact very useful!

Comment author: beoShaffer 11 October 2012 03:57:55AM 2 points [-]

There's actually been a decent bit of research into martial arts falling in non-combat situations. Kojustukan has a pretty good summary.

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 December 2010 05:04:40AM 1 point [-]

When my father was (successfully) mugged, it was by a group of three. (He also remarked that lone muggers tend to fail, unless they have a gun - it's too easy to simply run away from them.)

Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data, etc.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 December 2010 09:09:29PM *  0 points [-]

I'd be interested to know where he got that information. Personally, I'm inclined to be skeptical; I think most people would rather not take the risk of trying to run away. If they have you at knifepoint, or have a grip on you, then you're at a distinct disadvantage trying to escape. The upside is that most muggers don't really want to hurt their victims, but that's a very risky thing to rely on.

Comment author: gwern 21 April 2009 04:32:36PM 2 points [-]

I suspect Bruce Lee would've handled himself fine. The whole reason he was sent to the US by his family was that he was brawling too much in the streets (and presumably winning, although I can't immediately find any online sources which say that).