Jiu-Jitsu Sensei has a great (I don’t use the word lightly) post called Reacting to Aggression: How to Avoid and De-Escalate Conflict that is worth reading twice before coming back here to read on.
Back now? Did you read it? Ok, go ahead and read my $0.02, then:
I agree with all of her points 100%, and would only add that there’s a difference in mentality here, and that’s probably what she teaches her students. Response 1 and 2 (Passive and Aggressive, respectively), are the most common reactions.
What we need to teach and train others to do is respond appropriately.
A reaction is an involuntary action on the part of someone. In other words, it’s without volition or thought. My cat jumping from my arms and taking three layers of my arm with him when the dog barks is a reaction due to fear. Crouching and stalking by the same animal are carefully crafted responses based on training and the knowledge that he (the cat) is superior to the prey, and he is planning how best to make the bird or mouse his dinner.
In a similar manner we must step outside, defocus our vision to take in all of the body language of the aggressive person who may be threatening us. Look at the entire picture and the context, determine the appropriate response, and act. This is also called the OODA loop, where we Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, a military concept now applied to law enforcement and which is the deliberate byproduct of training. Proper training, utilizing scenarios.
A good example of this would be Michael Jordan in his prime, a renowned workaholic when it came to practice. At game time, do you think Jordan had to think about how to dribble, shoot, or pass the ball? No, he was reacting to, and controlling his opponents with his body language, facial expressions, and intention. He had been there before, and had the reps.
Jiu-Jitsu Sensei’s point is applicable to men, women, and anyone involved in any verbal or physical confrontation. Do you react? Or do you respond?