Pushing When Pulled

When they push, you pull. When they pull, you push. 

This simple statement was one of the core principles taught by my instructor. It seems simple, yet contradictory. It is contradictory in that it goes against the natural human instinct. When someone physically shoves us, our instinct tells us to resist by using strength to solidify our position. It sends a psychological message of strength and defiance. The outcomes of resistance though produce largely negative results. At best, it produces a stalemate that is characterized by images of bravado. At worst, it produces a scenario in which a self-fulfilling prophecy ensues, whereby strength, ferocity, and intemperance will be the order of the day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. When someone pushes you, stepping out of the way or redirecting their force allows the threat to pass. It sends a psychological message that confuses the aggressor. Why did my attack fail? I am stronger, so why I am falling past my intended victim? The same applies to someone who apprehends you and attempts to pull you toward them in an attempt to break your balance. Step into their aggression with a shove, and let the laws of physics do the rest of the work for you. In economic terms applied to a violent confrontation, this is a minimum investment that yields a maximum return. 

These principles are applied to a physical, violent confrontation. When taught to beginning and intermediate students, they become they foundation of the art in which they will spend years practicing. For the practitioner that has devoted their life to the martial arts, there is more to the story. For the person that has taken the art into their core being, these physical tactics become principles. It is not what is done. Rather, it is how and why it is done that becomes the defining characteristic of our martial art.

When you push, I pull. When you pull, I push. How can this be applied to our daily lives, especially in the turbulent times in which we find ourselves today? Very easily, and quite often, actually. Consider the following:

“You are a __________.”

You can fill in the blank with any defamatory moniker you choose. If you happen to be a person that is considered to be a left leaning person politically, you could be called a liberal, socialist, communist, or the dreaded “snow flake.” If you are a right leaning person, you will be most likely be labeled as a homophobe, a Nazi, or a racist. Whatever your position in life, and whatever you choose to believe, is beside the point when I counsel clients that are confronted with these unpleasant circumstances. No one likes to be called unpleasant names, especially when the accusation is either untrue or could have detrimental ramifications to their professional, public, and social image. Remember the principle: pull when pushed; push when pulled. So, what are we to do when someone publicly or privately calls us a vile name, such as a racist or a communist?

Agree with them. 

I can envision the reactions that many of you are having after reading this. There is no need to readjust your glasses or wipe your eyes. There is nothing wrong with your vision. You read that right; I said agree with them. 

The veracity of the claims made against your character will not change if you dispute the claim. The debate and the conflict are actually what your adversary is seeking because it validates what they already to believe to be true about you. You will not change their mind. You will not salvage your virtue. The only thing you will do by denying their claim is to throw gas on an already blazing fire. Take their strength and momentum away from them by agreeing with them.

“You are a ________.”

“Indeed I am. You are correct.”

The bewilderment that will ensue is something to behold for the novice tactician utilizing this strategy for the first time. It produces moments of awkward silence. It is as if you are both engaged in a high stakes chess match and someone has taken the board, leaving only the pieces behind. What you have done though is left them only one option, which is to increase their aggression towards you, thereby destroying any virtue they may have had in attempting to besmirch your character.

This is especially true in the online environment, in particular social media platforms such as Twitter. It is almost impossible to exist online in a professional or public capacity without being called some sort of name or having your expertise or credentials challenged. I have steadfastly refused to allow our syllabus or techniques to be showcased on platforms such as YouTube for this reason. It is a fool’s errand to allow your life’s work to be denigrated by someone that either cannot, or will not, meet you on a level playing field of ideas without resorting to the antics of an intellectual cripple. 

A case in point regarding this assertion I have made is the recent business decision made by Joe Rogan to move his podcast to Spotify, all the while abandoning platforms such as YouTube and Apple Podcasts. I am not a frequent consumer of Joe Rogan’s work, but you would have to be living in a very dark, secluded garden of fungus not to have at least heard of him in popular culture. In preparation for this week’s blog, I perused some of the comments online regarding Rogan’s business decision. What I found was not surprising.

When they push, you pull. When they pull, you push.

Rogan was accused of doing it for the money. I think we should all nominate Dr. Obvious for a Nobel Prize for uncovering one of the core tenets of capitalism. Only an obtuse fool would sustain their business in an atmosphere that was not advantageous to their growth. What these paragons of economics failed to mention in their diatribe against Rogan and his decision is the impact he has had, and will have, on the business models of platforms such as YouTube. When content that has produced over 190 million unique views in a single calendar year abandons your ship, you probably better start looking for icebergs. 

“Nobody will miss this right wing, racist nut job.” I found this comment in more than one online forum. As stated, the Rogan podcast produced over 190 million unique visitors to his content posted online in a single calendar year. No one cares? I can show you at least 190 million people that cared enough to engage with his content, and they will probably care enough to follow him to another platform. Anybody that has listened to Rogan for more than 90 seconds can attest to the fact that he is anything but a right-wing zealot and a racist. That is irrelevant. The idea that Rogan would give the proverbial middle finger to platforms such as Apple and YouTube was prima facie evidence that he had chosen a side, whatever side that may be. It cannot be accepted as a fact that maybe, just maybe, Joe Rogan made a business decision that was in the best interest of his brand and ultimately his livelihood. 

People will form opinions about you based on what you believe. People will take what you say, contextualize it from their frame of reference determined by their world view, and place you in a box. The only way to take this power from them is to pull when they push you. Take their power from them. Steal their thunder. If they call you a dandelion, agree with them. If they call you a genetic defect, agree with them. They are not seeking affirmation. They are seeking conflict. Do not feed into this. 

Find us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.