We live in a great system which provides us with several layers of structure and security. For example we have fresh water, stores for food and police to keep us safe. Very early in life we begin to form habits and ways of living that fit into these structures. Our very intuition, habits and reactions change to fit into these norms. Some martial arts systems teach students to break these old habits and replace them with something that may be helpful in situations which involve a great deal of stress. For example when I was training with Mr. Hayes at his dojo we were working on old school Jujutsu “Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu”. Mr. Hayes mentioned using the attacker’s energy against them to keep them from using your energy. When I went to see how this worked I noticed that each time I tried to grab Mr. Hayes my center was off and he was in a very good position to counter my attack.
In learning how to break free from old habits and structure we are also learning how to address new situations. When somebody attacks us they may have an expectation of how we will respond to that attack, based on their own self interest of getting what they want, even if it involves using force. Our system of martial arts deals with the redirection of that expectation. Something as simple as a technique that shifts our centerline out of the attackers path is enough to create a rupture in the reality of the attacker, just as if they tried to grab a ghost.