Pick Your Battles

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

-Sun Tzu

Introduction

Inspired by a section of yesterday’s article, I decided I would elaborate on the subject of picking your battles.  The Manosphere is full of articles about attacking problems and situations head on, but there are very few posts on when it’s best to sit back and patiently wait for the proverbial noose to tighten around your opposition’s neck.  Some of the mentally immature in the Red Pill community would claim that you should never assume a passive position, that it’s cowardly and weak, but this is a naive position from those who don’t appreciate the subtle nuances of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.  Constant, unrelenting offense isn’t always the best strategy and can often land you in deeper trouble than what you were originally in.

Today I am going to share a few personal experiences that I assumed a passive position in that wound up benefiting me in the long run while simultaneously damaging the reputations of those attacking me.  I will also recap when the passive approach works best.

The Trouble-Making Novice

Back in my early 20’s, I had a new student a few years older than me join my martial arts school.  By this time, I was already a black belt and had been competing in tournaments for many years.  To put it plainly, I was one of the most skilled and experienced practitioners in our school, if not our entire extended organization.  After a few months, it became obvious to many other students that this new student who we’ll call Ted (I honestly don’t even remember his name anymore) had something to prove and had chosen me as the man to beat.

While he never outright challenged me -he was in fact, very placating to my face- he never missed a chance to talk poorly about me behind my back.  He did so to nearly everyone in the school (minus the instructors) including my girlfriend at the time and a girl who I considered my little sister.  His behavior was brought to my attention by many people, but I shrugged off the insults and generally ignored him.  Did his antics piss me off? Sure, but I never let onto him or anyone else that it did.

This further frustrated him as he wasn’t getting the reaction that he wanted from me.  As his frustration increased, so did the level of his antics.  He thought he was getting one over on me, but in reality, he was alienating all those around him.  I was a senior, experienced, and well-liked student/instructor at the school while his reputation devolved into nothing more than a bully and troublemaker.

The end result was him being asked to leave the school from the owner and not come back.  He floated through some of the other schools within the organization which all ended the same; him being asked not to return.

The Arrogant Bragger

Another martial arts student that had a beef with me was an assistant instructor at another school.  We were both the same belt rank and were heavily involved in the competition scene.  I am an easy-going guy and don’t pick fights with anyone.  At organization-wide testings, I mill about, chat with the other black belts, crack jokes, and help out wherever I’m needed.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that he was also talking smack about me behind my back.  Unlike last time however, I had people actively defending me on my behalf, but that’s skipping ahead a bit.

The arrogant bragger, who we’ll call Daniel, competed often, but had a nasty reputation of freezing up during the fight.  The result was him merely bouncing around the ring and never really engaging in the fight.  Was he a good fighter? In practice, yes.  In the ring, no.  I on the other hand, might not have been as fast or experienced as him, but when I got going, I fought viciously until the end of the match.  Neither fatigue nor injuries deterred me.

From what I can speculate, when our organizations merged, Daniel felt that his status as the top dog was threatened, even though I didn’t really care about that sort of thing.  As such, he began a campaign of undermining me -like Ted- behind my back.  He often bragged about how he was the best and how he could beat me to his students.  Meanwhile, like before, I ignored his grandstanding and did my own thing.

One day, his antics finally backfired in spectacular fashion when he began talking poorly about me in front of the wrong person.  One student that I was good friends with and personally trained was at one of his classes when he began talking about me.  Having heard him talk poorly of me before, my student got sick of his crap and told Daniel that I was indeed the better fighter and could kick his ass any day of the week.  The cherry on top was when Daniel’s own girlfriend agreed with my student’s assessment.  After that incident, I haven’t heard any additional chatter about me behind my back.

The Takeaway

So why did Ted and Daniel’s assassination attempts on my reputation fail without me even lifting a finger?  You may determine reasons other than my own, but these are what come to mind for me:

  • I was a well-liked and respected figure in both my own martial arts school as well as the wider organization.
  • I was not only a senior belt, but also had the knowledge and experience to back up my rank.
  • I had a solid background in competition and, although not a top tier fighter by any stretch of the imagination, I knew what I was doing and could hold my own.  What’s more, people from all over the organization knew this.  They saw me compete and they saw me spar at testings.
  • I remained humble and detached, focusing on my training and not on the drama going on behind my back.

In short, I relied on the reputation I had built over many years as a skilled, yet sincere martial artist to do the work for me.  Unknowingly at the time, I was twisting two of Ted and Daniel’s thumbscrews; pride and arrogance.  They desired to be the alpha’s of the pack so much, that they hung themselves with the rope I kept feeding them.  They desired the spotlight without earning it and wound up damaging their own reputations doing so.

There is more than one way to win a battle and oftentimes the most effective way is to simply avoid it.  I know that if I took the bait and got into a pissing match with either of these two guys, I would have been dragged down to their level and tarnished my own reputation as well.  The old cliche “When you sling mud, everyone gets dirty” rings true when it’s a battle of egos.  The only way to come out on top is to not play in the first place.

Save your energy for the battles that truly matter.  Always take a step back and assess whether this is a matter that you truly need to wade in to, or if you’re simply wanting to stroke your pride.

Author: Jak

Jak, married and father of three, seeks to help the Red-Pill Community take its next step past the petty cynicism and ineffectual anger. While he recognizes that men are significantly handicapped by the modern legal system and culture, he doesn't accept that traditional marriage is untenable in today's social climate. Rather, men must be willing to adapt to this new world by implementing new tactics and approaches to maintaining a balance of power. Jak is here to provide you with these lessons.