The art of fighting without fighting

I’ve always appreciated the martial arts. 

It took a while though until I learned that at the core of those that I felt especially drawn to, it wasn’t at all about fighting.

There’s a dance, a relationship, reading the opponent, anticipating their moves, responding to what’s being thrown at you in a way that doesn’t knock you off balance. It’s about being one step ahead, well-grounded, recognizing your own imbalances, awareness of self, others, and the world. 

Mastering a martial art is about mastering discipline, balance, awareness, a special sense of vision. You need to know yourself and others well in order to succeed. 

Bruce Lee, one of the most significant names in the history of martial arts, talked about “the art of fighting without fighting” in his 1973 film Enter the Dragon. His words recently echoed back into my mind during a coaching supervision group of mine. We had talked about challenging a client, but not from a position where we confront the client head on, but where we side-step into a shoulder-to-shoulder position and look at what’s going on together. 

Even when we challenge a client, it’s not necessarily me who’s challenging, but in that moment I’m merely the person who’s voicing the challenge, then side-stepping to be able to confront the challenge together with the client. 

A challenge often feels like someone is starting a fight, and those we’re talking to may take offence, or get quite defensive, preparing for fight like they usually would. By positioning yourself next to the client and facing the challenge with them, you’re avoiding not the fight, but being fought: The art of fighting without fighting – Coaching Style. 

With Love


New content: Advice for new coaches

The question came up in a recent Coaching Cabinet and lots of helpful advice was offered to a coach who’s just starting out, so we figured we’d add to that list and share a few rounds of things we would have liked to have known when we started out as coaches, and some learnings that we’ve gathered along the way. 

See also:
Episode 01 – Is it important to be qualified, accredited and certified?
Episode 05 – How much should I charge for coaching?