With An Open Hand

With an open hand I can come in peace or in warAn open hand has long been a sign of peace and coming to someone with an open hand, whether literally or figuratively, has been a friendly gesture or attitude for equally as long.

Yet how little does this gesture mean to the person showing it or perceiving it when one has trained one’s self to the point where the open hand – indeed the person’s whole form – is a weapon itself?

Once one is trained to that level of ability and perception and awareness doesn’t one both always present the threat and analyze the level of threat presented by others?

I think this goes far beyond the clean and simple world of physical violence as well.

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5 Responses to “With An Open Hand”

  1. thekillerj Says:

    I’m not sure I understand. Are you talking about a specific type of person with regards to the training you mention? Or, are you using some metaphor that I’m to dense to comprehend?

  2. jonolan Says:


    Both really. At the specific or prosaic level, what difference does it make if the person holds out his or her open hand if they’re trained extensively in unarmed combat. Also, how much differently, and less trustingly, does the trained fighter look at someone else holding out an open hand?

    At a broader or more metaphorical level, if a person is highly trained in any form competition, business, politics, debate, etc… within that context aren’t they always an implied threat and don’t they always view others in the context of risk v. reward and analyze the potential threat?

    What I’m getting at – fighting my way towards expressing actually – is, once a person is very highly trained in some form of competitive or combative discipline, does anyone really trust their “peace gestures” anymore? Do they ever really trust anyone else’s anymore?

    That level of training and discipline seems to both be quite visible to others and to reshape the basic perceptions and awareness of the person who endured the etraining.

  3. thekillerj Says:

    Take a look at Mixed Martial Arts combatants. While the ref is giving both fighters instructions they are instructed to touch gloves as a form of sportsmanship. This could be interpreted as an agreement between fighters. After the glove touch, fighters are no longer required to demonstrate any real sportsmanship aside from rule breaking.

    Nevertheless, once the fight is officially started the fighters almost always touch gloves again. At this point, it would be completely within the rules for a fighter to feign a glove touch with the intention of causing his opponent to drop his guard in an attempt to reciprocate the glove touch, and instead, countering with a big right hand.

    I’ve only seen this happen twice: once at the professional level, and once at the amateur level. Trained combatants typically respect the unofficial glove touch and then begin fighting. I think two trained fighters may be ingrained with an unspoken agreement of appropriate decorum for combat. Nearly every fight I observe, as well as the fights I engage in myself, the unofficial glove touch happens. Two fighters expose themselves with an “open hand” due to this unspoken agreement.

    Now, in a combative environment outside of a sporting arena things change decidedly. I don’t think very many professional or amateur fighters would throw caution to the wind and expose themselves unnecessarily in a “street fight.” In this case, the trained combatant probably would be more suspicious of a person raising an open hand due to the lack of unspoken agreement of appropriate decorum.

    I guess my point is context determines everything. Perception determines context, therefore, the trained combatant’s perception of a combat situation would ultimately determine the trained combatant’s recognition of a peace gesture.

  4. jonolan Says:

    Fair enough and well said, killerj.

    I don’t quite fully agree, but I’m still hashing this idea out in my head, hence the category, “Musings.”

  5. thekillerj Says:

    Your theory checks out at the national level. I was trying to find some relevant news today OTHER THAN Jacko tributes and stumbled upon a clip of Obama saying something to leaders of Iran like, “We will extend an open hand if you put down your closed fist.” Something like that, anyway.

    It got me thinking about your blog. A nation that is “trained” militarily knows war is won via deception. At least according to Sun Tzu, right? Any nation worth a damn would definitely be weary of an “open hand” extended by another nation, as it could very well be deception.

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