lye

Have you ever had the satiric part of one of your suicide notes, you know the part where you parody all those chipper “live in the now” people, read out loud as encouragement while you were on the floor in a college ballroom surrounded by students who were lying on their backs and breathing themselves into an orgasm as part of a workshop?

I know, that’s a stupid question. Everyone has had that experience, or something very close to it.

When it happened to me, I went into a laughing jag, much the same as when I was dressed down at an intimate party for Virginia Prince after the Van Nuys conference on sex and gender.

Father Phil (as Dave Letterman calls him) talks about “pyschological sunburn,” a hypersensitivity that comes from past events. I know that. When I went to the local therapist a few years ago, at the end of the session she said she could listen to me for hours, but she was beginning to believe what I was telling her, that I have very low latent inhibition, low ability to slough off the everyday hits we all have to take in this fast world which is built on the endurance of humans to not actually be in the moment. I think she said it was my eyes that were the tipoff — she wasn’t used to seeing such a consistent and intense look of pain.

I recently took a look at Lucinda Bassett’s perscription for people like me. Her solution is the standard one, based on the whole change your mind, change your life premise. Until you can contextualize the stimuli you recieve without feeling the hurts & slights of the past, it is almost impossible to make choices that lead you into happiness in the moment, instead leaving you in depression & anxiety.

Someone once said that anxiety is the disease of the imaginative, for if you can’t imagine all the possible bad outcomes, it is impossible to be truely terrified and anxious.

It turns out that I have really bad self-talk. After years of the demand to lie or be called a liar, my skin feels like it has met the lye, burned so badly by hazmat that even a breeze can pull up the pain. That’s why I hide here in this cave, a hermit doing just what needs to be done.

I got a standard request today, and I felt the rage rise, the frustration and the anger. The pain loomed and my heart beat and I lost focus, instead being jittery in my tenuous heart and diseased jaw. I tried to stay calm, but it built in me, and my skin flaked against my soft cotton knit shirt, leaving parts of me raw again.

I know why I hide. It’s the lye that comes from the lie, the caustic that comes from the toxic.

And as to self-talk, well…

In my high school bedroom, tucked between the blizzard of anti-war posters filled with images of the terrifying & tragic, was a blue felt banner with a picture of Charles Shulz’s Linus on it. It said “I feel the need to have the feeling that it is good to be alive.”

I felt the lye then when I was assertive & manipulative. Now that I am surrendered & stooped, well, the lye creeps deeper.

Not So Cute

I once figured out what cute is, or at least one definition. 

You are cute when you come up against the limits of your gender.  It's cute when kids try to do things they can't quite do, and in the same way it's cute when a man tries to make breakfast, or a woman tries to fix a lamp.  When people do something they are good at, it's hot, but when they try to go outside their limits, it's cute.

What does that mean to me?  It means that I can never be cute in that way.  I'm not really good at guy stuff, though I have that training, and while I am good at girl stuff, I'm usually seen as male bodied and therefore not valued for that.

I have talked about how it feels when being pretty escapes me, but being cute escapes me, also.  When people see cute as gender specific, not having a specific gender becomes a problem.  When I am guy cute, I get crazy because you aren't seeing what I see myself as, and when I am gal cute, I get crazy because you don't see it in the context in which I see it.

Cute, therefore, isn't something I have ever found possible to pull off, neither the shy, earnest boy cute or the shiny sweet girl cute.  No tugged forelock or jaunty hair flip feels right on me.

Does this mean that I don't have cute feelings, full of whimsey and playfulness?  Well, hell no.  It just means I feel like acting on any cute will fall with a thud, the proverbial lead balloon.  Instead of cute, my choices become pathetic or ironic, neither of which work quite the same.

What does it mean to have to police yourself away from cuteness?  If you are convinced that other can never see you as cute, then you aren't ging to just let go and trust your own attractiveness.   You are going to be deliberately and decisivelly uncute, and that means protected.

Some people hone their own cuteness, some people just accept it, and some, well, some of us fear it, fear that it's nothing but danger and damage.

And that, well, that's not so cute.

Bawling or Brawling

I’m not sure it’s possible to be a tranny without bawling your eyes our or brawling to put out the eyes of another.

I’m not even sure that they are different things. They seem to be reflections of the same pain, just expressed two different ways.

I am sure, though, that when we think there is virtue, purity and goodness embodied in suffering or in slamming, when we start to self-define as a bawler or a brawler, that we lose the true gift of connection to our shared humanity.

Being a tranny, an out tranny, is fuckass damn stinking hard. It’s hard because there are no roles for healthy grown-up trannys in this culture, hard because the way men & women are kept in line is by the cruel stigmatization, which leads to abuse and exile, of those who cross that constructed line. It hasn’t been this way in every human culture; in many non-industrial cultures those who walked between and established connections were valued.

To be out as a tranny is to have to learn to fight that stigma, fear and casual, socially-acceptable abuse.  And all too often, the our self-identity becomes wrapped up in that fight.

It’s when we see ourselves as a victim or as a vindicator that we start to lose perspective.  The hard part, though, is that we need to be in touch with both of those pieces of ourselves to live a transgender life.  We have to understand how the system is designed to pound down the nail that sticks up, designed to eliminate the visions of truth that allow a glimpse of how illusory the walls of separation are, because if we don’t understand that we lose touch with our own valor.  And we have to be able to stand up and fight for ourselves when required, because if we can’t do that, we lose touch with our own vulnerability.

This is a very hard part, caring about what people think enough to keep tame connection, and not caring what people think enough to keep wild freedom.  When we have to do those two things, people can get freaked, because one of the things that freaks people the most is when they see two or more different behaviour styles from one person.  On Surreal Life 6, Steve Harrell thinks Alexis is smart and engaged, but freaky when she fights.   I see that as two sides of the same coin, but to Steve, it doesn’t connect. 

It’s so seductive to decide you are a bawler or a brawler. Heck, I found out the name I chose was from the celtic for “powerful in battle.”

But in the end, the choice to be your tears or your fists means you can’t be your head or your heart too. And that’s just too big a price.

Context

If living a transgender life isn’t about context, what is it about?

Heck, if living a human life isn’t about context, what is it about?

I told the story of a crossdresser I knew, and how our relationship broke down because while I proved I could enter his world, using his language, he couldn’t enter mine.

Well, some got peeved.

Wasn’t it OK that he just lived in his world, using his language? Sure.

Old Joke: What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? American.

Marginalized people learn early that they have to learn to speak the language of the mainstream and the language or languages of their culture. We have to operate between worlds, between words.

But normies, people who consider themselves normal? They think others have to learn to speak their language. Women may have to understand men and women, but men have to understand men, and women have to understand them.

Sure, yes, you can be uni-lingual. You can stay in your own world of privilege behind your own comforting walls. But if you do that, you can never really be in relationship with people who speak another language, even if you think that you are, because so much of them will be invisible to you, disconnected from you.

That’s what happened here. I had to do the work, and he kept being deaf, no matter how I reached out. So I ended our relationship.

And I called this person “he.” I said that I couldn’t imagine anyone who identified as a heterosexual crossdresser being upset when they were called he, because that very identification means that they see themselves as primarily a straight man who dresses up.

Wasn’t that oppressive, removing their gender choice? I thought not. I was respecting their self identification.

But mightn’t they prefer being called she? Mightn’t it be more appropriate?

Well, no, not when they were at work in their boy clothes, and they wanted not to be outed as a crossdresser.

It’s about context, or at least it is for me. I’m more than willing to use their chosen name and chosen gender when we are at a gender event.

I’m even willing to address their virtual self as she when talking directly to them, or even when talking about a role they perform “en-femme.”

But none of that means that I have to think of them as a woman, or see them in any womanly context. They don’t get to be a woman in my mind just because they prefer to dress like a woman on Saturday nights.

When I came out, I was clear that I was a guy-in-a-dress, hoping that was enough for me, because I knew it was a role I could sell. My first 10 years out were mostly about finding a way to tell the truth. I knew I wasn’t female and wasn’t a woman, and I also knew that the guys-in-dresses I saw mostly weren’t women either.

The eventual outcome of this struggle was the piece Claim & Substantiation in 1997. It’s not mine to just believe your claims, it is mine to understand and evaluate your choices. While politically I want to keep open the space for transformation, so I will call trannies by preferred pronoun, that doesn’t mean I have to buy their stories.

This has often become a problem with transsexuals who don’t think it’s enough to affirm their choices and their position, but demand that others affirm their beliefs or be accused of abuse. If I don’t believe that we can change the sex of a human body yet, and they believe they had a sex change, it’s not enough for me to affirm that people have the right to reshape their own body, I’m abusing them. If I don’t see them as a woman, it’s not enough for me to always refer to them as they self-identify, I have to affirm that their claims about themselves are true.

I can’t do that. I don’t think that’s the way a pluralistic society is meant to work. I need to affirm your choices, even ones that I would never make, as long as they are within the bounds of consent, if I want you to affirm my choices. But I don’t need to believe what you believe unless you are willing to believe what I believe, and that doesn’t make much sense. You know, golden rule and all that.

I know that this notion, that trans requires engaging ambiguity and sensing context, isn’t something many want to deal with. Many transvestites, transsexuals, drags, and others want to be simply who they claim to be in this moment, not some complex entity who carries history and possibility with them in every moment. This society values purity as truth, even if that purity is just a claim belied by the ambiguous truth of all those who live between, between birth and death, between animal and god, between shit and sun.

And what does all that mean? That our lives aren’t just about who we claim to be in this moment. They are about who we are as seen through the context of this moment. Women tend to understand this, as we flash though roles of wife, mother, co-worker, friend and more.

In a certain context, crossdressers are she, but in other contexts, well, he.

And transsexual women are women, but that doesn’t mean they are always the kind of woman they claim to be, or that they are never the kind of person they don’t want to be.

It’s about seeing in context, in the context of the moment, in the context of an entire life and maybe even in the context of where we came from before we got here and where we go after we leave here. Just ask Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Peripheral Visions, an essential text, about ways to read a life.

And often, when talking to newbies, I find that hard to explain.

Tin Ear

Everyone knows that the only way that they can find out how they look is to use a mirror.  You just can’t see your own face.

But sometimes I am surprised how many people haven’t figured out that the only way they can figure out how they sound to others is by actually listening.

You can’t write well unless you can listen well, listening to the voices in the air, or listening to the voices caught in text by reading them.  What you mean to say isn’t what’s important, the key is what you actually say with words, tone, construction.

You can’t have a tin ear and also communicate well.

False

So, I got peeved at a post today.  The following is a draft reply, not sent.  Baiting bears is often not the best choice to keep a list inclusive

"You are either on my side or the other side, on the side of good or the side of evil.  Come on, now, which is it?  Speak up, or your position will be clear!"
 
When someone stoops to making false dichotomies, I know that they have a weak argument.  They are wrapping themselves in some flag or another, and declaring that unless you are under here with me, you are the enemy.  If you don't get how that works, watch Fox News Channel for a few hours.
 
But when someone stoops to making false dichotomies on a trans list, then I know they are abusers.
 
It is the false dichotomies that are the burden of transpeople, the burden we have to bear.  "If you were born without a penis, you are X.  If you were born with a penis you are Y.  And any choice that isn't appropriate for that letter is grounds to shame and abuse you."
 
We all deal with that burden in different ways.  We might say that yes, we are Y, but what we do is just free expression.  We might say that we never really Y, just X that seemed like Y and now we had surgery we are X.  Or we might say that that whole one or the other thing based on birth genetalia is just a false dichotomy, and we are more nuanced than that.
 
It's the people who try to stay within the dichotomies that are the ones who work to find ways to separate themselves from others, to deny their own ambiguity & complexity.  Those are the people who beat others to prove their own standing inside the separations, to be effective separatists, dividing the world between our good side and their evil one.
 
"If you challenge me, you are on the side of the abusers.  If you don't stand up and support me, you are on the side of the abusers.  If you claim to be like me but disagree with me, you are abusing me by stealing my label and diminishing it."
 
This is the point of transgender, says me: Everyone is an indvidual, with some blend of humanity in them, and to support transgender is to support that nuanced and complex truth.  The moment someone says "Which are you, good or evil?" they attempt to force a false dichotomy and end up abusing transgender people again.
 
If the only way to support transsexual women is to support the false dichotomies that lead to the stigma that abuses transgender people, then they can't have my support.  I know, however, from decades of experience that isn't the only way to support transsexual women, and in fact, it only is the way to impose another set of stigma onto them.
 
Here's my suggestion: On this list, people speak for themselves.  And if someone disagrees with you, you can't just claim that they are prejudiced against your class of people, and deserve to be pounded with the stick of false dichotomies until their conciousness is sufficently raised or until they go unconcious, whichever comes first.  Anyone who does move from personal challenges to group separations, from indvidual work to false dichotomies, should be put on moderation.
 
It's my sense that this list is for indviduals exploring their own transnature, and as such we each speak for ourselves, not for a group we claim to represent and defend.  That should cut down the amount of false dichotomies, and identity denials  ("You are a man and as such don't understand we women!") that are used to silence discussion that some find challenging to their own choices.
 
It's about you and me and the choices we make, not about us and them and how one group is right and the other abusers.  One person may be a rapist, but that doesn't turn the whole category into rapists, for example.
 
False dichotomies are the problem for transgender people, not the solution.  And it's my personal opinion that they are the problem for the wider world, and not the solution for anyone. It is connection that empowers, not separation.
 
And people who claim that I just don't get it because I am one of them?  They have scared me since I was old enough to understand them, and they scare me still.
 

Why They Hate Us

I'm watching another eruption of transsexual separatism around here, lead by one of the perennials.

One of the local leaders has gone over to that side.  Reading her messages, I see why this path is so seductive to her.

Transsexual separatism changes a challenging, individual path of transgender to an archetypal path walked by "people like us."  It shifts the challenges we face to be better people into the challenges that people like us have always faced from the small minded and closed hearted.  We are no longer people enduring challenges that shape us, we are group members enduring systemized oppression from a cruel and abusive world.

"When people challenge us, they are just acting out their internalized destructive sickness, and we have the full power of obligation to not stand that pig behavior, to rise as women and smite them for their sins against our group, our tradition, our heritage and our power.  Any challenge isn't about our personal choices, it is bashing people like us.  If you disagree with me, you are one of them, and we deny you the identification we keep for ourselves, for people like us!"

In other words, once I change the focus from you hating me for my choices to you hating us for our very existance, then my responsibility is only to defend my peeps.  No matter what specifics you give, your response isn't because I am a bristling pile of rage and pain making nasty choices, it's because you are one of them, and I am one of us, and we need to make you understand that we must be protected by any means necessary.

Once you slide away from personal reactions to personal choices which are tied to personal responsibilities and go to atavistic reactions to group choices which are tied to group oppression, your personal responsibilities go away.  

The break between "women's studies" and "queer studies," between feminism and pomo, between transsexual and transgender is the break between identity politics and empowering indviduals, between group dynamics and personal responsibility.  The first says it's about us and why they hate us, while the second says it is about me and you and our obligations as humans.

It's very hard to see the world as us versus them if you know that part of you is us and part is them.  To walk in a liminal space requires embracing the personal, accepting the variation, celebrating the indvidual. 

I understand the pull of group identity, and I know why people crave it, embrace it.  It's nice to say it's about gays versus straights, transvestites versus transsexuals, men versus women, male-oriented versus female-oriented, penised versus non-penised, estrogen-based versus the world, or whatever other cut you want to make.

But transgender, well, transgender says that it's not about that group separations, because each of us cross & thwart (the root word for queer) those groups within us, part of a continuous common humanity that comes from the one human nature we all share.  Transgender is an indvidual path that demands other people face their own differences and face our own commonalities.

"If you challenge me, you are just a ____ bastard who is hurting people like us, and anything I do to stop you is just to defend other abused people like me!"

I get the comfort in that, I really do.  People really do make up groupings and separations, quickly separating themselves from people like us, and then use those divisions and walls to try to keep us in line.  Why shouldn't we do the same back to them, let them have a taste of their own damn separatist medicine?

We shouldn't because the ultimate calling for each of us, at least according to the spiritual tales I value, is to become ourselves.  We have the obligation of changing the only thing we can control in this world, and that is our own choices.  We have to learn how to not play their game, but instead play the game we know to be right, where the infliction of abuse stops with us, where we speak to the empowerment of indviduals and indvidual choice as we want to be respected and empowered in our indvidual choices. 

My quick rule of thumb on which paths are destructive and which are constructive is simple: any path that says we as indviduals have to face the connectedness of the world is constructive, and any path that says we have to create better separations between people like us and people like them is destructive.  What separatists do is to separate, and that just leaves the world in pieces, because the opposite of integration is disintegration. 

If we want to sing the song our creator taught us, we have to encourage others to sing their song.  If we want people to approach us with an open mind & heart, we have to approach them with an open mind & heart.  If we want others to make responsible choices that they are accountable for, we have to make responsible choices that we are accountable for.  If we want them to listen to us and respect us, we have to listen to them and respect them.

So much bloody work, especially for someone who already had been battered and bloodied by the stigma to respect fears, defend walls, and keep separations real.  The line between, though, runs through our hearts, and any battle there will only keep us in pain.

I know why we love the idea that it's not me in the world, it's them versus us.

But I also know why that idea causes the kind of problems that have hurt us all our lives.

Pass

Alexis Arquette continues to amaze on The Surreal Life 6.  

The amazing part?  Simply this: I see a transwoman I recognize on TV.

They started the show with her talking to her roomate.  No makeup, hair back, and a discussion of how people in the house don't get it and that's frustrating.  Yeah, I get that.

Alexis was not chosen for an on-camera role in the San Luis Obisbo news task, and she got that right away, knowing how uncomfortable she makes people.  Still, I don't think any of the rest of the cast, except maybe for Steve, could have done the job.  Alexis is smart and fast, combining the effective comminication skills of a woman and the get-r-done boy stuff, and that worked for her.

In the bus riding up, the girls wanted to talk about trans.  Tawny started by whispering "When did you know that you would be a beautiful girl?"  Alexis liked someone willing to engage and listen, but my sense was that Tawny wanted traction for later, something to use.  Alexis never had to be careful of the Queen Bee and her mean girls in high school.

Some of the self-narrative made me cringe — TV, TG, TS will always make me squirm — but it was honest.  The conversation turned to Alexis being comfortable not passing, which baffled Andrea.  Alexis didn't have a perfect answer, but in her own words she made the point: passing is a lie, and that's not good.   She doesn't want to have to be put in a position where she would have to deny who she is, like that's not good enough.

Every tranny would love to be able to pass at a close distance.  But that doesn't mean we would do it.

Next week, someone yells to a guy Alexis is flirting with that he should "Take her home because she has a penis just like yours."  Alexis, well, she gets upset, with a beach umbrella.

Passing is messy, dangerous and crazymaking. Passing can

  • make people think you are trying to fool them and get them angry
  • lose you the capacity to speak from your own experience
  • trap you in a cycle of denial
  • make you feel like you are always on show
  • lots more that should go here.

And that's not just passing as being born another sex, it's also passing as being normative in the gender you were assigned at birth, the one that you are supposed to be according to your birthcrotch, that can seed destruction.

No little kid wants to be a tranny.  But as grown ups, we know that being seen as being a tranny is better than the risk and damage of trying to pass as something we are not.  The cost of passing, though, isn't something assimilated people think much about.  They think life would be easier for us — and easier for people like them — if we hide our differences and pass.

The price of silence is death. And Alexis knows that, even if Tawny & Andrea don't.

And that's why Alexis needs her morning moments to stay in touch with someone who understands.

Does anyone have that persons number?  I could use a chat. 

I Do That

Penny was having her surgery with Dr. Menard the next day, so I drove to Montreal and took her around a bit to keep her mind occupied.  We ate bagels & souvlaki on St. Urbain, bought some souveniers to take home to the cat sitter and walked through Centre-Ville.

Penny saw a woman standing in stylish high heeled boots who had kicked ker ankle out and was standing on one leg, a charming gesture that lengthened the line of her skirt.

"I do that!" Penny said, with a bit of glee.  This was the gesture of a woman, someone who wears heels with a feminine manner, and something Penny could now do after decades of denial.

A woman is someone who makes the choices of a woman in the system of communication we call gender.  To her they are choices that feel right, choices that work, choices that resonate.  She may have developed them through instinct or learned them though training, but they are now her choices and just work for her.

Random Hearts was on WE last night.  In the last scene, Kristin Scott Thomas meets Harrison Ford at an airport bar, and while beaming at him, takes his beer and has a drink.  It's a very girl thing, connecting with a boy. 

I looked at that scene and thought how I wanted to feel that connection.  I looked at her choices and thought I can do that.  I should have done that.

Penny, well, after her surgery she got back to Richmond and she's spent amost a decade struggling.  She knows she isn't one of the trannies, but she also knows that women's choices feel dangerous to her because she might slip across the guy-in-a-dress line at any time. 

Part of this is having to be stealth at work, even though she knows some know her history.  She has always worn pants there, dressed down, hidden, just to be safe.  And going to ballroom dance classes or just connecting with guys as Ms. Scott Thomas does?  That feels dangerous.

Her heart calls her to simple choices, like feeling safe in heels, but her mind reminds her that those choices leave her vulnerable in a way that no woman born female can ever understand. It just takes one person with their own internalized denial to see her as a man-in-a-dress, a freak with perverted motives, and she may suffer an attack that women don't know how to support her though.

But, oh, those women's choices are where her power is, where her spirit is, where her heart is. And denying them or being denied them feels like her heart is sliced apart, even if she knows that is the safe and appropriate move.

I can do that.  I should do that.  My power is in doing that. But I don't do that because I know how easily it can be misread.

And that leaves my heart in tatters.

Warm Ale

In my time on the net, I have been on more mailing lists than I care to count.  And that means, of course, that I have been in my share of mailing list battles, watching the fights play out in a war of words.

This is what I have learned: You can't really win these things.

It's doubtful you can change the mind of your opponent, if that's your goal.  If you could change their mind, you would be having a discussion with them rather than a war.  To me the hallmark of a discussion is when you and the other person are willing to say "You have a good point there," or better, "Yes, you are right."  This means you are working to find common ground, and that's good.

It's doubtful you can really silence your opponent, if that's your goal.  You may be able to bully them into shutting up and not challenging you anymore, but you have never converted a person just because you have silenced them.  The internet is big, and they will find someplace to say what they have to say, where it will probably seep back to challenge you.  Besides, as Crash said in Bull Durham, no hitters are fascist anyway.  The goal of silencing people probably just means you are an asshole.

It's doubtful, too, that you can win people to your side to fight.  Most people just don't want to get in the middle of a fight not of their choosing.  The problem with a bar-fight is that after the second punch nobody cares who started it, they only want it to end, or want to see more blood anyway.  It's that old line "Never argue with a fool.  People may not be able to tell the difference."

So, if you can't change them, can't really silence them, and can't get people to join the fracas, what can you do?

Well, what I have learned to do over the years is to recontextualize the war.  I end up waiting and writing about some broader issue, some overarching theme, working to identify points of commonality and to put differences in context.  If I do it well, my posts often stop conversations, because peoples opinions, put in context, don't seem as sharp.

And this is what I have learned about recontextualizing the discussion: many people just bloody hate it.   They don't want to have to have their ideas and opinions put in context, they just want to be able to fight, feeling self-righteous and bathing in their internalized self-loathing.

Didja ever notice that men seem to enjoy conversations much more when no one actually knows what they are talking about?  If everyone is equally ignorant, then everyone can offer their speculations and opinions with equal weight, and the chat keeps going.  It's when someone actually knows a lot about the topic of conversation that the fun ends, because then the facts get in the way of the jabberjawing.

Opinions are like assholes.  Everyone has one, and they usually stink.  Brains, though, get in the way, which is why so many conversations are doggedly anti-intellectual on the net.

A number of years ago, I came to the decision that the only things I would post on the net were bits that helped me explore what I think and helped me find new ways of speaking my own understanding.  When I post, it's about me and what I need, not about you.

I think that most all posts are this way, but too many are still in the place where they think it is easier and better to attack others rather than to do the hard work of becoming more clear in saying their own beliefs.  Rather than using criticism to find holes in their own belief structure, and then becoming more clear and compelling, they choose to attack others by muddying the waters, using tricks to tear down others rather than engaging the core of what's being communicated.

And often, the kinds of attacks that people who identify as transsexual women use seem more like the choices they learned as men.  It's balls to the wall, if you know what I mean.  Gender shift requires powershift, learning new ways to take power in the world, and threatening to kick in the teeth of people who don't see you as a woman may silence people, but it doesn't convince them you are who you claim to be.  That shedding of old defenses to find new is bloody hard, but without it, you aren't actually new, just noisy.

So what happens when you get into a war with e-mail? 

You can have fun beating up others.  You can move aside.

Or you can use others energy against them, deflecting them with akido like moves.

But you probably are gonna end up bruised anyway.