Traverse City Business News

April 13, 2017
Applying Martial Arts to Business Problems

By Lawrence R. LaSusa and Michael V. LaSusa

We have all come across them: times when cooler heads do not prevail and things go from unpleasant to downright nasty. If it’s a business situation, how do you extricate yourself from the situation with minimum collateral damage? Knowing your tactical options and how to respond to your opponent’s strategy are the keys to a swift victory. Here are some principle forms of martial arts combat and defense that you can adapt to your battle plan.


In Japanese, “ju” means “flexible, pliable, or yielding.” Jujitsu is the martial art of manipulating your opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with your own force. What’s the worst that will happen to you if you just take the hit? In the right situation, letting the opponent be the aggressor can serve you well, especially in cases where the legal remedy might be based in equity, like injunctions and specific performance. Judges and juries don’t like bullies. An opponent who overplays his hand can do himself more harm than you can. Letting your opponent wear himself out with ineffective assaults might deplete his energy and resources, giving you the opportunity to regain your own energy and plan an effective counterattack.


Judo means “gentle way.” As in Jujitsu, the idea is not to beat your opponent into submission, but rather to immobilize or subdue him with a grappling maneuver, or force him to submit by joint locking or executing a strangle or choke hold. Forget about those scenes from the martial arts movie where the fighters are flying about throwing kicks and punches everywhere. Instead, think about how effective it might be to execute one swift immobilizing move, like a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. The central principle of judo differing from jujitsu is an emphasis on maximum efficiency, minimum effort, and mutual welfare and benefit.


Karate is a fighting method known for striking, punching, kicking, and kneeing the opponent at vital strike points. It’s not so much about how you land the blow but where. Delivering one well-aimed punch or kick can do much more damage than throwing wild haymakers. Do you really need to make multiple body punches when one swift chop to the solar plexus will do the job? Do you really need to argue four issues when one or two will do? What are your opponent’s vital and vulnerable spots? Financing? Public appearance or perception? Is saving face important? The key here is hitting your opponent where it hurts the most.


The rules of Sumo are simple – force your opponent out of the ring or make him touch the ground with any part of his body besides his feet. Unlike other martial arts with complex kicking, punching and grappling moves, Sumo fighters value discipline and dedication above all else. The focus here is on preparation. Sumo wrestlers are known not only for their gigantic size and strength, but also for their extraordinary training regimen. When you and your opponent are equally matched in size and strength, being better prepared than him will almost always win the day.


Taekwondo is “the art of the foot and fist” or “the art of kicking and punching” as opposed to the judo and jujitsu, which involves grappling with and throwing one’s opponent. Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from other martial arts, like karate. The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes at a distance without successful retaliation. Historically, the Koreans thought that the hands were too valuable to be used in combat. Can you use a lawyer to keep your opponent at a distance and use your time for better business purposes?


As the legendary Sun Tzu wrote in his famous treatise “The Art of War”: “One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious; one who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious... one who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious... One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles.”

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