pippintook2097 posted more of this quote from Peter S. Beagle's The Folk of the Air in literaryquotes. It came up on my Friends page right after an entry in self_defense.
"The myriad arts of self-defense," John Erne said. "They're all just in it because of the muggers, you understand, or the police, or the Zen of it all. But no new weapon ever goes unused for long. Pretty soon the streets will be charged with people, millions of them, all loaded and cocked and frantically waiting for somebody to pull their trigger. And one man will do it--bump into another man or look at him sideways and set it all off." He opened one hand and blew across his palm as if he were scattering dandelion fluff. "The air will be so full of killer reflexes and ancient disabling techniques there'll be a blue haze over everything. You won't hear a single sound, except the entire population of the United States chopping at one another with the edges of their hands."