A few days ago my brother sent me an email in which he wrote, among other things, the following:
“On Broadway I just passed a big 1st nations guy who was shifting back ‘n forth on sidewalk blocking a young Chinese women from passing. 1st of all I thought it was just play, even thought perhaps they knew each other. I simply walked past them, looked back and realized he was harassing her. Just at this moment her Chinese guy friend caught up with her, didn’t say anything, and the 1st nations guy continued on his way. I heard her say to her friend (in Chinese), “that was really scary”. It was over in less than 10 seconds.
If he kept harassing her, I would’ve gone back and said something like “is this guy bothering you”, but I would’ve kept a distance. I would never get into physical confrontation, except for immediate family. You often wonder how you would react.”
It started me thinking about his statement of “You often wonder how you would react.” How would I have handled the situation? In spite of the years of self-defense training I’ve had, I know that nothing will prepare me for actually being in a situation like that in which a wrong decision can have potentially disastrous results, and not just for myself.
I decided that since it’s impossible to know exactly what I’d do, I would break down some key actions that, knowing myself, I am positive would happen and then go from there.
- I’m positive that I would have helped out. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to just walk away and ignore the situation, knowing that someone needed help. Would I have been scared? Absolutely. But the adrenalin would have started flowing and my senses would be up.
- I’m positive I would have stayed with the woman until other help came, or I was able to get her out of the situation.
- I’m positive I would have tried to defuse the situation as much as possible, and getting into a physical confrontation would have been the last resort.
Now for the parts I hope would happen:
- I would hope that my training would have kicked in and I would have watched for friends of his, and watched for a weapon.
- I would hope that I would keep my hands up in a semi-passive stance, while starting to put myself between the guy and the woman, and slowly distance us away from him.
- I would hope that I would think about weapons of opportunity, be aware of the limitations on me that would constrain my movement, and look for exit points.
The problem with facing unknown situations in real life is that you have no idea that it’s going to have a happy ending. It’s not like a commercial break is going to start in 30 seconds that will break up the tension so you have time to go for a bathroom break. It’s real life and it’s happening at that moment.
Think about your own training, your own temperament, and your own ability to assess unknown situations. In my case, I hope that at a certain point my training would have taken over and I would have made the best of a bad situation.
In your case, what would you have done?