It was a crisp January night. My band had just finished our rehearsal for the evening, and the three of us stood outside at the bus stop in front of the building. Our jam space sat on a major road in East Vancouver, where we would often hang out afterwards to talk music and current events. Plenty of jokes and laughs all around; no reason for concern.
My back was to the road as I noticed someone approaching in my peripheral vision. The atmosphere immediately changed as I turned to see a MASSIVE figure moving aggressively towards us. He was tall, roughly 6’2, and wide-set at around 250lbs. Already yelling as he approached us; the man was noticeably intoxicated and very angry.
It’s relevant to mention that the man was of an ethnicity which has and continues to experience a large degree of trauma in my country. He launched into a storm of accusations; lamenting the injustices experienced by his ancestors at the hands of men with my complexion.
I felt a surge of adrenaline as I watched the situation escalate. I was struck by how quickly the atmosphere had turned hostile; 0-60 in an instant. Violence seemed imminent as the man continued to step forward, and I am not ashamed to admit, I was initially afraid.
It was at this moment that my training kicked in…
I had been practicing Krav Maga for about two years at the time of this incident. An important aspect of our training at UTKM is the emphasis placed on situational awareness and the reading of body language. We are taught to grade a potential threat by a series of colour codes. When I recognized that the situation was going “Red”, I took a step back and removed my guitar from my back.
I assumed the semi-passive stance; legs based, hands open and raised, body braced for action.
I began running through my options. If he took another step forward I would perform an “educational block,” a firm push to the throat with the ends of the fingers; not meant to harm, but to send a message.
The intention of the educational block is to de-escalate the situation, however, depending on how the potential attacker responds, it could easily have the opposite effect. Having run through this exact scenario many times in training, I was confident and ready to fight.
As I mentally ran through the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), I began to look more closely at the man. It was then that I realized something important: this man does not want to fight.
I began to feel compassion for him. He was completely wasted and clearly in pain; his eyes watering as he expressed his anger. I decided to remain still as the man vented his frustration. Just as quickly as the situation had escalated, it began to de-escalate. He began to calm down and eventually continued on his way.
Thankfully, no punches were thrown, but I still feel that I had successfully practiced what I had learned in my training with UTKM. My training allowed me to stay calm, and respond appropriately.
There are many ways this scenario could have unfolded; many ways this could have ended badly for everyone involved.
You win 100% of the fights you avoid. Sometimes your greatest weapon in self-defence is Equanimity. To quote the founder of modern Krav Maga, Imi Lichtenfeld, we practice Krav Maga “So one may walk in peace.”
Written by: Arthur “Luke” Lux – UTKM Orange Belt