Posts Tagged ‘experience’

third party.jpg

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?

Advertisements

BC-Transit-double-decker

It was my father’s birthday a few days ago so this past weekend I took my two daughters (13 and 9) with me to Victoria to attend a celebration dinner.  For various reasons I decided that we would walk on the ferry and catch the city bus into town instead of driving, and this decision led to a very interesting experience.

The bus we boarded had two tiers so we went up to the top deck and grabbed our seats.  We were lucky to get in line early because the bus started filling up very quickly, and the top deck is always popular.  We were seated with plenty of time to spare so we watched everyone else get on.  One group that came up to the top were five Korean students/friends and they walked to the back of the deck and sat down on the long seat so they could all be together.  They were quite friendly and it looked like they were looking forward to an enjoyable ride into town.

People were seated and waiting for the bus to start up when another passenger came up the stairs.  He was about early 50s, Caucasian with a thin build, wearing scruffy clothes, a baseball cap, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a few days.  In spite of seeing that all the seats were occupied, he began walking down the aisle and said in a loud voice, “Who here is going to give up their seat for an old man?” and continued towards the back of the bus.  I’d say that most people were confused and they watched him as he continued down the aisle.  When he got to the back he saw the group of Koreans and said to one person, “Is it going to be you?”, then pointed to another person and said, “Or you?”.  By this time my adrenaline was already pumping and I was watching very carefully to see if the situation would escalate.  Initially nobody was moving, but then slowly one Korean got up and gave him his seat with a smile, and was content to stand for the trip into town.  The man then plopped himself down, sat back, and pulled his cap over his head as if to take a nap.

At this point it was clear that people were shocked at the audacity of the man and couldn’t believe that a person could do something like that.  As I looked down the aisle I was watching the situation and saw a younger, heavier set man starting to huff and puff a bit, but it went no further than that.  The bus started up, but before it started moving the bus driver made an announcement over the speakers that no standing is allowed on the top floor and that everyone needs to take a seat.  The Korean friends started looking at each other because this then meant that their group would be separated if their friend who was standing had to go down to the first level.  They looked at the man who took their seat and he stared back and asked “Who’s it going it be?”.  At this point the heavier set man said, “Why not you?” but again, that’s where his involvement ended.  At this point all the Koreans got up from their seat and started walking towards the front of the bus to where the stairway was located.  As they were walking away the man started waving after them and said “Bye bye”.

The incident made me think, “Did I do the right thing by not getting involved?”.  I feel that the answer is yes, I did the right thing by being aware but not getting directly involved.  Why?  Because the Korean friend willingly gave up his seat, with no physical altercation.  But by not getting physically involved did that mean I wasn’t aware of the situation?  Absolutely not.  From the time that the man asked who was going to give up their seat for him until well past the time that the Korean group had gone down to the first level, I was on alert.  My adrenaline was up and my senses were heightened.  Thoughts had gone through my head such as being aware of being in a confined space environment so close quarter techniques (knees, elbows) would be required, to whether or not he was carrying a weapon.  My 13-year old daughter, who is also taking Krav Maga, said that as the man was walking down the aisle towards the back she noticed that one hand was in his back pocket and as sirens were blaring in her head, she thought “Knife!”.  She also told me that her adrenaline was up and that she was jittery for a while afterwards.

Situations like this make me very grateful to my KM training.  To my surprise, the awareness just kicked in by itself and I began immediately assessing the situation in the event that the situation escalated.  Before the training, I would wish that I had the tools and knowledge to know what to do, but now that I’ve been training for almost 3 years I have the confidence and control over both my emotions and body to be ready to strike if required.  It’s not paranoia, it’s preparedness and awareness.  How do I know this?  Because I enjoyed the rest of the weekend with my family without looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone was going to jump out of the bushes and attack me.  Until the next situation should arise, the lion goes back to sleep, but always ready to wake up and respond if the situation should arise.  I am also proud of my daughter for being aware of the situation as it was unfolding.

In hindsight, the situation was a non-issue and perhaps I’m making a bigger deal over it than it deserves.  However, I would rather this be the case than be one of the other passengers on the bus unaware of how quickly situations can escalate, and not be able to do anything about it if the time came.

By: Warren Chow