Firstly, let me apologise for not posting for a while. I have been seriously flat-out with school work and the number of assignments I had last School Term was absolute chaos. I sometimes found it hard to get motivated to get online after spending all day on my laptop at school. I also have to maintain my training and so that will always come before the blog. I am going to dedicate time each week from now on to writing and so you should see more regular posts.
During this blog, I am going to write about an event that happened to me a few months ago.
Not all fights are in the Dojo
On my way to school one day a few months ago I was subjected to an attempted violent robbery. I don’t use the terminology ‘victim of’ but rather ‘subjected to’ as I do not see myself as a victim. Claiming victim status would give power to the people who thought that they had the right to attack me in an attempt to steal my new Mountain Bike.
I was outnumbered about 8-to-1. I was kicked off my bike as I rode past a group of teenagers and they attempted to steal my bike from me. It was fast and some of the people were twice my size. It could have ended badly; luckily it did not. I kept my cool, kept my bike and ultimately I did not get hurt (however some of them did).
It is amazing how a calm, focused mind helps you in times of high stress. This has been instilled in me by the excellent trainers I have had and also by my Dad who is a Military Veteran. Clear mind = clear advantage.
It is important to be mindful that it is the attackers who ultimately decide the time, the place, and the method of the attack. This creates a considerable challenge for the person who has been targeted as they are already in a disadvantaged position.
For kids, women and the elderly this problem is compounded by the probability that there may be a considerable size difference in favour of the attacker whether that be in the number of attackers or the physical size/strength/possession of weapons of a solo attacker. Generally these people are gutless and use numbers and/or size and weapons to intimidate people and commit their crimes.
Now, there are a large number of self-defence programs that offer simple-to-learn empty hand techniques from a broad range of systems like TKD, Muay Thai, BJJ or Karate. They are effective when the user is able to generate the power and targeting skills needed to neutralise a larger, stronger attacker.
In the context of self-defence, especially with a smaller frame, it is of necessity to quickly gain the upper hand or buy time to escape. Life is not a movie and the chances of fighting off a large group when you are on your own is often slim. It is better to win the fight by 50 metres than to wind up in hospital because you decided to stand your ground and take them all on.
I am not going to go into specific details of what I did on that day, but will say this; there is always a ringleader and if you stop them, then generally the group is lost. If you drop the biggest one and then go after number 2, the weaker ones will soon realise that they may be in trouble. If you can do this without showing any outward fear, or even speaking, they have no idea what they are up against.
On that day I did the minimum I needed to in order to effect a getaway without being injured myself. I made the person who was controlling the group my objective, I targeted that person, stopped them as fast as I could and that then saw the rest of the minions scatter. I was then free to continue my day at school before attending the Police Station to report the incident (after speaking with my Guro and my Parents).
I am not suggesting that everyone takes on their attackers. If you are not 100% sure in your own ability to fight back, RUN. There is no shame whatsoever in saving yourself from a beating.
Not all situations are equal.
Would I do the same again? I have no idea. Not all situations are equal just as not all solutions are equal. I had maybe 3 seconds to determine the variables and what I needed to do to stop the attack on myself. In this situation, I believed that I could engage these people and come out on top.
There isn’t a one size fits all approach and this is where my training in multiple systems became my advantage. Combining Sikaran and Muay Thai empty hand techniques as my defence was the last thing this group expected from a nerdy looking Catholic School boy with glasses ….. Never judge a book by its cover.
Employing the 3 Keys to self-preservation.
Staying on top and getting yourself out of a situation can sometimes come down to luck but If you make the decision to stand your ground then there are 3 vital elements to maintain that can assist to get you through:
BREATHE – Fear restricts breath. Practice breathing during your training and in situations that cause you apprehension and fear. Be mindful of your breathing when you’re feeling nervous and TAKE CONTROL OF IT. (I use the Elevation Training Mask 2.0 to assist me with my breathing training ).
MOVE – TOWARD the Attacker! It’s the opposite of freezing up or retreating, and it’s the only place where you can effectively harm them with a counter-attack. Moving into the attacker is not what they expect. Move forward NO MATTER WHAT.
FOCUS – Focus determines behaviour. If your focus is on not getting hurt, you will get hurt. That’s why people who drop to the ground and curl up in a ball on the ground get stomped on. Focus on HURTING YOUR ATTACKER, and you will increase the odds of defeating them no matter how big and strong they may be.
Remember to always maintain your situational awareness when you are out in public and keep an eye out for tools that you can use if you need to defend yourself. Sticks, garbage bin lids, mobile telephones, school bags and keys all make effective impact weapons. I have a solid steel phone case that would I would not like to get hit with. We will discuss impact weapons another time.