Time To Go Fellas
I’ve read many books on the topic of self-defense offering opinions on what it is and what it is not. As a life long martial artist my own views on the subject have changed numerous times. The age-old question of which martial art is the “most effective” in the street is always a fun topic of discussion amongst practitioners, pundits, and Monday morning UFC analysts.
I recently read a book by Tim Larking titled When Violence Is the Answer. A former military intelligence officer who was medically removed from the Navy’s SEAL program, Larkin carved out a niche as an expert in the self-protection industry. Throughout the book he attempts to pull the veil back on the harsh reality of violence and change the way the reader thinks about it in order to save lives. By deconstructing assumptions about violence, its morality, its function in modern society, how it actually works, Larkin unlocks many taboos and attempts to give readers tools to prevent, prepare for, and survive the unthinkable event of life-or-death violence.
A couple weekends ago I traveled with a group of coaches to California to attend an event honoring Grandmaster Chai Sirisute’s at the world martial arts museum. The day of the event was a full one to say the least.
We met at Ajarn Bryan Popejoy’s famed Boxing Works gym that morning for what turned out to be 3 hours of training. Tired and hungry were words to best describe us.
A quick shower and lunch we headed up to Burbank for the event. It was a nice gathering of family, close friends, and long-time students paying tribute to a gentleman who gave his entire life to the teaching of Muay Thai. It was great to see many long-time acquaintances and mentors I’ve come to know and respect over the years.
After our goodbyes, we were in search of a local watering hole to watch the UFC pay per view. Luckily a local spot near our hotel was showing it. We were able to commandeer some tables positioned literally on the sidewalk with a perfect view of the TVs.
Ordering drinks and food, we settled into some banter. An unfortunate interaction with an individual at a table near to ours led to a confrontation. A devolution of events was quickly mounting to be a physical altercation with multiple people. As I stood beside our table watching a gentlemen become increasingly agitated, I notice a group of guys moving to the side of us. The hair on my neck stood up. We were faced with a serious decision; hold our ground or get out of there.
Thinking out loud I said to our group that this is going to go sideways. Another in our party echoed that it was going to bad…and fast. My next response was that we needed to get out of there. As we left, I kept watch over my shoulder fully expecting a group to follow us. Nobody did. Chalk it up as a win.
I laid in my bed that night replaying the scenario over and over thinking what could have happened if we stayed, what should we have done differently, if it got physical what would I have done. When we talk self-defense we often conjure images of a John Wick esque fight scene where we are whip the bad guy’s butt then depart with a witty little snip like, ”I told you to leave my french fries alone!” The reality is it couldn’t be further from the truth.
We did exactly what we should have. We recognized a bad situation was getting worse, exercised better judgement, and chose to remove ourselves from the equation. Self-defense at its finest!
Truth is ANYTHING could have happened. We could have fought and triumphed. Just as easily someone in that group could have had a knife leaving dear friend in the hospital or worse, dead. Best case we scuffle a bit and everyone goes to jail.
Kenny Rogers’ song The Coward of the County always seems to pop in my head whenever I’ve found my self in similar situations….walk away from trouble when you can. Ironically, this all happened as I was reading Larkin’s book and the very chapter I turned to next morning discussed when violence ISN’T the answer and when to walk away!!
The moral of the story? Violence is just that…violent. It’s often sudden, chaotic, confusing, and even deadly. If and when we are able to exercise awareness and see danger coming, we should absolutely take advantage to avoid it all together. Unless you have no other choice and your life depends on it, a physical engagement is the last thing to do. If that choice isn’t being given, then yes by all means defend yourself will all the fire and brimstone you can bring to bear. Thankfully that night we had a choice.