Monday, 24 February 2014

The Third Option

Today on Facebook I saw a comment made by Anna Surowiec, a Krav instructor in the UK that said:

"It's only when you see a mosquito landing on your testicles that you realise that there is always a way to solve problems without using violence".

Before I started Krav Maga I was, like many people, approaching confrontation and the threat of it with a certain…stubbornness.

For example. I’d see a group of guys walking down the street and they’d be blocking the pavement so others had to either stop or step into the road. I would usually just walk straight through the middle of them. **

Similarly if I saw some drunk guy being a dick in a pub, I’d make a point of staying exactly where I was and not leaving or making any attempt to remove myself from the scene but neither would I look at him unless he tried to speak to me or “start”.

Finally I’d always try and help my mates out if things went bad. Problem was this was usually if we’d all had a skinful and while on holiday in Crete (where my father retired to) I’ve got drunk and had about 5 fights in 6 years and lost most of them. Reason? Stubbornness and loads of tequila shots and beer don’t really make for a nimble footed, hard hitting bar brawler.

The basic backbone of my problem was that I was too obstinate to react with anything other than bravado and anger. Reason? I was afraid of being perceived as cowardly.
Looking back on a lot of things that I got involved in (I also used to be both a Special Constable and later a paid police officer) it was a lot of luck that guided me through without getting a kicking or worse.

The overlapping effects on my life of the last 2 years with Krav Maga Midlands are that I can now assess a situation without having to prove that I’m blessed with a heroic heart.

My instructors Bartosz, Russell and Al have always said that the best way to defuse or de-escalate a situation is to simply disengage from it. During knife attack training about 18 months ago, Bartosz asked the group, “If someone comes at you with a knife what should you do?”

We hummed and haahed about a suitable answer for a few seconds but he then said, “Run. If you can, just run. You can't win against a knife. But if you can’t run…well, this may help you.

The principles of Krav for me are that it doesn’t make you a warrior of the bus station/ pub car park/ dark alley. It does instead give you techniques and skills that help you to survive.

At the end of the day the whole thing is geared around survival, not on winning fights.
4 years ago in Crete a guy was robbed at gun point at 3am by a Greek bloke holding a small rifle. I was incensed when I heard this story and talked about wanting to take the gun off him and stick it up his arse. My girlfriend of that time said matter-of-factly, “If you do that and I’m with you and you survive the attempt, you will be single the next morning.”

Disengage and if you can’t disengage, kick to the bollocks or hit to the throat or (as Bartosz so eloquently put it) be a “nightmare” for your attacker so they fear you and back off and then that allows you to disengage.

Now… instead of being stubborn and getting into situations just to prove I had courage, I’m able to assess a situation and not get involved unless I feel it is necessary.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a part of me that WANTS to fight and stand my ground and stick up for myself and tell the bullies to go to Hell. But…now I can be a little wiser on simply walking the other way or avoiding a situation that could get ugly.

There is always a 3rd option.


** Have to admit I still do this one. Especially if it's outside the McDonalds on the Parade in Leamington Spa between about 11am and 6pm. Go there, you'll see what I mean.

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