Tuesday, 22 July 2014

(Under) Stand Your Ground

A few short years ago, before I was into Krav, and for sometime after. I would be stubborn if faced with confrontation. I couldn't fight. Hadn't been able to all my life...but I would stand my ground and get knocked down or worse if necessary JUST to prove that I wasn't a coward.

My attitude at the time was: “You may be able to punch me out, you may be able to beat me up but I'm gonna show you that I'm not afraid.”

In 2009 me and some friends got caught having a midnight swim in a pool bar in Crete. It was my friend Hannah's 27th birthday and she loved the bar and spent most days there drinking and swimming and sunbathing. Turns out that Cretans loathe trespassers and so the owner climbed out of his chalet with a three-pronged harpoon and threatened me with it, puncuated with lots of swearing and grunts of “malaka!” which means “wanker” and is about the most insulting thing you can say to someone else in Greek.

I was monumentally angry at this and being drunk told him to go fuck himself. I then added “we'll leave OK but there's no need for THAT!” I beckoned the others over to get out the pool while the old man's son climbed out of HIS chalet in just his boxer shorts and stood next to his father protectively, glaring at me. As my friends gathered their stuff the old guy suddenly lost it and span around as Hannah bent over to get her purse and whacked her hard across the arse with the metal handle of the harpoon (this fucking thing was BIG. Sort of device you'd fire at a dolphin). It made an audible “crack!” and I tried to get in between them shouting “What the fuck are you doing?!!”

Next thing I know I'm on my back as the son had just punched me in the head. I leapt back up yelling “DON'T HIT THE WOMEN!” and again stood in between them. My friends bolted (including, depressingly, the only other male from the group who was the first to run for the sanctuary of the road) while I stood there, palms up facing these two until I was certain that my pals had gone.

Bottom line was. It ended badly, I got knocked down, but I had stood my ground and for that I felt proud.

Problem is....had I simply backed off when I saw the old man with the harpoon thing. Had I not lost my temper and sworn at him. Had I not shouted at him and then stood my ground then he probably wouldn't have lashed out the way he did. Cretans HATE trespassers and his overly aggressive posture and attitude were possibly just for show as I later found out that with no entrance gate, this bar gets people taking drunken swims at 3am at least once a week.

Now, with 3 years-ish of Krav Maga under my patch and the rank of P4 (stick defences resit pending) I find it much easier to suppress my ego and pride and think of a common sense option for what is happening in front of me. Recently I got threatened by some gobby shitbag in the street. Instead of getting into a slanging match and possible fisticuffs I pretended to call the police via my headphones and the lad buggered off once he thought the “filth” were on the way.

This year in Crete some guy groped me on the dance floor of a local disco bar. I twisted his hand away as I'd been taught and instead of freaking out or breaking his nose, simply shook his other hand (while still holding his finger) and told him not to do it again.

Ultimately Krav at its essence is about NOT fighting. It's about avoiding confrontation unless you have absolutely no choice. It doesn't make you a coward for not fighting. Instead it realigns your sense of what is important, necessary and appropriate in a situation.

Wading in fists flying and yelling may look impressive but is likely to get you killed.

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