I’ve been reading a great book over the last couple of weeks, “Molon Labe" that covers a lot of self-defense preparedness. In it the author reminds the reader several times that all fights are decided before the battle begins. The point being that it’s the level of self-defense preparation which takes place before a battle which determines the victor. To me that’s certainly what self-defense preparedness is all about—a way to ensure that we win as many of life’s battles as are thrown at us, but this particular saying comes in full view when it comes to physically defending yourself as well.
Self-Defense calls for practice
In the case of the self-defense, I advocate consistent, challenging practice which will ensure successful self-defense BEFORE an encounter ever occurs. While any attacker may have life-long experience as a bully or a law breaker, it doesn’t make him/her superior to you in their battle with you specifically. Through consistent mental and physical rehearsal you stack all of the odds in your favor when applied to various “what if” scenarios in which understanding self-defense is vital. Your level of self-defense preparedness, not your knee-jerk responses, determines your state of victory. This is how you win your battles before they ever begin.
Even better, confidence, calm, presence of mind, necessary tools, and a clear conscience are the fruits of such self-defense preparation—even if you are called upon to defend yourself, which may result in harming another person. For years, some of our nation’s most advanced warriors are able to maintain mental stability by mentally preparing for scenarios prior to their engagements, thus literally allowing them peace of mind and conscience, in spite of the nature of the battle. There is simply no price of time or money that can be put upon such fruits, in my opinion.
Self-Defense in the real world
This past Saturday I took a couple of my girlfriend’s children to the dollar theater to see “Shrek 4.” Both children were under 12, with the youngest being only 9 and who also has Asperger Syndrome. Unfortunately, by the time we were able to get into the theater for seating, there were very few options left for 3 people to sit together. Thankfully one of the theater employees escorted us to a side row of 4 seats, with the outside seat being occupied by a hefty man. The movie had just begun and so the employee quietly leaned down and requested the man allow us to scoot by him and be seated. As if he had just been asked to relinquish control over his own private remote, and give up a years worth of beer, and run a 5K marathon, he responded as if he was quite put out. His only “effort” to allow us to pass was to spread his overstuffed sausage legs further apart. Yes, it was so attractive,--not—and a bit creepy. Because of his size, it was still a bit difficult for the kids to get past him, let alone myself—who is also quite chubby. It would have been so much easier if he had simply got up from his seat, and stepped into the aisle a moment. I suppose that I’m a bit spoiled nowadays with such a notion, as common sense and common courtesy seem to be anything but common. But I guess I’m spoiled by the man I married, as he certainly would have stepped out for us and any stranger. Needless to say, it was irritating to have an example of such rudeness displayed to the kids. Well, being the somewhat sassy person that I am, I just couldn’t hold it in and it had to be heard. I just had to say it. And say it I did. “Well, I guess chivalry is dead”, I quietly demurred.
I didn’t have any anger when I made this statement, nor did I shout. I suppose that a kinder person would have just kept quiet and tolerated his rudeness, but I guess I’m not very good at keeping some of my thoughts to myself. Having said my two cents, I realized that such an inconsiderate man would have been compelled to say something in return, but I suppose I had simply expected an apathetic “whatever” from the sweating, heavy breathing mammoth. Not that I expected an apology in response to my comment, but I was a bit startled with what did come out of his mouth. “Why don’t you just shut your mouth or I’ll punch you in the face!”
Wait a minute. Did you really just threaten to physically assault a woman with two kids simply because she called you out? Really? This was your very first instinct, to threaten physical violence in a packed movie theater without a care in the world as to the consequences? This was your knee jerk, comfortable, standard response? Folks, that’s saying a whole heck of a lot right there! But more importantly, understand what I’m about to share with you here. I’m only 5’2 ½”—yes, you’ve got to count the ½ inch. *grin* And I’m just over 200 pounds. So no, I’m not an imposing person to deal with physically. In fact, I suspect that I’m looked at as an “easy mark” by some fools due to me being out of shape. This man was approximately 6 feet and weighed probably about 300 pounds. In spite of these physical factors, combined with his revealing physical threat right off the bat, , I was not frightened. In fact, it’s probably my lack of fear of any repercussions which I thought I could handle which caused me to utter my initial sentence within earshot of him. I was calm and confident. In fact, my only concern at the time was that I didn’t want to cause the kids to feel uncomfortable—especially the youngest. So I simply replied, “I’m not trying to fight with you. You could have simply been nice and let us in. It was two kids for crying out loud.” His response, “Shut the hell up or else.”
I must say, I was a bit shocked at the intensity of his anger in response to such a small incident and in spite of there being plenty of people surrounding him. Like a crazy mouse dancing free and happy in a room full of cats, he seemed to posses no shame, no modicum of morality, and certainly no care in the world about anyone else. It was easy to see that he was comfortable with his rage and his attitude against others who inconvenience him. Since I would be sitting beside him during the course of the movie, I decided that I would make clear to him that I wasn’t quite who he thought I was. I wasn’t about to just play dead. I suspect that too many had cow-towed to him like this in the past. While it may seem overly dramatic, given his “first impression” I saw the faces of various women in my mind’s eye, who may have been the brunt of his societal standards. I’ll be honest. There was a point when I asked myself if the opportunity would present itself for me to use my Asp on this guy. I was almost excited for a split second at the prospect. (I love my Asp!) I know. I know, just a titch warped. As such, I looked right at him and said very clearly “Sir. I’m definitely not the woman you want to mess with.” He turned his head to me for a moment as if to size me up. He then sarcastically replied, “Oh. I’m really scared.”
He then turned his head back to the movie and said “Just shut up and watch the movie. That’s what you paid for.”
I decided that I had said enough at this point and ran the risk of upsetting the kids if our voices got any more elevated so that they could hear.
Now, there’s a reason I’m telling you all of this and it’s not for a purpose of self-aggrandizing. It’s because there are two important things for you to learn from this scenario, especially in regards to self-defense. First of all, I was told by one of my friends that I should have said “Let’s see how scared you are with a forty caliber pointed at you.” I suspect that my friend was just getting into the mood of things in this comment, but if I had said something to that effect, I actually could have gotten myself in a whole lot of trouble. I could have easily been accused of inciting a riot, “brandishing a weapon”—even though I wasn’t literally showing my firearm, disturbing the peace, and lastly, creating a threat. More importantly, if a person ever truly does feel threatened in such a situation, you certainly would not want to show your cards like that. If you truly feel threatened, then do something about it. Act, not react. Don’t tell someone what you’re going to do. You lose the element of surprise. If the situation calls for it, then just do it.
In this case however, I felt that for the time being this guy was just full of himself and didn’t like being called out by a girl. If I had truly felt threatened, then it would have been within my legal right to have physically assaulted him with non-deadly force. Yes, in such an instance I, being out manned in weight and height, would have been legally within my rights to have “thrown the first punch” so to speak. As women, it’s not necessary for us to get hit, shoved, beaten, etc. by an imposing threat first, before we respond. I realize for some of you that that may be hard to conceptualize. But after Mr. Sausage made his first physical threat of punching me in the face, I would have easily have been “in the right” with a solid punch to his wind pipes, or whatever other physical maneuver I would have felt necessary—enough to minimize the physical threat of this man. However, that’s only the case if it was me, short and chubby, against him. Had a 6 year old boy said that to me, then I would not be permitted to proactively defend myself. It all boils down to the level of threat and the weight of advantages, vs. disadvantages, but knowing and understanding self-defense is vital for any scenario that calls for it.
For example, if it had been my husband who was being talked to that way, he would not have gotten away with a first strike because of his training, physique, and the fact that he was armed. In order for a well-trained man to have responded to this threat, Mr. Sausage would have had to make a physical threat imminent. Now, remember, that just because you can do something legally, does not necessarily mean that you should. When we pick up one end of the stick, we are always picking up the other. And the other end meant that I would stress out the kids, hurt myself at least a bit, and probably end up being the lead story on the 6 o’clock news that night. So, I decided that I wasn’t going to take this too far. But did I just sit there and watch the cute movie and not give this anymore thought? No; that also would have been foolish on my part. This man gave me every reason to be in a state of a self-defense heightened awareness. As such, I was strategizing, in the event that my leg bounced just the wrong way to make him mad, or one of the kids aggravated him if they had to squeeze out to go to the bathroom, or if I took too much of the arm rest on my right.
Because this man had already shown himself to be emotionally volatile, I made sure that my Asp was in my grasp, my pepper spray was ready to spray, and I discreetly removed my knife from my purse and put it in my pants pocket. Combined with my readiness and willingness to use appropriate physical leverage, if necessary, I was ready if I had to defend myself as if it all depended on me. But I also recognized that the two kids were a liability to me if there was an altercation. So, I decided to bring in reinforcements. I texted my husband and invited him to join me at the dollar theater. Through a series of texts he was brought up to par on the scenario, and secured a seat right behind Mr. Sausage in the theater. I casually made it obvious to Mr. Sausage that I knew the man sitting right behind him. Towards the end of the movie it seems that all of the preparedness paid off. When the movie was getting ready to wrap up, Mr. Sausage decided to calmly exit before all of the mushy, happily ever after took place in the film. No parting words, not even a grunt. All he left behind was the stench of his body odor and a lesson learned. Even better, he left me with no regrets. No fear. No rattled children. All was well.
As the children and I exited the movie theater, all they talked about was how cute the movie was. They were impervious to the problem, didn’t notice that my husband had joined us or that I had additional contents in my various pants pockets. We were able to keep everyone else safe without any stress or concern.
There’s one other thing that I want to share with you. While I was sitting there, enjoying the movie, I thought about you. Yes, you. You; who may lack the sufficient confidence in self-defense necessary to handle such a situation. You; who may be lacking in the appropriate tools of leverage necessary to handle such a situation. You; who may think that you’ll only need such tools and tactics when “the end of the world” comes to pass. While a firearm would not have been appropriate self-defense tool for this particular level of threat, nor would the environment, would you have been essentially unarmed otherwise? I decided that this man had obviously pushed around, without challenge, too many people (probably mostly women) in his life thus far. I want to do my best to ensure that you are not one of them in the future. So, I decided to share this little story with you. I hope it provides you with some food for thought when it comes to self-defense, and that you will see that occasions for sharp mental and physical self-defense capabilities are not limited solely to robbery, rape, or a home invasion. They are not all solved with one particular tool each time either. The great benefit of really internalizing and learning self-defense though, are the scenarios which you can walk away from without any regrets, and with your confidence still intact.
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