Show night! Dark stage, colored lights and booming microphones. Me and my daughter were both there to take the stage.
But unlike a theatrical event, we had already accomplished what we were there for. Six months ago, we had begun practicing our martial arts and today we were doing a show to end in receiving the next belt we had already earned.
We were still nervous to perform our pieces for the crowd, but the knowledge had already been embedded in our minds and expanded our muscles.
She’s been learning karate, which is more a structured and stylized art. I have been practicing Krav Maga, which is a brutally practical art developed for the Israeli army.
We talk about it: do what needs to be done to end the violence. There are devasting things I can do to an attacker’s body to end the attack.
I was not socialized to think that way. As a woman, my toolkit is smiles and distractions. Agreeable capitulation is encouraged—nay, expected. Typical female aggression is passive.
To my regret, aggression does come to me from time to time. Practicing martial arts has led me to consider how I would handle it. Capitulation is not the only option anymore.
I have practices moves that would cause an assailant to lose consciousness: Disable. That’s in my toolkit now.
We have practiced blocking a fist, closed or wielding a weapon, grabbing their wrist and placing the arm where it can’t harm us.
We’ve talked about deterrence. If a threatening person gets into my personal space, I can stand up and hold my arms out straight. I can yell “STAY AWAY FROM ME!!” to deter a potential attacker.
These are powerful tools. But my teacher sensei tell me—tells us all! —again and again the most powerful self-defense move.
What do you do when you know you are about to be attacked?
Don’t be there.
Avoid is the best tactic. They call it practicing run jitsu. Get away. No shame, no cowardice is getting away.
Here’s my story: I went to class, and made a grocery list to do the family shopping after class. Drove over to the supermarket near the studio and walked up to the door in my black martial arts clothes. I noticed something funny was happening.
There was a police car right at the entrance. Office was in the SUV talking with two very serious store managers who were totally focused.
What is the situation here? I wanted to ask, but there was a gravity and intensity that made me hold off.
I felt the grocery list in my pocket. I looked at the store automatic doors sliding open and shut as the customers went in and out.
I looked back at the highly charged police car and all the somber people there.
That grocery story saw my back walking away. I do not need to involve myself in whatever police action is going on. 7 months ago, I would have gone right in, quelling any nerves with the judgement that I was a coward.
Nope. I have learned some serious facts. I am proud of my walk-away. It’s just fine to avoid a situation. Maybe it was nothing. I am fine with never knowing.
Discretion is famously the better part of valor.