Statistically speaking…

In Blog, Off The Mats by Vince

Why do I do what I do?
I’ve been an observer of life where I live for a while. While I’m out and about I also see others busy with their day and they are busily multitasking (i.e. riding their bikes and texting on their phones at the same time), being digital zombies or detached from the rest of the world while daydreaming the day away. In other words, low level of situational awareness.

From my first conscious awareness of what constitutes violent crime, how it felt to be alone and walking down a dark, secluded pathway feeling very exposed and vulnerable, I was always imagining what I would do if I was suddenly jumped by a mugger or attacker. Of course my imaginations got the better of me and I was never attacked this way but in my early teens I discovered that I was already wired this way. I’m not sure why nor can I remember what the stimulus was either but this pretty much carried on throughout my adult life. Is this paranoia of sorts? Perhaps this was the driving force that motivated me to learn how to defend myself and look into such incidences.

Being witness to bag snatches, fist fights, gang fights, bar fights, violent domestic disputes, extortion and arson threats and other such everyday crimes, you become acutely aware, statistically, you are somewhere on that bell curve (see the red line in the graph below) of being the next victim. It is just a matter of time. Knowing this piece of information you have time to prepare for that eventuality.

When that time arrives it may be everything and worse than you could have imagined or it could be a complete opposite and the situation fizzles out like a cheap tealight candle.

Reducing the possible and available actions that I can prepare ahead is to learn as much as possible about the typical geographical locations, the possible types of perpetrators, their favored and tested modus operandi, the psychology, the seasonal patterns, and my possible solutions. Of course, preparing ahead could only present what my mind and experiences can prepare for and it will be limited by my prejudices and assumptions, which is in itself another present danger.

So you can be mentally prepared (or can you?) as much as possible. You recognise your limitations and available assets. Short of having a full-time battalion of professionally trained soldiers shadowing your every move (somewhat inconvenient, conspicuous and expensive) what other defensive assets can you have on your person 24/7?

My conclusion is based on the fact that knowing the probability of being directly involved in a random act of crime (being in the wrong place, wrong time, etc.) how best to prepare yourself for safety and that of the people with you?

Having physical fitness and explosive strength is one important criteria. Walking confidently with good posture using purposeful strides immediately sets you at either end of the bell curve. Even dressing like a “grey man” to blend in to the crowd and not stand out for whatever reason (wearing loud sports team jerseys, tank tops with bare arms on display, “tacticool” gear, expensive and valuable sports clothing, jewelry and accessories, etc. draw attention for the wrong reasons). Being aware of your surroundings is another fuss-free and effective way to avoid potential issues. Having verbal jiu jitsu to downplay, sweet talk or set up a verbal “fence” or perimeter to distract, confuse or misdirect a potential threat is another excellent tool. Match this with a physical fence, defensive posture and readiness to engage defensively is the only way to present yourself as a “hard target” in an urban environment.

How does one go about developing such attributes? In the military all soldiers undergo boot-camp or basic military training to develop mental and physical strength, resilience, grit and spirit. They learn to operate as a team, problem solve and build confidence. Talented soldiers progress to be specialists and entry requirements escalate. Much of it is performance based.

In the civilian world we have readily available martial arts classes.  In some countries it is legal to carry a firearm or other concealed weapon. You get to learn about your available options and educate yourself in what is accessible and available to you. Time, money and effort is required for self improvement. You will be able to learn different things from different people. Some is good others not so. Different tools and options will be available to you. Some is good others not so. You learn through making mistakes. You learn how to be humble or be humbled by those who have walked the talk. You learn from the experienced, from those who have been there and done that. There will be some who are armchair warriors whose words is as dangerous as their keyboard. Sometimes the pen is not mightier than the sword but you still must know how to read and write.

You learn that a fight is a fight which also includes the post-physical fight and the medical fight and legal fight and the societal stigma fight and the internal mental fight and the list goes on. When fighting alone for yourself it ultimately impacts those around you. Those who care for you are also involved in the fight, sometimes physically too, mostly emotionally and often financially (medical and legal costs rack up quickly).

You learn that winning is really avoiding the fight in the first place. You learn that a small, insignificant situation experienced when you are 50 years old carries a completely different impact than when you are 25 years old. You learn that you can walk away in safety with your health and well being intact, having done the right thing that doing the “right thing” involving the ego and pride.

You learn that being confident in your technique and skill set doesn’t have to be proven in the street because someone bumped into you, knocked your car or cut into your parking space at the mall.

You learn to position yourself at the ends of the bell curve and statistically stay out of the apex through concerted, directed and trained effort.

This is why I do what I do. How about you?

In servitude and openness,
Vince Choo