harshjudge

For most martial artists, being mugged in broad daylight is an unlikely occurrence. Fit, aware and confident looking people do not make inviting targets. However, in modern society criminals are more brazen than ever and how we react to such violence is the measure of us. We need to stay on the correct side of the law and control our reactions but, as the old-question asks, “is it better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6?”

There follows a true story of a situation that took place in the street, but equally could have been straight out of a dojo training session. It is interesting because it highlights many things: the dangers of being “switched off”, the speed of the trained man’s reactions, the attitude of the police and the judgement of others. It also highlights a part of conflict that is often missed and shows that in the end the most harsh judge is in fact yourself.

This story is true and happened in late 2009, I repeat it here as it was told to me with permission of the person involved.

Raymond was walking through his local town of Brixton, London. As he walked down a quiet street near the park, three large men approached him from the front. Raymond didn’t totally ignore them and walk straight into the situation, but he was not instantly aware of the danger either. They closed on him and formed a semicircle that blocked the street ahead. Raymond looked up to see the man in the middle pull out what he later described as, “the biggest knife I have ever seen”. The knife came up threateningly and moved towards his midriff. It looked as though these guys were going to mug another helpless victim and escape into the park. However, this time they had made a huge mistake because Raymond is a professional martial arts instructor.

“As soon as I saw the knife, I just started moving. It was instinctive,” he told me. “It was like a sudden shock and my body took over, it was so fast.”

Indeed the entire episode was over seconds later. Raymond turned his body so the knife passed by his stomach. He then covered over the knife arm with his hands and slammed his hip against the man’s elbow. The move was textbook perfect and the knife man’s arm was dislocated instantly. The second man moved in to strike Raymond. Without letting go of the first man’s arm, Raymond kicked out with the classic downward sidekick to the knee. This missed its intended target and his heavy shoes crashed into the second man’s shins, breaking through his leg with a sound Raymond described as, “a sickening crunch”. As the second man fell down, Raymond pulled the first man’s arm around and disarmed the knife by pushing it towards the man’s face making him let go of the blade that passed into Raymond’s hand. Another textbook technique, except as Raymond was describing this to me I saw a look on his face; a look of self-reproach.

“You moved the knife towards his face?” I asked.

“Yes, it was the technique,” he replied to me, “when it is taught in class, the end of the technique is to have the knife against the opponents neck. I have taught it for years; take the knife and use it against them.” He shook his head and looked down.

“And did you?”

“I was about to. My body was just doing the technique automatically and the blade was moving towards this guys neck. I realised that this was going to kill him. I screamed at myself inside my head, trying to stop the action from completing. I was like, ‘what the hell are you doing?!’ to myself. At the last moment I turned the blade away.”

As the blade moved in front of the first man’s face the last man moved in to grab Raymond’s hands.

“What did you do then?”

“I stepped forwards into him and struck the last guy with an upper rising elbow to the collarbone. It broke and he went down.”

“A stepping upper rising elbow?” I asked, “that’s a strange technique choice.”

“With the knife in my hand I didn’t want to stab him, it was just instinct,” shrugged Raymond.

With the three men disabled and rolling around on the floor in pain, Raymond did what any good citizen would do in these circumstances; he called them an ambulance. Then the police arrived and promptly arrested Raymond.

“They arrested you?”

“Yes, they spoke to a bystander who had been on the other side of the street and he said I had been excessive and over the top,” he said.

“Really, there was three of them. Did the bystander not see the knife?”

“No, I showed him it on the ground and he said that I had still been too violent. I couldn’t believe it, I was like, ‘can you not see the size of this thing?’”

Raymond was telling me this story the next day along with some friends. To them, it was exciting and macho. They replayed it again and again amongst themselves, shouting and whooping and saying how they would have dealt with the situation. The only person not smiling was Raymond.

“What do you think the police will do?” he asked me. Luckily, one of the friends present was an off-duty Metropolitan police officer.

“What did you say at the station?” the policeman friend asked.

“The truth. That they pulled that knife and I was defending myself. That they were coming for me and I was in fear of my life.”

“Don’t worry,” the policeman friend said, “you appear to have acted correctly. You waited and phoned the ambulance too that shows a lot. They will probably give you a medal.”

Raymond looked across to me, “what do you think Basho?”

“How long have you been teaching Raymond?” I asked him.

“18 years.”

“Mate, you will have hundreds of students willing to give you a character statement. Don’t worry.”

“Yeah,” said the policeman friend, “I will give you one too, just get them to call me. You have my number.”

“Yeah,” broke in one of our other friends, laughing, “and if you need one from a bricklayer, let me know!”

We all laughed, except Raymond. The others went back to describing the event to each other excitedly. Raymond remained quiet.

“Look,” I said, “I know how you feel. Guilty, right?”

“I was so close to killing him. Maybe I was excessive.” He sounded unsure of himself.

“Take your time,” I said, “you just need to work through this.”

Raymond’s reaction to the event was not unusual. Where one might expect him to be happy, elated and empowered by single headedly defeating three muggers, in fact he was badly shaken by it. The huge amount of danger he had been exposed to had put his mind into shock. What if he had lost the fight? Would he have been stabbed to death? These things were running through his mind again and again, playing over different outcomes, a mental state the French call, L’esprit de l’escalier” or in English, “the spirit of the staircase.” Such feelings are very common after a violent situation. At the moment Raymond saw the knife, and his reactions took over, his brain ordered his glands to dump all sorts of chemicals into the blood. These chemicals made him stronger, faster and narrowed his vision. It also made his blood coagulate quicker and his mind process faster so that the entire event seemed to be happening in slow motion.

One side effect of such a body reaction is the feeling of either terror or rage. The ‘beast’ inside is unleashed and takes over the body. For martial artists, this is channelled through our training. By the endless repetition of techniques, basics and kata we have conditioned ourselves to act in a certain way under pressure. The downside is trying to control that rage with ‘the beast unleashed’. Our civilised brains, the part of us that doesn’t want to hurt anyone, fights for control. For some, like Raymond, it succeeds. For others, the beast wins and tragedy happens; someone gets killed.

Regardless of the outcome, the chemicals burn the event into the memory and what Raymond was feeling was essentially survivors guilt. Guilt for having lived through a traumatic experience, prevailed against the odds and having almost killed in the defence of his life.

The part of British law that covers self-defence has been clearly written to take this mental state into account. The police arrested Raymond and made him make a statement very quickly after the event. At this point he was either still pumped full of adrenaline (making him more talkative) or coming down off the chemicals in his blood stream (making him feel down and possibly needing to “offload”). The police are trained to take advantage of this situation to get the truth out and down on paper. Therefore, your statement is the most important thing to get right. People acting in self-defence have still gone to prison because of what they put in their statement. Knowing not ‘what to say’, rather ‘how to say it’ is going to be the second ordeal you face on a day this happens to you. The law is available in clear and understandable terms at the following government web address: www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/self_defence/

The question of how to translate the mental part of combat into training is the primary challenge for instructors. Most doctrines teach that building muscle memory is the way to go, and it is often said that a thousand repetitions of a technique will embed it into instinct. While this appears to be true, there is a large question left outstanding; if we are not teaching people how to cope mentally, then are we teaching them to freeze up and fail at the vital moment. On the other hand, it is important to avoid fully automatic instant responses and end up battering someone honestly asking for directions. It is a balance that forms the hardest part of training and teaching. How many instructors inadvertently teach techniques that kill, sometimes tacked onto a disarming technique as an afterthought? Instructors spend all their lives teaching how to deal with the physical outcomes of conflict, but is it not equally important to understand and teach the mental aspects?

While objective answers to these questions may be impossible, it is surely vital that the class and the instructor considers the questions.

The next week I met up with Raymond again. He told me that he had re-visited the police station and been told that all three men were still in hospital. However, he was also told that the police were not going to press any charges against him. He looked most relieved. He was free of the event legally, I only hope that he is able to free his mind as well.

Basho has been in the martial arts for 18 years and holds a 1st Dan instructor grade in Taekwondo. He recently returned from a year touring the far east.


Bio: Philosopher, film maker, writer and IT expert. Occupation: IT Consultant, film-maker and writer. Interests: Debate, cooking, computer-gaming, reading, writing, videoing, martial arts, air­soft, movies, diving, skiing… (The list goes on — Basho is a philosopher and therefore into everything!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ Al Richmond

    Hello mate,

    Just had to tell you how highly I regarded your article. I have been in similiar situations too many times and seeing my feelings verbalised like that in black and white, and the biological process explained so succinctly…

    Just wanted to say thanks explaining the feelings of guilt and the periods of introspection that go with these incidents.

    So thanks man- hope you and yours are well

    • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

      Thanks Al!

  • http://www.facebook.com Al Richmond

    Hello mate,

    Just had to tell you how highly I regarded your article. I have been in similiar situations too many times and seeing my feelings verbalised like that in black and white, and the biological process explained so succinctly…

    Just wanted to say thanks explaining the feelings of guilt and the periods of introspection that go with these incidents.

    So thanks man- hope you and yours are well

    • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

      Thanks Al!

  • Foo

    Great article, I’ve been trying to describe that feeling for ages to non-martial artists. My body’s instant reaction, muscle memory, the narrow sightedness and especially this one:

    “..his mind process faster so that the entire event seemed to be happening in slow motion.”

    I ended breaking one man’s ribs and smashing a glass bottle (that was meant for my head) into another attacker’s face. Both went to the hospital. In under 30 seconds, but seemed like eternity at the time.

    Thanks again for this article.

  • Foo

    Great article, I’ve been trying to describe that feeling for ages to non-martial artists. My body’s instant reaction, muscle memory, the narrow sightedness and especially this one:

    “..his mind process faster so that the entire event seemed to be happening in slow motion.”

    I ended breaking one man’s ribs and smashing a glass bottle (that was meant for my head) into another attacker’s face. Both went to the hospital. In under 30 seconds, but seemed like eternity at the time.

    Thanks again for this article.

  • http://www.rapidarnislondon.co.uk/ Andrew Janson

    Good article mate – the aftermath of violent conflict is often overlooked by instructors, who prefer to focus on the techniques and combative principals of their system. Whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with this (not all martial arts instructors have been exposed to violence outside their training), i believe that violence and its effect… See more it has on the human psyche is something that should be addressed by an instructor who wishes to train their students for the real world.

    Everybody finds a way to cope with the “buzz” that they feel afterwards (which is later followed by the “down”). Whether it’s telling someone about the confrontation immediately and offloading, compulsively tidying the house, breaking down in tears, or something else. The tragedy is when the event is so traumatic that it breaks the person beyond repair, and their survival becomes little more than a prison. As an instructor, it can be a difficult thing to accept that no matter how much training or conditioning a student receives, they will not truly know the confusion and emptiness that can come with a supposed “victory” until it actually comes.

  • http://www.rapidarnislondon.co.uk Andrew Janson

    Good article mate – the aftermath of violent conflict is often overlooked by instructors, who prefer to focus on the techniques and combative principals of their system. Whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with this (not all martial arts instructors have been exposed to violence outside their training), i believe that violence and its effect… See more it has on the human psyche is something that should be addressed by an instructor who wishes to train their students for the real world.

    Everybody finds a way to cope with the “buzz” that they feel afterwards (which is later followed by the “down”). Whether it’s telling someone about the confrontation immediately and offloading, compulsively tidying the house, breaking down in tears, or something else. The tragedy is when the event is so traumatic that it breaks the person beyond repair, and their survival becomes little more than a prison. As an instructor, it can be a difficult thing to accept that no matter how much training or conditioning a student receives, they will not truly know the confusion and emptiness that can come with a supposed “victory” until it actually comes.

  • Anonymous

    **Moderate** Normally we do not accept any anonymous comments, and folks please put your details in or it comes to the moderate panel before being posted, but this comment is interesting. I am very pro-police. Many of my friends are policemen and I don’t distrust them. But, I know them. The police are doing a job. A hard job. This comment below is not my opinion, but sometimes even advice you don’t believe in may still be good advice – Just remember to read the link I posted that explains the law in the UK. The UK is different from the US and the law does count silence against you here.

    Having said that, this video linked is actually quite good. It is US advice. I have watched it all and have no reason to bar it. Here it is:

    It isn’t what you say, or how you say it, just say nothing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc Even in the UK you have the right to silence still somehow, even if your other rights are on the way out. Also, I hold no sympathy for those who attempt to steal from another under threat of death, if they had been killed the world would be merely slightly less scummy.

    • andy

      The sympathy would not be for the muggers who had been killed, but for the man who has been forced to take the life of another. As a soldier, I would not wish that burden on any good citizen. I have seen the how the act of killing can destroy the killer. Do not forget that death is worst for those of us that are still alive.

  • Anonymous

    **Moderate** Normally we do not accept any anonymous comments, and folks please put your details in or it comes to the moderate panel before being posted, but this comment is interesting. I am very pro-police. Many of my friends are policemen and I don’t distrust them. But, I know them. The police are doing a job. A hard job. This comment below is not my opinion, but sometimes even advice you don’t believe in may still be good advice – Just remember to read the link I posted that explains the law in the UK. The UK is different from the US and the law does count silence against you here.

    Having said that, this video linked is actually quite good. It is US advice. I have watched it all and have no reason to bar it. Here it is:

    It isn’t what you say, or how you say it, just say nothing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc Even in the UK you have the right to silence still somehow, even if your other rights are on the way out. Also, I hold no sympathy for those who attempt to steal from another under threat of death, if they had been killed the world would be merely slightly less scummy.

    • andy

      The sympathy would not be for the muggers who had been killed, but for the man who has been forced to take the life of another. As a soldier, I would not wish that burden on any good citizen. I have seen the how the act of killing can destroy the killer. Do not forget that death is worst for those of us that are still alive.

  • martin

    good article. l’espirt de l’escalier literally translates to ” the wit of the staircase” which means someone who thinks of a perfect joke or comeback but too late for it to be of any use.

  • martin

    good article. l’espirt de l’escalier literally translates to ” the wit of the staircase” which means someone who thinks of a perfect joke or comeback but too late for it to be of any use.

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    That’s right Martin, it is the replaying of an event and wondering what else you may have done. I witnessed a (horrific) crime once and it took 18 months to stop bouncing around in my head – just in time to appear at the subsiquent trial as a witness. The staircase spirals and goes nowhere. The event has passed and there is no milk to be saved; all is already spilt. But, still, we replay these events on our minds and wonder. Sliding doors. It may suck but, as I all too often remind myself in Sensei’s classes, you have to be alive to suffer! ;)

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    That’s right Martin, it is the replaying of an event and wondering what else you may have done. I witnessed a (horrific) crime once and it took 18 months to stop bouncing around in my head – just in time to appear at the subsiquent trial as a witness. The staircase spirals and goes nowhere. The event has passed and there is no milk to be saved; all is already spilt. But, still, we replay these events on our minds and wonder. Sliding doors. It may suck but, as I all too often remind myself in Sensei’s classes, you have to be alive to suffer! ;)

  • http://www.tylerbell.net/ Tyler

    Fantastic piece. I’ll definitely be add you to my RSS reader as your travels and interests mirror my own in many respects.

  • http://www.tylerbell.net Tyler

    Fantastic piece. I’ll definitely be add you to my RSS reader as your travels and interests mirror my own in many respects.

  • http://www.britpod.com/ James

    Another great article Basho

    One of the most despicable things in the UK is the public’s inability to be allowed to defend itself from criminals.

    Unfortunately the legal system now works for the criminals and punishes the innocent. It’s sad but true. In my opinion, when someone makes the choice to “cross the line” and intend to steal or harm another human being, they surrender their rights to be treated with restraint. Sure there is a line we do not want to cross for our own souls, and the victims of attack will rarely ever want to cause another harm, they are the VICTIMS after all, but we must have that right to protect ourselves otherwise what’s the point in being a decent human being?

    While I lived in Canada I found the system to work in a similar way, if someone breaks into your house, you can only defend yourself proportionate to what the intruder intended to do to you. I often wondered if I would need to have an intruder fill out a questionnaire asking if he intended theft, rape of the kids, murder etc before I could defend my home.

    The right to defend ones self has always been attacked in corrupt governments. Removing the ability to protect yourself and your property has only ever resulted in a more criminal society, and the UK is now paying the price of disarming the public. Victims are now too afraid to protect themselves and their families out of fear of prosecution, the criminal element holds all the cards.

  • http://www.britpod.com/ James

    Another great article Basho

    One of the most despicable things in the UK is the public’s inability to be allowed to defend itself from criminals.

    Unfortunately the legal system now works for the criminals and punishes the innocent. It’s sad but true. In my opinion, when someone makes the choice to “cross the line” and intend to steal or harm another human being, they surrender their rights to be treated with restraint. Sure there is a line we do not want to cross for our own souls, and the victims of attack will rarely ever want to cause another harm, they are the VICTIMS after all, but we must have that right to protect ourselves otherwise what’s the point in being a decent human being?

    While I lived in Canada I found the system to work in a similar way, if someone breaks into your house, you can only defend yourself proportionate to what the intruder intended to do to you. I often wondered if I would need to have an intruder fill out a questionnaire asking if he intended theft, rape of the kids, murder etc before I could defend my home.

    The right to defend ones self has always been attacked in corrupt governments. Removing the ability to protect yourself and your property has only ever resulted in a more criminal society, and the UK is now paying the price of disarming the public. Victims are now too afraid to protect themselves and their families out of fear of prosecution, the criminal element holds all the cards.

  • http://www.aikibudodequebec.com/ Amélie

    Hi,
    I love your article.
    I’m in a self-defense dojo, and I’m glad to see you just prove the teaching of my sensei. He’s teaching us defense technique (no blows) like counter articulation control. And he try to wrap our heads around the concept of controling without breaking…. we can always dislocate or break bones in desparate situation (always when the attacker is fully immobilized). And you always cannel the attack, never engage one. Even so, he lecture us on the fact that when the adrenaline kicks in, you never know how you will react and he is realistic on the fact that you can be prosecuted for your own self-defense. Even in this disciple highly non-offensive, he is one of a kind teacher (never broke a nose or a rib in his life, even in his doorman job).
    I’m really glad to ear this story. That guy was a bit lucky to stop his instinct! But still he is not harm and his attacker were caught! If it has happened to somebody esle, I’m not sure the outcome would have be the same….
    Sorry for the bad english, I’m a french-speaker!

  • http://www.aikibudodequebec.com Amélie

    Hi,
    I love your article.
    I’m in a self-defense dojo, and I’m glad to see you just prove the teaching of my sensei. He’s teaching us defense technique (no blows) like counter articulation control. And he try to wrap our heads around the concept of controling without breaking…. we can always dislocate or break bones in desparate situation (always when the attacker is fully immobilized). And you always cannel the attack, never engage one. Even so, he lecture us on the fact that when the adrenaline kicks in, you never know how you will react and he is realistic on the fact that you can be prosecuted for your own self-defense. Even in this disciple highly non-offensive, he is one of a kind teacher (never broke a nose or a rib in his life, even in his doorman job).
    I’m really glad to ear this story. That guy was a bit lucky to stop his instinct! But still he is not harm and his attacker were caught! If it has happened to somebody esle, I’m not sure the outcome would have be the same….
    Sorry for the bad english, I’m a french-speaker!

  • Allie

    Wow. Really nice article man. I’m actually going to share this with my instructor, see what he thinks.

  • Allie

    Wow. Really nice article man. I’m actually going to share this with my instructor, see what he thinks.

  • Lu Tze

    Three muggers were very seriously injured on a public street of London, in broad daylight. There was at least one eyewitness, and the police and ambulance services were all heavily involved.

    Where are the newspaper articles? The television news story? A statement from the police?

    Journalists are routinely all over stuff much more mundane than this… you’d expect at least a minor clipping from a local paper, if not full blown national coverage (broken Britain is so in vogue). So where is the EVIDENCE?

    I’m sorry, until corroboration is offered, this is just pie in the sky at best.

  • Lu Tze

    Three muggers were very seriously injured on a public street of London, in broad daylight. There was at least one eyewitness, and the police and ambulance services were all heavily involved.

    Where are the newspaper articles? The television news story? A statement from the police?

    Journalists are routinely all over stuff much more mundane than this… you’d expect at least a minor clipping from a local paper, if not full blown national coverage (broken Britain is so in vogue). So where is the EVIDENCE?

    I’m sorry, until corroboration is offered, this is just pie in the sky at best.

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    This topic is now being fully moderated to prevent it being dragged off topic.

    Everything on this article is an absolute true and factual description of an event as it was told to me. It is clear enough and interesting enough to debate the mental aspects of combat as they relate to post traumatic stress.

    Keep your comments on or near that, post decently and fill in the comment form correctly and I will make sure it is posted un-edited.

    Tommorow I will write a corollary about this topic. This post has got 14,000 visitors in the last few days and I don’t want to close it or too heavily edit the comments.

    Basho

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    This topic is now being fully moderated to prevent it being dragged off topic.

    Everything on this article is an absolute true and factual description of an event as it was told to me. It is clear enough and interesting enough to debate the mental aspects of combat as they relate to post traumatic stress.

    Keep your comments on or near that, post decently and fill in the comment form correctly and I will make sure it is posted un-edited.

    Tommorow I will write a corollary about this topic. This post has got 14,000 visitors in the last few days and I don’t want to close it or too heavily edit the comments.

    Basho

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com/ Basho

    Corollary to The Harsh Judge

    When writing an article you try very hard to imagine any possible objections that you may face. Of all the things that I have written, this article has been the first one to really surprise me.

    Most people are intelligent enough to realise that the point of the article is not to be found in the story told by Raymond, but rather by his reactions. I shall speak of this in two parts.

    Firstly, it is not the job of someone writing an article to go out and demand satisfaction from the police and press. I am amazed and shocked that people even expect it. The article was designed to be detailed enough to explain what happened, but the point would remain on the second part. If you read all of the article, you quickly realise that I (Basho) was not present at the martial moment, but that I was the person questioning Raymond about how he felt. He felt terrible. I hesitated for a week before asking him if I may write about it. I had and have no intention of asking him to provide witness addresses, further evidence and police records with his name blacked out. I find it amazingly stupid of anyone reading this to presume that I would. I feel that the man had suffered enough, and I am certainly never going to demand those things to satisfy people over the web.

    That said, onto the second reaction. This, thankfully, has been more positive. Many people have commented here and in other places that what I saw in Raymond’s eyes was indeed some sort of post traumatic stress and that these feelings are very common in survivors who have fought for their lives. I can believe that. I have felt for many years that martial arts instruction is too much geared towards the physical side of combat. If it touches on the mental at all, it is only in terms of making the mind like steel. In other words, making you mentally struggle and to teach you to be “mentally strong.” I believe that forewarned is forearmed. Be warned of the trap and you are less likely to fall into it! We must educate those who we teach to be mentally flexible, not just strong.

    In the end, as the Hindu’s say. “Action should culminate in wisdom.”

    That is my belief, and that is also the point of the article. Raymond is a master of his art, that much is clear by his martial prowess, but even he was not able to avoid the aftermath.

    He is wise about it now as the harsh judge is actually yourself.

    Basho

  • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

    Corollary to The Harsh Judge

    When writing an article you try very hard to imagine any possible objections that you may face. Of all the things that I have written, this article has been the first one to really surprise me.

    Most people are intelligent enough to realise that the point of the article is not to be found in the story told by Raymond, but rather by his reactions. I shall speak of this in two parts.

    Firstly, it is not the job of someone writing an article to go out and demand satisfaction from the police and press. I am amazed and shocked that people even expect it. The article was designed to be detailed enough to explain what happened, but the point would remain on the second part. If you read all of the article, you quickly realise that I (Basho) was not present at the martial moment, but that I was the person questioning Raymond about how he felt. He felt terrible. I hesitated for a week before asking him if I may write about it. I had and have no intention of asking him to provide witness addresses, further evidence and police records with his name blacked out. I find it amazingly stupid of anyone reading this to presume that I would. I feel that the man had suffered enough, and I am certainly never going to demand those things to satisfy people over the web.

    That said, onto the second reaction. This, thankfully, has been more positive. Many people have commented here and in other places that what I saw in Raymond’s eyes was indeed some sort of post traumatic stress and that these feelings are very common in survivors who have fought for their lives. I can believe that. I have felt for many years that martial arts instruction is too much geared towards the physical side of combat. If it touches on the mental at all, it is only in terms of making the mind like steel. In other words, making you mentally struggle and to teach you to be “mentally strong.” I believe that forewarned is forearmed. Be warned of the trap and you are less likely to fall into it! We must educate those who we teach to be mentally flexible, not just strong.

    In the end, as the Hindu’s say. “Action should culminate in wisdom.”

    That is my belief, and that is also the point of the article. Raymond is a master of his art, that much is clear by his martial prowess, but even he was not able to avoid the aftermath.

    He is wise about it now as the harsh judge is actually yourself.

    Basho

  • John

    I know all too well the fear that comes with something bad not happening. The thoughts of what could have happened always seem to outweigh what did for me.

    When I was a child, someone broke into my family’s car and went through my father’s wallet. The person (for the sake of ease, let’s say it was a man) had left a trail of cards (credit cards, business cards, etc.) to our side door, which we usually left unlocked. I had locked that side door playing with my brother, locking him out of the house. It seems like the man had tried to get in, but left the area after failing. To this day, I still get shivers when I think about what could have happened, and what the intentions of this man were.

  • John

    I know all too well the fear that comes with something bad not happening. The thoughts of what could have happened always seem to outweigh what did for me.

    When I was a child, someone broke into my family’s car and went through my father’s wallet. The person (for the sake of ease, let’s say it was a man) had left a trail of cards (credit cards, business cards, etc.) to our side door, which we usually left unlocked. I had locked that side door playing with my brother, locking him out of the house. It seems like the man had tried to get in, but left the area after failing. To this day, I still get shivers when I think about what could have happened, and what the intentions of this man were.

  • Pingback: links for 2010-03-23 « Marty Andrade

  • Ricosuave516

    I think thats why most martial arts have the philosophic aspect, along with the virtues and values taught. With those values instilled in the students they wont just be deadly weapons going out into the street but instead they would be true warriors.

  • Pingback: Basho and Cesca are expecting! | Outside Context

  • Anonymous

    Good article. I have been doing martial arts for 20 years, and have been in difficult situations as well. The even bigger problem is when there’s no clear threat to your life, but someone is trying to pick a fight. When talking does not work, what do you do? A lot of my training would make me automatically respond too excessively as I do not have any arsenal of soft-defense techniques burned into my muscle memory. I found I was able to control it though, and I was able to stop myself at the right time after just inflicting exactly enough damage to stop the attacker. But it made me think, as this is not what I have been trained for.

    • http://www.outsidecontext.com Basho

      Thanks for the comment! I have been getting more and more hits to this article, mostly positive, and I hope to have a follow up with Raymonnd this year.

  • archon

    good article, just a quick comment when your brain enters fight or flight it doesnt “process faster” it just takes more information from the senses and your memories are much richer afterwards so it seems like it was slower. Just the biologist in me had to say that.

    • Anonymous

      If your memories of a moment are much richer, then your brain has processed more information in the same time period – ergo it has processed faster. Each memory is a Neural connection after all. Many more connections have been made than usual. You might say that actually the brain has “focused” its efforts on one thing at that moment, “upping the resolution”, but you cant say for certain that it hasn’t actually processed faster as well. Science is just not in the position to say either way.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comments Redditor’s.  

    It is a true story, I can’t “prove” this of course. The way I tell it is exactly how Raymond told it to me put into the third person. There are crime reports, etc, but Raymond has asked me not to use them. I knew when writing it that there were elements of the story that would appear “embellished”, but I decided that this was not my fault or problem – rather an issue with any article on the internet. The comment that “they were still in hospital” is also exactly what was told to me. I am not a reporter, or held to any standards of journalistic integrity, I am a writer (a travel writer usually), but also as a martial arts instructor (qualified – I don’t teach atm) I was very interested in the event.

    I too wondered about the techniques and we “replayed” the entire encounter before I understood. Raymond used the upper rising elbow because he had the knife in his hand. Anyone who thinks you cant break a lower leg bone with a downward kick hasn’t had to use one in real life. I have broken a brick like that myself (I do TKD).

    I did ask him why he fought them rather than give in, and he said that instinct just kicked in when he saw the knife come forwards. He is an excellent martial artist in a style of Kung Fu. It is easy to say how muggers should think, and rationalise about motives leading to predictable behaviours, but this story illustrates how reality doesn’t flow smoothly like fiction. In reality people act non-rationally. Did the muggers try and stab him? I don’t know, but I expect what happened was he looked like he was resisting. I have told it how Raymond remembered it,m he didn’t mention “resisting” before the knife came forwards, but it must have been out for the  technique he used to work.

    The part of Brixton where it happened is notorious for muggings. They rob people and then disappear into the park. Why Raymond didn’t notice them until it was too late is beyond me. I suppose it raises the question of being “switched on” all the time is too hard? I have seen the street in question and it is indeed quiet.

    I did have complaints of racism, I should point out that everyone involved in the event was… British.

    The important thing for me is that he almost killed the guy with a technique he taught. This brought him up cold later and he stopped teaching it like that. That combined with the shock of surviving the event is the part of the story that interests me.

    Regards,

    Basho