Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mean Girls

This has happened to me twice... I'm chatting with a girl I just met & she asks what I do for a living.  Once I tell her I'm a Krav Maga instructor she gets all tickled and says she ought to train, and tells me what she does for fun:  she goes down to Sixth Street on the weekend and picks fights with guys.  This is to say, she says or does something so irritating or offensive to a male stranger that he tells her to shut up, go away, etc.  So she punches him in the face as hard as she can.  

Since a guy will get hauled off to jail if he punches a female, he feels like he can't retaliate (or, in this case, defend himself) so she "won".   And these girls were pretty proud of themselves when they told me this & expected me to applaud them.  It was everything I could do to restrain myself from removing their teeth.

The truth is, I was so shocked and offended by them that I really had no idea what to say.  So I got very quiet and still and said that if they act like that they can't train at our school.  

Really, I chickened out.  I tend to say cruel things when I'm really angry and I want to avoid that, plus I was so stunned by their behavior that my brain shut down.  Saying Fit and Fearless won't accept students who bully and attack others its true, but it was still a cop out on my part.  Here's what I'd like to say:

*If you punch people in the face for fun you deserve to get punched back.  I don't care who you are. There are people who engage in this behavior because they are with a friend who trains in martial arts & the puncher assumes they're immune from retaliation because their friend will "take care of it".  If I see someone acting like this I will not help them.  After they get their ass beat, I'll tell their mother on them.

*Young lady, the man who is not punching you back is not refraining because you're so tough.  He is using self control because he doesn't want to go to jail and/or he's been taught not to hit a female under any circumstances.  The fact that you're exploiting this makes you a bad person.  I will now refer you to the previous point.

*You're making me look bad.  Many people assume that women who engage in the "hard" martial arts are crazy or mean angry bitches with a chip on their shoulder.  I make a point to dress very girly and be nice and friendly so that people understand that normal girls like to train, too.  Your behavior is reinforcing the stereotype of the angry-nutjob fighter girl.  

*You are preventing other women from training.  Yes, this is a continuation of the previous point, but the last one was mostly about me.  This is about every female who has been told there's something wrong with her because she wants to train.  It's for every female who has hidden or downplayed the fact that she trains because she doesn't want to be judged as being damaged or warped or hating men.  Getting women to walk in the door of a martial arts studio and accept that it's okay to hit and be hit on the mat is difficult enough.  If other females believe that it's okay for normal women to step on the mat and go hard they're more likely to give it a try.  The fact that you assault people then brag about it makes sane women want to avoid anything that even resembles you.

*I'm not quite sure how to put this, but I also believe that a person who has been subjected to an injustice, as the men you assault have been, tends to adopt a "never again" attitude.  I don't blame them.  What this means to me is that he is more likely to strike a woman in the future, and it will probably not be a woman who is as prepared for violence as you seem to fantasize you are.  Violence against women is endemic in the human race.  I suspect you may be cementing the belief batterers hold that we all have it coming.  

I think that about covers it.  If anyone can tell me how to say that in under one minute and without resorting to the swear words that are so dear to me, I'm taking suggestions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just Do Something

"While Barkley continued to straddle the woman, who was crying, two women walked by on the street and did nothing, the affidavit said."

Just a few days ago, two women walked by a man obviously assaulting a woman near the UT campus.  They didn't bother calling 911.

Now here's the thing:  I know why people act like this.  Anyone who has ever been subjected to my Kitty Genovese drill knows, too.  I don't care, it's still infuriating.

(I'm not the only one who's angry.  Read my friend Jennie's blog on the same subject.)

What happens is're minding your own business and something shocking happens.  Someone is suddenly assaulted right there in front of you.  Probably it begins and ends before you even understand what's going on.  This is why people just stand around there looking around in YouTube videos when "something bad happens".  It's been over for several seconds before the bystanders even start whispering among themselves "did you see that?!".

Or maybe it's not over that fast and you have the opportunity to help.  But you probably don't.  Seriously.  The more shocked you are by that statement the less likely you are to actually be of any use under pressure.

Because...your brain freezes.  (Whaaaaa?...)

Then  denies.  (No, that can't be happening...I've misunderstood.  Are they filming a video?  You know, the film industry has been booming in Austin.  But it looks like he's really punching that, I'm imagining that, it's not that bad)

Then it freaks & goes numb.  (What am I supposed to do?  Nobody else is doing anything.  I don't want to get hurt. I don't want to get in trouble. He could have a knife! Nooooo.....just keep going, he'll be fine.)

This is normal.  Unfortunately, most people get stuck here.  

What it comes down to is that people don't know what to do, so they do nothing.  

But as I tell my students after the Kitty G. drill, you are going to have to live with your decision, whatever it is, for the rest of your life.

If you're reading this blog, you probably have some knowledge of or at least an interest in self-defense training, and therefore some clue of how and when to intervene.  

But what if you are unable or unwilling to physically jump into an assault in progress?  Should you just pretend you didn't see it?  Not if you want to sleep at night.

Try this:

*Just yell STOP!! as loudly and commandingly as you can.  Do not make a request.  Make a COMMAND.  I was shocked when this actually worked for me once out in public.  Let them know you see them and what they're doing.  If you are not actively in immediate danger do not leave the area until it is safe for you and for the victim.  Stay on the job like a dog on a bone.

*Hold up your smartphone like you're filming or taking pictures & say you got them on film.  Hopefully you actually do.  You may have to run like hell if they turn on you, so be ready.  In the time it takes them to process what just happened & shift gears you can have a nice head start.  Yes, I'm being completely serious.  

*Call 911 & say loudly that you're doing so.  Remember, you're not just trying to catch a criminal, you're trying to stop a crime in progress.

*Recruit anyone else who may be around to help you.  Bang on doors or wave down cars if necessary.  Remember, you are not making a request, you are ordering them to act:  "Call 911 NOW, I'll watch where he goes." People are astonishingly obedient.  Mostly they just want someone to tell them what to do.  Again, I'm being serious.  The more sudden and frightening the situation, the more obedient they become to clear and authoritative orders.

Please know I'm not talking about consensual fighting.  If two people you don't know are in a brawl, I'm not convinced that's your problem.  

But if a man is straddling and choking a weeping and struggling woman on the sidewalk and you just stroll on by, you should carry around business cards that say Rotten Bastard so the rest of us can avoid you like the plague you are.

Please do one thing for me by Sunday.  Please start a conversation with someone you know that goes something like this..."Did you hear about that woman who was attacked near campus?  Those women saw it but walked by and did nothing! Can you believe that? What would you do?  I wonder what I would really do?  Well, I guess I could get out my phone..."

Plant the seed that blooms into citizens who know what they can do in an emergency.  This is the first step to a person actually doing something.   

And if you are someone who is willing to jump in physically to help a victim of crime, I hope you train, and I hope you're training with me.  You're the kind of person that's awesome to have around.