My student, Mary, approached me with a disturbing story last week. The peace and sanctity of her neighborhood library was shattered when (3days in a row!) bloods, crips, and MS-13 gang members fought an unexpected turf war.
Interestingly, Mary's granddaughter wanted to go to the library and each day, Mary said, "No, let's go to the library in the next town. I just feel like going there instead." For whatever reason, Mary felt compelled to go to a different library - and thereby avoided finding herself and her 10 year old charge smack in the midst of a violent confrontation.
That did not quell her concern. "What if it happens when I am there? Then what should I do?"
The first problem for Mary was that violence had touched her life in a way she couldn't ignore. Her sense of comfort and safety was gone.
For many people that hard slap of reality is what drives them to self-defense in the first place. People say, "I do not want to be victimized," or "I never want to be victimized again," and in acknowledging this, then acting on it, they begin to regain control over their own destinies.
Mary and I together worked up some strategies for the future, based on the layout of the library, if she was close to her granddaughter when the problem began, and other factors. We discussed the importance of role-playing with children in such a way that, without terrifying them. They learn some basic plans for action in emergency situations. Then we discussed several ideas and plans that she could implement to immediately improve her family's safety.
Contingency plans are good, and avoidance can be even better. Seeing trouble before it develops and completely avoiding it is ideal. A martial artist learns awareness and he or she learns to see "potentials" in every situation. This is one of the greatest lessons of excellent martial arts instruction, and a life skill that pays off in many other ways.
-What if you can prevent a car accident?
-What if you can prevent an elderly loved one from falling?
-What if you could...?
New parents develop this as a matter of necessity when a baby learns to crawl, then walking. Parents "see potentials."
These skills are adaptable to all areas of life. In Mary's situation, she realized that perhaps noticing two young "dudes with bad attitudes" walking into the library, obviously looking for someone, was the first sign of trouble, and that would be a good time to get her 10 year old out of the library.
Her awareness, developed in the past fourteen months of training, would enable her to recognize these cues, and with practice looking for potentials she will hone this skill, and set an outstanding example as a role model to her granddaughter.