Experiences Part 1

One of my former students who lives wayyy too far away to train has asked about my experiences with violence as to seek insight on what, why, how, and to include the "after action" report. I'm always a little antsy on discussing my "fights" on a public forum for several reasons. First, while I don't want to advocate violence as your first option, sometimes it's your only option. As noted Combatives Instructor Tim Larkin says, "When violence is the answer, it's the ONLY answer". Second, the written word is notorious for being taken out of context and I'd rather not spend the rest of my life defending my statements so please just take it for what it is, MY experience. Lastly, I don't want to come off sounding like my "fighting skills" rock and that "Bruce Lee don't have nuthin' on me". With that said, I'll share three experiences that left a lasting impression, changed my martial art outlook, and show that they ALL could have been avoided. This first one still invades my dreams and taught me some very life changing lessons so I'll describe it first. I'll relate the other two in future blogs.

1980 San Diego 20 years old
I had attended a friends birthday party in Imperial Beach and was returning home when I had a burning desire for some Jack in the Box onion rings. I pulled off I-5 and went to the nearest JaBo which was located in the Shelltown (Mistake #1) area of National City. It was almost 11:00pm and instead of going through the drive through, I went in to order (Mistake #2) as well as use the rest room. When I entered, I noticed four vatos in Pendletons and pressed white t-shirts (Ignored Warning #1) sitting at one of the tables. I ALMOST (Mistake #3) turned around and left but I had to use the head and I wanted those onion rings. While making my order, the server gave me a strange look, (Ignored Warning #2) which I disregarded. She told me that they were in the process of closing and that they would have to make my onion rings which would take a few minutes. While waiting, I went to use the rest room. When I returned, the place was empty other than the two servers (Ignored Warning #3). I collected my food and went outside to my truck. I immediately started digging into my onion rings (Mistake #4). I sensed/heard someone running up behind me (Ignored Warning #4) and as I started to turn, I felt the shock of the hit as well as seeing a flash bulb go off in front of my eyes. Onion rings went everywhere as I staggered back against my truck and I started throwing blind punches. My vision was fuzzy and I could only see the guy directly in front of me but I knew that there were at least two more because I could feel them hitting and grabbing at me. One of them kept yelling something about "East Side" but other than that, at was all noise. I managed to drive my thumb into an eye (Good Move #1) of they guy in front of me. He screamed and that's when I went down to the ground. I immediately went to my back (Good Move #2) and started kicking anything and everything that I could reach. They in turn started playing soccer on my torso. I had kept the truck to my back (Good Move #3) and when I had been put down it was now to my right. It took several seconds (hours?) to realize that I was taking some serious damage to my ribs. After one nasty barrage, I found I couldn't breath and scared s$#*tless, I rolled under my truck (Good Move #4). Thank goodness for lift kits and off-road tires. They would not go under after me so they slung rocks, concrete, bottles and insults at me for about a minute (or it could have been another hour). I heard a siren come on close by and I could see them take off. An SDPD patrol car pulled up about 30 seconds later. After paramedics and paperwork, I drove myself to the hospital. Total damage, one broken rib, three cracked ribs, multiple contusions, cuts, and abrasions, a split lip, and a concussion. All and all, for making a bunch of stupid mistakes, I came out okay. I did find out during the interview why I was jumped. One of the hoods was the server's boyfriend and she had noticed my affiliation tattoo on my wrist. They were Shelltown Cholos and in my teens, I had run with East Side and still wore the tag. They hated each other with a passion then and five years later, they still hated each other.

Lessons:
At the time I was a Green Belt in Chinese Kenpo. We were a fight school and the techniques were more for belt progression than actual use. We were not taught any awareness or avoidance skills but we were taught how to take a punch and keep fighting. Skipping the very obvious mistakes I made prior to taking the first punch, I learned the following lessons about the attack itself:

Always step off when covering. I did not learn COVER until I began my American Kenpo training in 1988. Turning in place just gives your assailant a different part of his intended target to hit (think OODA).

Don't try to kick in a mass attack. The violence of action on my part combined with the pushing, pulling, and striking from my attackers forced me to lower my base. Even lowered, I still felt unstable and attempting a kick/knee would have put me on the ground a lot sooner.

They don't come at you one at a time like the movies. In fact their exuberance probably kept my damage to a minimum because they kept getting in each other's way.

Maneuvering to the outside in class is relatively easy. When the attack is real, it's a hell of a lot more difficult to maneuver anywhere let alone maneuver with a plan.

Use your environment. Vehicles, buildings, fixed objects, clothing, anything lying around that might make a weapon or a defensive tool.

When tunnel vision kicks in, go after the guy you can see and inflict as much damage as possible up to and including maiming and lethal force. One of my students is a Federal Corrections Officer and two weeks ago, he handled his first inmate killing. An inmate was beaten and stomped to death by five other inmates. He had the unpleasant task of trying to keep the inmate alive until medical help arrived but ended up watching him die before help got there. Even if no weapons are involved, a mass attack is a deadly force assault. Treat it as such and do whatever it takes with the eyes and throat being the primary targets.

Tattoos can get you killed but peroxide and table salt will get rid of them.

Last, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. I believe there is nothing mystical or psychic about a "bad feeling". It is your mind's unconscious ability to pick up on 'triggers" that the conscious mind is too preoccupied to process. Good awareness skills are the conscious mind's answer to why these triggers are important. Awareness is a skill and like any other skill, must be developed and practiced. Future blogs will discuss some of the methods I use to teach awareness. Fighting is ugly and it's even uglier when you're getting your butt kicked. Hopefully, you might learn a little from my mistakes that will keep from having your butt handed to you for a bag of onion rings.

by admin | 7 2012 9:54am | FAQ | permalink | 0 comments

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