When I was leaving the LMAC dojo after our Ethridge Jiu-Jitsu class yesterday afternoon, there was a guy who appeared to be intoxicated walking down the sidewalk, and as I was heading to my Jeep, he was in close proximity behind me. He wasn’t threatening in any way, but we were the only people around, and I was acutely aware of his presence, so I thought “If he tries anything with me, he’s going to regret it!”. I had just finished rolling with my husband a few minutes before I left the dojo, so I was still in combat mode, and I felt as though my reaction time would’ve been much quicker than any attack the drunk guy might’ve tried to launch (and afterward he probably wouldn’t have even known what happened!), but thankfully he just kept stumbling along, and he didn’t touch me, so I didn’t have to hurt him.
It seems like something that only happens in movies, but there have actually been times when I’ve been at the dojo and misguided souls have wandered in, apparently looking for a fight. Alcohol is usually involved in their questionable decision to challenge martial arts, and although the people they threaten could most likely easily defeat them, I’ve never seen it come to that (although I have heard stories about it happening in the past!). In my experience, the people from the dojo are able to de-escalate the situation and keep the peace. For example, once when a senior black belt wasn’t wearing his gi, a potential troublemaker asked him what rank he was, and he replied “I’m a white belt, I just started a month ago.”, and I suppose since there isn’t any glory in beating up a white belt, the guy didn’t seem interested in fighting him anymore.
You would think that because the dojo has been well-known in the community for over thirty years, and has had a number of law enforcement officers training there, it would dissuade people from coming in and wanting to start trouble, but sometimes I think that might make it even more alluring. They’re barking up the wrong tree, because during my years of training, the only story I can recall where someone actually got into a physical confrontation at the dojo, it didn’t involve a challenger who wanted to fight, it happened when a guy stole a package from the mail slot and took off running. It was his unfortunate luck that Conan was there that day, and in addition to being trained in Jiu-Jitsu, he’s also an officer with the LPD, so he chased the thief, caught him, took him down, and held him there until on-duty cops arrived. It turned out that the package the guy tried to steal was a new black belt that Shihan had ordered, and the thief clearly did not deserve it, because you have to work a lot harder than that to get a black belt from the dojo!
I’m really glad that I didn’t have to defend myself against the drunk guy yesterday, but it did feel good to not be afraid of the possibility, to not feel powerless, and to have confidence in my abilities. I wasn’t thinking “I wish a motherfucker would try something!”, because I know people who have had to use their Jiu-Jitsu in real life, and they say it’s a lot more difficult than you would think (and they don’t look forward to ever doing it again). However, it’s nice to know that it did work effectively for them in self-defense, and yesterday I was pretty sure that it would also work for me, if I needed it to.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu