…than a gardener in a war.
This ancient principal still carries as much meaning today, in my opinion, as it did way back when. And the reason I chose this quote for my website will be evident by the end of this blog. While I am all for a policy of non-violence, there are times when life does not give you a choice. Be prepared for those times, even if you never have to use any of the skills you have acquired. Let’s break this down into a micro and a macro look at this principal and how you can (should) apply it to your life.
In the micro point of view, each of us is responsible for our own safety and well-being and that of our family and friends. One of the things that I learned when I was studying martial arts is awareness at all times. As I sit in the coffee shop writing this blog, I am sitting in the back of the shop and I am facing the door. The only thing behind me is the bathroom, all patrons that walk into this place are facing me. If there was ever a time where someone appeared aggressive or agitated, I would see it before almost anyone else. I am not paranoid, I am aware. There have been two specific times I can recount that awareness avoided a problem for me altogether, not a confrontation and no physical interaction needed. Master Bauman would be proud.
Sometimes that split second advantage is all you need to catch someone by surprise or throw a chair through a window to escape. To be clear, I have never had to defend myself from attack outside of the dojo, and that is the ultimate goal. It is not to be a hero or to knock someone out with a spinning head kick, but to see trouble coming and avoid it. As Jocko Willink, one of the scariest Navy SEALs and commander of the entire US Forces in the battle of Ramadi, Iraq said: “My first line of defense is my legs. I can run away from trouble”. This is the main reason I will NEVER wear shoes I can’t run in when I am away from my house.
Probably not what you’d expect to hear from a guy like that, but this is the right mindset. Put your ego aside; fighting someone is a last resort. Period. There are all kinds of situations that could potentially put you in this situation, too many to cover. But let’s think of what the typical outcomes are:
1. You get your ass kicked, your wallet and car keys stolen, etc. Someone you love is also harmed in the process, or worse. You have medical bills, the police arrive only in time to write up a report and not to keep someone from continuing to beat the crap out of you.
2. You kick someone’s ass. You risk seriously hurting someone, getting sued, etc. There is a good chance you get arrested, even if it was self defense. You may get jumped by other people and end up getting beat up by three of his friends. You punch a guy and he falls and hits his head on the curb and dies…manslaughter.
3. You damage property in the process. You are responsible for this, and these days everyone has a camera in their phone to use as evidence against you. Security cameras are everywhere.
If you review the options above, none of them are good outcomes. Your job is to AVOID these situations altogether if at all possible, including handing someone your keys if they are pointing a gun or a knife at you. Let them take the car, walk away with your life and no one else getting harmed. Call the police and your insurance company…that is what both of those things are there for…
Your goal is to walk away, run away, talk your way out of trouble in every scenario possible. But, if you are given no option, then you’d better follow the Cobra Kai motto and strike first and strike hard. When given no option, neutralize the situation in as little time as possible and in a manner defensible in court. Keep in mind there are things such as excessive force, aka bringing a gun to a fist fight. Every situation is different, and I am not a lawyer, so use your best judgment. But remember, everything you do has consequences, if even you are not the person in the wrong.
The best use of your skills is to not put yourself in a situation where you have no choice. Not easy, and where you live, the places you frequent, etc. all play heavily into how often you have to deal with this stuff. I am fortunate that I did not grow up in a rough part of town or had a habit of hanging out in super crowded bars full of meatheads or bikers or anything like that. By design, I minimized my likelihood of finding myself in need of self defense. One of the two situations I alluded to earlier happened at the very upscale Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, so there is no such thing as removing all threats or never being confronted. So you never know when trouble may find you, and I highly recommend that you learn to be a warrior, even if you spend you life as a gardener, never using those skills. The lifestyle, discipline, and mindset you learn will pay dividends in all other facets of your life.
Let’s zoom out to the macro view of this mindset now. The world has given us a really good reminder lately that there are plenty of things that are outside our control. COVID-19 has done everything from keep us locked indoors for long periods of time to having us rushing to the store to buy toilet paper. A warrior is prepared for as many situations as possible, and things to make situations like the pandemic a little more tolerable and less stressful. I didn’t need to leave my house for over a month if it was necessary to do so. I am prepared with food, water, toilet paper and many other necessities. I was able to get some of these things to other family members to help them out when needed.
And yes, guns and ammo are on the list…someone else’s lack of preparation and foresight is not my problem and I am not their solution. The last thing I ever want to do is point a gun at someone, but if you break into my house, I would consider that enough of a threat to not allow you the opportunity to prove why you are there. I am going to be err on the side of caution and assume that you are there for no good reason, and that will prove to be a mistake. End of story. I am not going to allow someone to harm myself, my wife, or my home in any manner, regardless of the circumstances. If you do not have the fortitude to make that same statement I think you have the likelihood of being a victim. Easy times make soft men (people) and soft men make hard times. Walk silently but carry a big stick.
Again, my overwhelming hope and message is to be a warrior in a garden. You do not want to be in a situation that requires some sort of force. But if the situation calls for it, it is better to know how to be a monster when needed and keep that monster at bay he rest of the time. That it is better than to try to figure out how to become a monster during a crisis situation, hence the gardener in a war analogy. Develop the skills and mindset you’d need if things went south, but plan on doing everything possible to be prepared and/or avoid those situations in the first place. Walk the Earth in peace, but be prepared…just in case.
In case you are interested in some general disaster preparedness, here is a great book I recommend to a lot of people:
***this is not an affiliate link, just my suggestion as a starting point for expanding your knowledge base.
And check out Krav Maga classes near you; it is considered to be one of the most effective street fighting and self defense styles you can learn.
I wish you luck in your endeavors