Another Boring Example of Nonviolent Self-Defense

Yes, I was practicing martial arts in public, but I wasn’t looking for trouble. I wasn’t looking for attention, just wanted to enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon at the park.

I was only twenty minutes into an outdoor routine (that is, an indoor routine stripped of any provocative elements) when I heard a group of teenage boys approaching behind me. I continued to mind my own business, but they were not content with theirs.

Did they taunt me with the standard Bruce Lee kung fu yelps? Well, of course they did; and I ignored it, just as I have ignored it three dozen times before. But unlike three dozen times before, this group did not have a few laughs and keep walking.

They dared each other to throw a rock at me, and that I could not ignore. If the first rock went unanswered, it would not be the last.

It appeared to be a no-win situation. We all knew that, if things got ugly, I would be forced to shoulder the blame. In the eyes of the public, I would be “the menacing Kung Fu expert who terrorized a group of harmless, innocent children.” Aside from the teens, there were no witnesses present to testify in my defense.

As I stood there with my back turned, the rowdy gang quieted down. Prompted by a mixture of fear and unwarranted confidence, one boy picked up his rock and took aim.

The Moment of Truth

Without breaking form, I spun around and looked that boy straight in the eye. We reached an immediate and wordless compromise: from only ten yards away, his rock would miss me by a country mile, and I would not retaliate against him. Nobody would call him a coward, and everyone would go home intact.

“I missed,” was the boy’s flat and unconvincing apology to his buddies. Now holding my obvious and menacing attention, the group decided to move on.

Yes, this is a boring story, but it is a true story, and I am quite proud of the ending. Just another boring example of the options we give ourselves, by viewing martial arts through the widest possible lens.

How many five year olds could you take in a fight?
Calculate your child beating score, just for fun


  1. is that advert yours?

    “Calculate your child beating score, just for fun”

    survey result requires registration – not fun

  2. No, it does not require registration…click on the “No thanks” link at the end of the survey.

  3. Fantastic. These are my favorite kinds of stories. And, really, you’re much better than a Qigong expert…you can simply turn and look and people to make them move. Much better than shooting Qi from your palms.

    Anyway: thanks for sharing this story.

  4. Hey Chris,
    Now that was sweet.
    I am glad everything worked out.
    Maybe it sounds cheesy or whatever, but I believe it was the energy you were sending out.
    Great job, man. Not boring at all.
    Happy New Year 2010!!

  5. That was a pretty good read actually. I love these kinds of stories. I think one of the main things all the mcdojos should really focus on teaching is diffusing situations with words, just the other day I walked into a taekwondo place that popped up around here and they were training on “smashing bad guys”. For god sakes, the kids are like 9 years old…

  6. This is a perfect example of how intelligent a teenager really can be. They like to be and act stupid (don’t mind my mass generalizations) and they tend to create a communal peer pressure. All they need is a good teacher to put things into perspective. I bet the boy with the rock, if not all of them, thought well about the incident later on.

  7. Awesome story! I did enjoy the moral dilemma that all martial artists face when it comes down to actual combat that you mentioned, so very true. I’m glad the situation was resolved peacefully though.

    As a side note I’d like to mention that not all Taekwondo schools aim for “smashing bad guys” but I do understand where you’re coming from. My school for instance focuses on a peaceful solution whenever necessary. I suppose it all depends on the teachers ethics no matter the martial art.

  8. i heard a similar tale from my Tai Chi instructor in 2004. He was doing Tai Chi in a park and 3 or 4 chavs (urban underclass) challenged him to a fight. He left. When people said he should have kicked their asses he pointed out that in England the police are not sympathetic to martial arts instructors and given he lived about 30 seconds away, and was listed on a nationwide martial arts website, it was better to just walk away.

    i believe the law in England states that if you are a martial arts instructor, you are obliged to apprise assailants of this fact otherwise you will be to blame, legally. So if someone runs at you with a broken beer bottle you have to say, “my good man, I should warn you that I’m a karate instructor, please reconsider this rash course of action” – otherwise he can then sue you for assault.

  9. To understand this phenomenon, we need to frame it properly–to look at it through the eyes of the bullies, the cowards, and the other petty, self-serving individuals who all work together to set the rules of the game.

    When a person stands up to defend themselves against abuse, they are violating the territory staked by various social justice organizations–and those organizations are the toughest gangs around.

    The law says you should not be assaulted. So when you stop an assault on yourself, you are enforcing the law without proper credentials or authorization. Therefore you are a dangerous vigilante!

    And you are threatening the jobs of decent, hard-working men and women in law enforcement. Why do you want to increase unemployment, with the economy in such a fragile state?

    And you are changing society’s expectations for other potential victims, some of whom are more than satisfied with their lot. Are they now supposed to risk their own lives in the service of self-defense? Haven’t they suffered enough already?

    Sir, you are a monster! 😉

  10. Good story!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Greetings from a friend in portugal

  11. Nothing magical or mystical about using martial arts technique to solve the problem. A good solution came from Truth and understanding.

    I appreciate this story. Thank you.

  12. To Elberry – actually you are NOT obliged to tell anyone you do martial arts before defending yourself under the law.
    This is a misconception that habitually does the rounds and is a myth.
    You have the same right to defend yourself as anyone else – and the same responsibilities.
    It is true however, that the cops and courts do take a dim view on martial artists defending themselves…I believe, and this is just my thoughts, because they believe what they see on the movies and expect martial artists to be able restrain people instead of giving them a kicking. Its really ignorance because if you’ve got a couple of scrotes on your case the first thing you need to do is drop one of them quickly and not tie yourself up trying to restrain one of them while the other is attempting to kick the oroverbial out of you.
    The police actually have police officers who are trained martial artists who go to court in these cases and give evidence whether you were over the top or not. (Two of these officers appeared in the Darren Day court case when he was fouind guilty of carrying an offence weapon – and they singly got it wrong stating that the kubotan he had was an offensive weapon. It wasn’t because the only kubotan banned under the law is HOLLOW kubotans. Day’s was solid and he should appeal!).
    I agree that its best to talk your way out (or use a stare in this case) rather than fight. That’s why all my students have to attend a conflict resolution training course as part of their grades in street combat.
    In my eyes yourself and the other poster who walked away are true martial artists – you don’t NEED to fight when you know that you can fight. Its only those numpties with something to prove that feel the need to be violent.

  13. Wonderful post.
    And Chris your post on those who enable such things was very enjoyable.

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