We’ve been taught to kill. By we, I mean NightBug and myself. Hell, most of our family and our closest friends have all been taught the same things, and I don’t mean the type of killing that involves joysticks and Playstations. I’m talking, rip-your-throat-out or shoot-you-with-my-gun-type of killing.
The result of 20+ years’ worth of gun, boxing, self-defense and security courses (including police courses, and soon, military and CIA courses) have resulted in a constant state of awareness that’s hard to shake, and is sometimes very draining at the end of the day. When your social circle is filled with students and teachers, it becomes part of your every-day thinking. When you pick up a cool-looking walking stick along the river bed, and find your mind wandering through a couple of staff katas while you think of ways to use the stick as a weapon, it’s hard to focus on the beauty of the moment.
Because of our training, we always pick our seats strategically. We always have the eyes on a swivel. In crowded places, we actually kiss each other with our eyes open in order to watch each other’s backs. (In private places, it’s a whole ‘nother story. ) Sorry, TMI. The point is, this stuff is all second nature, muscle memory to us.
That’s not necessarily a good thing. While I appreciate the knowledge and enjoy learning new ways to protect myself (obviously, if I’m always seeking new courses), I understand that there’s infinitely more that I don’t know, and that when we aren’t learning, we’re stagnating. I’m also learning that there are many habits that I must unlearn in order to move forward as a peacekeeper.
I teach my students to run if they can. If they can’t, or if they’ve tried, I teach them to stop the fight. STOP the fight, as quickly as possible. More importantly, I teach them to stay aware, to avoid fights in the first place. I teach them what I was taught: A violent act could happen to me, it could happen today, and if it does, I am ready and I will act upon it. The graveyards and hospitals are filled with people who didn’t believe it could happen to them.
What I’ve been learning is just how far some people will go while claiming self-defense. The Trayvon Martin case is a prime example of this. The defendant in this case did not understand…well, he didn’t understand much more than the fact that he needed to do something about the unchecked anger that he harbored. He had to get the “criminal” before he committed the crime. He didn’t know when to stop; he went too far, and will probably spend most of his life in jail. He got the better end of the bargain.
What I’m currently teaching and emphasizing to my students is the need to know when to STOP, the need to control their actions, and the need to know the local laws. I don’t want any of them to cross the line from self-defense into assault and battery. Before they teach their muscles to automatically launch into KILL!-mode, I’d rather they viewed the attacker as a human -regardless of how animal-like the attacker’s actions might be- who just needs to be stopped, and nothing more. The manner in which they stop them must be commensurate with the crime being attempted.
With all due respect to my many teachers, this killing machine is unlearning the many ways in which to take a life, and replacing them (whenever possible) with ways to simply stop one person from bringing harm to another.