Cause and Effect! The Mouth, the Sniper and the Coward!
When I was a teenager, I was not very streetwise. In-fact I was pretty-naive.
When I turned sixteen, I was offered a Saturday job at local Supermarket and for a time I was the youngest there.
The other ‘part-timers’ I worked with ranged from 16 to 22 and really took me under their wing. We used to work together, go to the beach together, go to various pubs in the town where we lived and eventually, we went to clubs and even on short holidays as a group.
I felt comfortable with everyone and it was nice to socialise with a variety of people. I worked with other students and people with diverse interests. One of the older guys supported the Edinburgh festival every summer and had some fun stories and experiences to share. It was great fun and a really-formative time for me.
After a year or two I was no longer the youngest, I had started to become more confident, fill out and feel more comfortable when we all went out together. We had a nice group and often used to go to a Nightclub on Southsea Seafront every Thursday night regardless of the fact we had college or work the next day. In-fact it was not unusual to get in at 4am and then be at work for 6am to take in a Frozen food delivery (I could not do that now!)
I had quickly learnt that when the club closed it was a bad idea to hang around outside. It was common to see a line of Police cars parked by the Pier anticipating trouble and I had seen a-number-of fights and problems, fortunately most often from a distance.
On this occasion however my friend Nathan and I were waiting by the exit as another of our friends had met a Girl in the club and was taking his time saying goodbye 😊. I was the driver for the evening and so we were duty bound to wait for him.
Stood in-front of us were a group of Guys and Girls who we didn’t know. Soon a group of guys who I recognised as a few years older than me at school came and stood behind them.
Then something horrible happened!
One of the guys I recognised leant forward and squeezed a girl’s bottom in an aggressive and forceful way. The girl turned around and the guy slunk away looking seedy and pleased with himself. The poor girl approached a lad who I can only assume was her boyfriend. He then proceeded to hit the sleazy-guy with the hardest right hand I had seen at that point of my life.
I remember thinking ‘Okay, he deserved that!’…… Karma!
The problem was that the friends of the guy who had just been decked did not see what had happened to cause his downfall. They only saw an attack apparently without due cause or provocation.
What then ensued was like a scene from the Swayze movie Roadhouse!
Nathan and I were tucked out of the way in an old doorway. But soon people were punching and kicking the hell out of each other. Many were rolling around on the floor and there was blood everywhere.
The guy who started it was getting a real hiding!
I remember feeling calm, I wasn’t involved. It felt like I was a spectator.
It was clear to me that none of this involved me and I should maintain a safe distance.
After all, I had seen the cause of the problem and the guy who started it was out of order!
But then another complication.
Our friend that we had been waiting for came out of the club. He knew some of the guys who were scrapping (and without knowing what had caused the melee) stepped in to ‘help-out’! ……. Nightmare!!!
Now we were involved!
My friend is a charismatic guy with an almost Cowboy-like swagger. He proceeded to swing his way through the crowd like a silent-movie star. I am sure that I even remember him saying ‘POW’ as he hit someone. It was weirdly funny, like a scene from the 1960’s Batman series.
Still, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. I was VERY aware of everything going on.
Perhaps inevitably my friend was soon outnumbered and then Nathan started swinging too. I stepped in, but never threw a punch. Somehow, I managed to not get hit and simply pulled people off each other and helped my friends out of the mix.
I then encouraged my friends to leave. This was not our problem. This was not our fight. And in-fact the people my friends were supporting had in-fact been in the wrong!
We HAD to leave.
It felt like the commotion lasted forever, it was probably a few minutes at best!
We managed to exit the situation before the Police and Door staff calmed everything down.
I then drove us home to safety.
Some people cast a disparaging eye over traditional karate training and say that drills and practice bear no resemblance to actual violence.
To a certain degree I agree with them.
However, I remember that amongst the chaos of the brawl I had not felt panicked, angry, or uncertain. In-fact I felt calm. The fighting seemed slow and predictable.
I was familiar with the adrenalin.
I was in control of myself.
I was in control enough not to react!
Instead, I had responded…… I refused to fight as the fight was not justified.
The people I would have been supporting were in the wrong!
The guy who started it was a scumbag!
That said I would not say that my friend’s actions were not honourable. They simply hadn’t seen everything. They stepped up for those they knew, simply because they knew them.
I learnt a valuable lesson that day!
I try to never enter an argument or problem without appreciating due cause. Who is truly aggrieved?
This aggravates some people and can-be seen as sitting on the fence. But imagine how betrayed you would feel if you defended someone only to find out THEY were the problem!
I remember the next day at work at the Supemarket. We saw some of the guys whose friend had started everything. They were all beaten up, bruised, and carrying black eyes etc like badges of honour.
I didn’t engage in any conversation.
I couldn’t shake the image of how it all started.
Also, I hadn’t thrown a punch or been hit.
I wasn’t in their gang.
……. I am proud of that!
In 2007 I was privileged to be invited into a group of 15 black belt students by Simon Staples Sensei. We used to meet every 3 months and pressure test our skills against each other. We would spar with everyone for 5-minute rounds and then go to the pub after. We were black and blue and wore black eyes and other badges of honour!
That was a wonderful time with awesome people, and I learnt more about my own karate during that period than at any other.
That was the gang I was proud to be part of!
On one occasion Simon organised for a private class for the 15 of us in Nottingham with Sensei’s Trimble and Hazard.
It was a fantastic experience and the atmosphere was electric!
In Sensei Hazards class we worked on a drill against multiple opponents.
Each aggressor had a nickname.
The Mouth, The Sniper and the Coward!
It is a fantastic drill that pumps you up and helps you process roles of aggressors when you are outnumbered. It then empowers you with a strategic set of responses.
In Nottingham this made for explosive training and the 15 of us were all capable. While I trained, I found myself remembering the scrap outside the nightclub and the drill has resonated for me ever since.
When I visualised my role, I was on the ‘side’ of the poor girl who had been assaulted.
Martial Art skill is hard earnt. For some it is strived for over decades or lifetimes.
When skill is employed it must be considered.
We must strive to consider.... who is at fault and what effect will our responses have?
Always protect those you love, but be restrained with your skill unless you have no choice.
...... and never wait outside a nightclub!
Go straight home!