The other night at training, while working on handgun disarms, one of the guys said he felt lost when threatened at a distance past arms reach. Worse, several armed holdups had occurred recently in his upscale Chicago neighborhood where he lives with his wife and new baby. Despite the fact Mayor Daley chooses to infringe on the Constitution’s Second Amendment and outlaw handguns in Chicago, we can’t wait for the three lawsuits challenging that order to strike it down like a similar one struck down Washington DC’s ban. Instead, we have get past the physical and “imagine” a better way.
Religion uses higher forms of mental and spiritual principles to change behavior patterns, the physical, in people’s lives. But in our brand of physical philosophy, physical principles are used to raise our mental and spiritual awareness. The practical applications of that awareness are often difficult to imagine at first, but contain the principles of Taijutsu none the less: controlling an attacker by use of their own intention, creating a Kamae, target, that repels or invites the attacker, and ultimately owning the moment when opportunity exists to use some ingenuity, or in our case, “Nin”genuity, the uncommon improvisation to help us persevere.
Facing down, in this case, an armed attacker at a distance outside arms reach, means using our imagination - mind and spirit - to answer questions we can’t answer physically. When simply turning over our wallet does not conclude the situation or when innocents’ lives are also at stake, something else must take shape other than physical technique. How do we “force” an opponent to close with us? What can we do to convince them they have nothing to fear?
How about: fainting, crying, a seizure, shutting down - any number of these might be more than enough in life or death scenarios to cause confusion in the mind of an attacker and open a window for loved ones to escape. The opponent, now emboldened by the sudden shift in the balance of power, may close in to fulfill their intent of robbery, violence, terrorism, whatever. Once the opponent feels comfortable, confident with the psychological distance, their physical distance will close as well, offering us opportunities to escape, defend, or attack.
On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols, on trial for rape in Atlanta, Georgia, escaped from the Fulton County Courthouse. In the process, he beat his 5’1”, 51-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy so fiercely, she would later become an invalid, unable to even testify against him. Stealing her gun, he made his way back to the courtroom he was being prosecuted in and executed the judge presiding over his case, along with a court reporter. He then searched for his two prosecutors as well as his rape victim, but unable to find them, fled, shooting and killing a pursuing Police Officer. On the streets, Nichols carjacked scores of people smashing some with the butt of his gun and tried to kidnap others, unsuccessfully. During the rampage, he would commit at least 54 crimes. Roadblocks nearly shut down the city of Atlanta, as squad cars, helicopters, 100 State Troopers, and the FBI joined the manhunt.
That night, Nichols killed a federal agent in his own home, as he tiled his bathroom floor, and stole his truck. It would be the last life he would take. On the run, Nichols kidnapped Ashley Smith, a drug-addicted single mother trying to turn herself around, and tied her up in her own bathroom. Giving Nichols her last bit of crystal methamphetamine, Smith, a Christian, began talking to Nichols, speaking of her daughter who she was scheduled to see that very day and even read to him passages from the Bible and Pastor Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life.” It worked. Nichols repented his sins and allowed Smith to leave, after which she called 911. A SWAT team arrested Nichols shortly after as he emerged from Smith’s apartment waving a white flag. Although Nichols was clearly a bloodthirsty killer, Smith was smart, giving up the drugs he wanted, and afterward using the higher principles she believed in to humanize herself and connect with him. Due to the conviction in her spirit she was able to draw him to her psychologically, giving her the physical opportunity to escape.
“How do we know, what we don’t know?” This is the question we must ask ourselves continually to take stock of ourselves, our lives, and circumstances. There is no situation in which we will know the outcome ahead of time. None. And there are plenty of situations where we take our security and safety for granted: at home, at work, commuting, or out with friends. But if we use our own lives as the model and pay attention to the kinds of events that occur daily to us, friends, and around the nation and world, we can quickly imagine those very scenarios happening to us in moments of reflection. What would we do? What could we do? Was there something we could have done beforehand? Would we have paid attention to something that untrained people intentionally shut out?
The process we use to imagine the answers and refine them is the flexing of that mental and spiritual awareness and we should be practicing it everyday, everywhere we go, with everything we do. The warrior’s mind is not simply better prepared because it knows more techniques, more stuff. The warrior’s mind is able to invent the heretofore unknown technique on the fly, imagine and then create with spontaneous combustion the way through; it is able to improvise, adapt, and implement the answer to persevere.