My friend’s wife came back from grocery shopping this weekend with a chilling story and insight into her own self-protection mentality: A man stalked her in the remote parking lot behind the store. Now, the story obviously had a good outcome— nothing happened—but it was the way she talked about it, what was important to her and how she processed the event that stuck with me enough to write about it here.
(Some facts about my friend’s wife: She’s 5’2″, had a couple months of training more than 16 years ago and hasn’t been on the mats since. She also took out a guy who came after her in a parking garage around that same time.)
“There was a guy across the street who was obviously unbalanced, homeless or nearly so. As soon as he saw me, he looked around, saw that we were pretty much alone behind the store, and then began to cross the street toward me.
It was clear that I had triggered something in him, maybe I reminded him of a girlfriend, ex-wife, or his mother, I don’t know. But it was obvious to me that he was agitated by my presence.
My first thought was what I would do to him if he came near me. I figured I’d smash him in the neck and sit on his hip to drop him, and then kick him in the head when he was down on the ground. It’s worked for me every time I’ve done it in training.”
(When I asked her to clarify, she said that she found she could dump larger, heavier men reliably into the ground this way.)
“Then I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, up to a certain point, and loudly warn him off if he actually stepped into the parking lot, about 50 feet away. If he didn’t stop then I’d take him out.
As he got to my side of the street, he seemed to reconsider and paused at the sidewalk. I continued calmly putting groceries in the car, and making sure he could see I was keeping an eye on him. He seemed to come to a decision and slinked off down the street. So I got in the car and came home.”
Several things struck me about her story. The first one was the total lack fear-language or a sense of victimhood and the insight into her own self-protection mentality. I even asked her, “Were you worried about what he might do to you?” She shook her head. “It didn’t even occur to me. I was preoccupied with what I was going to do to him.”
That is not bravado or empty posturing. She was resolved to hurt him, put him down and make sure he couldn’t get back up. Her body language transmitted that grim determination and probably played a role in getting him to wave off. His prey was suddenly giving off predator signals, and he had to make the choice between a hard fight or easy pickings elsewhere.
Of course, it might all have been a terrible mistake; maybe he just wanted some change or a bag of chips. But that wasn’t her read on the situation, and I trust her judgment and her self-protection mentality.
The second thing that struck me was her confidence in her ability to get it done—even without having trained in a very long time—because she took ownership of the tool of violence way back then, and, unlike a specific technique or a spinning back-kick, you never forget how to hurt people. That self-protection mentality stays with you.
It’s been a long, long time since she had to think about it… but when she realized she was in a potentially bad situation, it was there for her. She knew what to do and she was resolved to do it.
She was, regardless of what most people might be led to believe, in her element. That kept her from behaving like a victim. And it probably helped to change a would-be predator’s mind.