Martial artists know techniques for injuring quickly and with minimal effort. That fact floats into my head whenever members of an increasingly inconsiderate public seem to enjoy acting uncivilized – but not for the reason one would think.
An instance of uncivilized behavior has stayed with me for a few days now. A man was flying through the parking garage at the gym, ignoring stop signs. I had to hit the brakes to keep him from plowing into the passenger side of my car – which, at the time, was occupied by my son. I looked at the driver with a what-is-the-matter-with-you expression and motioned for him to continue on. He stared at me a second, then laughed before peeling away.
“I wanna rip his face…” my son said angrily. “Never mind,” he quickly added with a heavy sigh. “But did you see that?? He was laughing!”
I told him I saw it but thought it best not to think about it. Thinking about it would make me want to go chase the guy out of the garage.
A chase would be stupid and juvenile, of course. A chase would automatically escalate the confrontation. And once words were exchanged – particularly with a son who already wanted to “rip his face” – the probability of blows would be disturbingly high.
I’ve met many who, upon learning that I practice and teach kung fu, raise their eyebrows with what looks like disapproval, though usually cloaked in politeness. One acquaintance actually made comments about promoting violence. But the truth is precisely the opposite. Most people don’t know that an evaluation of kung fu skills includes assessing one’s level of control.
Some of the most anti-confrontational people I’ve ever known wear a black belt or sash during their off hours. The power to injure quickly and with minimal effort is sobering. It frequently creates people who would rather just say “never mind.”