A drunk young guy thrusts his crotch at me threateningly, limboing closer and closer. He’s backed up by equally drunk mates.
I’m out with my husband on a rare, kid-free date night. Nothing outrageous, just a civilised drink in Glebe. We stroll arm-in-arm through quiet streets towards Central. On Broadway we hear a group of drunks on the far side of the road, rattling sign posts and kicking fences like a horde of rowdy monkeys. They cross to our side at a speed surprising for their level of inebriation, and they focus on me.
Limbo guy is coming very close now, leering. A thought pops into my head: he’s so unstable like that! Without changing my pace or direction, I see my arm float out, my loose fist gently nudging the centre of his chest. There is no big collision, just soft, warm contact for a second, before he stumbles and staggers backwards, trying hard not to fall down. His rowdy mates are suddenly silent.
We keep walking, still arm in arm, in our bubble of merry energy, then look at each other: “What was that?” Then a big grin.
We don’t look back. The total silence behind us is enough information.
Only later I realise I hadn’t been scared. No panic, not even concern. I knew that if limbo guy had been a real physical threat, if there had been intent to do harm on his side, his groin was right there for me to strike.
I don’t think that’s what he had in mind when he approached me groin-first. Maybe I was supposed to be intimidated? But it‘s my choice whether to see a piece of anatomy coming towards me as something to be scared of, or as a highly vulnerable target. My choice: to behave as prey, or own my capacity to act as predator.
Training in atemi-jutsu has given me knowledge, skills, confidence. In short, I now have options. I can take action within and beyond the base reactions of fright, flight or fight.
I have made friends with my inner ‘mongrel’. Because I am a sane, socialised, well-mannered human, it’s only ever been off the leash within the safety of the training environment. But as they say, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”.
Next Atemi-jutsu Live Training Weekends: Sydney 15–16 September 2018; Brisbane October 2018
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