Jutta reflects on a home invasion

Dear Aikido Friends,
Sometime ago you may have heard of the home invasion of Edwin and Jutta and the ensuing altercation. It was well reported in the media initially and followed up here, there was also considerable discussion in the Aikido community. Both Edwin and Jutta are well known in Brisbane aikido circles having practiced for many years, Edwin was a professional scholar of the East who we enjoyed in our dojo for many years, Jutta today holds a senior rank in Aikido Yuishinkai and remains the vice president of my old aikido dojo at Griffith Aikido
I think its fair to say that Aikido dojo focus on the practice of physical techniques as well as striving for a more peaceful daily life. Many are attracted to Aikido for self defence reasons, though altercations are rare in the aikido community. So there is some curosity as well as lessons in any real life encounter from someone in the community. All situations are unique but there is much that can be reflected on.
I asked Jutta if she would mind reflecting on her experiences to share with the aikido and wider community. Despite receiving no injuries its had quite a toll on their otherwise quiet lives and a reminder that violent encounters rarely have a winner. Its an account from the heart and quite sobering

“So, one finds a stranger in ones home while watching Television.   Sometimes there are noises which just need investigation, but does one expect a stranger inside ones Home and Castle.

Being a martial arts student, one should be prepared to handle such situations, but in today’s life, this could also turn out to ones disadvantage, if the intruder is armed.

The intruder stormed into my husband  – (and into the knife) holding on to several bags.   I myself was just behind my husband when this person stormed past leaving a trail of blood.   This, of course, was only noticed after the event.

Racing after this person, trying to stop him somewhere, somehow, seemed to be the only option, but he knew where he could get out.  Unknown to us he had unlocked the back door with a large metal pin/instrument.    That is where he obviously came in and this is where he stormed out, jumping down the upstairs balcony and climbing the fence gate – groaning as he did so.

The first realization to what had happened was disbelief.    Doing the right thing I called 000 and mentioned that the person was injured.

Then all hell broke loose.   Before we knew it, approximately 15 police arrived including crime Inspectors, forensic, helicopter with infrared lights, sniffer dogs.  The streets were cordoned off and we were question non-stop (separately) for hours.   Then taken to the police station and again were questions separately by another inspector.  At this stage I felt nauseate and extremely tense.

My nerves were at breaking point.  I tried very much to do some deep breathing, trying to calm myself which was not easy with all the going on and the sight of the blood on carpets and floors plus several items which were dropped in the rush by the intruder.

It was 2.30am when we were taken home by the police.   At 4am we felt the great need of sleep.

At 6am the phone rang and the reporters (7 of them) were outside the door.   And this continued all day.  Every TV station, phone interviews etc.  It was a big surprise to us, that the police had actually informed the media of the event.   But this had its reason to alert the public to be on the look-out.  All the friends and family (some we had not heard from or seen for many years) rang or emailed.   The phone did not stop for two days and this, rather than making one feel better,  caused more stress, as one had to repeat the story again and again, and was faced with the same sudden sensations of dread.

The shock and the harassment by the media made one want to hide.  I did not want to go out at all.  All I wanted was to make sure that everything, including us, were still safe.  Edwin’s attitude, when moving down the hallway to investigate the noise, was extremely calm and composed.

The police was very thoughtful and kind, but had no results to report, in finding the intruder, which caused a great unease, as the thought of retaliation was foremost on my mind.

Knowing there was a master key in my bag, we needed to change all the locks.  Before I knew it, our granddaughter emailed from Taiwan, that she had read that we had changed the locks.  No one had told this to the media or anyone else.  So, the media must have been on the watch and observed the locksmith van.

The carpets needed cleaning and all my cards, which one needs for ones daily life nowadays, needed to be replaced.   This was a real hassle as everyone would know who had been through a similar situation.  Hours were spent on the phone with interludes of music.  “Your call is important to us-please hold”.

The days after the event, I felt very angry with myself.  Asking myself, why did I not do this or that to apprehend the person.   Having been trained in martial arts one always envisages situations where the spontaneous reaction should set in.   The fact that everything happened in a narrow corridor in the dark and with tremendous speed,  may be one excuse.  Would I have reacted differently had I seen the person properly in a more spacious surrounding?

It is only due to Edwin’s training in aikido which made it possible to resist the intruder when he charged into him, as he is extremely unsteady on his feet nowadays.   It is the ki extension which kept him upright and which he used while holding the knife.

I must admit that for several weeks I was unable to approach any dark room inside the house or walk along the corridor unless I saw a light at the end of it.   I was amazed myself to what extend the whole business shattered ones nerves.    I lay awake listening very acutely to every little noise and only slept after taking ½ sleeping tablet, which I am glad to say, I stopped now, knowing the intruder  has been apprehended and put behind bars.    The sad thing is, that there was such an exposure of the house, address, phone number, names etc. that one only hopes, that it keeps other persons with similar ideas away rather than invite them to have a go at the our place also.

Now we have turned the home into “Ford Knox” and are unable to enjoy wide open doors, as we used to during the warm summer days.

Why has the whole story gone so viral, my brother in Germany asked, as these things happen on a daily basis (break-ins).     I can’t answer this correctly.  Is it the age/ the martial training/ the fact that the intruder  got stabbed?    I myself certainly can do without such fame.

Things have settled down now.    We like to live as normal as possible.  Most our neighbors  have added more security to their place in the last few weeks.    It certainly is very sad, that one has to live like this, in constant fear that it may happen again.

I always felt that the ki extension which I trained in over many years has helped me to cope with lots of things in life, has given me confidence and hopefully make me react quicker and more productive in any future skirmishes.”

Jutta Dowdy

22nd November, 2012

It seems like
 – In the moment actions and scenaris hard hard to predict, and while the community may play 20-20 hindsight, our friends are OK at the end of the day
– Keeping calm and centred is important and not in a fluffy bunny way, its a physical thing too
– That after the incident its quite complex and almost as stressfull
 – The after experience is consistent(albeit it in a less severe way) with  documented experiences of PTSD (insert link) and the writings of other professionsals show that the trauma is ongoing.