Thursday, January 20, 2011

Situational Awareness: Gunmen Storm Orange Line Train, Beat and Rob Passengers

It was reported to the Unsuck DC Metro blog that six masked, armed men attacked and robbed riders on the DC subway on back December 23, 2010. The whole event is pretty horrible, especially considering that Metro is a pretty safe public transportation system. But this is not a great area either. Read the article here.

Other than this act of violence, the thing that stood out to me is the "...witness said some people didn't even seem aware of what was happening." Situational Awareness is so important, but it can be difficult. I'm amazed at how the child noticed this. Seats on the trains face front and back and many trains have mini see-thru barriers between the entrance doors and the seats. It is not the best design. In my experience the New York, Boston and Moscow trains are designed much better, with open spaces. Still, they are not ideal, especially during rush hour, and special/sporting events. I hope the police catch these guys. 

Light Capacity

Jam Packed

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Experience Okinawan Culture through Uechi-Ryu

When you study traditional martial arts, you expect to learn about fighting and self-defense. And in most programs and schools, that's exactly what you get. One of the things I like about studying Uechi-ryu Karate is that you can get more out of it than just the self-defense.

Uechi-ryu allows for experiencing the culture of Okinawa. The history of the islands is fascinating and in the DC-area there are good opportunities to observe and take part in Okinawan and Japanese cultural events. Many teachers incorporate parts of the culture in their classes, especially those that have studied for extended periods of time in Okinawa. Many TMA schools make periodic trips to study and train in Okinawa and there are events in the US to check out.

There are many local events sponsored by the Japanese Embassy and by Okinawan organizations. One of the bigger ones here is the Shin Shun Kai Spring Celebration in Annandale, VA. My Uechi-ryu school participates yearly by performing karate and applying it in traditional and non-traditional ways in a 10-minute routine. It's a good way to enjoy and experience the culture and to entertain the crowd. Below is a recent performance video. Keep training and learning.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do You Look Like a Victim?

Over the Holidays, I received a book called The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting. I put it on my wishlist after reading "Meditiations on Violence". The subject matter is very similar though the authors have different backgrounds.

Both books tell you that the best way to win a fight or confrontation, is to avoid getting into one in the first place. This falls in line with most martial arts teaching. There are excellent examples in both of what has a high chance of working for you. One, which seems obvious, can be dificult for many people to pull off. Carry yourself with confidence. That is, don't look like a victim or an easy target.

There is more involved, including situational awareness, to help you keep clear of such situations and both of these books are great for learning more about avoidance. I try to to keep higher awareness in certain areas to help avert any possible threats. Luckily, most of where I commute and travel is pretty safe. But I recently had an enlightening experience with this.

I bought a walking cane for my mother-in-law after she had injured her leg. I had to carry it home on the subway. The train was a little crowded and after a few minutes, someone tapped my shoulder from behind. A young lady offered her seat to me which I declined. I couldn't figure out why for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me - the cane.

Even though I was not limping, showing no signs of pain or even actually using the cane, someone perceived that I was injured (I was holding the cane in the same hand as my lunch bag while reading "Little Black Book" in the other).  I wasn't worried at the time because I "know" the area and crime is practically non-existent there.

But what would a thug have thought? "Great! An injured guy, I can take him." Or would he have noticed that I actually showed no signs of being injured and could possibly use the cane as a defensive weapon? Luckily that's a situation I didn't have to deal with. It just goes to show that you can never tell what people are thinking about you. Stay safe.
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