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Awareness - The Ultimate Self-Defense Tool

Personally, I have had no less than three encounters with "evil" people. I'm not speaking about some blowhard at a bar, or erratic driver who just cut me off, or someone simply being rude. I'm talking about those in our society who are completely broken - asocial predators.

As a noun the word evil is defined as "A profound manifestation of immorality and wickedness, especially in people's actions." In my opinion, the type of adult person who desires children as a trophy is at the apex of wickedness. I will reserve my thoughts and feelings on what should be done with individuals like this, but instead I want to relate my experiences to the topics of awareness as it relates to self-defense.

Being a youth and teen of the 80's I was exposed to the phrase "stranger danger" on a regular basis. However, in the early to mid-70's we weren't as accustomed to the phrase yet. To add some context, walking to and from school was just a normal evolution of your day, even as a 6-7 year old first grader. Of course, our parents would tell us to walk with other kids on the sidewalk away from the street, but parents didn't hover over their kids as much like they do today. So sometimes we'd walk along the side of the road in the ditch line instead because that was "way cooler" than the sidewalk.

One day I walked home from school with a classmate. She lived on the side of the roadway where the ditch line ran. Once we arrived at her house we said our goodbyes and I continued my journey home walking in the ditch line. I could see kids across the street walking on the sidewalk. However, I preferred the adventure of walking solo and exploring as I made my way home. No more than a minute later a car pulls up and the passenger side door opens. A middle aged man was staring at me from the driver's seat when he asked me if I want a ride home.

Now remember, at this point in my 6-7 year old lifetime I had been well versed in "walk with your friends", and "stay on the sidewalk", and "don't talk to strangers". I managed to completely disregard the first two general orders, so how about the last one. Well, I went ahead and answered this guy, "No thanks." He then told me that he was my grandpa and that my mom told him to pick me up. This is where I began this long dissertation about how "I only have two grandpas, one is Grandpa Wally and he's my mom's dad, and the other is Grandpa Joe who is my dad's dad. Oh wait, and there's Grandpa Ed too. But he's my great grandpa and we don't get to see him as often...."

During my prolonged "grandfather explanation" I can see the guy looking around and acting anxious. As a matter of fact, almost 45 years later I can still see this guy in my memories, including his red Cadillac and his white hair. He eventually got frustrated enough and abruptly drove away. I didn't tell my parents that story until almost a decade later. They were mortified.

If I would have gotten anywhere near the passenger side of that car no one would have seen it. He pulled up alongside that four foot ditch line completely blocking any view of me. What would have happened I can only speculate on, but I'm quite certain it would have had a very negative outcome.

What kept me away from that car, even at 6-7 years old, was awareness. Even then I knew something was off. I didn't know the guy and at no point did he ever say my name, or my mom's name. Plus, his behavior wasn't of someone who knew me. This guy was a stranger, and that meant danger.

When I teach kids martial arts I make sure they are taught about these types of situations. They receive instruction about being aware and how to behave correctly if faced with this type of threat. The facts are...there is no martial art that can protect a child from a grown adult who doesn't have their best interest in mind. Any instructor who tells you different is lying. A black belt around a child's waist will not help them either. Awareness is their main self-defense tool and that tool needs to be sharpened, honed and calibrated over time.

There are wolves always on the hunt for unexpecting sheep. However, there are also sheepdogs, and we don't play that. In my next blog, we'll go down the rabbit hole even deeper and continue this discussion on self-defense.

Chris Mikuta

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