I arrived at Krav Maga Experts at the age of 15, a scared, overweight, and constantly nervous kid. Over the years, my instructors not only became father figures who helped me overcome many of my great obstacles, (Including all three prior mentioned obstacles,) but just as importantly taught me how to be situationally aware, and to avoid fights if they can be avoided, but to be prepared for one if necessary.
Everything you will read in the following story would not have been possible had I not had the proper training, on One- Maintaining Situational Awareness. Two- Suppressing my Ego. Not caring what someone else says about me. Three- Avoiding a fight so much as possible, even if I seem less than a moment away from one. I’ve rarely been in situations that put my personal safety at risk, as the last time it was threatened before last night, I had the opportunity to just run away. (Which I did!) However, last night, running was not an option my conscience would allow.
I live in a fairly safe city in Eastern Europe with relatively low levels of crime, (compared to New York!) and Police that make regular patrols in even less populated areas. Yet, getting on one of the last metro trains headed toward my home, I noticed that three men, and one young woman, having some sort of argument. I decided to sit down next to the woman in the spare seat beside her, because something did not seem right about the situation, especially on a Sunday night at roughly 1 AM, in addition to the fact that most of the people on the train seemed to keep as much distance as possible from this situation.
One of the men, who was on my right, it appeared, was not accosting her at all and may have been trying to calm the two men across from us down, so he was not part of the argument in a negative fashion so far as I could tell, so good on him for doing something and speaking up. Yet, in short, the two men across from us were drunk, one of the men was visibly armed, and making slitting throat sounds and threatening to cut us with his ice skates (which were sheathed,) and the argument continued. These threats followed repeatedly giving the woman unwanted verbal attention. Now, something else my instructors taught me was “No Ego.”
I did not want a fight, I did not look for one, and in every way, I tried to get the man to calm down. I asked them if they liked football or sport and told them to look at the tv monitor, and I even lied saying “Look football.” (There was no football on the TV at the time.) I tried, in the local language to say that it was late at night, I’m going home, she’s going home, and that they too are trying to get home, again, very calmly. I, of course, kept my hands where they could be used, one hand resting on my briefcase, and my other hand resting on that arm. OF course, non-threatening, but still where my hands could do what was necessary for an instant. Now, most of this argument happened while seated, though eventually, the man with the ice skates stood up, as the woman to my left angered him and his friend by saying that they are not men. (She couldn’t be more right!) The man stood up and walked toward her, and I stood up, faced him, and he backed off. Eventually, the seated argument continued, and the men tried to mock me in various ways, imitating my facial expressions (which needless to say were fairly serious,) insulting me, and waving the ice skates in the air, or motioning that they would slit our throats, and drunkenly laughing.
I continued to stare at the men as they berated me, but I kept my eyes in such a way that I could show them they did not intimidate me, (the truth is I was scared, but I’m certain the woman was even more scared!) and also in such a way that I could see their hands and if they took the covers off the ice skates or moved in any other way. Eventually, the man stood up one more time, and was on the other side of the handrail from her, accosting her, though I did not get up this time, he soon sat down. The man to our right got on his phone, possibly to call the Police, though soon lowered his phone. (Likely no signal, or more likely, the fact that we were starting to enter a station where everyone could exit, and there would certainly be police.)
Eventually, the woman stood up, and went to the door, to exit, along with many other people, to the exit at the next station. I sat alone, across from the two men, though when I heard one of them say “Let’s go,” and then something about the girl, (while also motioning toward her,) I assumed that they were going to follow her. I made this judgment, as they showed no desire to exit before she moved toward the exit, and still spoke about her. I decided to stand up, between her and the two men and told her that I heard they were going to follow her, and asked if I could walk her home. She did not understand, we switched to English, but her English was even worse than my knowledge of her language. Thankfully, the two men remained seated and did not follow us off the train.
I walked her partway home, and she asked if it was my station, I explained that in truth mine was farther away, and I again said I thought I heard them mentioning following her. We exchanged names, had a few minutes of conversation, and she vented about the idiotic men and had a cigarette. She for a third time asked where my home metro was, and when I explained, she actually laughed, seeming embarrassed, and put a hand on my arm. Eventually, she said she was fine as she was not far from home, hugged me, said I’m a good guy and goodbye.
I told her “good luck” and to call the police if there was a “Problem”, and then I walked home, alone, still maintaining the awareness I had earlier. She got away from this situation that must have been horrifying. I got away from this situation, and I am thankful for that more than I can express. Yet I cannot stress enough, that I am glad I had the three things first mentioned with me at the time. One- Situational awareness. I noticed my surroundings, and entering the metro, knew something was off. Two- a Suppressed Ego. I would not let any words force me into actions that put myself or another in danger. Three- I did not look for a fight, and start one, even if it was less than a second away. Go out, speak up, and get home safely. Here. I hope it’s not too long.
Thank you, W.B for sharing this.