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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories » Are you watching?

Are you watching?

Perhaps disappointing to some, but probably not shocking to anyone that knows me, I’ve never been in a real fight. I’ve never had to use any of the Kenpo karate training in a confrontational situation. I don’t have any stories that begin with “So this one time I hit a guy”. Part of it is due to be lucky for sure. But part of it can also be attributed to being observant,  watching people around me, and leaving situations when I see the potential for a problem to develop.

Are you watching?

When you looked at the picture, how many kids? Adults? Out of the ordinary? We all have to practice noticing these things.

My instructor, Damian Wilson, tells an errie story of leaving a movie theater at night with his spouse and walking through an empty section of parking lot. It was deserted when they started, but he spotted someone walking towards them. The individual had their hood up covering their face with shadow and hands in the pockets.  As they walked naturally, the individual’s pace sped up and he got closer and closer.  Mr. Wilson handed his drink to his wife, casually position her in front of him, and dropped his car keys.  As he bent to pick up the keys, he turned to face the unknown person, and stepped into a precautionary fighting stance.  The guy ran off. No fight, no disturbance, no problem.

By observing his surrounding and watching as a situation developed, he was able to take steps to protect him and his wife.  And likely saved that unfortuate soul a lot of pain as well.

Like all skills associated with Kenpo karate, being observant is a drill that has to be practiced.  As best as I’m able, I try to teach the skill in class. But it mostly has to be practiced outside of class in everyday life.  Watching people’s facial expressions and body language (like in poker) will usually tip you off as to their next actions.  Start with the obvious signs (hands in pockets, eyes moving back and forth quickly, big exaggerated arm movements, etc).  Look for unusual patterns (pacing near a door in public, face sweats out of season, wearing sunglasses inside).  Do these things mean a confrontation or fight is about to occur?  Of course not.  But they are behaviors that should NOT be dismissed and ignored.  And if you are sufficiently uncomfortable by them, then move to leave the area.

In the situation that happened to Mr Wilson, could it have been the guy in the hood that was startled?  Sure.  But to be observant and err on the side of caution ensured the safety of all involved.  I’d rather be on the side of caution every time.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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