Friday, April 19, 2013
Are the Martial Arts the Answer to the Crime Wave Hitting Bacolod & Negros Nowadays? Part I
The short answer is no and yes. To illuminate on this point, let us take some very relevant examples. I once asked an instructor what he will do if his bag is snatched from him or when his pocket is picked. He replied, “I’ll use Kickboxing and Taekwondo on him.” To a casual observer such a reply sounds logical. But let’s take the side of the snatcher/pickpocket. He has only one goal: to get somebody else’s property; sparring with a well trained martial artist is not included in his agenda. So how can a martial art be of use when the perpetrator is no longer in the crime scene? Probably if the martial artist can also run and is fast enough to catch the suspect, then he might be able to use his skills. Last Wednesday, April 18, 2013, a female call center agent lost P10,000 to Laglag Barya Gang inside a PUJ and a Pontevedra resident lost P35,000 to Laglag Cellphone Gang while she was in the escalator of SM City Bacolod. These two incidents, as well as the modus operandi of the Dura-Dura Gang, rely on distraction and stealth. Resistance from the victim is next to zero, or at least to the minimum if conditions are not ideal for the perpetrator, because before one can avoid or resist one needs to know what is about to happen or what is happening. To highlight this point, consider the case of a policeman from a town (or was it a city?) outside of Bacolod whose pocket was also picked in Bacolod City. This principle also applies to burglars. Their objective is to gain entrance undetected, grab valuables, and escape unnoticed. Even if a homeowner has an armory it wouldn’t serve him any good if he doesn’t know there is an intruder inside his home. The success of above mentioned modus operandi is all based on the victim being caught unaware. Thus, the first thing to have is awareness. Most people walk through the streets as if lieisurely strolling in the park or boarding a public utility vehicle with no concerns about their surroundings (some even wear headphones which impede their ability to hear small noises, such as slashing a bag open with a blade). The process of self protection can be broken down into 3 interrelated stages: perception, evaluation, and reaction. Many martial artists only train for the last one, reaction (a good example was the aforementioned instructor in the second paragraph), and most average citizens will also tend to rely on that stage. However, the first stage, perception, is the most important since it is the one that will determine the outcome, whether a crime will be successful or a victim can successfully avoid or fend it off. Established and legitimate martial arts do not only teach physical techniques of defense but also seek to develop the mind and spirit. It is in these aspects where perception and evaluation are developed. The two stages are primarily mental and the longer one stays in them, the more likely one could not proceed to the third one, which is reaction, a physical process. Some important questions to ask when you board a PUJ, do you know the plate number of the vehicle? Do you take a look at the other passengers as you board the vehicle? Do you choose with whom you will sit beside? How do you secure your cellphone, purse, or other valuables? Are you talking on your cellphone and freely announcing to everybody that you’ve just withdrawn a large amount of money? Do you have your fare ready or you still have to open your purse/wallet and show to people beside you all the paper money in it as well as all your credit cards? There are certain ways one can act outside of the house/office so as not to attract undesirables. Now as you take a look at the other passengers, do you find anybody suspicious? Maybe the jeepney only has a few passengers but a certain man is sticking with you or when the jeepney is full and he still inserts himself beside you even if there is an available seat just in front of you. Does the man smell of liquor? Do you notice something bulging under his shirt? This is what we call perception. As to how you analyze these informations taken from your observations, this is evaluation. Now presuming that you feel uneasy or suspicious of the person beside you, what do you do? Of course you can’t smack him if nothing yet happened (and I wouldn’t advice that because they usually work at least in pairs, and they have bladed weapons. You wouldn’t want to lose your life over a measly P1,000 bill or an obsolete cellphone). Depending on the situation, positions, and other factors, you may react by watching carefull the persons besides you on both sides and prepare yourself, transferring the location of your bag or cellphone, transferring to another seat if any is available, or going down the vehicle. If you choose to go down the vehicle, don’t get down in your home or place of work so in case your suspicion is true then they could not trrce you. Also make sure that when you go down you don’t choose a dimly lit or dark area for they may go down the vehicle too and follow you. A place with many people (i.e. witnesses) would be ideal. What I’ve given is simply a hypothetical situation to stimulate your imagination and illustrate a certain part of reality. The most powerful tool you can always have is your mind. Self preservation starts with it. Without it, even the best martial arts techniques would be useless. Of course, it goes without saying that even if a person has superior perception and evaluation skills but he lacks the physical attributes and skills to react, then he may still fail. This where martial arts training becomes very useful, in developing body, mind, and spirit. In part II, we will expound more on this matter with a focus on the reaction stage and how to evaluate the street utility of a martial art.