Ad 2:
2022-02-12 13:13:54 (UTC)

Prompt 153: Night Violence

153. You knew you stayed out too late and now two shadowy figures appear to be following you. You pick up your pace and don't see a cab in sight. As the two individuals tap you on the shoulder, you hope for the best. What happens next?

Yeah, cough up some cash or you're dead. If you're a woman, you're even worse off. Even if you do give your assailant money (they would take all they want anyway).

This same scenario happens multiple times every day. It's terrible to even think about it. Why would I bother writing a story about it?

One thing I will always remember as a lost opportunity is not enrolling in a martial-arts regimen in my college years. To graduate, I needed a phys-ed credit, and "Introduction to Self-Defense" seemed the least-offensive, most-interesting course in that category. I'm glad I took it.

While far outside my personal comfort zone in general, I enjoyed it. It was mostly all-new to me. The only things I knew about prior to the course (though I certainly wasn't proficient in them) were a few handholds and a mule kick. Based on my previous athletic training, I understood the concept of keeping a low center of gravity, using your legs and core muscles for the bulk of the work, and to aim for the vulnerable spots such as the groin, the neck, and the eyes. The objective of self-defense in this context was two-fold: avoid situations where you'll need to use your skills, but when in said situation, use them automatically and escape to relative safety.

The instructor took a liking to me, seeming to appreciate my effort and approach. There's a term for it that I don't remember, but I was "volun-told" to be the instructor's punching-bag. He would demonstrate a new technique to the students, usher me up to the front of the room, and then say something like, "Come at me," or, "Grab at my neck." He'd then Do Something, and in the blink of an eye I'd be in a hammerlock, or flat on the ground seeing stars, wondering what happened.

There was one session where he held a handgun to my head, after demonstrating of course that it was unloaded and nothing was in the chamber. That was an eye-opener for me. He suggested in such dire straits, one should always dodge the barrel of a gun to the same side of the body as the arm holding the weapon. The action of the finger on the trigger might jerk the barrel exit of the weapon away from you, and you might survive. At point-blank range, he used me as his dummy. With the gun pointed off to the side of my head, he said: "Deaf." Pointing it at my temple, he said, "Dead." The class stared at us, moon-eyed.

The final exam for the course was an interesting scenario. He scheduled appointments for each of his students to come to the classroom. Inside, there was a single, dimly-lit light bulb. We were tasked with walking to the wall on the opposite side of the training room, while the instructor would approach us at some point from the shadows, usually from behind. We would use our training to escape whatever hold he had put us in and then the exam was considered over when we touched the other wall.

I earned a "B" for the course, which was completely acceptable to me. Everything was new, and I absorbed it as quickly and thoroughly as I was able at the time. The instructor and I had a brief discussion afterward, and he invited me to his martial arts course, carried out beyond the college class. As I was dirt-poor at the time, while intrigued and hopeful, I balked on enrolling in the course. I wondered where he was for several years after that, especially after my divorce and I was expanding my circle of opportunities. This being well over 20 years ago now, I think the time has passed for me to aggressively pursue martial arts. Physical fitness is what I've prioritized at this point in my life. Well, that and avoiding city life.