I just walked back to my place in the rain this morning from my 18 Lohan Palm class, down the main street in Creston. I saw the kids from the high school gathering at the local fast food for lunch, the line up at 711 for gas and past so many people I knew on the street it was heart warming. Small towns are really beautiful in their own way. There is a sense of comfort knowing many of the people you pass, where everything you need is and how to get there. I felt this as I walked and listened to my music on my way home, thinking a bit about the mornings lesson about the true self (Hun) and the acquired self (Shen) and how meditation in its many forms works to quiet the acquired self so we can hear the whispers of our true selves, who we really are. The Lohan class was very interested in these aspects of meditation practice and how strengthening our bodies help to strengthen our minds and vice versa. I told the story of when I began my training in 1986 and my true self seemed to scream in my ear that I had found my path.
As I neared my apartment downtown I saw two young men, one displaying anger and violent intentions at the other who was trying to walk away. I saw the pushing and shoving as they neared me and I took out my headphones to listen. They passed me and the violent one gave me a look meant to intimidate as I put my headphones away and looked down to show I meant not to confront him. When I turned heel and followed them I was unnoticed as I was already out of his mind. Through the cursing and threats I gathered money was owed and the much larger violent man was going to beat it out of the other. Now don’t get me wrong some times people need a swat in this life, be it by their mothers hand or the police but I rarely feel it is appropriate for a larger opponent to beat and bully an obviously afraid and smaller one. When the first punch was thrown I interrupted the impending beating with a “Hey!”. This larger, muscled guy turned on me and his victim turned and ran with the opportunity. My job was done. They can sort it out for themselves but not in front of me.
I was told to mind my business and keep walking, I responded with a simple agreement to keep walking, right towards him. He was right handed and so I moved towards his left shoulder to make him turn and have an opening for the side of my head. I looked at his face and let my body soften as I took my hands out of my jacket pockets and walked. Without any violence he let me walk past him and comment how I don’t like seeing bullies, I don’t like bullies at all. Stepped back to his right and into the puddle behind him. His wet foot and puzzled look were enough for me as I passed and continued home.
Sometimes I simply cannot mind my own business, but I realize that it is who I am. I made a promise to my teacher to help people in trouble if I could and my true self cannot sit by and not do it. I had no desire to fight or teach him a lesson physically. But I was happy I was able to use my martial arts to help someone. Looking down at first took me away as a threat, giving him false security and making him forget about me. Taking out my earphones allowed me to hear and decide what was going on and if anyone was with him as back up. Interrupting him after he became physical changed his attention and timing and allowed the other man to run. Pointing my intent at this left shoulder made him turn away from me and back up, making it only possible for his right hand to attack and his foot to step into the water, distracting him (and giving me pleasure). Looking at his face and eyes let him see my lack of fear and hands coming out of my pockets as an intimidation tactic. Softening my body was to allow me to use my skills if I had too and conveys predatory intent as did my words.
It’s so much more than kicking and punching, it sometimes comes to that, but there are so many opportunities to help others with what we learn and teach without violence. What annoys me most was that number of people on the street watching and trying to ignore the conflict. I understand not having the same skills to deal with it yourself but do something to help a fellow man, call the police, call for help, don’t just stand there. If you stand by and do nothing, eventually when you need help others will do the same.
Published Books by Shifu Neil Ripski