Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Protect Team Member's Perspective...

The below blog was written by Brendan McGrath, a senior team member at Protect's Auckland group classes.

Hi there,

I’ve been one of Phil’s students over the past three years (time flies when your having fun;-). So before we kick off just a quick note to say that these views are not strictly those of Protect Self Defence.

I read something in the paper recently, a 74 year old man kicked to death in an alleyway on his way home by three young men, …… fingers crossed there is something valuable here! We really are trying to change ourselves, our friends, and the world!!!

Some stories are great promotional ammunition for the RBSD movement, a martial arts expert beaten up, mugged or worse, dying because they got in a scrap over a shoulder barge, a drunken brawl outside a pub, mugged at an ATM. Sure, true “self defence” can easily help us to control our environment either thru de-escalation or if need be, ultimately thru physical means. So yes, RBSD has plenty of “Look we told you so” moment’s in the media to draw support from, but that’s just too easy, it’s a narrow perspective.

Some stories that are reported are so sad it’s hard to see how we can take something positive from them, some are simply tragic. Some make you wonder how anything we teach would have really helped.

This old bloke on his way home perhaps to his old dear wife, perhaps from visiting his children, he could have been my late grandfather could have been anyone’s granddad or elderly neighbour. A tragic way to mark the end to a life which if he was like my late granddad was filled with generosity and love.

Self-defence is usually a hopeful and empowering message. But there is something about 3 young men beating a 74 year old man to death in an alleyway that is really upsetting and disturbing, it makes me fear for my little boy. That no matter how much I can teach him that at some point perhaps when he’s 70 that this could happen to him, or my dear old mum who goes for walks on the beach with her dog, how can I do anything to protect her?

In fact this event is tragic for those three young men also, their lives are ruined, they may not appreciate it right now as they sit in jail in some ways riding high on the kudos of killing a man, but ruined lives nonetheless.

There needs to be a fuller solution, teaching people kung fu at some point simply becomes bogus and absurd.

I have a secret, a long time ago, almost 20 years ago now as a young man, in a disturbed moment as a very angry kid I swung a piece of rough sawn wood into the side of a woman’s head.

It’s a long story, but in that moment I could have killed her, I wouldn’t have really meant to but it could have happened. I would not be sitting here enjoying my wonderful life, and her children would not be enjoying their loving mother.

It was just dumb luck I didn’t kill her. In the moment that I attacked her, in that moment, I never gave her a name, never understood that her children need her, like mine need me.

Sometimes I find it all rather hard to reconcile how well life has turned out, but it has certainly been on the good graces of firstly a judge, family, friends, and ultimately society. I’m very thankful for that, and that translates to actions not just words, if I spot you out there in trouble I will stop. I physically can’t just drive by; my stomach starts to twist up inside me. I’ve grown up a lot in 20 years forgotten a lot, but the moment I walked into protect the message resonated with me. I have found a lot of redemption in my time at protect, its cathartic.

Something that has stood out for me at Protect, “lets see if we can ALL walk away from this situation unharmed, we are all someone’s child, brother, sister, mother, father, even the arsehole that’s just called you every name under the sun” that fundamentally we care. This is not a soft line on self defence, but a first line. We also have a very hard line for those that would persist and seek to take us from our family, our friends.

At the core of this what I am getting at here is that we avoid violence because we care, we defuse because we care both about ourselves and the instigator of violence and their families, and ultimately we protect ourselves because we care about ourselves and our loved ones.

There is one take out message here, it is NOT about how the principles that “Protect” teach can protect us physically. The message is about how we who believe in the anti violence principles that “Protect” teaches can thru educating our children and those around us to not use violence, in the long term make a safer world, one with more respect and care. In this way our message benefits not only those who come to classes, to seminars, to courses, but it benefits all of our society.

This is the message that can protect my children, my loved ones and people I will never meet, people that have never heard of protect can be safer because of this message.
Some bloke who rants at me from his car, and I apologise and move along… his kids owe an unknowing debt to my learning’s from protect, today their dad wont be in hospital because I put him there or in prison because he’s beaten me to a pulp.

And that view, that aspiration, that higher thinking is not common in self defence. Our aspiration is to affect even those that have never heard of “Protect”. To actually make the world a bit safer for all. In truth a self defence course may not have helped that 74 year old man, we will never know. And the offenders well perhaps it’s doubtful for them also. But consider that we are actually trying to teach people to understand and avoid the terrible cost of violence.

If the offenders parents, older sisters, etc had attended a course…. What we are really seeking is to increase the numbers of people in the population who do not resort to violence as a first base for conflict resolution. It might seem like an impossible task to effect change like that, we cannot afford to let that deter us …………

Heres the story that prompted me to write to you all..

Daughters account

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