I had just finished training at the gym and was on my way home. There was this man who cut off my path and flexed up on me. He came into my personal space and tried to physically intimidate me. “Hey man, give me some money and you can go!” He was close enough that I could have easily gotten a clinch and taken him down hard to the ground. He was a big boy, but I smelled liquor on his breath and saw a high in his eyes. Despite his size, I didn’t really feel threatened by this clown, so I took control of his arms and told him he needed to stop, back up, and relax. I didn’t want to engage more aggressively unless absolutely necessary.
He kept trying to post up and flex on me, but after a few futile attempts at freeing himself, he realized that I could easily control him and he temporarily stood down. Then when I released him, he tried to square up and prepare to swing, again I took control of his arms.
He read my shirt text aloud and said “Everything hurts, huh?” I replied you are going to end up feeling like my shirt if you don’t relax, stop playing with me. We repeated this catch and release a few times, then he stopped and I gently pushed him back to create some distance. He then said, “I’m right here, thanks for hanging out with us.” Then he went to sit down with two transient guys hanging out. I know one of them, but he wasn’t involved as he was high as heck. I said have a good night guys. I overheard him say “That white boy is strong af.” Thanks, but I’m not a white boy, I’m Puerto Rican.
Be careful out there, NYC is getting crazy. I managed to stay calm, stay aware of my surroundings, and dominated the guy in a safe and non-aggressive way. I exerted just enough control to let him know he’d be in trouble if he took things any further, but I didn’t harm him. As I mentioned, I suspect he was drunk as I smelled alcohol but I’m not sure as he also seemed quite coherent. I de-escalated a situation that could have turned really ugly. Think of Jordan Neely and how that unfortunately escalated. Though I have the sense to not choke someone for so long, I really didn’t want things to escalate. Thankfully he listened to my warnings and relaxed before things got really serious.
Even at my current, long-time white belt level, I 100% attribute my successful handling of this to my martial arts training. You see, to me, it’s no big deal to try and control another man who is trying to impose his will on me. I have no problem with being physical in close quarters, we do it in training all the time.
During the altercation, I was calm as can be. I suspect the perp understood that as well. He didn’t have an easy victim here and I was not scared. Afterward, when I walked away, that’s when the anxiety and nerves kicked in because I realized what could have happened there. But I’m very proud of myself for not allowing things to escalate and using the right level of force to gain control with minimal damage. I’m proud that I didn’t freeze up or panic.
My advice to all of you, go get some form of real “live” training. What I mean by “live” are arts like BJJ, wrestling, kickboxing, boxing, sambo, judo, or Thai boxing. Those are fighting styles where you will quickly learn how to handle situations like this confidently because you fight to survive every time you train. Other arts where you don’t actually spar with a live opponent rob you of experiencing the stress response that prepares you to stay calm during a situation like this one.
Stay safe out there.
Just a life long New Yorker sharing the journey through my lens. Please take note of a post’s date. The views I express here are subject to change and evolving as I grow and learn.