Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Being mugged not what its cracked up to be

Over this last weekend I received an email from one of my YouTube subscribers who had a hell of a story to tell.

Friday night, this young man, only 15 years old, was robbed at knife point in the street. The mugger demanded money and his cell phone. He did the right thing in this situation: he complied.

It's really easy, after training martial arts or having fought in the ring / octagon, to get stuck in that macho fantasy of kicking the living crap out of any bad guy foolish enough to try to rob you. But in reality, if/when you're ever thrust into that singular moment, and a wave of fear and adrenaline are coursing through your veins, all those well planned out, kick ass moves - the wrist lock-groin kick-arm bar-rear naked choke for the win - suddenly run screaming from your memory; all you're left with is your reptilian, caveman brain to handle this delicate situation. Our viewer did the correct thing. If someone mugs you with a weapon and they're demanding money, wallets, jewelry, etc. the safest option is to comply because more often than not, he's only brandishing the weapon to incite fear, and compliance. If someone really, really wants you dead, there would be no confrontation, he'd walk up to you and stab you/slit a major artery, etc.  BTW, I'm going to contradict myself here... just sayin'.

Back to my story. So, he gives the mugger his phone and money, but the mugger decides that that's not enough and attacks the kid with his knife. The young man was able to evade the knife, grab and control the attacker's arm , and then the kid threw a relentless barrage of elbows to the mugger's head, effectively dropping him. From there our hero made his escape.  (Lesson here: just because you give up your valuables means you're out of the woods. That's the unpredictability of human nature, and street crime). I told you I'd contradict myself.

The crazy thing for me is that this young man sent me a message thanking me. He said that he had been watching my muay thai videos and practicing what he'd seen, and was able to apply some of these concepts in  that high stress situation. It's amazing that he would think of thanking me, and personally, he gets all the credit for handling the situation the way he did. But on the other hand, what an awesome feeling it was for me to think that perhaps, in some way, those silly YouTube videos I shoot actually helped somebody survive a potentially lethal situation.

What are the take ways from this?
1. The safest bet is to comply with the demands of an armed robber.
2. When real violence hits you, its an adrenaline rush like you've never had before. Gross motor function is pretty much all you've got.
3. If all other options fail and you can't avoid confrontation, it's best to apply overwhelming force. Think cornered cat holding a baseball bat.
4. No matter how insignificant you think your actions are, you can still hold influence over others, good and bad. Set a good example.

Alright, moral lesson is done for the day. Get back to hitting the bags, or each other :)


  1. This story is what martial arts/combat sports are all about. Very good !

  2. Great story! I think what you've put on the net is great for all to see and learn from. It has helped me greatly in my training.

  3. Surely your videos are useful, no doubt about it D. But, I'd disagree with you on that complying part. From my experience, mugs who use knives or other blade-like weapons are in most cases the ones overwhelmed with fear. Of course, when you confront a knife you experience a fear of ya own, but the whole point would be in dealing with your fear. I mean, I'm sure you teach your students that part of martial arts aswell. Otherwise, why should we practice all of this if we're gonna simply comply when a potentially deadly situation comes our way. Deal with the fear, try to stay calm and elbow the s$%t out of the attacker. Easier said than done, but still complying should be the last option.
    youtube username - 47Dreadlox

  4. And, if I may add, the greatest part about controling our fear, breathing and reactions is that it's all trainable. The more you expose yourself to some sort of fear, the better and easier you deal with it. Simple as that. Now I don't imply that complying and running away is a coward-like act (tho it may be), I'm just saying that a disciplined martial artist, even a beginner, should use his skills (read: elbows) and teach a bad guy a lesson. Why shouldn't you stop a bad guy if you can, why should you comply and make him think he can get away with it. Not to mention that he's probably gonna do it again to somebody else, who may have no self-defence skills at all. And you could've stopped it from happening. By the way, I hope that kid really damaged the attacker, it would surely teach him a lesson.

  5. Hi Donnie,

    Great post and glad the kid is OK!

    I disagree with Orthodox_Dreadlock's take. Fight if you MUST (such as the kid in this story). If the bad guy takes your stuff and leaves, you got of easy. It doesn't emotionally feel good but what ego boost or possessions are worth risking your life??

    BTW, there appears to be one small typo in your post. You wrote:

    Lesson here: just because you give up your valuables means you're out of the woods.

    I think you clearly meant "you're not out of the woods"

    Keep the video tuts and blog posts coming!

  6. This is why I know pressure training is beneficial to all. The motor skills and muscle memory stay intact that way. I know not of many schools that do this for self defense apart from Krav Maga teachers.

  7. I would not have faulted the boy if he had twisted the mugger's neck. If someone comes to kill you, kill him first.