A few years ago I attended a seminar with some of the greatest Martial Arts and Self Defense Instructors in the world, including Rory Miller, Marc MacYoung, Al Peasland and Iain Abernethy, called Crossing the Pond Martial XPO, put on by Kris Wilder Sensei and West Seattle Karate.
Marc MacYoung can be found on an Episode of Pen and Teller's 'Bullshit' where they covered Martial Arts, a great Episode and some great insights into the fact that most of the ideas and notions we get from our training are, just that, pure Bullshit.
Rory Miller is an expert on Violence in a way that most cannot even fathom and he often echoes this sentiment when he talks about the stories we tell ourselves, stories that are often shattered in the aftermath of real Violence and the fact that most people do not have to put their stories to the test by facing said Violence, but when they do it can be devastating.
There are many other experts in the world that one can look up and gain some sort of second hand insight if one seeks to prepare oneself.
Most simply ignore the ugly truth of Violence, they fail to see exactly where their training is lacking and the fact that all training is, ultimately, flawed... Why? Because it can never be anything more than training, with safeties to guarantee no one is injured.
Experience is not training and training does not yield much in the way of experience and a person needs to understand and acknowledge this difference if their training to be of any benefit at all.
There is a group of people that volunteer to perform patrols late at night throughout the city, commendable and admirable, I agree with it to a certain extent, but certainly have my concerns, especially when I found out one such group (on their first patrol ever) sought to interrupt some suspicious activity right across the street from my bedroom window.
Did they know what was going on? Did they have inside information and foreknowledge as to whether or not these people had guns or any type of weapon for that matter? NO!!!
Are any of these people trained Police? Do they have Police Tactics training? The 'Commander' of this particular Patrol is a young guy who teaches Wing Chun farther up the road, but that is hardly Police training and hardly qualifies anyone to initiate such actions.
I may be reading into this, maybe they did not initiate anything, maybe they just sat and watched, but I was informed these groups do not just sit and watch, and they do not run... THAT is scary.
My concerns are that my young daughter sleeps in that room and, while thick, the walls of these apartments, and many apartments and houses for that matter, are not solid, they do not stop stray bullets, and some guy who is overt, does not just sit and watch, and does not run, comes up on some drug dealer in the late night or wee hours of the morning, seems a bit sketchy.
The fact that this group is lead by a guy who seems to think he is trained for this sort of thing because of his Martial Arts background and whatever else he may have is not comforting in the least and may actually do more harm than good if the guy sees something and does not back down, with a lack of experience, getting himself and other people hurt or killed in the process.
I have been in situations where I have had to stand my ground because other people have counted on me and the aftermath was never pretty, never anything to brag about, I almost quit training because I wanted NOTHING to do with violence or the promotion of violence... I still do not think it is wise to play with fire if you have never been burned, and even then, you gain a quick respect for the flame.
What is even more frightening is that, when inquiring as to this person's experience with such things, I was told, basically, that it was none of my business and, by others, to shut my mouth regarding my concerns... And these people are patrolling the area without consent of the area itself.
When asked to respect the area and the people that live here by giving for-warning and seeking out some contact within the area itself, my reason being that having more witnesses is better and having backup that lives in the area is best, I was basically told this did not have to be respected.
I am pretty sure one of them drives a huge truck and made a point to park by the Park and rev their engine in order to make a point, sitting there for a few minutes before driving off, but that could just be me.
One of them has reached out and seems to be pretty respectful, but there seems to be a bit of animosity of some sort among others with the concerns I have raised.
At one point I had even asked to just leave the neighborhood watch up to those that lived in the neighborhood, but was told they did not have to do this either, so basically there is no choice in the matter for the people here.
I would love to get involved with neighborhood and community safety on a wider scale, but this is ridiculous, and what is more they had been operating under the assumption that Washington is a Stand Your Ground State, which it is not, it is a Castle Law and Necessary Force State.
Some of these people did not even know what that meant and thought they could just go out and get involved in Crime Stopping Violence if need be, without consequences.
I was invited out on a Patrol tonight, but had to decline because the Fiance is not feeling well and we have our small daughter, plus I do not know these people yet.
This is why, if you are teaching a Martial Art or Self Defense of ANY KIND, it is a good idea to include more than just physical techniques.
The Wing Chun Instructor in question is also now offering discounts to all members of this Citizen Patrol Volunteer Program and is passing it off as 'Self Defense' like most, more of a commercial opportunity in that regard and, perhaps, well-meaning, but more commercial.
I guess what bothered me the most is A) if someone is patrolling the area where my family lives I would like to know who that person is and B) if that person is properly trained, not Kung Fu trained, I need to know they are not going to do something extremely stupid.
They need to know the difference between training and reality and they need to respect the area in which they are operating so that the area (ie, its' people) can respect them and back them up, otherwise it is not going to work.
They also need to have some set boundaries and procedures, they cannot just say 'We don't run' because that qualifies as doing something extremely stupid.