Most people are uneasy when talking about violence, especially if they have never had to engage in it. In fact, often, those who suggest violence is never the answer have grown up in places in the world where front doors can be left open. Yet, in many places in the world, violence of various kinds is an everyday reality.

I grew up in violence. I learned early on, that you can try to avoid it, but once you were targeted it was just a matter of time before you had to deal with it. Like it or not, no amount of talking would make it go away. Forced into a corner, one had to fight back simply to survive. I realised that there is a segment of the population in this world that use the currency of violence to achieve success. Rather than going out and legitimately finding a job for instance, even if it meant flipping burgers, it was quicker to get what they wanted by stealing. Many of these types of people were also able to be perceived to be tougher than they really were, because joining a gang gave them firepower. If you were on the other side of the divide so to speak, you always knew in the back of your mind, that even if you beat this one guy, the others would come for you in the end.

I agree, no one should grow up this way, living in constant fear. But to think that getting out of it unscathed is a fallacy too. Sadly, when violence is the currency, the fist becomes the ATM, and knowing how to make that tactical withdrawal, or to make them pay with interest is often the only options you have.

I was bullied severely right up until 15. Only when I had had enough, and it looked like I was going to be stuck where I lived for a while, I decided to fight back. Once I did, people backed off, not completely of course, but enough to give me a breather. This is in no way a justification for violence, but the truth is, as I realised growing up, there are people out there who’s language is violence, and the only other counter language they understand isn’t of the verbal kind, rather the fist. What learning to fight however has taught me, is to choose my fights. The difference between myself, my students, and those punks from my neighbourhood is we don’t have to fight. We only have to fight, when no other options are available. As a warrior, you always try to find a peaceful option first, because ego shouldn’t enter into it.

I think you not only live a lie, but do yourself and those you love a disservice by not being honest that there are bad people in this world, that no amount of appealing to their rationale will stave them off from harming you if they so choose too. This is why self-preservation skills now, as it was at the dawn of mankind isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. Sadly, as most of us now spend most of our days in an office cubicle, we have lost touch with our primal nature. In other words, where once upon a time, knowing how to protect yourself at least to some degree, has been forgotten.

But here again is the harsh reality. That guy, the one who wont listen to reason, he has likely been immersing himself in violence. What you fear, he sees as excitement. The only choice you have — because just like you, I don’t want to become that guy — is to train in a martial experience that will afford you the skills, so that you can defeat these kinds of people in the world when no other choice is available. Learning this skill, wont be easy. It will take resilience, you will have to build toughness, and you going to get bruised (both physically, but more likely your ego).

You are going to be surprised too. You will go in thinking that you need and want to learn only how to fight, but then to realise that the fear of not knowing how to fight — will gradually be replaced with a confidence of choice. As the saying goes, “Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it.” This is what I have found in my own journey, because of my training, I can walk away from an ego fight, but when it is no longer about ego, but survival, I can bring down the wrath of Thor on my side, destroying the enemy without a second thought. Once the fight is over, I can walk away, as if the day had just begun, because truly embodying those warrior skills has allowed me to fight for a purpose, not my pride.