Monday, March 14, 2011

(Martial) Art Imitating Life

Whenever a person who is brand-spanking new to martial arts comes into the dojo and we start with the basic hand and foot positions, I am the first one to encourage them to scream - loud, often and like a banshee - because their lives could someday depend on it. Especially with children, I let them know that an evil-doer trying to get them to go "away" by force wants them to remain as quiet as possible. Never let them stun you into silence because using your voice is a way of fighting back.

More often than not, that first kiai they let out is accompanied by giggles and blushes - embarrassment if you will - because they may have never done anything like it before without someone telling them to shhhh! or tone it down a little. But using your voice is so much a part of self-defense and the newbies need to know that. So I illustrate it with a nice, long and extremely loud spirit yell. Then I explain that being encouraged to scream my head off is one of my most favorite parts of karate (hitting things is the other, but I don't share that with them so early in the game :-). There's nothing wrong with expecting your scream to raise the roof and have people next door wondering what the heck the noise was all about, I tell them. That's totally the point!

Now that the confrontation I experienced last week outside the dojo ended in my being suspended from my job, I kind of just want to move on and put it all in my rear-view mirror. Yes, it was handled very badly on the part of the agency I work for and yes, although I did what I was supposed to do to avoid physical conflict, I am still the one sitting home this morning. True, I no longer have any desire to work for an agency that puts money over employee safety (when confronted about his behavior, Angry Dad threatened to take his children out of the program; to keep the income stream coming, the agency decided to move me to a before-school program location that was further away which I can't do, so I'm out until a closer spot opens up), but somehow, it just doesn't feel right to just giggle and blush. I think I have to use my voice.

This situation really transcends my personal safety; it's also about the well-being of the next employee that has to deal with the same irate morning program parent or any one who thinks yelling, cursing or blocking a path of escape is totally acceptable way to deal with life. In other words, it's not just about this woman, but about all women; not just about this person who was bullied, but about all people who are; not just about the ugliness directed at me, but about the nastiness directed at anyone. So, in addition to the police report I've filed, I'll be figuratively screaming at a few someones today - because I can and because I should. Letting this get swept under the carpet would be totally contrary to everything I try to teach my students and to what my instructors have tried to teach me. The agency may want to be reactionary by waiting until Angry Dad does something again before removing him from the program, but that doesn't mean that I have to be.

There's an adage that that says if one is not part of the solution then he/she is part of the problem. Even if I'm not successful at getting this ticking time bomb away from the next person, I definitely won't be if I don't try.

That piercing noise you hear? Yep, that'd be me...


  1. Absolutely well done for using your voice on this! So many times people turn a blind eye to the behaviour of arrogant bullies. Next time that angry dad picks on someone it might not be someone as composed or as well trained as you and badness could well ensue.
    If more people stopped turning a blind eye to the unacceptable behaviour of others the world would be a better place. I hope there's a good outcome from this for you.


  2. You have found your Warrior's voice!
    Yes, many good things are coming your way...
    Hands palm to palm.

  3. What's wrong with the world? You get attacked and you're the one suspended! This is all upside down. Keep shouting Felicia - let justice be done!

  4. I am staring at the computer screen shaking my head in disbelief. You were threatened by Angry Dad and he stays and you go. I am sorry to hear how this situation unfolded.

    Sending positive thoughts your way.

  5. Thanks for the comments, all. I've officially started the formal grievance procedure. I'll keep you posted...

  6. Good on you Felicia, everyone has a voice, should use it and raise it when necessary instead of living a fake life of pretense.