Some Advice...

I just went to check my mail at around 7 PM on Thursday. I live in low rise building in downtown Toronto so my mailbox is in the lobby.

I picked up my mail and returned to my apartment via the elevator. Two other patrons were with me during the ride up. One of them a younger woman in her late teens or early twenties, probably back from attending school or university. The other was a man in his late thirties - early forties.

During the ride up the man observed that the woman was using an iPhone and asked her if he could charge his iPhone to which she replied: "I don't have my charger". A fair enough answer.

He then asked her if he could charge his iPhone at her apartment to which she replied: "No. I'm just going home. That's kind of bizarre". Once again, fair enough and entirely her prerogative.

This when I felt that perhaps this man was making this poor woman uncomfortable but given the situation, I chose not to speak. Here's why.

First of all, what begets conflict and unnecessary violence is often when someone uses circumstances to elevate themselves rather than protect someone else. For example, if I'd suddenly jumped in and angrily told the man to leave her alone, just to protect my fragile male ego and define my masculinity by asserting it purposely making someone else into the bad person, there's a chance that the risk of violence could have elevated.

Now you might be thinking, why would any decent man be afraid of risking their own health for the benefit of a woman?

The answer is that by escalating the chances of violence when the woman is with you in a confined space like an elevator and another man could be put off by confrontation, you're actually putting her in a situation of increased risk to that violence than otherwise. I mean by forcing an immediate confrontation on those grounds, you're putting her at risk regardless.

So I waited until she was safely off the elevator to say anything to the man and I simply said, "You know that's her choice and she has a right to it. It's a lady's prerogative".

He thought about it and simply said: "That's true".

In the end, she got home safely and the confrontation turned out well and nobody was the "bad person".

I have training in martial arts from many formal and non-formal sources, but I'm certainly not violent and I don't go out looking for it nor am I an expert at violence. The best stance is one where you seek to avert it or protect others from it. w

The responsibility implied by having a Sifu, Sensei or Kwan Jang Nihm put their trust in you by imbuing their knowledge to you is that you use that knowledge and training responsibly. Easier said than done, and I'm certainly a testament to that fact but still, I do my best.

It's certainly not about finding a damsel in distress, then making someone else into the proverbial "bad guy" and beating the crap out of them. There are lots of other ways to appease your ego (male or otherwise) that don't require the violence of subjugating others or proving your skill and prowess.

It's about being a diplomat, but without the you part of yourself.

You know something, that's a test that everyone in law enforcement and security goes through every day of their working life. We can only hope that every one of them passes and that should be the goal that of all the protectors in society.

Me on the left,
my brother on the right.

Taken in 1970/1971
Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street #701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A3Z5