Yesterday as I was walking out of the post office at Balmain a man walking past me caught my attention. Just for an instant I looked at him and him at me….I thought, “wow what an interesting hair cut and hey, tattoos…he is covered in them, he is not the usual person you would see walking the street in Balmain.”
He was looking at me at exactly the same time, and I think he was thinking something completely different. The look on his face said it all.. “What the *!!*#** are you looking at?” I could immediately sense that this could very quickly escalate to a very serious confrontation.
So I stopped walking and looked straight ahead. I was keenly aware of his presence close by me as he continued to stare at me…weighing up his options and probably assessing his chances. A few moments passed and I looked in his direction again, he was still glaring at me, we were now on a razor edge and the slightest provacation or movement from me would have sent us head long into a chain of events that could have had the potential of a very ugly ending.
I put my shoulders back, turned my chin into the wind and started to enter into an internal process that I know well and trusted would protect me no matter what happens. This process starts with a connection to the present moment, a subtle changing of the breath and a steeling of nerves as the body prepares for the adrenalin dump prior to conflict. All of this happens with the space of a couple of seconds. (At Northstar we call this the “ready stance.”)
As I started the walk back on Darling St towards the dojo, on the outside it would have appeared that I was ingoring him completely but on the inside I was watching the way he walked and moved, to assess his ability to fight. I became acutely aware of the distance between him, his 2 associates and myself. I put my keys and mobile phone in my pocket and secured my wallet. My breath controlled and my mind clear, I knew that if this escalated I would have to move very quickly with precision and use just enough force to ensure my safety.
As they continued to walk ahead of me, they kept looking around to check me out, they were still weighing up their chances. As I was completely neutral, I gave them no opening to allow any escalation, in fact, I was in complete control of the situation. For a moment, they entered into my world and I am glad that they chose the path of peace.
Peace and non aggression is always my chosen path. But is I feel for an instant that I am cornered and the safety of myself or someone that I choose to protect is threatened then I will turn every sinew into combat and unleash a force that is well trained through years of disciplined training.