August 20, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 342

Terror Backfires On Terrorist
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 20--Murphy's Law says:  "If something can go wrong, it will."   Well, that was the case for a car hijacker the other day.  He picked the wrong car to hijack.   It just wasn't his day.
       I caught part of it on television, and the rest in the paper.   It seems Tyrone Jermaine Hogan of Los Angeles had a bad hair day.   The 20-year-old earlier hijacked a car, pulling out the owner's husband and holding his wife prisoner as he escaped.  Then he shoved her out as the moving car and decided to ditch it for another.
      He spotted a mini-van at the gas station.  He made a bad choice.  The van was full of members of a Florida judo club that had just finished teaching a self-defense class..  They were on their way to the airport to return home.

  "The boys are punching him in the face and I wanted to go around for a choke, to choke him out, but I didn't want to risk getting punched in the head, so I started pounding him from the back," said Christina Baldacci, a Florida International University judo club member.  
      Christina was a slim, pigtailed young woman who could pass as a frail teenager.    On television she was animated, beaming, telling the on-the-spot news reporter how she tried to wrestle the hijacker from behind, and when he started elbowing her, pummeled  him with karate chops, kicks and a fury that only a well-trained woman combatant can deliver a man trying to steal from her "family."
       Christina wasn't alone
       A herd of Florida martial arts youths fell to her assistance.  In the scuffle a gas pump broke loose and doused the suspect.
      Hogan was battered and bruised when the police arrived.
      Thinking he could use Fear, Intimidation and Complacency to make his victims cower to his demands, he erred terribly.
      Instead of Terrorizing them, he pushed their Sentinel of Vigilance buttons.  The 911 alarm went off in the kids.    Instead of running from the face of Fear, they fought back, kicking, hitting, chopping as they had been trained.
      Courage, Conviction and Right Action ruled their beings.   They became Shields of Vigilance, warding off the Terrorism, and bringing to the Terrorist, the Terror of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  
       What caught my eye more than anything was the look on the young girl's face as she told her part of the story about how their group foiled the alleged car-napper.   She was almost jumping with joy as she related her fearlessness in attacking the Terrorist.
        "I didn't want to risk getting punched in the head, so I starting hitting him from behind."
        Her comment struck me.   Martial arts is all about training the mind to think through events at a rapid rate, to anticipate the opponents moves and to attack the weaknesses not the strengths of another's assault.   

        Most people in a Terrorist situation tend to think only one way--survival.   That plays to the Terrorists hand, for his great tools are Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  Complacency in Terrorism is that feeling of helplessness when one doesn't know what to do, or feels incapable of dealing with the threat of the situation.    An example is someone pointing a gun or a knife at you, or holding someone you love a hostage, or, in the case of current times, wondering if the Osama bin Laden group will attack next with chemicals or bombs, and that feeling of utter helplessness if they do.
        But martial arts teaches a person to be offensive rather than defensive in his or her thinking about any threatening situation.    There is always a counter, always a way to turn the tables.
        The Christina Baldacci used the best strategy at her disposal to thwart the carjacker.  She became a wasp, stinging and landing unexpected blows in a flurry of Vigilance that ended up with the kidnapper being arrested on a host of charges.
        And, she wasn't alone.   Her buddies, a group of Youths of Vigilance, were there to help her--all equally trained in the art of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions.  All aware of how to control and manage their Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   Suddenly, Terrorism became Terrorized by Vigilance.
        I cite this story and its importance because America needs to take a lesson from the Judo Youths of Vigilance.    As citizens, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and loved ones, we owe it to our children and all children to be ready to go face-to-face with Terrorism.   None of us can afford to feel Complacent when something attacks us, threatens our welfare, or holds us hostage to Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
       As the one-year anniversary of September 11 approaches, the question for all of us should be:  "What have I done to become more Vigilant in my thinking and actions regarding Terrorism?"

          If the answer is "nothing," then perhaps we all ought to take a lesson from the Youths of Vigilance.
       I'm a big fan of martial arts.
       I believe every man, woman and child should undergo its training.  It is not about violence.  It is about reducing violence.
      Any study of martial arts is the study of how to replace Fear with Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and Complacency with Right Actions.
      It is about how one thinks.   It strengthens the muscles of the mind, the ones that atrophy to states of helplessness and victimization because one doesn't think he or she can do anything to protect themselves against the threats of others.
       As a result of Complacency, we sit back and let our government take full responsibility for our security, knowing that a Terrorist could be anyone.    It could be someone in our neighborhood, planning to snatch a child.   It could be a relative who is a child molester no one knows about.   It could be someone at work plotting and planning to make you look bad to get your job.   It could be the drunk driver who doesn't see the red light or stop sign as you're crossing the street.  It could be yourself when you look in the mirror and see a loser, and begin to feel your self-worth is like Jell-O on a hot day.  It could be the abuse you put up with because you feel you can't live without the abuser, that you are a nobody, that no one loves you, that you are worthless.
        Terrorism comes in all sizes and shapes.    It isn't the privy of an Osama bin Laden or a carjacker.   It is both Emotional and Physical in nature.   It is created always in our minds, regardless of what threatens us physically.

       One person can look down the barrel of a gun and have no Fear at all of the person holding it, because he or she knows how to disarm that person, knows how to use his or her Vigilance to take control of the most seemingly frightening situation.   While, at the same time, another looking down that same barrel, might begin to shake and shudder, crumbling to their knees, begging for their life.
       Conversely, the same two people looking in the mirror might also see the barrel of a gun.  They might see themselves as a person unworthy, victimized, a tragic hero who has no way out of his or her dung pile.  

    A non-Vigilant person will accept that feeling,  will shy from looking themselves in the mirror and taking responsibility for their lives and their future, will lay the burden of their future at the feet of others, enslaving themselves to their "lot in life," or wallowing in the quagmire of their disrespect for themselves, masked by the victimization of being a victim.  They perpetuate their own demise as human being, and lash out at others, accusing them as the cause of their pain and anguish.   They look for reasons to continue to wear the "loser label," and are quick to find them for all they see and know is how to hurt themselves and others in retaliation of the hurt they have felt by looking at the pain and sorrow of their lives.
        A Vigilant person looking in the same mirror might also see a vision of themselves as a victim--not pretty enough, not rich enough, not loved enough, not happy enough, not tall enough, not smart enough, too fat, too thin, unpopular, victimized by life.   These are not unnatural thoughts.   Everyone has them.    They are part of human nature.  They are called "self doubts."

       The most courageous of all heroes will speak in length about Fear.   Not about embracing it, but about overcoming it.   About how he or she turned the fuel of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into Action.   All heroes use Fear to drive themselves through its wall, to burst through it to the other side where Victory of the Self awaits.
       The young woman who attacked the car-napper used her Fear in a Vigilant way.   She attacked it rather than letting its weight crush her into Complacency.
       Martial arts training will help everyone reconstruct their thinking toward the art of Vigilance.   It can be a family tool.  Mothers, Dads and all the kids can participate.   It is especially good for young children to help them learn to control and manage their emotions, rather than to be ruled by them.
      And, it teaches respect.
      The idea of "power over another" is not the goal of martial arts.   The goal is to "restrain the power of abuse," to only use one's power to defend, and to signal to whomever might attempt to Terrorize that he or she will fail if they do.   Ultimately, the ability to use such power is designed to "never use it," because the power one carries will neutralize those who may want to prey on the "weak."
      I believe that Terrorists who know they can't make others Fearful, or Intimidate them, or drive them into states of Complacency, run the other way.  Their venom doesn't work when they try and inject it into the Veins of Vigilance.

       One of the great advantages of martial arts occurs when each opponent bows to one another before "combat."   It is a signal of respect between the two, an appreciation of life, and a tribute to peace.   A mother who presses her palms together and bows to her daughter or son, and whose daughter or son does the same, cuts through the barriers of child-adult.   In that instant they become one, equals, not only to themselves, but to all human beings.
      The same applies when a father bows before his children, and they to him, before practicing the martial arts' disciplines.   The training the family participates is far more than just a "sport," it becomes a bridge to gap the barriers between young and old.  It creates a sense of trust between members of the family that they are equals as human beings, peeling away the Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies that can polarize a family.
       It also fertilizes the Courage, Conviction and ability of each individual to take the Right Action--regardless of age.
       A five- or six-year-old can learn to overcome Fears just as a 60-year-old can, but in the case of the younger individual, the impact is far greater.  Self confidence or the lack of it starts at birth.    The world is a pressure cooker.   Each of us need to defend ourselves against the onslaught of both expected and unexpected Terrorisms.
       A child who learns martial arts is being taught to look in the mirror with pride and dignity, and to learn to counter Terrorism both of  Physical and Emotional form.  An adult can learn to reconstruct his or her self-image.   But when the entire family becomes part of the training, a mass transformation takes place.   All equalize.   Doors open to each other that may have been shut by the idea that common goals didn't exist.

        Terrorists wouldn't like families taking martial arts.  It would remind them that weakness has been replaced by strength, that Courage was standing at the family's doorstep and Fear better find a more vulnerable family.
       There are many ways to battle Terrorism.   The last way is to wait for our government to let us all know the Homeland Security Department is finally reorganized, and we are "safe."   That's kind of like Samuel Beckett's play, "Waiting for Godot."   No one can afford to wait to protect the children, or the children's children's children.
       That would be Complacent.
       Start protecting your family and loved ones today.  Take the Pledge of Vigilance, and sign up your family for some martial arts training, or give your loved ones a gift certificate to try it out.
        The only loser will be Terrorism.
        Ask the Youths of Vigilance.  Especially the young woman in pigtails.


Go To Aug 19--Global Father Of Vigilance Won't Give Up

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