This is a real incident that happened to me. Frankly, it’s two men pissing contest that could have escalated to pure violence. But I noticed many things that I feel is useful to understand this behaviour which most of us do. Violence is never a good answer for any problem, but we all live with various levels of violence within our emotions, instincts and actions. So talking & exposing about this demon is important.
I had just recovered from my stomach infection and had returned from the ICU. My body was still fragile prone to new infections. We were in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, so I was counting my lucky stars, I have not yet got infected by Covid-19 even in my hospital stay of 1 week.
2nd day after returning from hospital, in the morning, I woke up coughing and feeling out of breath. My room smelt like the aftermath of an electrical fire where rubber wires burn. After checking the room, I noticed everything was OK, and the smell was coming from outside. I went outside to notice that our neighbour was burning the fallen leaves from the tree along with whatever rubbish or plastic bottles he had found. And all that smoke was entering our house and That was the reason why we woke up coughing.
I took out my mobile and started to record the burning video of the leaves along with the plastic & rubbish, hoping I could convince the person who started the fire to stop doing it. To my surprise, the guy opened the gate to his property & stepped out, and I approach him informing him about how this rubbish was toxic & actually banned. He blatantly lies, saying he has not lit the fire. I have repeatedly seen him putting these fires on and have confronted him a few times softly informing him about its ill-effects on my family’s health. He was as usual lying and ignored my concerns altogether.
I am not a social person. All I know is violence, anger & faced its consequences. But being part of social structure & a professional teacher, I cannot use my fist, every time people or circumstances challenge or threaten me. I am not a saint either. Rarely have I broken this rule. But every time I raise a fist, the problem became bigger or entrapped me more. Violence does not help 99% of the time to solve issues.
But there is a thin, fine line. A double edge sword. A twilight zone between surrender & pure violence. It might eliminate my threat or backfire on me too. But sometimes… once in a blue moon, this fine thin line, it works!!!
Controlled aggression is the product of intentionally channeling your frustration, negative emotions and thoughts and making them work for you rather than against you. Any fear, frustration or anxiety can be converted into controlled aggression. The problem with controlled aggression is that it’s a thin fine line, cross it even a millimetre, it’s pure violence. From a victim, you convert yourself into a bully.
I wanted to ascertain his culpability in the face of abject denial of my accusation and hence I went inside my house and checked the CCTV camera. Lo & behold he comes out of the house and lights the fire. Got him!
I stepped out of the house and searched for him. I spotted him standing along with three other men from our neighborhood. Here, I approached him again in a loud voice accused him of lying and that I have proof of him lighting the fire in my CCTV camera recordings. He was asking me to complain to anyone & his tone showed he does not care about the outcome. I was surprised at his little to no care attitude to what damage these small fires he starts would cause to the environment and to my family health.
All my Krav Maga training merged with street sense kicked in. I had to show him controlled aggression in order to intimidate him into not repeating the act again. A hand placed at a right area will show dominance whereas in the wrong area might show submission. Men don’t like other men entering their personal space. So, the right amount of controlled invasion of his privacy might tip the scale towards my favour. Wrong judgement will anger him and provoke him for assaulting me. And he would be justified in that action as it would be technically classified as self-defence against a possible assaulter (me).
Same goes with physical touch – light acts of controlled aggression based hand touch on the other person’s body where the subject feels insecure about himself getting into a violent act hence might back off. Here also, it’s a fine edge, too much ‘touching’, you might be reckoned as a gay person and get assaulted. Too less contact can be perceived as insecurity or cowardly and may bolster the opponent’s confidence resulting in an assault. The problem with these hidden non-verbal gestures from hands, shoulders or eyes – works differently on different people.
Combat is a very individualistic element which holds a very different meaning to every one. So some might not like me sharing this; some might like & appreciate it. I am no hero or no anti-hero. Only will use it to protecting my life & my family’s health. As I mentioned before, for that I will go to any lengths. But rarely my ego or anger gets the best of me too. That why I chose Krav Maga Self Defence training to help me build on my street knowledge & control my insecurities. Even after severe damage to my body & health, I haven’t regretted a single day of my real combat training.
Coming back to the incident, I made a small controlled aggressive subtle gesture & movements to provoke him into backing off his act of lighting fires. Another aspect was that the two neighbours who were standing with him were his ‘friends’ and they might join in taking sides with him and might turn violent towards me. A few days after ICU, my body was not ready for a full on assault from three grown up men. Odds were against me in every area of this scenario.
Anyway, I gave a sign of relief inside my mind, when I noticed those two friends standing beside him were holding me back instead of being aggressive. Remember, I was not mad. Not violent. Not abusive. No big gestures. Just slight non-verbal body gesture enough for all the men present there to acknowledge that things will get very violent very fast, and I would be the most aggressive person in this confrontation. Or at least I want them to assume that !
The last straw that needed to break his confidence of his deeds was direct confrontational eye contact. Another fine thin line in combat. Too much or too light was the question. To blink or not to blink. What statement they should declare? Then I found the right words to go with the eye contact. “If you hurt my family in any way by lighting these fires, I would enjoy what I would do to you”. And then, I informed him what I do for a living. Especially emphasizing on how I enjoy breaking bones or joints or love to see them twist & turn the way I want them to behave. Be warned, words might look filmy dialogue, but it can also backfire very fast. So all these elements must maintain the balance it needs to give the right effect.
Not to push my luck too much, I left the group which was standing and talking in Kannada amongst themselves. Wish I could understand the language, my mind racing on whether they were in support of my actions or planning a retaliation. I have always felt like an outsider especially since I cannot speak the local language of Kannada and many a time I have been threatened by auto or cab drivers just for being a non-kannadiga.
The next day, I was walking with my dog for its usual morning walk. I noticed that the same person was collecting the leaves in a piece of cloth and then stashing the leaves some distance away from my house.
I gave a big sigh of relief that I did not have to resort to pure violence to solve this issue. But on the other hand, I felt like a bully who got his way with manipulation. Bottom-line for my family protection, I will break all rules. But it’s a hundred times better to solve the problem without getting into pure violence.
To maintain a social structure & to ease up my light guilt, I turned around and thanked him for listening to me. I did not say I was sorry for my action. I wasn’t. However, I extended my hand and shook his hands which had become dirty due to the work that he was doing. We as humans must maintain a sense of (false) calm & (somewhat) humanity in our social structure to flourish & create a safe environment for our family or children to grow up.
Thanks to Krishna with his help in editing.