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Street Stories

Real life experiences on the street & in the dojo

Calm, Control & Restraint

By Gary Gabelhouse

Thankfully, very few of us have the need actually to use our martial-arts training in a stressful situation. Recently I had the opportunity to test what I have learned.

Over the past few years, I have had sixteen tires spiked and lost two rear windows in my truck. I have literally slept in the bed of my truck, laying in wait for the vandals. So, as I sat on my front porch at 1:30 AM and watched a tremendous thunderstorm, the car pulling up in front of my truck immediately caught my attention. A guy got out of the back seat of the car and started jimmying with my truck’s door—the rain pouring down on him. He ran back and got in the car—I thought I had lost the chance to catch the perp. As I watched he got out of the car again and went back again to jimmy my door. Suddenly, he opened the door and got inside my truck, avoiding the down-pour.

Wearing only a yukata (light, cotton robe) and barefoot, I acted quickly and ran across my lawn in stealth mode, placing myself back from the door, and I observed the guy rifling through my glove box. I confirmed he was holding no weapon. I opened the door and he shouted in surprise. I had planned to haul him out by grabbing him by the hair. He was close-cropped, so I put my thumbs in his eye sockets and grabbed him by the ears and began to haul him out. Just then his two friends jumped out of the car and began running toward me—neither one had a weapon, thankfully. I shoved the first guy back into my truck and faced the duo. I summoned all my energy, pointed at them and let out a kiai of biblical proportions. Amazingly, both stopped, turned around and ran back to their car and sped off, leaving their buddy in my truck with me.

I hauled the guy out of the truck and was very calmly committed to controlling him, trying to not injure him—after all, it was just a truck. I had him in a head lock and he stomped down on my left (bare) foot. That hurt, so as it played out, he did hit my fist with his eye—once. He then tried to hit me in the groin, but I had anticipated that and spun him down the bed of the truck, kneed him in the bread basket and snaked my left arm around his neck. He was disoriented and lunged forward to escape, but accidentally ran his head into the tail gate. That stunned him, so I worked for a choke from behind and dragged him up into my driveway. I began to apply the choke and could hear that unique sound one makes when about to be choked out. Shame on me, my head was not tucked close enough to his head as he got off a grazing head butt. I lost the choke.

I off balanced him and he lunged to his and my right (exactly what I planned), and I swept his legs out from underneath him and landed on him hard, on the concrete. That took all the starch out of him. Then, in the pouring rain, I applied ikajo (first Daitoryu technique, one that controls the arm) on him and began my psychological warfare. Suffice it to say he was very scared--so scared he actually gave me his name. I wondered what to do with him--thinking I couldn’t keep him in ikajo until dawn, and I couldn’t yell and be heard due to the thunder and down pour. I told the guy we were gonna get up and go call the cops and he was going to be nice. He finally agreed and we slowly got up off the drive way.

He took a swing and ran like a jackrabbit. I tried to grab his arm but due to the rain, it was soaking wet and it slipped out of my hand as he jetted away. I had grabbed him by the back of his shirt and found two necklaces and a piece of his shirt in my fist. I gave pursuit, but could not catch the guy. I went into the house and called 911. The officer came by and asked if I had gotten a good description of any of the perpetrators. I told him the color and type of car they drove and then said, “I also got the one guy’s name.” The officer said it was unlikely he gave me his real name. I said I thought he had because of how scared he was. We checked the name with dispatch. They did have him on file, and the I.D. matched what I thought to be his age, height and weight as well as hair color. The police were waiting for him as he came home, soaking wet and sporting a shiner. He sang like a canary--ratting out both of his friends and admitted to a number of thefts.

The amazing thing to me was that throughout the entire incident, I was totally calm and used control and restraint--not really hurting the kid. I was measuring my options and actually thinking about all the could-have techniques that I did not do. I kept hearing my teacher say know when to turn it down--then just talk with him . . . I was careful not to get hurt, and I was careful not to hurt him. I was never angry or even emotionally involved at any time. Sure, it would have been much easier and quicker to knock him out after I had blown out his knee. But to me, that was not a good option.

To me, my control and restraint were most representative of my training. I really believe my calmness was due to the fact that I was confident and trusted my teacher and his teachings.


If you have an interesting real life story that you would like to share with our readers, please email it to us at: street_stories@fightingarts.com


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About the Author:

Gary Gabelhouse is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fairfield Research, Inc. , a market research and consulting firm in the entertainment and media industries. Prior to his acquisition of Fairfield, Gabelhouse was Executive Vice President and a member of the Fairfield Board of Directors. Prior to his involvement with Fairfield, Gabelhouse was Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors for SRI Research, SRI/Gallup, Gallup of Canada, and what is now the Gallup Organization. Gabelhouse trains Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-do under John Roseberry, Hanshi and is the Business Director for his teacher’s Shobu-Kan Martial Arts Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is also a student of Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu. Gabelhouse's interests outside of the martial arts and business include mountaineering, bonsai cultivation, fishing and fly tying, oil painting, landscape gardening, writing and watching his 21 year old daughter play rugby. Gabelhouse has been married to his wife Cindy since 1975. He is a frequent contributor to FightingArts.com.


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self-defense, street self-defense, martial arts,ikajo, Daito-ryu


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