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Street Stories

Real life experiences on the street & in the dojo

Quick Reactions On A Street In Paris

By Bruce E. Miller

Here is a real life situation that happened to me:

It happened in Paris, where I had taken my wife for a tour (as part of a martial arts tour I had been putting on). Now I will freely admit that I was not in the correct (defensive) frame of mind ... I was enjoying the sights and being with my wife and wasn't mentally alert for what happened next.

We had just come down a long flight of stairs, and were on a sort of landing that actually had a street running through it before we had to go down another long set of stairs.

My knee was bothering me (old arthritis) so I wasn’t keeping up with my wife and the 2 other friends. I was probably lagging behind by about 15 meters.

As we crossed this area about 50 meters long I noted that there were some street people trying to sell bits of colored string … unusual as all the other street hawker had been trying to sell the typical trinkets (lockets, miniature Eiffel Towers, postcards, etc.).

My wife and our 2 friends had been approached but brushed them off and continued along … I wasn’t interested, and they didn’t even approach me (my good looks I suppose).

Suddenly the largest of them came up at a fast walk to my right side. He was about 6 feet tall and maybe 190-200 pounds. I turned to indicate that I wasn’t interested, as I assumed he wanted to sell me those strings. However, as soon as he got close to me, he said, “you said bullshit!” in and angry tone.

This confused me, because in fact I had not said a single thing to any of them or even looked at him until he approached me.

Suddenly he put his hand on my right shoulder to try and spin me around (but I was already turning to face him … ) He then shoved his right hand directly into my face.

His hand did not hit me because I feathered it (moving backwards and then in a circle to one side [his right] and then moving forward). I am not sure if his hand actually would have hit me, but it definitely was obstructing my vision and I sure wasn't going to keep my head still and find out.

I was not sure what else he intended, but I remember thinking that I was not going to be able to grab his hand or fingers because the hand was already past my head due to the feather movement, and his hand was too high for a reasonable block away from me.

I also remember thinking that there were 6 of them in the general area, so I sure didn't want to grapple with the guy (who incidentally was about 20 and about my size but appeared to be stronger than I was ... and he was fast).

I didn't wait for his other hand to strike (which was the thought going through my mind as soon as he blocked my vision), so I used a snake move to bend around the outstretched arm (with my left hand) and hit him in the throat with a modified crane beak strike to the anterior triangle launch points in the neck while his right hand was still in my face area. I also had a nice digital camera on my left shoulder which I didn't want to break and that thought was also running though my mind.

Anyway, the strike worked and it backed him up a good 3-4 meters and made him think about it ... long enough that a friend of his standing a good 8 - 10 meters away had time to come over and step in between us.

I remember that as soon as I struck him, I dropped into a fighting position. I hadn’t struck him that hard and didn’t know why he seemed to be mad at me, but with his size I figured he would be back in my face in a split second. However, I think it must have really surprised him because he just stood there looking in my direction.

Thoughts of how to take him out when he came in kept running through my mind … but I was also amazed that my body seemed to have taken its own position. I realized I was in a fighting position I had learned 30 years ago … something which I hadn’t practiced but was designed to develop brute power from kicks and reverse punches ... my body was also relaxed …

Actually In fact I think he was lucky, because while the first attack surprised me, I was definitely ready for anything else he might have tried.

It might have been arrogance on my part but there was a touch of anger coupled with determination to take this fool out … hard!

I watched as the other 5 of his friends converged on the spot ... but also noted that they kept their distance from me. They moved to their friend's side, but well away from me. One made a wide circle to move away from me and yet get to his friend.

Then one of his friends stood up between us and held up both hands, palms toward me, in a definitely non-threatening move and said, "No fight OK?"

I hesitated a second. I thought it might be for the best to stop there because there were 6 of them and while I have enough arrogance to believe I would have come out all right (for me), it definitely would have involved me having to play real hard ... thus the police would have been involved … and I was a foreigner … so …

His friend repeated, "we stop there, ok?" I stood up (out of the fighting stance) and simply said ok, turned and walked [keeping one eye on the group of them in case they tried anything of course].

Mr. Vulture’s friends were running their mouth in French (which I do not speak) but it (to me at least) was obvious that they hadn't accomplished anything except one of them getting hit in the throat ... and I wasn't impressed with his mouth so ...

I still didn’t know why he was mad at me (or, what had angered him).

The important part was that although my response was not elegant, I did get to go home ... so all for the good I guess!

I learned later that this method is one of the newer mugging methods… the mugger comes up and says something to confuse you, then sticks his hand in your face to further confuse you, then hits you … then they have you … but I didn’t learn that until about a day later …

Well I wasn’t hit and I sure wasn’t mugged …

I did learn to pay better attention though!


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:

Bruce Everett Miller, PA-C, is a 6th degree black belt in the style of Quan Li K'an and a teacher of Tai Chi which he combines with his Western medical training as a Physician's Assistant to provide his own unique perspective on the martial arts. He is a well known teacher, seminar leader and author who has produced thirteen books and four videos on various karate related subjects including freefighting, pressure points, the principles of kata, Acupuncture, and light force knockouts. For more information on his books, videos and seminars see: www.quanlikan.com/ . Miller is a frequent contributor to FightingArts.com and his books and videos on pressure points are available in FightingArts.com e-store under “Pressure Points” in the book section.


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street self defense, mugging, self defense, street smarts, street attacks


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