Self Defense

(Via Ted Clark's Facebook feed)
(Via Ted Clark’s Facebook feed)

I write this with no drama: I’m signing up for a self-defense class. I at times fly fish in very desolate areas, and it feel prudent to be prepared.

I just read this article on line that documents Trump followers harassing Asian-Americans. A friend last night posted this on Facebook:


The barber shop is in Cambridge, MA, one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in the country.

In a way, I’m surprised but not surprised.

I’m not surprised because of what I’ve experienced in the past. There was a lot of racism growing up. But, here are two examples from adulthood.

First, about 10 years ago, I was in Steubenville, OH, a town that has fallen on tough times for a long time. I was at a TGIF for dinner, sitting at the bar. A really drunk guy a few seats away repeatedly challenged me to a fight (link here). It clearly was about race. The other patrons just let him go on and on.

Or, as I’ve blogged before here: Two guys came up to me. “Hey, Dad,” one said, “here’s a gook.  Let’s beat the sh** out of him.” In broad daylight. I couldn’t believe it.

I’m not surprised, also, because of our family history. A reason we left Indonesia was because of the pogroms that would happen there. If you were ethnic Chinese, you were targeted. There would be race riots. Churches were bombed, business were looted, houses were attacked, and mobs of people would go around beating up people.

Back then, there were severe limitations on what career paths you could pick. Chinese names and schools were banned. Even if you were born in Indonesia, your government I.D. card said “foreigner” on it.

So, we left. We are both ethnic Chinese and Christian. It already was two strikes against us.

Thus, I’m not surprised. But, I am surprised because this is a new reality that I certainly didn’t want for my children.

We live in interesting times.

Thankfully, our family culture is all about persistence and being prepared. I think that when you feel like a victim, you’ve already lost the mental game. So, I tend to push myself to go farther and further. Take charge of my life. Ignore the noise. Keep on keepin’ on.

The good news is that Mrs. T. and one of our children want to take self-defense classes, too. So, we will make this a family affair.

2 thoughts on “Self Defense

  1. Oh man, Jo…so sorry to read this, I always thought bigotry was on the downward trend, especially here in the northeast. This whole “Trump effect” seems to have ignited quite a bit of latent racism. Which is an awful thing, to be sure. The only positive, if there is one, is that it is better to know something exists, so that educated people can understand what’s going on, and make better strategies for how to eradicate it. Education is the answer, of course.

    And improved financial stability for the working, and middle classes, is absolutely key, as well…because when people are severely stressed (economically/physically), they revert to their basest, almost “caveman” instincts, i.e. you look different, you must be a threat.

    And speaking of education, I think you are very wise to take a self-defense class…maybe even follow it through to a black belt (which I bet you probably will!). It will give you a greater sense of security, knowing you can protect yourself, if necessary…but even more important (in the mind of all parents) the peace of mind that you can better protect your family.

    Final thought on the subject of self-defense…you already have something that protects your family far more than any martial arts ever will, and that is high intelligence…the smarts and wisdom to avoid, and even walk away from, any taunts from ignorant, and sometimes dangerous people.

    The paradox of being very able to defend yourself, is, in my opinion, the reality that you will be less likely to want to get physical with an aggressor, because you will be confident in your own mind, that you are walking away from the threat, not out of cowardice, but out of wisdom.

    That’s what I teach my seven year-old sons. That, and the importance of a strong body…

    All the best,

    1. Chip, thank you for the note, empathy and advice. Your words very much resonate with me, and I’m grateful that you wrote.

      The reality is that everyone faces bias and judgments. I’ll write more about this later, but one of the few remaining politically correct jokes is to make fun of less-educated folks from rural areas. You see it on TV and in the movies.

      So, we all need to be mindful about assumptions. Are all Trump voters “dumb and ignorant racists”? Of course not. As Michael Moore stated, certain critical swing-state counties that voted twice for Obama flipped this time. Do the coastal elites look down on the rest of the country? As a group, we do: some of us call those areas “the flyover states.”

      So, all this dialogue is I think healthy. When we label people and demonize them, and I’m seeing plenty of that on Facebook from The Left towards Trump voters, we make them “things” vs. human beings. Civil discourse will just shut down.

      Rather than point the finger at others, IMO, each of us needs to look within ourselves. When 1/2 the country thinks very differently from us, we need to ask ourselves why that is the case.

      Every 4 years, politicians go to certain states to ask for votes. Then, they disappear and don’t deliver. After a while, people get pretty tired of that.

Leave a Reply