By Z Bennett
Growing up in a place like New York was very interesting. No, not New York City, but very close. I grew up in a small city in Westchester County. Most of you more than likely never heard of Mount Vernon, NY. It is a small town that boarders Yonkers, New Rochelle and the Bronx. As a young boy growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s was interesting an interesting time. I, like many of you, have many stories. This story is just one of them.
One day, when I was about 13, I was walking with couple of my friends. Not really doing anything special, just doing what teenagers do on a nice hot summer afternoon. This day we where just coming back from walking on the Avenue looking around and seeing what we could see. We had something to eat and maybe picked up a few things in the stores. I was what you would have called a Projects kid. The Projects is five apartment buildings, each about 10 stories high and setup in a circular configuration with a park in the middle and one small and one large playground area. The large area was where the basketball courts where and most of the bigger kids hung out.
Anyway back to the story. This day we were walking through one of the parking lots coming up Third Street just talking when my younger brother, Mark, come running up to us at full speed. A few seconds later I saw a man running behind him. At the time I did not think anything of it, thinking that they where both just running at the same time. Knowing Mark, I figure he is just acting like a younger brother and being silly. Then I looked at his face. When he got to me I could see he was out of breath. He was also talking at a mile a minute, so I did not really understand all that he was saying. Then the next thing I know this man was in front of me and reaching for him. Mark moved behind me, and I then realized that he was scared. Trying to figure out what was going on I asked the man what the problem was. The man said he wanted my little brother in a bad way. At that time I told the man that I did not know what was going on but I could not let him have my brother. The man got more and more upset. I told the man that my parents would be home later and if he wanted he could speak with them. At that time the man looked at me like he could not believe he was explaining to a child. He reached for my brother again and again I blocked him. He then punched me in the chest. I was more shocked than hurt and could not believe that this man had not only hit me, but he was going to do it again. I found that I now had to defend myself.
Little did my newly-met adult friend know that I had been training in Karate for the last four years and was very good, if I say so myself. Now I was raised by my parents to respect all adults, however this man had crossed the line. First, he was trying to hurt my younger brother; second, he redirected his anger at me with a physical attack on me. But a funny thing happened and, much to his surprise, he found that he now had taken on a bit more then he had bargained for and was now in a bit of trouble himself. So the man stopped his attack, ran up 9th Avenue and disappeared from view. I turned to my brother to find out what had started all this craziness.
While Mark was telling me his story, I looked up the street and saw the man was coming back. Then I noticed that he now had a combination hammer/hatchet he was planning to use this combination tool on me. Now, I was a child of the old martial arts movies like Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and Jim Kelly in Three the Hard Way. But, I knew it was time to find another way to deal with this man. I noticed there was some new construction going on right cross the street. I moved to that side of the street and started throwing bricks at the man who was coming to hit me with either an axe or hammer. I am also happy to say that the man, after seeing that I could also throw pretty well, changed his mind and he returned to his home.
About 10 minutes later the police showed up. I was asked what happened. They spoke with me and several witnesses and then went to visit the gentlemen at his home. Someone said they heard that the gentleman was affected more by me defending myself with my hands then by anything else. The bricks did not hit the man as they were only thrown to scare him. I also heard they found the story to be funny.
Later I found out from Mark that he and the man’s daughter, who was 12 years old, had a disagreement. So this whole thing was over a simple disagreement among children. This man had wildly overreacted and did things without finding out the facts or using any reason. I am just happy that no one was hurt badly and that everything worked out okay.
You see, it is all about family for me. It is up to each of us to protect the ones we care about the best way we can. I was not going to let anything happen to my brother or anyone if I can help it. In the case of my brother, it was one for all and all for one.
Thank you for letting me share my story. This event was a lesson for me. Sometimes you have to stop, be aware and resume control. Hope that you enjoyed it.
By Zurriane Bennett
San Yama Bushi & Combination GoJu
School of Self Defense
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