In the Grey Zone with Tai Chi

{ Posted on Mar 09 2022 by admin }
Categories : Uncategorized

Nogales is a border town bridging Arizona and Mexico. A popular place for both tourists and residents of Arizona since you can drive over for the day, barter for all kinds of hand made art, rugs, crafts, etc, get much lower prices on imported alcohols and enjoy the cultural diversity. Dave and three of his friends had left Phoenix early on a Saturday morning to drive to Nogales and enjoy all the above.

After driving across the border, they spent the day in outdoor bazaars, little shops and finally stopped at a local bar to enjoy the cerveza (beer). Shortly thereafter, Dave said to his friends, “I’m going to go get the van, get it cooled down (it was 112 degrees in the shade) so meet me out front in about 5-10 minutes.”

He left the bar and walked a short ways up the street where he could see the van along with a “local” kneeling down by one of tires. He yelled out, “Hey! What are you doing?” The guy stood up, a startled expression on his face, and took off running down an alley. Dave followed him with his eyes and then he felt something to his right. As he started to turn, a large six foot plus local was coming from his side and shoving him with both arms toward the wall to his left.

Dave twisted to his right while bringing up his right arm and catching his aggressors right arm and pulling him into the same wall destined for him while using his left hand now to assist. The momentum of the push along with Dave’s evasion and pull was enough to slam him head first so hard into the brick wall that he went unconscious. (Great example of “rollback” and “when they push you pull”) As he involuntarily bounced off the wall, Dave slid his left hand down to the right wrist and reversed the grab to a wrist throw directing him to the ground where he lay out cold.

Dave said, “I could feel something snap in his wrist but i wasn’t sure if it was a break since sometimes when we work wrist throws the bones will make that cracking noise but are just going into place or out of place.” As he turned to survey the area, there was a third attacker, lunging at him from his left with a big right hand. He evaded left, parrying the hand and delivered a high right palm hand (like high pat on horse in tai chi) to his forehead. His forward momentum was such that his feet left the ground and he carreened unconscious to the ground. (Dave reported later that things seemed to go really slow and that he saw three different choices of targets before deciding on the forehead – the extra adrenaline that goes to the eyes creates that effect)

The third man was nowhere to be seen. Dave got in the van, went back to the bar, picked up his friends and as they were leaving his friends remarked, “Who are those guys laying down up there in the street?”. Dave replied, “This is Mexico, people sleep everywhere.” He said at the time he didn’t want to freak them out but as they got to the border, he reported the incident to the border guards. They had him come in, fill out a report and explain the situation while they contacted the local police who went to search the area.

The border guards had him recreate and show them the techniques he had used and they were quite impressed. “They had me show them about six or seven times what I did. But we had quite abit of time.” Three hours went by while they waited to hear back from the local police who were also checking hospitals. One of the border guards asked Dave, “Were you wearing a fanny pack?” “I was”, he replied. “The border guard went on, “It’s a common technique down here for one guy to distract you, another shoves you into something and a third runs up, unsnaps the pack and off they all go.” Dave responded, “You know, it would be nice if you would tell us that kind of stuff when we are crossing over!”

The call finally came after another half hour went by. The local police had found no one. The border guard released Dave while his friends had sat and waited. Right before he left, one of the guards said, “Let me give you some advice. if something like that ever happens again, just get back across the border cause there is nothing they can do once you are across. If they had found those guys, you could have been here alot longer depending on how they felt they wanted to handle it and who your attackers were and what they said. Why did you even report it?” Dave replied, “I didn’t think it was safe to hang around but if they needed medical attention, I didn’t want to leave them there. I thought you would be the best ones to notify since the border was so close.”

The guard responded, “They got what they deserved and you just needed to get the hell out of Dodge as we say in bad situations. Good luck and drive safe back to Phoenix.”

When Dave told me the story, he asked, “What do you think would have been best?’ “That’s a great question,” I responded. “and it is a gray zone that I would like to discuss in the next instructors class so let’s share it with them and apply some principles like “cost versus gain”, “legal intent”, “personal intent”, “battlefield ethics or ethics relating to the situation” and any other ideas we come up with.”

In the gray zone there aren’t always clear cut answers. That is why we have legislators, judges, juries, prosecutors, defense attorneys and police. At each level are human beings making judgments and decisions. The legal system is designed to be adversarial while it moves people through an evidential process that in the end will hopefully be utilitarian or good for the society.