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Breaking and Entering
By Sensei David Auten, Pastor and Teacher - California Seirenkai Academy
International Seirenkai Organization 2013 Member of the Year, West Coast
After returning home from the international seminar this July I once again felt stronger, smarter, and better equipped in the art of self-defense. Little did I know, however, that I would need to put my training into action as someone attempted to break into my home one Saturday morning in early August.
I was still half-asleep with my wife Erin when our seven-year-old daughter Bella and five-year-old son Joshua came bursting happily into our bedroom to wake us up. But their giggles were soon interrupted as all four of us suddenly heard a loud "bang!" downstairs. A second later and there was another. I threw off the covers, jumped out of bed, and headed to the stairs knowing that something was wrong. But before I could get down the stairs I suddenly saw our living room window being shattered by a man's fist, sending glass dust and shards everywhere. I immediately told Erin to call 911 and then shut the bedroom door behind me with her and the kids secure inside. As the man's arm probed around searching for a way to enter I instinctively yelled (kiai-like), "The cops are already on the way! You better get the *%#@ out of here now!" The hand receded from behind the blinds and broken window and disappeared.
There was silence. I waited a moment. Then, I ran to the kitchen to grab a knife, hoping against hope that I wouldn't need to use it, but also wanting to be prepared. I immediately felt extremely grateful for all of the times I had practiced niaha, and even the recent knife work we had just done at the seminar.
Knowing that the attacker had fled, the police were on their way, and that my family was safe upstairs in our locked bedroom, I could have stayed put at that point. Indeed, someone else might have, and that might have been the right decision for another individual. But something clicked inside me. In retrospect I think it was the pastoral side of myself. I thought, "Wait a minute-what if this guy moves on to hurt one of my neighbors now? Or what if he gets away and decides to return to the neighborhood at another time?" I was concerned. It wasn't good enough that "me and mine" were safe. So, without a second to lose, I threw on a pair of shorts, locked the front door behind me, and carefully headed outside to warn my next-door neighbor.
He was grateful, as he hadn't heard the commotion and wasn't aware of the situation. We carefully scanned the perimeter together. No signs of anyone. Then, I glanced across the golf course adjacent to my home and sure enough, just across the way, I saw a suspicious looking middle-aged man with a black hooded sweatshirt nervously pacing back and forth on the street corner. As soon as our eyes locked he began to run the other way. I bolted after him with my knife in hand, cautious to keep a long distance between the two of us. After all, I didn't know if he was armed. I just knew that I needed to keep him in my line of sight so that he couldn't disappear before the police arrived.
After running across the 13th fairway and then down an unpaved gravel sidewalk barefoot for half a mile, I saw the assailant pause and therefore so did I. A couple minutes later the police arrived and I was able to direct them to the spot where the individual had stopped. The man ended up climbing onto the roof of a house where it took the local authorities eight hours to safely talk him down, finally arresting him. It was quite a day.
In moments like these, adrenaline rushes, instinct kicks in, and for martial artists the way we've trained in self-defense now plays itself out as second nature. I am truly thankful for all that I have learned over the years in Seirenkai-techniques and tactics-but also the more subtle things taught in our dojos like commonsense and a concern for the well-being of others. I want to say thank you to all our senior instructors who empower us with the wisdom of the martial way for those rare instances when we might actually need to use it.