Stuart Danker

When situations turn aggressive, how should ‘real’ men behave, wonders Stuart Danker

ROAD rage is common in the country and its accompanying altercations even more prevalent, but Kiki or Siti Fairrah Ashykin took us by storm recently when she was caught on video threatening an elderly man with a steering lock when he accidentally bumped into her three-week-old car. She came to a harsh realisation that a few minutes of anger could change her life forever.

Crowd-sourcing is a great tool when used for tasks that benefit man but this event showed the dark side of the Internet mob. Within days, netizens were posting pictures of the 30-year-old’s company, home and private details.

Driver anger cases run rampant because driving is a hostile activity. According to Dr Leon James, a professor of psychology, drivers are constantly in an emotionally-impaired state while driving. This is caused by the environment of the action itself, which is emotionally challenging, with a pool of diversely-skilled drivers creating an unpredictable setting for motorists.

Many argue that Kiki was lucky to have met a gentleman, who tried to calm her down even in the face of possible battery. As road bullying is a two-way street, things might have turned out worse had she met someone aggressive, which prompted us to ask men capable of defending themselves, “What would you do if you were in the victim’s shoes?”

FAIRER AND WEAKER?

Convention tends to downplay the amount of damage a woman can inflict on another. Women indeed carry less muscle mass than men in general but put a tool of leverage in her hands and the size advantage matters less.

Crime does not differentiate genders. Women like Lizzie Borden and Anne Bonney carried out murders that would put most male criminals to shame. When someone is intent on causing damage, it doesn’t take much to make it a reality, which is why road-bullying assault attempts should be taken seriously regardless of sex or age.

Alan Chan, a salesman with martial arts experience, says that the gender of an attacker doesn’t affect his thought-process because he categorises all actions of ill-intent as a mortal threat.

Journalist Basil Foo agrees. “If you approach me with a weapon, woman or man, I’d consider it a serious threat. I’d be forceful in restraining them either way.”

Even mixed martial arts trainer Marc Marcellinus doesn’t take anything for granted. “ Anyone, male or female, who’s wielding a weapon is considered a threat, and I’ll quickly assess if he or she wants to cause me harm and react accordingly. I won’t take chances,” he says.

Foo adds: “The type of weapon determines how far away I’ll stay from the assailant but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be on high alert. For instance, if it was a knife or bat, I’ll stay just out of range while defending myself with whatever I may have — such as an umbrella — and if it was pepper spray, I’d stay well away.”

Road rage includes events that build up towards an assailant’s outburst. There might not be a magic pill in calming down an aggressor but the best way out of any confrontation is to avoid it altogether, which spares both parties potential permanent injury.

AVOIDING CONFRONTATION

In martial arts, the proverb “the more you know, the less you know” rings true, which is why the act of backing down is the number one weapon in a martial artist’s repertoire. This is what everybody else should do too when faced with a dangerous situation.

Says Marc: “Even if your assailant is smaller than you or is unarmed, try to avoid confrontation. It’s better for everybody if the only injury one sustains is the ego. When it comes to weapons, anyone armed with one will be able to do significant damage even if they are untrained. For a person to defend themselves against a weapon, they need to be well-versed in it. By that, I mean training with it day in and day out, so that they understand how it’s used and the angles of attack for each device.

“I encourage everybody to always have an escape plan. If there’s a small chance of running, do so. If there’s no choice left, hit first, hit fast and hit hard, preferably to soft areas such as the eyes and neck. Keep in mind that you’re hitting to survive and not hitting to be a hero, so make sure you run away when the assailant is down.”

BYSTANDER EFFECT

One discouraging theme in the video was the lack of help from passers-by. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that the world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. Unfortunately, that sums up what happened in the video.

The bystander effect is where groups of observers assume shared responsibility and that someone else will handle the situation. The larger the group, the less likely any individual will step out and lend a helping hand. “I don’t know why no one was helping the poor man. If I was there, the least I could do is to step between them and calm things down,” says Chan.

Marc says that the first thing he’d do is to call the authorities, then encourage the parties involved to talk things out in a civil manner. Suffice to say, emotions are powerful determinants to our actions and there’s no telling what we’re capable of doing when and if provoked beyond our limit. In the end, a little courtesy and understanding will go a long way in diffusing tough situations and creating a better society.