“Brilliant intervention strategy saves man’s life,” by Stanley Pranin


“The group of guys quickly got in their vehicle and drove off.”

In a response to my blog of yesterday titled “What if you have to intervene? What are your options?,” Jennifer Smith wrote the following on Facebook that I found particularly interesting:

I drove past a group of men beating another man on the street. It was 1am and I was alone. But I KNEW to my bones that guy wouldn’t survive.

What did I do? I made a U-turn, pointed my car at them from across the way, shined my brights and blasted my horn until all of the lights in the neighbors windows went on. The group of guys quickly got in their vehicle and drove off.

The man on the ground survived. It had been a racial hate crime.

So, that’s what I did…

Reading this reminded me that intervention to subdue violence make take many different forms. It can sometimes be accomplished without touching anyone, and in this case, at a distance. Thanks to Jennifer and the many others who offered their insightful comments on Facebook and on our blog site.



  1. Brilliant!

  2. John Hillson says:

    Very cool. The people driving off also had the headlights in their eyes and never maybe saw how many in the car or what gender or how big the driver was. Very smart. Smart to use the horn, and smart to use the car.

    I didn’t weigh in yesterday, so I’ll write it all in here.

    When I talk with police officers, they are usually told their radio is their most effective weapon. When I taught a tanto dori class, I included a brief session of tanto nage making the point we should know how to hold on to our cellphones, our car keys, and for me at work my panic button and ID badge that gives me access/escape routes. Many of our techniques can be done without grabbing our attacker, so that means we can be protecting something in our grip or using a tool.

    In my psychiatry days I had to learn to function as part of a team. No one restrains a patient Mano-ar-Mano, not unless things are way out of control. The others are making sure no one else is escaping or jumping in, the crowd is controlled, the medications and restraints are obtained and/or contained, weapons are removed from the situation and the general alarm is sounded. Doors get locked, people get dispersed. The likelihood of injuring the party being restrained is much less if I have someone controlling the other arm, controlling the legs, someone else applying the restraints so that I don’t need to let a pinned limb go free. We don’t teach much of how to do this in Aikido.

    We do so much in Aikido to try to get to our attacker’s blindspot, but it sounds “unsportsmanlike” to just proceed from someone’s blindspot (I’m in their blindspot because they are focused on someone else, advantage me.) The least violent option overall might be to take the first person out hard, brutally and ugly; hopefully scare the others enough to think twice but at least one less person is coming at you. We don’t teach lethal or crippling applications much, while they are there.

    For all that, nothing drives me up the wall more than having a computer programmer or a florist hijack an entire class with conversations on their understanding of the “Real World” and how the practice should be made more “realistic.” Sometimes when I have a student like this, I picture them talking with Julia Child’s voice as they pontificate on “the Manly Art of Fisty Cuffs.”

    All realistic training is ultimately not 100% realistic. Some training exercises have value that should not be discounted just because it doesn’t look like what a student thinks violence looks like – that student is usually more affected by TV than real life.

    Aikido was used in law enforcement agencies at one time. Now Judo and MMA are used more so. When I have a student go to the police academy or the FBI, I want them to be safe and effective at their job. I want a self defence student to be safe and effective. Today that means use the environment, use the technology on hand, communicate timely and effectively, assist others usefully, work as a team effectively.

    In modern Aikido, often we don’t serve the public’s need for peacekeepers and we don’t provide peacekeepers with the skill set they need – That’s something the Art of Peace really needs to think about.

  3. Andrew Bedford says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    That is Awesome!!!!

    Andy B

  4. In, which was probably the last video that the late Terry Dobson Sensei made of a seminar in California, he spoke of maintaing a calm mind. That in an emergency situation, when others may be running around frantically, keeping your wits about you will help you find the solution. Looks like this is what this woman did. Bravo. Mark E. White

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