Saturday, July 21, 2018

It Seems to be Working Part 3 - Media Adventures

Media Interest. Really?


I was involved in a serious road rage incident on May 11, 2018. Described in It Seems to be Working - Part 2.

Senior Constable F had asked me for my thoughts about possible media attention. I told her that I wasn't opposed to the idea, if some good were to come of it. She asked if the Police Media Liaison until could talk to me, as apparently there had been some interest from the Channel 7 Sunday Night documentary program. I spoke to a gentleman from that police unit, and told him that I would be willing to discuss possible media articles or appearances with them. At the time I thought this was highly unlikely to go anywhere.


The Floodgates Open


My attacker's court hearing was scheduled for June 27th. Early afternoon on that day, I started getting Facebook messages from friends from the gyms where I train and teach, Lange’s MMA, and the Red Boat Wing Chun Academy, saying several media outlets had contacted them, requesting to be put in touch with me. I started to panic slightly, and tried to phone the police involved in my case, to make sure I wasn't going to do anything stupid by talking to reporters.

Unfortunately, none of the police dealing with my case were contactable. I presume they were either rostered off, or busy, out catching criminals. Which is perfectly fine by me.

About 3 PM Sophie Walsh, a Channel Nine reporter who occasionally also presents the weather on the evening news, rang my doorbell. She was shortly followed by her Channel 7 colleague, Tom Sacre. The people you see regularly on television look good on screen, but are preternaturally, jaw-droppingly beautiful human beings in the flesh. Like supermodels, or angels. These two had clothes, hair, everything just right. Tall, slim, perfect. I wondered if genetic engineering or Faustian bargains were involved.


Sophie


Tom

I invited them in and sat them down and Pat and I had a nice chat with them. I wasn't prepared to put much on the record until I had talked to the police, and told them so. They probably stayed for twenty minutes. They told me that my attacker's name was Chances Moana, that he had not turned up to court, and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. I could have tried harder to find out his name before this, but knew it would come up eventually. I was trying to move past the event, and not fixating on such details was a strategy I was employing to manage that.

Pat and I watched a story about my attack on both Channel Seven and Channel Nine TV news that evening. The dashcam video of the attack was shown along with a picture of me, in a Jiu Jitsu gi, dating back to about 2012.

Embarrassingly, I was referred to, "ironically", as a "Kung Fu master" and a "Jiu Jitsu black belt". Technically true, but ... iyiyi. One of the channels said I took myself to hospital after the attack, which hopefully makes me sound slightly more badass than I felt at the time.

It's somewhat disturbing to know you can be tracked down so quickly and easily, though not difficult to work out how they probably managed it.

Sunday Night


 That evening I had a call from a Sunday Night producer, Rebecca, who was rather annoyed that I had spoken to both Sophie and Tom already, after she ostensibly had gone to the trouble of clearing things with the Police Media Liaison first.

She asked if she could come and talk to me the next morning. I agreed. Senior Constable F and Constable R both called me the next morning and explained that my attacker had missed court because he had been hospitalised after a motor vehicle accident. "Karma, perhaps," was suggested by Senior Constable F.

Rebecca arrived at around 9:30 the next morning. She talked to Pat and me for maybe a couple of hours, about perhaps interviewing us both.

She asked about other interests we had, besides Jiu Jitsu, and I mentioned I like to take long walks and exercise in a nearby Park, which backs on to a large tract of bushland. From this a tentative schedule of interviews for both of us, and the video recording of a short bushwalk together, was to be set up for the next day.

It took until around 10 pm that night to finalise the details, for the first interview at least. I came to realise quickly that most of this was being worked out on the fly. I took the train to Hornsby the next morning, and walked to the Hornsby RSL, where a large room had been converted to a temporary TV studio.

After a while everyone had turned up. I met the technicians, who were there first, and then Rebecca's co-producer Mick, and presenter Matt Doran.

Soon Matt and I were sitting down, and we talked about the incident for well over an hour, to camera. He told me during the interview that my attacker, Chances Moana, had in fact been in a serious motorcycle accident.

He had been in intensive care, in a coma for five days, with a punctured lung, both legs and his pelvis broken, and with other internal injuries. His recovery might take two years.


Telling it like it is ... truth bombs

Obviously, they did it this way to capture my reaction, which is perhaps trickery, but, I recognised, done in the pursuit of the best possible story.

I took no pleasure from his fate. If that was karma hitting back, it was quadruple overkill. I said as much in the interview.

Matt suggested that I record a video statement to be shown to Chances. I told him, or at least, the camera, that violence had solved nothing, and only caused additional problems for him. I told him I hoped he made a full recovery, that while this was in his past and present, it didn't have to be in his future. I suggested he sort himself out, try to do something positive with his life, and to try to do some good for other people. Fairly straightforward and predictable, perhaps, but sometimes the obvious is also the best ... and I was making it up as I went.

I found Matt easy to talk to, and, while nervous, I felt I spoke well and genuinely, and would come across that way. I enjoyed the experience. I felt that I had been slightly tongue tied and went off on tangents, but having watched a few articulate celebrities being interviewed since, I saw that they did much the same thing, and still came over quite well. Fingers crossed.

I talked a fair bit about martial arts and Jiu Jitsu, how I felt my training had kept me in control of myself, and kept my injuries to a minimum, during the attack.

Afterwards, Rebecca asked me about the possibility of them filming some Jiu Jitsu. I thought, "Hell yeah!"

I messaged Nikki Lange, Anthony's wife, to inform her of this development, and both the Langes were keen to get involved. I gave Anthony's number to Rebecca, and she started setting something up with him for the following Monday.

Rebecca drove me home, grabbing us some Macca's on the way, enough for Pat as well. We were having bathroom renovations done, and a friend of ours, Susan, had kindly volunteered to mind the house, while we were out swanning around the local bushland. The bathroom tradies had finished for the day by the time we were ready to go out, so Susan's offer turned out to be unnecessary, though much appreciated.

I had suggested a location to Rebecca which was in bushland, but still close to the road, making life easier for the techies.

Pat and I took innumerable walks, hand in hand, along a path, being filmed, talking about how much worse things could have been with the attack and how lucky we were to have each other and be healthy, yadda yadda yadda. All of that is true, but it becomes weird and absurd after nine or ten repetitions.

Still, nothing to complain about. I was finding the whole extravaganza fascinating.

We all went back to our townhouse. Matt Doran had arrived and was now schmoozing Pat for her interview, while the techies converted our kitchen / family room into something resembling an interview studio. Matt talked to Pat on camera for more than half an hour. They left about 6:30 pm, leaving Pat and I looking at each other, wondering what the hell had just happened.

Jiu Jitsu Day


Rebecca and the Langes had set up the film shoot at Lange's MMA in North Manly for 11 am Monday morning. There were six of us - Anthony and Nikki Lange, Will Spillane, Andre Powell, Nick Pudney and myself.

Anthony had obviously put some thought into the presentation, as we drilled defences against a puncher while we were downed on the floor - or perhaps, in a car seat, dealing with an attacker punching us from outside the car. We did some other self defence sequences and some more spectacular throws and takedowns. A few sequences of Anthony dispensing the wisdom, belt tying, and me walking up to the camera looking tough in a gi, and we were done.

Anthony was throwing some fairly hard punches at me for the defence sequences, and Nikki actually called me later because they were a bit concerned I might have been triggered by the verisimilitude of that particular sequence. No, I was fine. I enjoyed the whole thing immensely. Jiu Jitsu with friends in front of a camera - what's not to like?

Rebecca asked if she could borrow my car for the afternoon, because they wanted to go out to the attack site and film a re-enactment, with actors. Seriously? So I drove her car back home.

She told me that they would film Matt Doran and myself driving through the incident site the next day, Tuesday. The plan was that Rebecca would drive back to my house that evening, and swap our cars back, but she rang about 6 pm to ask if she could keep my car for the evening. I agreed.

Road Games


Next morning, I drove her car out to Adams Street, the cross street to Forest way with the set of lights where the incident occurred. When I got there, I was pulling in to park and the guy in the car behind pulled up beside me and motioned for me to wind the window down. Deja vu? Too soon.

He told me that one of Rebecca's brake lights wasn't working. I thanked him, and told him it wasn't my car, but that I'd inform the owner. Which I did.

I wore a Red Boat Kung Fu hoodie, hopefully to provide product placement advertising for Rick and Amy Spain. Lange's MMA was already doing well out of this odyssey, and I wanted to share the good fortune around.

After affixing four Go Pro cameras inside and outside the car, and a few false starts and replacements getting them to work, getting wired for sound, etc. etc., Matt and I got in the car, and I proceeded to drive him around an extended block around the back of Forest Way Shopping Centre about eight times, repeating pretty much the same conversation each time.

The crew wanted me to stop at the lights at Forest Way and Adams Street, but timing this, even approximately, was close to impossible in the fairly heavy traffic. One of the last times through we stopped at the side of Forest Way (legally!) for an extended chat. Matt remarked on how busy the road was with traffic, and he was right. Not a place to get out of your car and start a fist fight or wrestling match with another driver.

The final time around the block we pulled into Adams Street, and finally got out of that damned car.

They had set up a surprise for me, bringing out Steve Bloor, the truck driver who had helped me after the attack, and who was responsible for the dashcam footage, from where he was concealed in a nearby driveway.

With Matt moderating, we exchanged the predictable thanks, pleasantries, handshakes and hugs. It was genuinely wonderful to see him again, though the nature of the occasion made our interaction a bit stilted. Not to take anything away, I was genuinely very grateful for his assistance and generosity on the day, and to the crew for setting it up. And for Steve's concern - he had been calling Senior Constable F repeatedly to try and find out how I was, but privacy regulations prevented her from telling him.

I also met the young actor who was playing my attacker in the reenactment. Unfortunately my own stunt double was not there. I would have been interested to see who they had chosen to play me - I would have liked Guy Pearce in Jack Irish, but probably would have ended up with John Jarratt in Wolf Creek.

We had a quick lunch in the Forest Way Shopping Centre Food Court. I was shouted a pretty good Thai Chicken Fried Rice. I was able to have a quick informal chat to Steve. He is passionate about road safety and spreading its message, and how people place themselves in danger around trucks, by not appreciating how limited the truck drivers' vision of the road immediately ahead of them is. Don't pull in right in front of a big truck! The driver cannot see you! If he is distracted or forgets you are there you will be turned into a human pancake!

Steve had spent the morning at Dee Why RSL being interviewed by Matt, since 7:30 AM. His rather large truck was concealed somewhere around the back streets of Frenchs Forest or Belrose. I swapped cars with Rebecca again, because they were spending the afternoon using my car for the reenactment, along with Steve in his truck, and a ute like my attacker's, which they had borrowed or hired.

I drove home and veged out until Rebecca arrived home with my car around 6 pm. Pat and I talked to her for a bit and then let her drive home, back to her office, or wherever her hectic lifestyle required her to be next.

The "Logical Next Step"


I thought that would be it. Haha. Next morning, Wednesday, Matt Doran called me. He told me they had been to talk to Chances Moana in hospital, and shown my recorded video statement to him. Matt said he was very remorseful, had a nice religious family who were concerned for him, but were horrified at what he had done, etc. etc. All of which was probably true.

You didn't have to be Einstein to work out why he was calling and telling me all this.

He asked me to think about going to Royal North Shore Hospital and meeting up with Chances. I knew they all thought it would be good television etc., and I thought it would be the logical next step to take on this journey. In hindsight, they oversold how it was going to be, but I also got carried away with the supposed magnificence and heroic nature of the gesture, and oversold it to myself.

Extreme Ownership. The outcome is always your responsibility.

I don't blame Matt or Rebecca for doing that. I'm sure the job is like herding cats, and I have no problem with being manipulated to a reasonable degree, for what appears to be a good cause - which, hopefully, is what the finished product turned out to be.

Robert Anton Wilson calls this "constructive gullibility".

I'd pretty much decided to do  the hospital thing there and then, but told Matt I'd call him back mid afternoon after I'd had time to think about it, talked to Pat, etc.

In reality, I wanted some time to myself to do my usual Wednesday lunchtime no gi Jiu Jitsu class at Lange's, have a quiet lunch and shower after training, chill out with Pat, etc., before I allowed the circus to descend on me again.

I called Matt back and told him I was in. He was happy. I knew Rebecca would be in touch with details.

I met Rebecca in a cafe at the hospital at around 4 pm on the next day, a Thursday. I took my takeaway coffee up to meet the techies and Matt, at an outside area near the hospital chapel.

We took a few sequences of me crossing an internal street in the hospital, supposedly on my way to somewhere, and a few takes of Matt and I discussing what I was about to do, and how I felt about it. I felt more nervous about this day than anything I had done for the program so far - though I was hardly apoplectic. I told Matt I was nervous because I wanted to turn this meeting into a positive outcome for everyone concerned. Which was the truth.

Chances' uncle and cousin brought him out in a wheelchair. He did not appear to be in good shape. He seemed very shy, and a bit overwhelmed by the situation. He was soft spoken, to the extent that the sound technician had a great deal of trouble capturing what he said - they didn't want to put a wire on him because of his injuries, and were relying on the boom microphone. With Matt's encouragement, he was able to look me in the eye and apologise for attacking me. I was able to forgive him and say some encouraging words about making a good future for himself and helping others, and shook his hand.

As with Steve, the nature of the situation made everything a bit stilted, and probably embarrassing, or even intimidating, for him. Hopefully, it makes for good storytelling and television. I shook hands with his uncle and cousin, who seemed genuinely grateful for my presence and actions.

After the nerves and excitement wore off and I was riding the train home, alone, I realised this wasn't anything like the climactic moment, act of courage, or catharsis that I had talked myself into believing it would be.

Chances will be in hospital for a long time, and his full recovery could take two years. I think it is possible that he may be unable to work in his chosen profession, that of tree lopping, again.

I believe it is a family business, and I'd hope they could find him some less physical way to contribute to their business, and earn an income, until such time as he can fully involve himself again. But, his injuries are still going to keep him out of life's rich pageant for at least two of his best years. Pathetic, and I mean that in a strictly technical and not a derogatory sense.

There is little upside to this, and I can't take much positive for myself from it.

I wondered if he finds talking to strangers difficult. Perhaps the circumstances of the accident on Forest Way were too daunting for him to negotiate verbally, and thus he panicked and resorted to violence.

Effective communication is vital to civilisation. Negotiating with words is far more likely to end well, than any physical alternative. "Verbal Jiu Jitsu", as recommended by many, is a thing.

Peak experiences and transcendent events can't be planned. Sad but true.

While it was not uplifting, climactic, or cathartic, as I was expecting and hoping, I still think this was the right thing for me to do. I hope it brought some comfort or relief to Chances, and everyone else involved.

"Virtue is its own reward," as the saying goes. Whatever virtue I embodied certainly did not seem to be packaged with an ultimate catharsis, a huge dopamine hit, or a transcendent moment of oneness with the Godhead.

Still, it is all there was, and it was enough.

I went to Jiu Jitsu training the next day, Friday, and had lunch afterwards with some Jiu Jitsu friends. I related the whole strange and terrible saga from go to woe, as one of my lunch companions had heard none of it. Now, THAT was cathartic.

It had been a fascinating few days, and an experience I enjoyed. I knew I'd been schmoozed and manipulated, but understood the reasons for that, and know it was done, in part at least, in the pursuit of good - a road safety and anti-violence message - and not evil. I can see that Rebecca, Matt, and the other media professionals work hard, and for long hours, and believe in what they are doing. I respected Rebecca and her work ethic in particular, and found her good company.


After meeting Chances at RNS - Loz (camera), Rebecca (producer), me, Matt (presenter), Will (sound)


The Final Cut


Final show as released for TV
Download

What must have come close to ten hours of filming was condensed into perhaps fifteen minutes or less of final product. The Jiu Jitsu sequence at Lange's MMA was cut to about forty-five seconds. Pat's and my walk through the bush didn't make the final cut, but only appeared for a moment in one of the trailers. All the driving I did with Matt was condensed down to maybe fifteen seconds.

My meeting with Steve Bloor, the truck driver, was relegated to an extra clip on Facebook, though they did include a good deal of that, and I got Rick Spain's Red Boat Kung Fu product placement into that clip. Result!

My story was interwoven with that of another road rage incident. Several people have remarked that I presented a far more positive image than the other interviewees (Steve Bloor excepted) - though, as I replied to them, the bar was pretty low.

I had intentionally sat during my interview with my hands clasped in a Gable Grip, a standard wrestling grip that I hoped viewers who trained Jiu Jitsu would notice and remark on, a sort of Masonic secret handshake recognisable only to the initiated. An in joke. But my clasped hands never made it into the final product.


The Gable Grip

My story was followed by one about women who were having poor medical outcomes from breast implants. Before each ad break, there was a brief clip indicating what was coming up next. I was playing the program video on my computer, while running a video capture, and doing other things in the meantime.

At one stage I looked up at the screen briefly to see an glimpse of my face to camera, immediately followed on screen by the image of a pair of breasts. Not sure of the subtext of that.


Take Aways


I was conscious while I was doing this that the crew were forming an impression of me, a persona, if you like. I see that what I brought to the camera is similar.

Hopefully, I appear as a potential victim, who chose not to be a victim, and someone who could rise above the situation, act rationally, articulate his reaction to the experience competently and intelligently, and even reconcile with, and forgive, his attacker.

I am much more complex and flawed than this. I had been very conscious through this of the need to protect, and live up to, this persona, to avoid having it come crashing down, and the whole moral thrust of the program’s theme damaged or ruined. So, careful driving, no breaking the road rules, no accidents. Act politely towards everyone, with grace.

A persona perhaps, but with with some fleshing out, perhaps a better or ideal self. That persona would seem to be a goal, at which to aim up. This then, hopefully, can continue to be useful to me, beyond the short term requirements of the story.


The Ideal Self

It has been quite the experience. Remarkably, there have been many unexpected positives coming out of a very brief, though serious, assault. Overall, I'd have to say that, in the final tally, the positives well outweigh the negatives, and my life has been made richer for it.

The Latest


On August 8, Chances Moana was sentenced to 18 months jail, minimum 15. He will stay out until October, while being assessed for possible home detention. His injuries apparently prevent community service from being an option.

This was a harsher sentence than I expected.

I truly hope he can move forward after his recovery and sentence, and live a good life.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It Seems to be Working - Part 2 - Road Rage


What follows is long, detailed, and no doubt boring. I wrote it this way intentionally to give the reader a feel of how tedious and disruptive the aftermath of a fifteen second violent confrontation can be.




The Event


On Friday, May 11, 2018 a bit after 1 PM, I was driving north along Forest Way in Frenchs Forest, a three lane dual carriageway, towards the traffic lights at Adams Street.

Here the left lane ends, the middle and right lanes go in an S, so they become the left and middle lanes, and an extra lane is introduced on the right.

There are extensive roadworks through the entire suburb related to the new Northern Beaches Hospital, and this change to the traffic conditions had only been in place for a few months. Prior to this, Forest Way was three straight lanes through the intersection. I usually to go another way, but other roadworks on that way meant occasional delays.


The intersection of Forest Way and Adams Street, Frenchs Forest, before commencement of roadworks and at the time of the incident

I followed the right lane through the S formation, where it becomes the middle lane. Another driver was on my left. I believe I was driving in my lane correctly, and he sideswiped me from my left, he not correctly following the curve of the lane markings. This was a minor collision, with minor panel damage, and I was not hurt.

He pulled in front of me and stopped. The lights turned red, I believe. I assumed he would have looked for a place to pull over so that we could exchange details and deal with the accident. He got out of his car, I assumed he would want to talk to me. OK, whatever, here will do.

I started to open my door, thus opening the automatic lock, to meet him. I sensed his intentions were hostile, and thus remained in the car. He kicked my side of the car, perhaps the rear vision mirror, and opened the door. I sensed he was going to attack me, turned to face him with my feet up and protected my head with my arms as best I could. He threw several punches with his right hand, perhaps two connected solidly with my face and head. I was wearing glasses and these were knocked off my face. He started back to his car. He did not speak.

 Our two cars collided again, with mine lurching forward and rear ending his. I thought I had put the car in park with the handbrake on. It is possible I knocked the gear lever into drive, or had left the car in drive and accidentally hit the accelerator. The latter seems unlikely, as the car remained stationary while he attacked me, and I was defending myself with my feet off the pedals. t thought momentarily he might have reversed back into my car, or that someone had bumped my car from behind, but the video evidence says not.

I was not facing forward in the car when this happened and certainly did not cause this to happen intentionally. I was in no state to consider retaliation by driving into him. That would have been a monumentally stupid idea. I had no desire to prolong or escalate the altercation.

I spent a fair while on Hyundai and motor insurance forums online, afterwards, seeking answers to exactly what may have led to the car moving forward, but without success. Exactly how this happened remains a mystery to me.

He came back and attacked me again in the same way, connecting with one or two more punches, though from the video about fifteen were thrown. I took the same defensive position, and did my best to block and deflect his punches. Again, he said nothing. Neither of us spoke during the entire altercation. He returned to his car and drove off.

I am surprised this was so newsworthy. I am disappointed the video embedded in the link doesn’t really show how I blocked or deflected the vast majority of strikes.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/2018/06/02/07/49/frenchs-forest-sydney-nsw-road-rage-attack-forest-way-adams-street

I shut down the ignition, set the handbrake, and got out once he had gone, to consider how to get my now undrivable car off the busy road. I was not seriously injured, but had blood dripping from a few facial cuts. I was not concussed, but was heavily adrenalized, and not thinking straight.

I also wanted to show witnesses, and myself, that I was still conscious and ambulatory.

My main concerns at the time were how to get the car off the road, that other drivers would be inconvenienced and would get annoyed with me, that my wife and I had relatives staying with us and we would be down to one car which would spoil our plans, and inconvenience and annoy everybody involved. Which was completely wrong, but illustrates how far off the mark my thinking was. A long way from rationality.

Fortunately a B double truck had pulled up behind me, and a smaller truck on the left stopped as well. The B double driver, Steve Bloor, and the two guys in the other truck helped me, and got the car off the road and onto a grassy area at the corner. They also called the police. Those guys were helpful and kind.

I made some joke like "Well, that was fun!" to Steve, mainly to convince him and myself that I hadn't been mentally reduced to a gibbering mess.

Steve told me his truck had a dashcam, but he would need to contact his office to obtain the footage. One of the truckies found that the attacker’s spare tyre had come off his vehicle in the collision. I took it off the road and left it on the grass at the corner.

Three police officers arrived. I was wandering around a grassy area on the side of the road, trying to process what had happened, and decide what to do next.. One of the truckies gave me a bottle of water.

Senior Constable F told me to take a seat in the back of their truck, in case I started to pass out or otherwise had a bad reaction, but probably also to get me out of the way while they talked to other witnesses. Fair enough. They called an ambulance. The police officers were pleasant and sympathetic towards me.

 Senior Constable F told me initially that they could arrange to get the car towed, but I would have to pay for it. I had no idea as to where I should get the car towed, and was not in a great state to decide. As they got more details, they told me they would instead be having it towed to their premises, for forensic testing at their expense. Awesome, one fewer issue to deal with right now.

I went back to the car just to gather my personal effects, and look for my glasses. I figured they would be totally bent out of shape, or be smashed to pieces out on the road. Incredibly, I found them intact, lying in the back of the car in the footwell, folded neatly all by themselves. They look flimsy with super light frames, but they are made from titanium, and their ability to flex and retain their shape afterwards is probably what saved them. They were quite expensive, and as I told one of the police officers, I could be grateful for small mercies.

The ambulance came and two paramedics checked me over. They asked if I wanted to go to hospital. I was initially reluctant, but they convinced me gently but persistently.

We ummed and ahhed about whether I should go to the SAN at Wahroonga, or to Hornsby Hospital.

The SAN is very good, but you usually have to pay a sizeable fee upfront.

Hornsby is public, the buildings and some facilities desperately need refurbishment. But in my experience, and that of my brother in law who suffered a TIA (mini-stroke) two years ago, there is no compromise on care.

Decision made. The paramedics drove me to Hornsby Hospital. They spoke to me quietly and calmly about innocuous subjects, which I guess was to help me calm down. I had my blood pressure taken en route. I had been for a check up recently and scored 114/78, which is in the normal range. A half hour after the accident, it was now 140/90 (I asked). Interesting.

(I was later billed over $500 for the ambulance ride. Fortunately, my private medical insurance covered it.)

We arrived at Hornsby Hospital Emergency. As I arrived in an ambulance, I went straight in. I only waited fifteen minutes for a bed. They sat me on a chair while we were waiting, and one of the paramedics stayed with me and chatted about his and my recent histories.

I was moved to a bed and told to take my top off and put on a gown, lie down and get under a blanket. Dr J came and gave me an initial once over. Another half hour later, my blood pressure was now down to 130/85 or thereabouts. I was interested to see how my physiology was impacted.

I was in the hospital for three or four hours. Pat arrived a half hour after me, and was pretty shaken up herself. They checked me out for facial and spinal fractures (none) and potential concussion, and other brain or internal injury. I took a number of vision, movement, and cognitive tests. A more senior doctor, Dr A, also checked out my injuries.

I had a few facial cuts (probably from my glasses), a black eye, the eyeball slightly bruised and bloodshot, and the eye starting to close, a 15 mm cut inside the top of my external ear, probably from a glancing blow, and a cut inside my upper lip which just penetrated through to the top side, probably from getting smashed against a tooth. A slightly sore neck, but I’ve had much worse training. And a couple of chipped teeth. I've had similar, and worse, injuries from training, as well as having been knocked unconscious.

The two doctors agreed a cleanup, and a single stitch inside my lip, would be all that was required. However, both Dr J and Dr A had to apply that stitch together, as it was in a difficult spot. I accepted the local anaesthetic offered, feeling I'd been stoic enough for one day. It was tricky to hit the right spot with the anaesthetic needle, as it was close to my eyeball.

This provided a training opportunity for some junior doctors, and so a couple came in and watched, after I gave Dr A my permission. I could see the utility of this, plus some humour in the situation. Tempted to sell tickets.

They stitched me up before the anaesthetic fully hit, but the pain was only 3 out of 10. Dr J had a significant amount of paperwork to do for my discharge, but got through it and I was out of there at 6:45 PM. I had a cut on my ear which they would have liked to have stitched, but that wasn’t feasible, so they used a couple of Steri Strips instead, to keep the wound closed.


It's just a flesh wound!

I got a call from one of the officers on the scene, Constable R, while Pat drove me home. He asked if I was happy for some other police came to see me at home that night. I agreed, keen to pursue this. I managed to shower, change and eat, having missed lunch, before they arrived.

The two police who arrived took a statement from me, and went over it a few times, asking me questions repeatedly, probably in an attempt to identify any potential lies. Which I don’t begrudge, as I told the truth.

They told me they had obtained the dashcam footage, had identified the car, which was owned by a company, and would be going to talk to the car’s registered owner immediately they left my house. LSC A also asked me to call her on Saturday night, when she hoped to be able to tell me that my car was available for release, after completion of the forensic tests.

The forensic technician rang her while she was at my house, said they had obtained some fingerprints, and asked a few questions about blood on various items in the car, which I think was all mine.

Like all the other professionals involved, cops, paramedics, medical staff, and the drivers that stopped to help me, these police were pleasant and sympathetic. They left about 9:30 pm. So, a long day.

I didn’t sleep all that well, not because of my mental state, as much as the fact that my injured ear was on the side I normally prefer to sleep. I have a separated A/C joint, Jiu Jitsu related, on the other side, which makes sleeping there uncomfortable. So I was restless, but not because of trauma, flashbacks or nightmares.

I did very little on Saturday. I spoke to some  Jiu Jitsu friends over the phone, Nikki Lange and Luca Altea for a fair while, and Peter King on the Sunday, and crashed for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I called LSC A, who had taken my statement, in the evening, as she requested. She told me the car had been released and available for pick up, but that there was no rush.

I had little energy that day, found it hard to collect my thoughts or get organised, and was quite content to watch videos and read.

On Sunday morning, Constable R emailed me the form I needed to allow the towie to get my car from the police lockup. I called my insurance company and started a claim. They said they would arrange to tow the car to an approved repairer close to home. This took a while, but was much less complicated than I had feared it might be.

She had a couple of questions about the police report, etc. that I couldn’t answer on the spot, but was easily able to resolve those with a call to yet another helpful Constable S, at Dee Why Police.

On Sunday night Constable R called me to say they had found the attacker, and arrested and charged him with two accounts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one of leaving the scene of an accident without providing details. The hearing was set for June 27, at Manly Court.

I was very pleased, told Constable R that, and thanked him and his colleagues for their assistance and excellent work.

 On the Monday, I emailed the release form for the car to Mona Vale police. Tuesday, the car was picked up and towed to the repairer at Thornleigh, near where I live.

 A week later, the necessary administrative work (police report, assessing the car, etc.) had been completed, and I was told repairs had commenced. I got the car back on June 8, just before the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

 I had to pay the insurance excess, $695, to the repairer, to collect my car. The insurance company refunded it to me once the police report had been processed, and it confirmed I was not at fault. This finally happened on August 3.

It is fortunate my wife and I own two cars. Otherwise, we would had to have significantly reduced our travelling, or hire a car, not a cheap exercise.

I took it easy the next week. The thought of complex interactions with many people, or dealing with complex logistics, was daunting and I begged off some, though not all, tourist style trips with my relatives, and a planned day of Jiu Jitsu refereeing the following weekend. I felt such activities would have exhausted me mentally within a short time, and I might not have met my responsibilities adequately as a result. Those potentially affected by my absences took them with good grace.

I trained a light Jiu Jitsu session twelve days after the accident, and was back to and enjoying my normal routines, including martial arts training and Jiu Jitsu rolling, after two weeks.

There are more events to this story. To be continued.

Analysis - from a Self Defence and Martial Arts Perspective


This was not an act of courage or heroism. I did not volunteer. I did not save anybody else.

I am a science and IT nerd, not a professional warrior. 

I believe that martial arts training has allowed me to develop a certain toughness and stoicism, as well as some physical and mental tools to deal with interpersonal violence.

The old cliché is “it all happened so fast”. 

I had only a vague idea of the attacker’s appearance and would have been hard pressed to recognise his photo, or pick him out of a lineup. Mostly, I remember he belonged to a specific ethnic group. Racist? Well, that’s what I remember about him.

He was wearing a hi-res shirt or jacket, probably yellow, maybe orange, and work boots. Long dark work pants, I thought, but I couldn’t be sure.  A labourer or tradesman. I only have a vague idea of the car as well, a white table top utility, and no idea what the number plate was. I had no opportunity to look. 

I believe I neither caused the accident - and the police made no suggestion that my driving was at fault - nor did I do anything whatsoever to provoke the assault.

However, following the philosophy espoused in Jocko Willink's book, "Extreme Ownership", I believe I need take my share of responsibility for the outcome of this event, and consider what I might have done to prevent it.

My error was not allowing for the possibility that my attacker might make one. We are imperfect creations, works in progress. None of us are immune from mistakes, and thus not allowing for the potential mistakes of others, as well as our own, is to be optimistic to the point of foolhardiness. 

That aside, I have thought my defensive actions over a multitude of times, and strongly believe that if it happened again, I would act the same way. 

Some martial artists, or even some non martial artists, might think I should have got out of the car and done battle with the attacker. And believe that they would have. 

It took place in the middle lane of a three-lane busy dual carriageway. Getting out of the car, blocking and slipping punches, then hitting him with a double leg takedown, getting mount, slapping his face and getting him to turn, taking his back, and choking him unconscious, could easily have resulted on one or both of us getting hit and killed by a passing car, and thus putting a third blameless driver through a similar crappy odyssey to the one I had to work through - or worse. 

I doubt I could have pulled that technical sequence off faultlessly under such duress, in any case. No mats, gravel, oil, broken glass ... Defeat is not the sole province of non martial artists.

Also, I didn’t want to engage the attacker in front of witnesses. I could have ended up on dashcam, and on a serious charge myself, had I done so. I decided to defend, but not retaliate.

So, I'm a Jiu Jitsu black belt, and have taught Wing Chun Kung Fu for decades, and you think those credentials demand that I should have got out of my car, and delivered some rough justice.

Consider this. A quote from the article linked to beneath it:

On December 1, 2015, a man died horribly under the wheels of a garbage truck after a roadside clash with another driver that lasted about 15 seconds. It happened ... beside the southern lanes of Brisbane's Gateway Motorway. There were no weapons or bizarre twists involved, just two seemingly ordinary blokes — Shane Merrigan, 50, and Tamate Heke, then 36 — heading home from work on a Tuesday afternoon.
A New Zealand national and father of three, Heke was a factory worker with no criminal history, due to marry his long-time partner the following week; Merrigan, married with four daughters, was a professional driver who'd already been counselled at a former workplace over several road-rage incidents.
Somehow, the pair got into an all-too-familiar anger spiral: both tailgating and vying to get ahead; both cursing and giving one another the finger. According to court evidence based on CCTV footage and witness statements, Merrigan was in front when he gestured for Heke to pull over. Both vehicles stopped and the drivers got out – so close to traffic rushing past at 100km/h they were buffeted by disturbed air — and stood yelling at each other.
Heke was then seen to deliver a single punch to the head or neck of Merrigan, who fell backwards onto the road and disappeared in a moment beneath the truck. He died instantly of multiple injuries.
A distraught Heke admitted throwing the punch to police at the scene, saying Merrigan had assaulted him first. This claim was found to be unsupported by evidence at Heke's second trial for manslaughter in Brisbane's Supreme Court earlier this year, after his first trial ended with a hung jury. Heke, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, was ultimately cleared of manslaughter but found guilty of unlawful striking causing death, for which he's now serving six-and-a-half years in prison.

The long judicial process served to illustrate how widely the horror unleashed that day has spread, starting with Heke's anguish at the scene, where he was physically ill and shook uncontrollably, crying, "What have I done? What have I done?" Later treated for depression and suicidal thoughts, he told police he'd tried to grab Merrigan as he fell, and that he "didn't mean it".

The courts heard of the grief and devastation of Merrigan's loved ones and friends — "The happiness I had has been drained … pretty much everything has been destroyed," wrote one of his daughters in a victim impact statement — and of the after-effects suffered by the truck driver involved, and by other motorists who stopped to help.

"There are many victims of your stupid, frustrated action in punching Mr Merrigan," Justice Peter Applegarth told Heke during sentencing. "You made a foolish decision to accept [his] invitation to pull over. Nothing good was ever likely to come of that."

Yeah, but they were just untrained palookas.

Any of the Gracies would have got out of the car, and made the guy pay.

Actually, no.

Here are Rener and Ryron suggesting you do no such thing, in a Gracie Breakdown of a road rage incident which resulted in the death of "Guma", an accomplished competitive Jiu Jitsu black belt, in Brazil.



Gracie Breakdown.Viewer discretion advised. Grim stuff. 

Still think a real man, you perhaps, should have got out and punched on? You obviously aren't as old as me - sixty-three - and if you insist on that attitude, I wouldn't bet on you living to that age. At least, not without a spell or two in gaol.

Consider how a criminal record might affect your employment prospects, ability to travel, relationships, etc. Think about how savagely the wings of your dreams would be clipped.

Good martial arts training gives you OPTIONS for self defense. It doesn't give you any OBLIGATIONS as to how you should react.

So, what DID I do?


I spun in my seat to face him as he opened the door, adopted Rodney King's "Crazy Monkey" defence position (a position also taught to me by John Will, and called the "Shell") with my hands on my forehead and elbows close together, lifted my left foot and knee up to provide further protection, like a Jiu Jitsu open guard, and did my best to block and absorb his punches, without retaliating.


Rodney King's Crazy Monkey Defence System

(Shortly after the attack, I found that Rodney King was visiting Australia. The universe was sending me a message! I signed up for and attended a seminar with Rodney at George Adams' gym three weeks later. Interesting and thought provoking, some good, alive training, and I enjoyed meeting Rodney himself.)

In the car, I was surrounded by steel armour on three sides, plus above and below. Almost like being in a shark viewing cage. No better place to be. 

In the car, I could really only be attacked with straight punches. No hooks, uppercuts, headbutts, elbows, knees or kicks.

Getting out of the car made no sense whatsoever from a defensive standpoint.

The observer part of me was evaluating the punches ... Nope ... No ... Oh, that one got through, but not so bad, maybe a six out of ten ... No ... Ouch, give that one an eight ... Nope … 

I thought implementing the best defence I could, and doing nothing to escalate the situation, would be the best, or the least bad, option, of many potential options with likely much worse outcomes. In situations like this, there are probably no tactics you can adopt that will avoid a bad outcome. It’s a matter of trying to make the outcome the best of a bad lot. 

I felt fear, but not panic. I believe I made good decisions quickly under duress. While I did not fight back, I felt I made effective use of my martial arts and self defence training, and that it served me well when I needed it. 

An essential part of which was leaving my ego right out of the situation.

Stay safe. Getting out of the car because your ego is threatened is what puts you in hospital, gaol, or the cemetery.

Self defence is about SURVIVAL, not victory, dominance, or punishment. 

Imagine if instead of me – and I’m a 63 year old male, fit and capable, but hardly in the prime of potential warriorhood – it had been a 75 year old lady driving? Or a mother with preschoolers in the car? An invalid? How badly could that have worked out? 

I thought about scenarios where weapons were involved, improvised or otherwise. Just glad that wasn’t a factor. If I’d have got out and retaliated, he might have grabbed a crowbar from his truck ... Not going there. 

I have had some fairly tough situations in training and sparring. But the level of stress and adrenalin in those situations compared to a real attack is like that of throwing a medium sized rock into a pond, compared to setting off a large bomb in its depths. 


Maybe not that large a bomb

But ... I  found I could handle it. The adrenalin dump.

I enjoy my training, it is a significant part of my life. As I said, I felt it saved me here, but training does not, and probably cannot, fully prepare you for the shocking, frenzied chaos of an assault. It comes out of nowhere very fast, is unexpected, and most likely will be significantly different to any practice scenario that you can devise.

I’m really not sure how much more I could have done to prepare. I think visualisation and mental rehearsals of potential attacks and effective responses work. Enough pressure testing that you are prepared for solid contact, and physical and mental duress, is essential. 

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how shocking, disruptive, time-consuming, and downright inconvenient this sort of incident can be, even if you don’t get badly hurt. And how things could have been unbelievably worse. 

A couple of my martial arts seniors, who I fully respect, and who have real self defence experience (like I do now ... another one off the alt-weird bucket list), both tough as nails, told me to expect flashbacks, etc., as they had had from incidents in which they were involved. None of that for me so far, but who knows.

The attack lasted about fifteen seconds. I was still dealing with its aftermath, from a purely logistical point of view, nearly three months later. 

From my mental perspective, I do not think of myself as a victim, and believe I dealt with an awful and difficult situation well, without losing control, and making sound decisions at every point, even under duress. 

The only things I’ve come up with that I might have done differently, had I known this was about to happen, would be: 
  • Keeping the car doors locked and waiting for a clearer picture of his intentions
  • Using a slightly spikier defensive configuration, like Rodney King’s Three Point Cover, making it harder for the attacker to hit me without potentially spiking his fist on my lead elbow 
  • Using the half full plastic water bottle I had with me as an improvised defensive weapon, as advocated by Raymond Floro. 

But still, too many variables. The Butterfly Effect, of any of these potential small changes, could still perhaps have had a significant negative effect on the outcome.

The incident and its aftermath have increased my confidence and belief in the value and utility of my training, and my ability to deal with adversity.

Some other useful protective configurations for dealing with punching attackers: 


The Visor  - John Will and Dave Meyer



The Battering Ram - a bit like Rodney King's Three Point Cover 


The attack didn’t put me off driving. I’ve now driven through the same intersection multiple times without incident - no freakouts, albeit somewhat hypervigilant.

I have fitted a dashcam to my car. If it goes well, I'll buy another for Pat's car.

I met one violent individual on the day, but I also met about two dozen heroes - the drivers that helped me, the cops, paramedics, and hospital staff. On balance, that's reason for increased faith in humanity. 

The evidence against the attacker seemed pretty overwhelming, and I expected him to plead guilty. If it did go to a hearing, I would have absolutely fronted up to court, stood up straight with my shoulders back, looked him in the eye, and told the truth. 

But there were more twists and turns to come with this story. To be continued.

My attack made the front page of the Manly Daily, and at least two Sydney TV news channels.



Another related news article, includes video: