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Read an Excerpt
Right Foot First ...
A Practical Guide To Self Safety, Wellness, Awareness and Keeping fit for Life
By Teddy Crawford
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Teddy Crawford
All rights reserved.
CAUGHT ON SURVEILLANCE CAMERA!
There was a time when it took nearly twenty-four hours for news of street crimes and violence to reach the eyes and ears of the general public. Now, with round-the-clock news coverage, phone cameras, and the widespread use of surveillance cameras in homes, businesses, public transportation, and on almost every street corner, footage of physical attacks by thugs and pit bulls is captured and broadcast quickly, sometimes within minutes.
There is no escape from the bombardment of raw footage — muggings, rapes, robberies, purse snatchings, break-ins, carjacking, kidnappings, street-gang warfare, and abuse of the aged and children. It's rare for events such as earthquakes, bridge collapses, or wildfires to happen without being captured on film. just awaiting the push of a replay button.
A society cannot enjoy the good life — whatever it perceives that to be — if its citizens feel scared and threatened by violent street thugs and loose pit bulls every time they leave their homes.
The Prayer of the Unprepared
The following prayer is usually offered with heart racing, eyes shut tight, and hopeful glances in the other direction.
Please, God, please, let him go past me.
Please, God, don't let him stop beside me.
Please make her stay on her side of the street.
Please make sure they don't come over here to bother or harm me.
Please make sure that pit bull stays on its owner's leash.
Please, God, hear my prayer!
Surveillance cameras do play an important role in bringing to justice those who commit crimes. They can provide the police with clear photos of criminals, and these photos can help bring about their capture, sometimes in very short order.
What street surveillance cameras show
One very useful purpose street surveillance cameras serve is to provide proof-positive evidence of street crimes. These cameras capture footage that documents the time, place, weapons used (if any), and most importantly, criminals committing the act.
Surveillance cameras also provide concrete proof of the alarming number and frequency of street attacks and assaults in big cities and neighborhoods, as well as in private homes. This is true in the United States, where I reside, and I am certain it is true in other countries as well.
Cameras also show that street thugs and loose pit bulls are likely to attack people with no regard for nationality, age, or gender. Male and female; young, old, and middle-aged; even infants and toddlers become innocent casualties of this cruel, senseless cycle of violence.
What I find particularly troubling is that, in many instances, these street attacks and assaults are unprovoked and carried out with speed and brutality. From what I have observed, many are done just for the heck of it.
"Watch me knock him out."
Consider this disgusting practice prevalent in New York City in the not-too-distant past. Men of all ages and backgrounds would go around and vie for top rankings for their ability to deliver a single knockout punch — usually to the head or face — of unsuspecting, randomly chosen pedestrians.
What could be worse? (Except, of course, some of the other things the surveillance cameras show.) You are walking down the street, minding your own business, maybe just out for a leisurely stroll. Boom! You wake up later in a hospital bed, another random victim of a knockout punch.
Most victims never see it coming. They are understandably caught off guard by the suddenness and deliberate viciousness of their attackers.
Iron pipes, baseball bats, rocks, knives, box cutters, razors, and bare fists are among the weapons used to deliver crushing, sometimes even fatal, blows. Whether under the cover of darkness or in broad daylight, the picture looks the same when played back on surveillance cameras at news time.
As I sat to write these lines, my attention was drawn to the television set in my living room. A young man, caught on a street surveillance camera, was putting on a mask. No law prohibits a person from wearing a mask, but I knew right away that the young man was up to something evil. It was only much later that I connected the dots. Apparently the masked youth had picked out his prey earlier, and now he was about to move in for the kill.
Right there in front of me and the millions of viewers tuned in to watch the late-evening news — and captured on a street surveillance camera — was the prelude to a disgusting crime. As the news reporter went on to relate, that masked man accosted and raped a young woman at knifepoint.
(Note: Surveillance cameras cannot prevent crimes. They do, however, sometimes serve effectively as deterrents to crime in places such as homes, subways, elevators, and on the streets.)
Because of the graphic violence captured by cameras, as well as the growing frequency and apparent randomness of such attacks a lot of people go about their business feeling understandably tense and uneasy. Some people are just plain scared to venture beyond their doorway between sundown and sunup, so they live like prisoners in their own homes. They fear, based on what they might have seen on the news, that anyone — anywhere — could swing at them without warning. The Prayer of the Unprepared becomes their mantra.
I can vividly recall the fear that hung like storm clouds over New York City for months after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The frequent terror-alert-level announcements just made matters worse. From day to day, the alert level varied from low to high, creating a sort of emotional yo-yo effect in the minds of New Yorkers — hopes and spirits went up and down as the alert level went up and down.
Officials reached out over television, radio, and in the print media, inviting everyone to "go about your daily business as usual." They would inevitably add, "We can't let the terrorists dictate the way we live our lives." True enough, but those officials had armed security personnel covering their backs. Talk is cheap.
I harbor no grudge against people whose job, position, or station in life necessitates this sort of protection, sometimes even around the clock. I imagine that it must be reassuring to have an armed guard covering your back as you go about doing business, and standing guard at your office door during working hours. More power to those who are so privileged.
I agree that we must never allow the possibility of an attack from terrorists, street thugs, or vicious pit bulls dictate the way we live our lives or attend to our daily business. However, we can do things to help ensure our safety when we're out in public, and not just walk around oblivious to danger.
The frightening reality is that men, women, and off-the-leash pit bulls are out there, waiting for the opportunity to maim and maul you. And even as you are falling, they will take everything you have. It seems like their main objective is to spoil your beautiful life, to inflict pain and anguish, and to rob you of the simple joys of living, like walking the streets and doing the things you enjoy doing.
Short of hiring personal bodyguards, the rest of us must do whatever we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Similarly in the animal kingdom, for example, the feeblest mother hen will launch into full attack mode against a trespasser in defense of her young, featherless chicks.
After every major negative disruption to our way of life, Community leaders and civic groups would do their piece with marches, protests, demonstrations, and the like. A few weeks later we are back to where we were before the violent attacks, and that's a good thing. We always return to exercising our right to walk freely, associate with people and things of our choosing, and enjoy the good life. That's among the promises implicit in the United States Constitution.
We trust and live with the protection plan provided by duly appointed government agencies, such as the police, and other law-enforcement bodies. This is an arrangement from which all civilized societies continue to benefit — with varying levels of success. We accept that all threats, natural disasters, and the possibility of large- or small-scale attacks will be met and quelled by the aforementioned forces.
"On the face of it, there seems to be very little reason why we should be overly concerned or fearful. We should not have to live in constant fear, or so we make ourselves believe. The rule of law seems to be working, so for the most part, we should have our backs covered."CHAPTER 2
WE (CAN) OVERCOME
Humans beings, I believe, are wired to overcome tribulations, hardships, and setbacks. We have the capacity to bounce back from the most harrowing of situations. Through the ages, we have triumphed over tragedies such as crippling diseases, earthquakes, wildfires, building collapses, tsunamis, hurricanes, and mass shootings. Now we can add to that list the troubling events that we see on the news: robberies, break-ins, rapes, kidnappings, and so on. Still we always manage to muster enough optimism and courage to maintain our sanity and make plans for tomorrow.
Similarly, we occasionally contemplate the certainty of death, the day when our physical body will expire "to become one with the earth" (if I may steal that little quip from Darren Hardy Author of. ... The Entrepreneur Rollercoaster). Most of us, however, do not go around fretting about the day when we will draw our last breath.
Our resilience and optimism, I believe, is based on a very common but faulty belief — that street thugs, loose pit bulls, and natural disasters will always strike somewhere else. We tend to believe that the terrible things we see, or hear about on the news, will not happen in our own neighborhoods. They will always happen to other people and somewhere else. This way of thinking appears to have some value because it helps us keep in check the fear that otherwise could drag us down into an abyss of terror and panic.
This fear — that danger, catastrophe, or death is imminent — can become overwhelming. If left unchecked, it can drive a person stark-raving mad. The fear-mind, given free rein, is capable of holding you in its grip and dragging you around with the destructive power of a runaway train, ... Eckhart Tolle: The Power of Now.
It might appear that I am dabbling in areas beyond the scope of this book and my own expertise, but I have witnessed firsthand what giving in to the fear-mind can do. I have seen self-described "macho men" break down and cry like babies because they gave in to the fear-mind.
I am talking about full-fledged policemen, some of whom, off duty on a quiet Saturday night, could be found sitting at the local pub, enjoying a cigar or cigarette, guzzling down a pint of Heineken or Red Stripe beer, and exchanging lies about their sexual conquests and their insurance. But sometimes as they patrol the streets at night, they can be gripped by the fear of what might await them out there. Policemen, too, watch the news on television, and some may have even visited a crime scene where a colleague's body lay dead in the street, cut down by a gunman's bullets.
I can recall the scene as clearly as if it were yesterday. As we stood on parade, getting our final instructions before driving out to patrol the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, reality struck. It was as if everyone suddenly realized that he or the person standing next to him could be a statistic before daylight. Volleys of gunshots could be heard echoing sporadically across the city. The picture was definitely not pretty.
And yet I felt like laughing, even though the atmosphere was serious and somber. I thought better of it, because I knew the temperament of some of my colleagues, and given that firearms were already issued, it was definitely not a good time to even think about making fun of my crying colleagues.
The overwhelming fear that gripped all but a few of us as we prepared for the graveyard shift that night probably was the result of what we had seen or heard on the news earlier that evening. Violence was sweeping over the city like an out-ofcontrol wildfire in the hills of California.
It was general election season in Kingston, and on the law enforcement front, it was "the worst of times"— to borrow a snippet from Charles Dickens. Even the police were not spared the gunmen's bullets. Uniformed and plainclothes cops alike were being shot down in cold blood, sometimes as many as two per week.
I can recall the minister of national security catching flack for threatening to give the order to have gunmen shot down like "mad dogs" if they continued their attacks against members of the security forces. (His true motivation was that such attacks made him look bad.) The shooting deaths of police personnel, not to mention the loss of civilian lives, on the island had reached an all-time high number.
So it's easy to understand why these cops, unashamedly and with contrite hearts, asked for a word of prayer from Corporal McLean — even though in times past, some of these same men had made fun of him when he offered to say a little prayer before they drove out of the precinct in their patrol cars. That night, however, everyone, including the sub-officer in charge, bowed reverently as Corporal McLean asked for God's guidance and protection on all present.
Fear is a hell of a thing.
— An old saying
To all who believe in a Force, a Source greater than ourselves, as I do, prayer can be a very useful tool to calm the mind and diminish fear and anxiety. And also, as it turns out, to deflect the fiery darts of the wicked, to paraphrase Ephesians 6:16. [King James Version]
As far as I know, no cop on duty in our division was shot that night.
Aren't you afraid?
At twenty-three years of age, I was already a five-year veteran in the police department. Having entered the police academy at sixteen years and eleven months, I attained full policeman's status and commenced my six-month training on the day I turned eighteen.
Now "out at grass"— police lingo for having graduated from the academy — for five years, I had been through an island-wide state of emergency and survived the eighties, which were arguably one of the most violent periods in the history of the country.
On several occasions, as I patrolled the streets on foot or in a patrol vehicle, people approached me to ask, "Aren't you afraid?"
"No," I would answer truthfully.
"How come?" would be the look on the questioner's face.
At the police academy firearm range, my shooting score earned me an "expert" rating, and I carried an M16 rifle and a revolver while on duty. Still, I attributed my answer to the "How come?" question to my early training in the martial arts — and my mother's prayers, of course.
"Lose the fear" became my mantra from the earliest days of my martial arts training, right through the ranks to attaining a black belt and being appointed as an instructor. Rigorous physical training, meditation, focusing techniques, and an endless regimen of mind-control exercises were repeated and ingrained in me over several years of practice.
During my post-workout meditation sessions, I would silently chant, "Lose the fear. Outthink the opponent. Keep the edge. Stay safe."
Moonlighting as a martial arts instructor, my job entailed teaching and inspiring my students to be calm, cool, and collected in all situations. In addition to the four-part chant mentioned above, I would often tell them, "Avoid fear like you would the plague."
During friendly sparring sessions in the dojo, I demonstrated how you could gain and maintain the edge over an opponent with a very commonly used trick. You need only to shout out an ear-shattering Kaa-ii! — the sound that accompanies a punch, kick, or block — immediately after paying respect by bowing to your opponent. The sudden outburst will startle your opponent and put them on the defensive, giving you the upper hand, sometimes for the entire duration of the bout.
Here's an interesting philosophy that I adopted and passed unto my students, and that I still live by today: a true martial artist must be more skilled in the art of avoiding a fight than at winning one. This is certainly not a new concept, but I could very well be the first to use this particular wording.
Lose the fear. Keep the edge. Outthink the opponent. Stay safe.
The story about my (crying) colleagues is meant to show that even the people whom we trust to protect us sometimes experience fear.
And at this point, dear reader, I want you to understand that the first step to being fearless is to consciously acknowledge what the street surveillance cameras show us. Bad people take advantage of, and prey on, people whom they perceive to be weak and helpless. They show little or no mercy, and they will stop at nothing to get from you what they want.
Do not deny the possibility that what now happens on the other side oftown could one day happen in your own community. In fact, it could even happen to you. For now, be thankful that as you read these words, you and your loved ones are safe.
Excerpted from Right Foot First ... by Teddy Crawford. Copyright © 2016 Teddy Crawford. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents(Straight) Foreword, xi,
Introduction (Disclosure), xxi,
Chapter 1 Caught on Surveillance Camera!, 1,
Chapter 2 We (Can) Overcome, 7,
Chapter 3 P.S.P.I., 16,
Chapter 4 The Weak Obtained No Mercy, 31,
Chapter 5 Time to Lose the Fear, 38,
Chapter 6 Driven to Act, 47,
Chapter 7 What Group Are You In?, 61,
Chapter 8 Now Here's the Question, 73,
Chapter 9 Tips to Thwart Pit Bulls and Thugs, 79,
Chapter 10 Do Not Panic. Do Not Panic. Do Not Panic, 86,
Chapter 11 Bodyguarding Your Bodyguard, 92,
Chapter 12 Keeping Fit for Life, 100,
End Piece: Be Respectful of a Person's Choice to Say No, 113,
About the Author, 121,