A Story about Saving a Little Girl [True Story]

Maritime Museum at Fremantle Black Belt Obstacle Course
This is a story about how I saved a little girl.

I refrain from using the word 'heroically' in the title just because there was no time to think about heroics, nor about ability, nor about the consequences of failure. As I often think about my role as an instructor, I was but the 'lens'.

A beautiful sunny day in Fremantle several years ago found my children and several friends at the Maritime Museum. It's got amazing architecture and beautiful sweeping views of the ocean. Go visit if you have the chance.

When we were finished, the other parents and their children exited the building through the big revolving glass door. It was a huge feature, and it was moving quite fast. I decided to take up the rear so everyone, including my children could go through safely.

As the last person through, I slowed to a walking pace when I entered and looked backward. To my dismay a little girl was walking toward me and seemed intent on entering the revolving door. She was perhaps only 4 years old. So I put up my hand to indicate she should stop. But while she looked at me, she didn't comply, and continued walking towards the door.

The revolving door caught her at just the right time, and her body was sandwiched within the circumference between one of the revolving blades and the metal frame. As I looked at her, her face was getting squashed by one of the large glass panels, and time started to travel slower.

All I knew was that there was this large rotating door that needed to be stopped and reversed, and there was no time to be fluffing around trying to push it the other way. So I drove a forebalance chongul seogi stance into it - willing my entire body forward - intent on stopping that vast structure on a dime. When my knee hit the glass, there was huge scary boom and a resonation which shook the entire structure all around me.

The same Taekwondo 'door stopper' skill but this time used against an opponent.

It was a kodak moment. The girl was sandwiched in place - held safe only by my knee wedging it still. Her eyes were wide with shock but the door had only begun squashing her cheeks, so there was no pain involved.

You know, I've never practiced self defence against a revolving door before. But there you have it, when required, the skills and the mindset we use in practice can affect the course of events around you. Of course I could have walked up ahead accompanying my children through. What was it that affected my intuition and which made me bring up the rear like that? And how did I choose what could otherwise be described as a 'non-technique' or even mushin 無心 'no mind' to stop that door, saving the girl from requiring the services of a cosmetic surgeon?

When I ensured the door was stopped in place, I looked down and notice picture perfect form. It's somewhat strange to see this done so out-of-context, but it was a simple move which was required by the circumstance - nothing more, nothing less.

And this is a lesson for what Taekwondo and all good martial arts can be. While many a teenage pimply adolescent (including myself a long time ago) yearns for victory and glory against some ugly aggressor, martial training can be for the greater good without having to defeat an external aggressor. The best of us are keeping it understated. We can be that 'lens' through which the essence of training flows.

Be safe.


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Colin Wee
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Rick said…
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
Mir said…
Your awareness training, and corresponding action training was crucial to this moment. I'm glad that you were there to make that a better situation for the little girl.

This weekend I practiced self defense against a large tent that was threatening to blow away due to high winds. My body automatically pulled the pole closer to my center, and my legs went into a reverse front stance in order to pull down the structure, and secure it. It's nothing to write home about, but it was my Karate training that allowed me to succeed.
Well done, Colin. Right technique - Right time.

Story time:

In front of my brother's house is a child swing tied to a very long rope, attached to a very high tree branch. The result is that the swing travels for a long time in each direction - building up incredible kinetic energy when weighed down by a 20 or 30lb child.

One day I was visiting when several other children were present; one of whom was enjoying the aforementioned swing.

My back was to it though and I was out of range of it's motions, but as I spoke to my brother I picked up the fact that my 3 yr old niece had run directly into the path of the returning swing. I dove, catching her just as the swing passed over us both.

We looked at each other and then she baby-slaps me in the face and begins to cry (we'd bumped heads) and runs to her mom as if I was at fault!

Colin Wee said…
I love hearing these stories. Imagine how empty life would be if we didn't get baby slapped once in a while or if we couldn't perform a take down on a tent blowing in the wind. :-)

Thanks for sharing.

Ørjan said…
Great story. Sometimes taekwondo training manifests itself in our daily lives in an unexpected manner:) stories like these are great when beginners asks: "have you ever used your taekwondo for real?" people envision that using taekwondo training means to fight, while in reality using good body posture, balace, range of motion, increased reflexes etc etc that you have through taekwondo training probably manifests itself everyday in your life while a "serious" self defense encounter might never happen.
CKA Karate said…
Wow, great story about to save a little girl. That is why Martial Arts is really important in our routine life. Martial Arts / Karate training can help you for your self defense and protecting your love ones / family members. Really nice story :)
Colin Wee said…
Thanks CKA Karate. Glad to see you enjoyed it. Colin

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