|A few years later, around 1984, my gung fu was to take another turn.
We were were woken from our sleep one night by a knocking on the door. I thought it was my neighbor because they were expecting a baby at any time. So I went and opened the front door without a thought.
There was a stranger standing there with a gun in his hand and a lead pipe in the other.
I sized him up with my gung fu training. He just had a medium build, so I wasn’t too worried about a physical encounter. He told me that he had just shot someone at the trailer park down by the river across the highway. He said he had tried to stop a fight between two people and one of them stabbed him with a knife and he shot back. I supposed he chose our house because we had a night light on. He wanted me to call the sheriffs department and turned the gun and pipe over to me. I made an emergency call telling the sheriff that there was a guy in my house with a gun. that he had just shot someone and could they get right out there as fast as possible
While we were waiting for the sheriffs to come, he got more and more nervous. He started to get paranoid and told me that he heard them (the two guys he fought with and shot at) outside and they were coming after him. During all this time, my wife was asleep in the loft and my very young son was asleep in his. Luckily he never woke up, and I did not disclose to the intruder that I had family in the house. The wait for the Sheriff was getting really long, over 40 minutes by that time. He kept saying that he heard them outisde and we should worry about them coming in the front door.
I was able to maintain my cool, but I had one huge problem. I knew nothing about guns. I didn’t like them and although my brother who was a police officer had given me a gun, it was not loaded and I never had touched it, instead storing it in a cabinet for a later date. I remember that the gun that he had handed to me was a semi auto of some sort, and that I no clue how to unload it, or if needed whether the gun was ready to fire or had a safety. Of course I didn’t let the guy know that I didn’t know anything about guns. And I wasn’t about to ask him, and I wasn’t going to hand it back to him.
So as a martial artist, I came to a BIG realization that night. My “horse” had taken me to a large gorge that I needed to cross! What good is my training if I cannot even deal with the most common weapon one would most likely encounter. All my romaticism about classical martial arts came to a deep ravine. He didn’t have a sword, staff, or rope dart, he had a gun! So I made a promise to myself right at that moment. if I were to make it through this encounter, I would never let my ignorance about firearms let me be in this situation again. I decided at that critical moment to learn everything I could about the weapon one would most likely encounter in this modern day life. A firearm!
The encounter finally came to a conclusion when we heard the sheriffs car driving up and down the street looking for my house. We lived on a dead end street, and they were going down the main street. I had no choice but to go outside with the gun in my hand and wave them down. As I walked out the house, I held the gun up over my head in plain sight and they saw me and pulled into the street and drew their weapons behind the patrol car door. In the headlights, I slowly motioned that I was going to put the gun down on the street, and as they came to throw me down, I yelled that I was the one that called and the intruder was still in my house. They went in and took the guy into custody.
The episode took over two hours. Two hours that changed my life. It might not be the gun that kills you. Instead, it might be ignorance.
So in less than a week I had my brother show me some things and I started going to the local shooting range with the cheap revolver he had given me. It was a cheap H&R 929 nine shot .22 revolver. I found that it was not very accurate. It turned out that I was a pretty good shot, but the gun was horrible. so fustrated I went out to buy the best target gun I could afford. One thing lead to another and within a year I was entering target shooting competitions. I went to all the matches in the Bay area and made it to expert class over the ten year period that I competed. I won many medals and became pretty much a firearms expert in hand guns. I neglected to add that my father had been a bullseye competitor in the 1950’s and one of my uncles was one of the top gunsmiths and shooters in the country. So I had it in my blood and past background.
Now that I look back, I was happy that I have always allow my practice to go where ever it needed. Although many consider that I had discontinued my martial arts training, it simply had just taken some turns. It never stopped, it just didn’t have the same boundaries that others had chosen. To this day, I continue to incorporate my firearms training into my martial arts training. On many mornings I train gun handling right alongside with empty hand and knife, going immediately from one to another as a real life situation would be like. As hard becomes soft and soft becomes hard, so many shooters now incorporate martial arts training along side with their firearms training. The line is getting softer. Check out Garbriel Suarez on youtube.
I realize that this might be quite a stretch for many claasical martial artists. The relationship between Zen, martial arts and shooting might seem like a large gorge, but as you can see from my story, it's not such a large leap.