Avoiding tragedy

Ronald Westbrook, the Alzheimer’s patient, got out of his house during the night of Nov. 27. He appeared hours later at the home of Joe Hendrix, knocked repeatedly on the door and tried the bell, apparently being in a state of confusion. The homeowner, Joe Hendrix, 35, armed himself, went outside, and confronted Westbrook. Eventually, Hendrix shot Westbrook, 72, several times, which proved fatal. According to Hendrix, the elderly man was carrying an object and did not obey his commands.

Full story. (h/t Claude Werner)

By all accounts, Mr. Hendrix acted in a reasonable manner – in terms of the law. However, from outsiders looking in, they will not view what Mr. Hendrix did as reasonable. As Claude states:

While Mr. Hendrix will not face criminal charges, there is no doubt that he will still have issues to deal with for the rest of his life. Assuming he is a moral person, no doubt the outcome of the confrontation will haunt him as long as he lives. He will most likely always be known in his community as “the guy who killed that poor old man.” In some cases, there are aftereffects in family life, as well.

This is why it is important to receive self-defense training, and why that training needs to be more than just about equipment and skills. So fine, you can shoot a gun, so fine you can throw a punch, but if that’s all you know how to do, chances are that’s how you are going to respond. Tactics and mindset are often more important.

Case in point. KR Training alum and Assistant Instructor, Dave Reichek attended the 2014 Polite Society conference. At the conference, Dave participated in a Force-on-Force training scenario. Here’s Dave’s write up, and here’s a video of Dave’s session.

As well, TLG posted about it, and it’s a post where reading the comments is actually a good thing. Please, read Dave’s write up, watch the video, and read TLG’s posting too.

Look at the results of how many participants responded. Look at how Dave responded.

I can’t say what I would have done. With the benefit of arm-chairing this, the best I can think of is my initial reaction would have been to respond with “I cannot help you, but I will call the police”, then make myself scarce and dial 911 (i.e. “maxim of beer & tv“, not my problem, need to get home alive to take care of my family, etc.). But who knows if I would have actually done that, given how the scenario itself would have actually played out.


Just because you have a Y chromosome doesn’t mean you know how “take care of things”. Just because you know how to shoot a gun, or because you have martial arts training, or took a “self defense course” one day at “the Y” doesn’t mean a whole lot. Yes it’s a good start, but you need to keep going.

As a society, we put so much weight and emphasis on the importance of getting a good education. We understand how knowledge empowers, and the more you know, the more you can do, the better off you’ll be in all areas of life. So why is it folks don’t apply this same value of knowledge to the area of taking care of yourself? Why is ignorance an acceptable trait? (which also spills into folks that attempt to lobby for or make policy/laws based on this same ignorance, but that’s another discussion).

Do not fear force-on-force training. As you saw in Dave’s video, there was nothing physical. It was very mental, it was exhausting, it’s intimidating. But you better believe everyone that goes through FoF gets humbled and walks out far better for the experience. That is the nature of it.

And hopefully, when you have this sort of knowledge, it can help you make better decisions and avoid potential tragedy.

4 thoughts on “Avoiding tragedy

    • Indeed.

      Massad Ayoob is coming to Austin this weekend for his MAG-20 course. It’s right for just such reasons.

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