I felt it inappropriate to write “Krav Maga makes me happy” or “Fighting makes me happy” seeing that I actually hate all wars and fighting, but I do train in self-defense and 1. the class and training is extremely fun – there is nothing quite like delivering a full force elbow 🙂 and 2. given how much I travel – in less than safe places – it makes me feel much better knowing that for the most part I can protect myself. Who knew that on the small island of Utila, Honduras, I would have to be on guard.
Last week I took 4 flights to get to a dive school in Utila. I started classes right away – my first 2 classes were with only one other student, Alex. All was going well. At night the students and instructors are very social and there is something planned every night. While I choose to forgo the libation portion of the evening, I still go out and play. Friday night – my third night in Honduras – the evening started at a house party. We all eventually moved to a bar with karaoke. There were lots of people, and it was not particularly easy to move around. I positioned myself sitting on a table against the wall and watched all the people get progressively less inhibited.
All of the sudden, I saw Alex get sucker punched at the bar and go down. People were pushing and I had to jump up and off the table in order to stay safe. At first I assumed that people would immediately separate them. Then I heard someone shout “one on one!” and they continued the fight on the floor. Super confused, I tried to push through the crowd to get to Alex to pull the perpetrator off of him. Suddenly, they stopped and Alex jumped up and ran out of the bar. I followed him to the bathroom and his nose was bleeding. Another diver checked his vision and made sure he was functioning. We helped him get cleaned him up. Now what? This was pre-apartment and we were both staying at the same hotel, and he was my buddy home. At this point, it was probably safer to walk home alone than to walk home with him. I started to gather a few guys to walk with us – I thought it was a good idea to get out of the area before the bad guy came out after us.
Three divers said no problem and two American guys that were checking on us also offered to be escorts. Cool. We were sitting outside icing and gathering ourselves and the guy who started the fight strolled out of the bar and walked toward us. The yelling started. “If I see you in the streets I am going to kill you!!” the Honduran man shouted at Alex. Awesome. Alex jumped up and it got a bit heated. We held him back and the man left, presumably waiting for us in the street. I was less than thrilled and there was really very few things that would have made me feel safe walking home. I started talking to the two American guys and soon found out that they are Army special forces – well ok…that is one of the very few things that would help me feel safer. So we left.
It was quite a long walk – surely the fear made it even longer. Thankfully, no one jumped us. However, Utila is a very small island and inevitably we will run into this guy again. I did hear he got arrested…I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad. If he is out again then he may just be extra angry!!
The past three months, I was visiting/living in New Haven and twice a week I trained under Elee (his school is now in North Haven, CT) learning Xtreme Survival krav maga – reality based self-defense (I trained with him for over a year last time I was in CT as well) – apparently all in preparation for Honduras :). In class we often talk about bar fights and self-defense; I always say I rarely go to bars, and I don’t even know if I have ever seen a bar fight. Well, I have officially seen a bar fight up close. We even learn knife and gun takeaways…which again, I always assume that I will not need to pull on this skill. I am super happy that I train to protect myself and even happier that I can find nice people to escort me in super sketchy situations!! I don’t try to put myself in bad situations; apparently at times they are unavoidable or they follow me. Who knew the only diver on the island to get in a fight would be my dive buddy who I only met 2 days earlier – silliness!
Overall Utila seems quite safe. While state.gov has some harsh things to say about traveling around the mainland of Honduras (e.g. Crime is endemic in Honduras and requires a high degree of caution by U.S. visitors and residents alike. U.S. citizens have been the victims of a wide range of crimes.), for the most part I feel fine on the island. However it is never fun to read the crazy stats that they present under the Crime section of the site.
Regardless of where I am living or visiting – I always feel a little better knowing that I have at least been trained to deal with several of the challenges that I could be presented with. Out of all the fighting forms I have tried (karate, boxing, kung-fu, muay thai, krav maga, wrestling, capoeira and even fencing), I find krav maga, muay thai and jiu-jitsu to be the most effective!! Go train and have fun!! Hopefully you will never need to use it! I’m happy that once again I avoided danger!!!