The Runner

Published on 25 April 2024 at 23:10

Medium: Watercolor on paper

Date: 2007


The Runner


Martial arts aren't just about self-defense; they're about shaping a mindset geared towards survival and awareness. For 22 years, my journey through various disciplines has not only taught me how to fight but also how to navigate life's myriad challenges with grace and vigilance. This week's featured art piece, titled "Runner," is my watercolor painting from 2007 that beautifully symbolizes this journey. It depicts a lone fighter skillfully sprinting over creatures with fearsome, tooth-filled mouths—a perfect representation of the constant alertness required in both dojos and on the streets.

The Essence of Survival

Throughout my years practicing martial arts, I've learned that the skills acquired extend far beyond physical combat. They foster a mental sharpness akin to that of a fighter in the ring—always ready, always aware. This painting, with its central figure dynamically poised, serves as a daily reminder of the necessity of this awareness. Whether navigating the bustling streets of New York City or the unpredictable alleys of Southeast Asia, the same principles applied: Be aware, be ready, be light on your feet—like running over a trail of dangers without getting bitten.

Anecdotes of Vigilance

My readiness to face danger can best be illustrated by two specific incidents. In 1978, in Brooklyn, the subway stopped unexpectedly. I was alone in my car, reading, when three teenagers entered. One approached me, demanding my gold ring. When I refused, claiming I had found it on the street just last week, he struck me with brass knuckles. Outraged, I sprang up in a karate fight stance, and inadvertently, my elbow smashed a subway window. The loud crash sent the assailants fleeing. Passengers from the next car rushed over, and a kind lady offered me tissues to clean the blood. At that time, I held a green belt in karate.

Years later, in 1995, Paris presented a different challenge. Just arrived and headed to our hotel near the Eiffel Tower, my friend and I lingered too long checking a subway map, attracting the attention of two men. As we ascended a three-story escalator, they followed. One swiftly positioned himself in front of me as we disembarked. Reacting instantly, I kicked him forcefully and shouted, then grabbed his jacket and used him as a shield against his accomplice. Both surrendered. With all our valuables on us, including a significant sum and a precious ring from Hong Kong, losing them was not an option. My black belt skills in karate were crucial in swiftly neutralizing the threat, ensuring our safety and the security of our belongings. My alertness thwarted two more incidents during that Parisian weekend. These experiences underscore the profound importance of martial arts training—not only for physical defense but for preparing for any unexpected confrontation.

Reflections on a Fighter's Path

Each confrontation, each narrow escape, and each moment of fear echo the dynamic scenes depicted in my watercolor painting. Like the 'Runner' dodging dangers with athletic precision, I've learned to apply my martial arts training to real-world scenarios. These lessons have been invaluable not just in protecting myself and others, but in fostering a proactive, prepared approach to life's unpredictable challenges. I am grateful for the skills I have acquired.


Though I have averted many dangerous situations in cities like New York, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Siem Reap, living the life of a martial artist extends beyond the dojo. It encompasses a comprehensive approach to life that emphasizes readiness, resilience, and quick thinking. Reflecting on my experiences and the vivid portrayal of the runner in the painting, I am reminded that every step taken with awareness is a step towards fighting for survival. Whether on the mats or the streets, the essence of martial arts pervades every aspect of my vigilant journey.


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