I got into a little scuffle yesterday night which made me reflect on how I was progressing as a martial artist. Not physically which is easier to measure but more importantly what martial arts was doing to the way I viewed situations.

The guy was your typical Ah Beng, not very big either and had tattoos on him. He was being verbally abusive to his girlfriend but that wasn't my concern. He was kicking everything including the stair railings and walls and was obviously making a big show of his anger. There was some contact with the girlfriend but it wasn't serious. I watched him from behind and told myself that if he started hitting the girl seriously, I would intervene. He then took this large metal bar (those divider things), and lifted it to threaten to hit his girlfriend. The bar was very big and unwieldy and he didn't look like he could do much damage with it. He was probably showing off how angry and manly he was. Girlfriend ran off so she didn't look like she was in immediate danger. He then looked like he was going to throw the metal bar onto the glass doors in front of him and that's when I intervened to take the metal bar from him.
Now I don't know what made me take the metal bar from him. Although I told him in a calm voice to chill and calm down, a part of me knew that he was unlikely to back down especially since he was so eager to show how macho he was. Should I have allowed him to smash the glass doors? I wasn't scared of him which made me brave enough to take the bar from him. I was brave enough because I knew I could defend myself. I had also sized him up and was confident that he wouldn't pose a threat to me.
I felt like deep down inside, I wanted to fight him to shut this guy up and I knew that I would win. I also hated people threatening me, a pet peeve of mine that actually lead me to learn martial arts in the first place as I didn't want to feel scared. That added with my disgust for people of his kind that needed to be abusive to their girlfriends to feel empowered and the whole 'gangster' bullshit. And that disturbs me. If I didn't know CMD, would I have acted then? If he was a more imposing person, would I have done the same? CMD has empowered me and this is how I use this power?
So when he started giving me shit for taking the bar from him and moved to strike me, I punched him in the face but turned back and faced me. I got into my guard position and hesitated but I saw him swing his hand as if to throw a hook (I can't be absolutely certain) so I just pushed into him to prevent him from striking and jammed him against the wall and started going all out on his body as I felt it was safer to hit there. I had intended to have him collapse and leave him but he was still standing, maybe cause he was propping himself up on the wall so I started kneeing him. He didn't pose a threat anymore and I had become the aggressor. But I was caught in a dilemma and was worried that if I didn't floor him, he would attack me again. I was yelling with every knee and I felt with every hit he took, he deserved it. I had become an animal. I was not entirely in control of my emotions.
Eventually the girlfriend came to intervene and was apologizing to me. She didn't seem very upset though and looked calm as if she was used to this sort of thing. The guy had the cheek to say to the girlfriend, "See what he did to me?" as if it was the girlfriend's fault that he had been beaten up. He was still standing but demanded to know who I was. I threatened to beat him senseless. I was disappointed that he still had fight left in him. I hated his cowardice in having to know who I was so he can find me later with a weapon or his friends when I was right there in front of him ready to take him on. I shouted at him asking him if he really wanted to fight me. He walked away and in my anger and adrenaline fueled frenzy, I shouted, "Fucking coward!" to his back. Security then came but didn't do anything as the fight had ended.
I still don't know what was the right thing to do. Just lay off and watch it happen? I felt that because I could defend myself, I shouldn't just stand by and watch it happen. What is the point of learning how to defend yourself if you're just going to standby and watch injustices take place? But by acting, did I cause an injustice of my own? What is the level of injustice that warrants an action? Was it really my business to prevent...property damage? Was this something to be proud about? The guy probably still would keep to his ways, possibly an angrier man. He probably suffered some injuries, for me I possibly fractured my knuckle. The only winner was the mall itself in not having its glass doors smashed.

My sister asked me why didn't you just get him into a lock? I said I had just assumed that he might be armed as I had stereotyped him to be a gangster. She then referred me to a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, which among other things detailed the killing of a man named Amadou Diallo, where four New York policemen shot an innocent man on his doorstep 41 times, possibly due to cultural stereotypes as an example of how rapid, intuitive judgment can have disastrous effects. These same stereotypes also keep the officers alive on a day to day basis as well...An interesting discussion of this can be found here.
Friend of mine told me I shouldn't judge. I had no idea what they were arguing about and the background to his tantrum. But perhaps instead of judging him, I should have judged myself. When should we just stand by and watch? When is it not our business to act?