Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Full Nelson

Although, I would much rather leave this story untold, the purpose of this blog is to document interesting phenomena I encounter here in China. And this event was certainly interesting.

(This is in no way is an attempt to brag about a heroic event, because I assure you it was anything but.)

A couple of nights ago I was walking a friend home. As we approached the alley where we would part for the evening, we passed a young couple. The girl was holding onto a rather large handbag, and the guy was behind her, wrapping his arms around her and grabbing the handbag. She was squirming and trying to get away, but he had a pretty firm grip on her and the bag. As we walked by, they appeared to be joking around with half-smiles on their faces, so we thought nothing of it.

We said a short farewell, and were ready to part our separate ways, until we looked up and noticed that they were still going at it. Joking or not, the girl was shrieking a bit, and this had been going on for over a few minutes. Reluctantly, I walked my bike past them again pretending to mind my own business, going in for a closer look to make sure everything was in good fun. I made eye contact with the girl for a good second. She still appeared to be smiling, and maybe even laughing a bit. I was only a couple feet away, so if she needed help, she definitely would have signaled as such.

So I returned to my friend and ensured her that although we both felt quite uncomfortable leaving with this scene still going on, I was reasonably confident that the girl was not in danger and we should go in peace. We said another uneasy goodbye and walked away.

As I hopped on my bike, I still couldn't let it go. It had been more than 5 minutes now, and they were still struggling. If this was a cute little flirting game, it was getting pretty weird. People were passing left and right, but no one paid attention or stopped. I knew if I didn't at least ask if she needed help, I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it.

I can't recall clearly the exact words that were exchanged, but I asked the girl several times if she needed help. Each time, I got a different response from the girl. They ranged from, "No, I don't need help", "Yes, please help", "We're just joking", and "He's trying to steal this from me". From the guy, the responses I got were "She's my girlfriend", "We're just joking around", "You're just a foreigner, you don't understand what she is saying".

Confused and frustrated, I looked her in the eyes and said, "Seriously. Tell me the truth. Do you want me to help you? Are you just joking around?" I finally got a straight answer when she said, "Yes, please help. I'm not joking."

At this point, I honestly can't remember the last time I had to assert myself in any kind of physical confrontation. Without any knowledge of self-defense or what to do in this kind of situation, my mind went blank. I always knew what I would do in a fight if confronted - stand there, and kindly ask the gentlemen to bash my face in, but I never thought about what if I would have to do on another person's behalf. Besides telling the guy, "Hey...yeah...come on...don't do that..." I really had no idea what to do. The only thing left in my head was wrestling moves I learned back in high school.

The guy was possibly very slightly above average in size for a Chinese guy who has been drinking his milk, but still pretty much just a kid. On top of this, he didn't do much to try to resist me, as he would have had to let go of the girl in order to do so. As I proceeded to put my arms through his and onto his head, his only resistance was to say, "Buddy...friend...brother...we're cool...she's my girfriend...you're just a foreigner, you don't understand what she was saying..."

I now had him in a full nelson (considered an illegal and unsportsmanlike move in wrestling, since there is no real way to break the hold.) As soon as he lost his grip on the girl, she started sprinting away as fast as she could. I felt relieved that based on her pace, she definitely wanted to be free of this guy.

A small crowd of about 6-7 people had now formed around us. Now that the girl was gone, latecomers were wondering why this white guy was holding this Chinese guy in a full nelson hold in the middle of the street. I wanted to wait until she was completely out of sight before I let him go so he couldn't follow her, so I just held him for a minute looking at the bystanders, awkwardly nodding the kind of nod that says, "Hey, how's it going? Take a picture!"

As he called me 'brother' one last time, I let him go and hopped on my bike.


Randomnicity if thats a word said...

Dude, thats pretty crazy but if he was just playing- and that was it where would it stop? There is no telling what this guy could have done. I don't think that you give yourself enough credit!

steve said...

That's a pretty wild story, Simon. It was an indisputably heroic act, not that you believe in that sort of thing.