Code of the Street – Redux

“I told him if he paid me, he wouldn’t be ‘touched’…

I heard these words as I walked past the large, newer, american car. The guy driving stared at me and the figure who was talking to the driver from the curb also looked up from underneath his cap, momentarily. I tried not to engage them in any kind of posturing, deciding instead to look away. They were ambassadors of the street with their hustler savvy.

And I, black suit, white shirt, black tie armed only with business acumen. Or was this just an illusion, perhaps I was the one with street smarts, not them.

I live in the homicide capital of Canada, a place, I feel far more comfortable living in, than Southall, West London, England, where I grew up. In Southall, I was filled with discomfort verging on paranoia. Street violence was rampant and the recent fashion had been towards random attacks. The terrain was urban, built up and concrete.

Peppered heavily with the metal of cars that filled streets to brimming point. Add to that the equation of an embittered society and a dash of savage fuel mentality.

Southall gave me the formula for street smart success. I had been mugged but never beaten in an attack. It is in West London that I began my voyage in Gung Fu, starting with a humble Wing Chun club in Hounslow in 1992. A few months later, I found what I had been looking for, when I met my sifu whom I stayed with for the next 11 years, Leung, Kwok-Keung. I trained hard, for many years to get where I am today.

So with the eloquence of a real fighter, I averted my eyes from the two at car level. I didn’t want them to miscalculate my intentions. To them I wanted to remain but a smartly dressed man returning from a day of toil. I didn’t want them to know that in reality, my fingers twitched, adrenalin rose, breathing became steady, eyes focused, jaw stiffened, head tilted down, hands free from distractions, forehead relaxed, fists drawn; all, just in case.

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