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Should I help my fellow man in need?

April 24, 2015 5 Minutes

When do I risk myself to help others?

Normally, my impulse is to answer this with 'always', however I recently saw a video of a 19 year old man, who witnessed a bag snatching on a train platform, jumping in to try and stop the thief. As a result, he was stabbed three times in the stomach by the thug, in a brief scuffle, who eventually got away, leaving our would be hero in a critical condition. So what are we to do as men, when we see an imminent threat, or a crime taking place that we have the opportunity to thwart? I'm reminded of the Gallantoro code I stand by...

Courage | Be Brave

For when you are called upon, rise up and prepare for battle. Whether you are combating your own inner demons or standing up for what you believe, display your courage proudly in the face of adversity.

But a line must be drawn, as to when is the right time to intervene, and when is not - usually a decision that needs to be made in a moment. The above example had barely a second to decide to jump in and tackle the thief. On any other day, he may have knocked the attacked out in one hit and been hailed a hero, but not today. The attacker got the better of him and got in three thrusts of his knife. Knowing this, it's not a stretch to say that the would be hero could have potentially saved other lives had he'd been successful, as clearly the criminal  has no hesitation in murder.


So when do we step in? 

Well, it's a tricky situation, and the line between right and wrong is so blurred with circumstances, which I'll outline below. Basically, you are risking your life, even if you don't feel the threat to be a live or die one. There are many facets to consider...


  • Status: am I single, married, or have children? How much is my life worth to others if it goes wrong?
  • Training: am I skilled enough to enter into a situation that may require physical combat? Have I done enough training in martial arts or fighting, or do I have enough experience in such things that I am highly confident I can subdue the perpetrator with little effort?
  • Physicality: am I physically strong enough and in shape to physically suppress my opponent?

The Environment/Situation

  • Help: if I get injured, are there enough people around to quickly call for medical help?
  • Calibre: what is the calibre of people around me? Am I in a country/area where people will likely jump in to help should I have difficulty suppressing my attacker?
  • Certainty: am I positive this person has committed a crime?
  • Violence: is the crime risking the lives of others, or is it a property crime?
  • Posse: could there be more thugs around?

The Perpetrator/Enemy 

  • Stature: how big is he or she? Physical size and strength plays an important role, can I take him or her down easily?
  • Demeanor: am I dealing with a petty criminal, or a possible murderer?
  • Weapons: does this person have empty hands, or is there a potential weapon? Am I in a country where guns are legal and likely possessed by criminals?

Theses are just some of the main points that need to be assessed in a fraction of a second before deciding to intervene or not, in a dramatic situation. If it's a purse snatching or a physical attack on another person, these are two very different situations and will drastically change your decisions. If a person you know is being attacked (or someone you don't), you will be more inclined to step in to prevent harm to the other person, however then we would know the criminal is capable of physical violence, so we would need to be positive we have the physical and skill advantage. 

Here's two examples, one of a situation where we would be more likely to step in, the other where it would be unwise.


  • Status: single, 30 year old male.
  • Training: two or three years of grappling training.
  • Physicality: tall and a regular gym goer. 

The Environment/Situation

  • Location: shopping centre.
  • Situation: a young male has stolen a phone out of a lady's hand and taken off running. You witnessed the act and he is running toward you.
  • Help: many people around.
  • Calibre: you're in Australia and many grown men around to help if need be.
  • Certainty: positive a crime has taken place.
  • Violence: no one's life is at stake.

The Perpetrator/Enemy 

  • Stature: small and weedy.
  • Demeanor: looks like just another petty criminal.
  • Weapons: no visible weapons. He's in a singlet and shorts also.

Decision: Intervene (drop the shoulder)



  • Status: married, 30 year old male, baby on the way.
  • Training: black belt martial artist.
  • Physicality: tall and a regular gym goer. 

The Environment/Situation

  • Location: home, afternoon.
  • Situation: a man tries to break into your house, but you catch him in the act. He takes off running up the street. You take off after him before deciding to stop or keep going, as if you keep running, you'll catch him in the next 10 seconds. Then what?
  • Calibre: no one is around.
  • Certainty: positive the man is a criminal.
  • Violence: definite potential for injury.

The Perpetrator/Enemy 

  • Stature: small and weedy.
  • Demeanor: desperate.
  • Weapons: unknown.

Decision: Stand Down - This situation actually happened to me, and I took off after the thug, but found myself in an alley with him, catching up to him quickly. He knew I was going to catch him and stopped, and I had to back pedal to avoid violence, as he seemed desperate.

 As men, we have an obligation to assist when crime/possible injury to innocents is taking place, which is one reason why all men should be strong. But if in the moments you have to weigh up the risk/reward, you deem a risk of life v reward of property recovery, then likely it's not wise to intervene. But if a life is at risk and you can help, as humans, in a perfect world, we should come to the aid of our fellow human. I mean, imagine if we lived in a world where 99% of the men would always step into to help a person in need or to try and stop a crime taking place? There would certainly be far fewer crimes in public places, fewer crimes in general potentially. 

So gentlemen, stay alert, stay aware of your surroundings, and get into shape, for you never know when you will be placed in a situation where you have no choice but to act.




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