crime, Delphi, Indiana, kung fu, law enforcement, martial arts, mixed martial arts, self defense

Children’s Safety: Lessons from Delphi Indiana

Chances are that if you live in or around Indiana you’ve heard of two eighth-graders, Abby Williams and Libby German.  These two girls disappeared on a hiking trail; and the next day, their bodies were found in a nearby woods.  It’s horrible.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s something no parent wants or deserves to have to go through.  It’s something no child should have to worry about.  But, once again, Delphi, Indiana teaches us that no matter what we take for granted today or have in the past, we cannot take for granted the next moment of life.

“Nobody believed that this would happen in the community,” Jake Adams, director of Delphi’s community development, told ABC news. “Everybody was kind of searching for answers — and still are.”  To his knowledge, there’s never been any concern about security on the trails, and he said children commonly walk them without supervision.


Delphi Indiana Suspect
(CBS News Image of suspect taken from one of the teen’s phone.)

On Thursday, Libby’s grandfather, Mike Patty, made a heartfelt plea to the public for help identifying the suspect.

“Look for someone who has recently changed their appearance … If you think it could be but then say, ‘No, he’s not like that,’ go with your initial instinct,” he said. “Let law enforcement … make that determination.

“However small it may seem … please, we need your help.”


First and foremost, we all need to pray for these families, and if you can do anything to help in their lives – do so.

Secondly, we have to learn from this tragedy.  If we do not, we could be responsible for something horrible:  A decision to neglect the needs of ourselves or those around us.  Now, I know that might sound harsh, but this tragedy teaches us that we can never take safety for granted.  So, as a Wing Chun Kung-fu instructor at the Yost Wing Chun Kung-fu Academy in Terre Haute, Indiana, allow me to provide a few things essential in keeping you and your family and community safe:

1.)  Stay aware of your environment.  In today’s social media and online world, we often see children and adults over-indulging themselves in online activities.  Just last week I saw a teenage boy on a bicycle nearly ride off the sidewalk in front of a car – because he was trying to do something on his smart-phone and drive his bicycle at the same time.  While this advice may seem common sense, it is less commonly practiced – wholly.

2.)  Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.  It’s an old saying, but one that speaks true, nonetheless.  I know people who come to one of my self-defense seminars, and when I speak of real-life self-defense, they get offended.  They think the situations presented them are too “violent” or “harsh”.  Yet, as we learn from Delphi, these are situations that require our preparedness.

Another example of this has to do with how we use our bodies everyday.  We learn in Wing Chun that tension works against our ability to express our intentions in a confrontation.  So, why would we live in a way that creates tension?  This is where being prepared means learning to do what you have to do in a safe and healthy way, whether you’re at work, at school, or anywhere – and in any situation you find yourself engaged – so you’re prepared when the “sucker-punch” comes your way.  (There’s one punch, or act, that everyone knows – whether they’ve been trained or not – and that’s the sucker-punch.)

3.)  Know how to evade if trouble comes your way.  We often teach our kids not to bully, but how often do we teach them real, practical ways of avoiding trouble when they’re not in control of the person looking to bring them trouble?  Unless you’ve lived in a bubble or gotten dang-lucky, you know that there are many a situation you’ve found yourself – despite your best efforts to prevent the negative situation.  So, what could you have done differently?  It’s a responsible question to ask.  Training to deal with what I like to call “stupid” (aka “trouble”) is one way of being prepared, and it helps to respond to these situations promptly and effectively.

4.)  Know how to eliminate threats when they happen.  This is more involved than knowing how to evade trouble.  It’s also a reality we have to be willing to acknowledge if we want to – honestly – be ready to deal with it.  I won’t lie to you.  Learning how to eliminate threats like this take time and self-application, self-discipline and self-determination.  But, it can (and in my opinion, should) be done for everyone in a family and community.

In order for this to be efficient and effective, it has to be honest – you have to be honest.  Honesty with yourself, your teacher, your classmates, your family and your community.  Without honesty the best teacher will not be able to help you reach your full potential – and that goes for anything in life.

“It takes the peaceful out of our towns,” Kim Marchese told ABC news. “It rips our community’s sense of security.” Now, she said, she’s afraid to walk the trails solo.  “You just don’t dream it would happen in your backyard.”


May God bless the families of these two girls, this community and all of you reading this.
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