We get to make our own choices, for good and bad

Life is often about choices.

We can have good luck or bad luck, huge opportunities or slivers of opportunity. We can be blessed to be born with the proverbial “silver spoon” in our mouths, or face an uphill climb that requires us to work for every last thing in our lives — and there’s good and bad to be said about both of those starting lines. We can have love all around us, or starve for affection. 

There are millions of out-of-our-control factors that can contribute to how we see the world, and what obstacles are placed in our paths from the start, but there are also countless choices we must make in our individual paths through life that help form where we ultimately go. There are choices to be made about how we treat our friends and family, what career to pursue, what risks to take, what rules to follow, etc. 

They are our choices to make, and our repercussions to be felt, thanks to those choices. There are no guarantees in life, and, sure, very few of us will ever become billionaires or Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks or heads of state, regardless of how good we are at making choices — but making the right choices in life can often bring us safety and comfort and happiness.

The wrong choices? Well, they can bring about other results.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, a man in Rio de Janeiro made a choice to approach a woman while she was waiting for an Uber, suggest he had a handgun and demand her cell phone, according to a story on cnn.com. The woman was Polyana Viana, who happens to be a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.

Bad choice, bud.

“I threw two punches and a kick,” explained Viana. “He fell, then I caught him in a rear-naked choke. Then I sat him down in the same place we were before.”

There isn’t a single part of that quote that would lead me to believe the alleged culprit made a good choice in this instance. Judging by the photos attached to the story, the man was either pounded into ground beef by his intended victim, or just naturally walked around that day with a swollen face and a bloody shirt. Either way, again, bad choice.

Another CNN story focused on a Jan. 3 incident in north Charlotte, N.C. Apparently, a woman came running into a karate studio, saying that someone was trying to force her into his car and cause her harm. A few moments later, according to Randall Ephraim, the head instructor at the Bushiken Karate Charlotte Dojo, a large man soon came into the building.

“I asked how I could assist him and he stated that he was there for the lady,” said Ephraim. “She insisted that she did not know him and [that he] tried to kidnap her.”

Ephraim said he asked the man to leave, but he refused, and tried to aggressively force himself further into the dojo, pushing and swinging as he moved forward.

“I then went into action defending myself and got him out of the dojo,” explained Ephraim. “Once outside, he attempted to attack again and was dealt with accordingly.”

The last line of the CNN article read, “He was taken to the hospital with injuries. There’s no word on his condition at this point.”

Our drill instructors had a favorite phrase in the Marine Corps: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Well, try to kidnap a woman, follow her into a martial arts studio and pick a fight with the instructor? Here’s your prize. 

Sergio Hernandez is another MMA fighter, and when he was visiting his father in the San Diego area this summer, he allegedly saw a man standing in his father’s back yard near an open window, with the screen lying on the ground, according to a story on cbsnews.com. Hernandez reportedly chased the man down the block and then caught up to him.

Did I mention that this suspected burglar made a bad choice?

“He ran down the alley and I caught up to him,” explained Hernandez on his Instagram account, with a photo attached of the man’s head locked between Hernandez’s legs. “I brought him back to my [father’s] house and then he tried to escape. I threw him to the ground using what little judo I know, then put him in a triangle until the cops showed up.”

 I picked these particular stories for two reasons: First, they made me laugh, and I hoped they’d make you laugh, too. Second... OK, really, it was just that one reason. They made me laugh. That’s honestly why I do half the stuff I do. Drives my wife crazy, which, in turn, makes me laugh again and...

But I digress.

While one might suggest the smarter choice for all of these suspects would have been to find more vulnerable victims, wouldn’t the wiser choice have been to, oh, I don’t know, not rob or try to kidnap people? Any people?

But that was their choice. And you saw what that choice got them in the end.