Ok, so about a week ago I received an email from a Breaking Free reader.
He began “Dear Citizen Brian” and went on to explain that yes, he was in fact a real life super hero who dressed in costume and patrolled various areas of Australia, intimidating the criminal element. He also wanted help spreading his message and building his blog.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this email, so I clicked through to his website and instantly fell in love. There it was, a person who had a crazy idea of what he wanted to do and JUST WENT FOR IT, not giving a damn what anyone else thought.
He wanted to prevent crime, and had literally adopted a secret identity as a super hero. Let me say it again: yes, he is actually serious.
I quickly added a new item to my list of things I MUST do before I die: interview this man and find out more about him.
Why? Because he is an example of someone who has truly broken free and pursued his passion. If he can become a real life super hero, when what excuse do you and I have for not accomplishing our goals?
Without further ado, here is my interview with the real life super hero, Captain Australia. (He took the liberty of recording some video responses as well.) Enjoy!
1. Please introduce yourself to my readers and tell us a bit about your mission
I am Captain Australia, and I am on a Quest to make the world a better place. My mission in a nutshell: To fight evil.
What is evil ? It’s everywhere .. evil has been with us of old. My job is to fight it – the big evil: criminality, paedophilia, rape of the environment, and the little evil – apathy, selfishness, greed. Basically my mission is as much about being an example and inspiration as it is about actively fighting crime.
So, to articulate my goals in a simple list, with simple examples:
Patrol, and directly intimidate the criminal element (eg, drug dealers and prostitutes move out of neighbourhoods I patrol)
Directly intervene if I see a crime, and solve crimes I become aware of (eg, if I see someone being robbed or assaulted, I must stop it)
Help others. (that simple, I want to find ways to help people, Nelson Hendersen said “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”)
Inspire people. (eg, by putting other people ahead of my own personal safety, by taking a stand against evil, I hope to inspire others to stand up and make the world better, Martin Luther King Jr said “…I just want .. love and .. justice and .. truth and .. commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world”)
2. What’s the most common reaction you get from people at first? How do you convince them you’re serious?
Most people are amused. They want photographs, as if I’m some kind of celebrity. I don’t mind, so much – if I can’t inspire people the first time I meet them, I can at least reach out to them, and I can settle for amusing them. If they then see me, witness my mission, and come to understand what I do, then it is my hope that it will influence them.
So far, people tend to fall into a few different categories (I personally like #4 the most, it makes me smile):
Avoidance or Apathy: some people seem shocked or scared, and simply look away, they simply lower their gaze and shuffle past as fast as they can. (These are the sleep-walkers that I hope to wake up)
Curious: some people are engaged and interested (maybe amused), and ask me questions about what I’m doing & why. I see these people as genuine potential evangelists, people who can see value in what I’m doing and maybe allow it to influence the way they live their lives somehow.
Photo Op: some people simply see me as a novelty and want a photo with me. Where I can, I try to explain my mission, and turn them into a #2
genuinely puzzled: some people simply openly stare at me, jaw dropping, every manner of their posture screaming out to me “WTF?!”, sometimes the reaction is so strong, it’s almost as if a spaceship landed in front of them, Ronald McDonald sprang out from the cockpit & started singing “Happy Birthday to You”
With respect to the second half of your question – how do I convince them I’m serious – well, that’s complicated. At first I was more interested in seeking out crime – people’s reactions didnt really matter to me. Now I realise that connecting with people, helping & inspiring people is a critical part of my mission. So when I meet someone who is Curious, I explain to them what I’m doing and why. I give them a calling card, and let them know that if they need my help, they should contact me.
Only short-fall – I have one cellphone – and giving it out to Citizens will compromise my secret identity. I’m just going to have to absorb the operating cost and get a second phone so that people can ring Captain Australia when they need his help or advice .. so far the calling cards just have Email, Twitter & Web contacts, which seems slow if they want to talk to me while I’m out on patrol.
3. How often do you go out on patrol in full costume? How do you choose locations?
If I were untethered by any other consideration than Captain Australia, I’d actually choose hotspots around the world (based on crime, poverty, apathy – basically profile possible areas to base out of). I’d patrol daily, doing whatever I can to demonstrate my commitment to changing lives in that area. Every few months, I’d move on to another area. As it stands, I operate out of Brisbane Australia, and when my employer requires me to travel, I also tear open my corporate shirt & tie revealing the bold @ underneath – so sometimes I get the opportunity to patrol in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or New Zealand (and hopefully at some stage Singapore, where I know that organised crime and prostitution has a real underbelly).
For now, I simply base my choice on known areas of crime in Brisbane, or areas known for homelessness (to help where I can), finally, I might just patrol a public area to achieve a level of visibility – as a deterrent and to spread the inspirational message. With my work obligations, I can only really patrol once per week. And the last few weeks Ive been on hiatus while I get my health right (I actually injured my foot with Version1 boots while Parkour Street Running, and the nail of my big toe came off .. so while I’m waiting on Boots Version2 – being ordered from the USA – I havent been patrolling weekly, but I’ll resume that as soon as the boots arrive).
4. Why do you feel it is important to protect your identity?
My family. I don’t wear a mask out of shame, I wear it purely to protect my family (and make a statement).I know that I may not achieve a notable impact against crime, that is largely about luck & circumstance. But I do know that its possible that my interference could offend drug dealers, pimps, gangs, thugs – my own safety is secondary, but I simply cannot face putting my family at risk. Also, it’s loosely possible that I might attract crazies – some loony out there might consider me to be their ‘nemesis’ and decide that they need to track me down and teach me about suffering. Again, I can handle myself, but God help the person who tries to reach past me to harm my family.
I won’t compromise my secret identity by giving any significant detail on this point.
5. Many of our readers are interested in “breaking free” – meaning doing what they are passionate about in life, as you obviously have – but money often holds people back. Do you have a “real job” during the day (Clark Kent worked at the Daily Planet, Bruce Wayne had Wayne Enterprises) or how do you fund Captain Australia’s endeavors?
Short answer: Yes. Although I’ve hardly broken free from it – in fact, being Captain Australia isn’t cheap - I would absolutely love to fund some higher tech equipment and a costume that really affords me some protection against weaponry – but as it is, I have to fund what I’m doing. I have a reasonably lucrative career. I won’t give too much detail, again to protect my secret identity, but it’s basically a middle->high level management position in corporate australia. Its more than adequate to support my personal life and my expenses so far as Captain Australia.
6. Clearly making money is not the primary goal with a project like this, but do you view the blog as potentially a means of financial support (Captain Australia t-shirts, ad-support, donations from concerned citizens, etc) or solely as a means to spread the word?
I have thought about that. I would love to find a way to fund this full-time (and ideally unlock travel to some of the bleaker places of the world – places of socio-economic depression where I can rally people). Ultimately it is secondary though, I’ve thought about the possibility of maybe getting some T-shirts done up, or maybe a graphic novel – I don’t really know – honestly though, it does open up the dream of committing myself full-time to my mission, which I find immensely appealing. I dont like the idea of donations at all (unless maybe Bill Gates flicked 2M my way – I think 2M is all I would need to invest to permanently fund my efforts as Captain Australia – just use it to generate income from the interest). Maybe advertising or some kind of merchandise – but it’s really not what I’m about – it’s just a daydream to be able to do this full time.
7. I like your choice of “weapons” – spray can of mace, camera, pen and paper, etc and you strike me as someone who uses violence as a last resort. Although I have a concealed handgun license, I personally believe these non-lethal methods of self-defense can be more effective. Please tell our readers about your philosophy in the best way to prevent crimes, what level of violence is appropriate/necessary in what situation, and how our readers can best protect themselves.
Confidence is your best weapon. Most criminals are cowards. I know that sounds like a naive cliche, but I promise you, it’s true. They generally won’t act unless the odds are in their favour. That’s what makes me powerful. I will move forward -despite- the odds. I will put my personal safety to one side and challenge anybody that I feel is evil. I will never stand idly by and watch someone who is innocent be victimised. Is violence an effective tool ? Yes, it can be. But you have to use it fearlessly. You have to act quickly and deliberately. Personally, except for totally random incidents, I think that your best tool is actually politics – using negotiation skills to defuse hostile situations, using respect to get potentially violent people to calm down and articulate their views without hostility.
Since putting on Captain Australia’s mask, I havent had to be violent. I’ll address my martial arts training in one of the questions to follow – but I do sincerely think violence is a last resort. As far as serious advice goes – unless the odds are clearly in your favour, if someone threatens you: talk calmly to them while you conduct a risk assessment. Look them over and the environment, and make a determination as to whether you should fight or run. If they have already threatened you and are just toying with you or trying to intimidate you, use the element of surprise before you act. Do 1 of 2 things: attack fast & hard, or attack suddenly and then immediately run. (If you slap someone in the face, or kick their knee or in-step, the surprise will often give you a few valuable seconds. Don’t scream or yell when you run, put all your wind into sprinting).
Weapons arent the way forward. The human tendency to reach for a weapon is driven out of cowardice and a craving for power. It’s putting down our weapons that takes true courage.
8. What are your views on firearms and do you believe an armed population prevents crime or creates more of it? There have been several high profile cases (at least in the U.S.) of citizens killing criminals (see Joe Horn and Bernhard Goetz). They’ve subsequently been called everything from heroes to criminals themselves. What are your views?
Fundamentally, I believe in complying with Rule of Law, it’s basically the collectively agreed set of rules that we all have to live by: and people who knowingly take a gun and shoot someone else are committing an unlawful act. They have no jurisdictional right to execute anybody. I think its quite clear that they are criminals.It’s my sincere belief that taking another human life for anything other than a grim and high duty is morally wrong. I’d have to pose – do these guys who pump bullets into criminals get a rush when they do it ? Do you think sometimes at night they think about it as they go to sleep, and smile ? I think that you can work within the confines of the law and still have perfectly reasonable methods to interfere with criminals.
If someone breaks into your home in the still of night, I think its completely acceptable to use deadly force to protect your family. But personally, I condemn someone who will strap on a gun and go out looking for people to kill. I understand that the US legal system (and Australian) could be described as unreliable, but that doesnt mean that I personally am any better.
If you see someone being attacked, you jump in and incapacitate the assailant. You dont need a chainsaw, bazooka, machete, or a .357 magnum to do that.
I’d prefer to lay down my own life than risk killing an innocent person. Again, I think putting down a weapon takes a whole lot more courage than picking one up.
9. You appear to be a martial arts expert. Which style of martial arts should people learn if they are primarily concerned with self defense?
I’ve been learning since child-hood. I’m expert in Judo, Ju-jitsu, Karate, Wing Chun & Ton Long Kung fu. I also have some experience with boxing (which is actually quite handy – I think it helps you to learn how to take a punch and not fear it, the other martial arts styles try to avoid being hit).If I had to recommend a fighting style for self defense, I think Ju-jitsu is extremely practical. It teaches grapples and strikes – ways to move your hands and body to lock up your attacker and minimise their ability to hurt you. Someone who has really trained in ju-jitsu can easily hold one assailant by the wrist, using pain to steer him around using him as a shield against a second combatant while he kicks the third in the instep and incapacitates him. Its a very practical fighting form.
But if you’re only interested in self protection, you can avoid the training and get various non-lethal sprays and personal alarms.
10. What would be an ideal contact for you to make (TV interview, speaking to a class of children, profile on major website, etc) to further your mission? Perhaps one of our readers can make the introduction.
I dont know. I’m currently arranging to spend some time with sick kids in critical care, to cheer them up and amuse them – basically I’m struggling to find the correct path for me to be walking. If I thought about it purely in terms of exposure, I guess getting into the mainstream media would be useful, but what I really want, more so than fame, is the individual engagement – helping people and spreading my message that we must all take a personal stand to brighten the world. (Which can start with a single candle).
Thank you Captain Australia for making time for this interview!
If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to his website and show your support for Captain Australia.
I would not be surprised if Captain Australia becomes an internet sensation and you’re not going to want to miss his rise to fame- I think this could be big.
Finally Captain Australia has asked for your support in the following ways:
Please send him suggestions and tips on how he can better accomplish his mission
Captain Australia, we salute you! Until next time, keep breaking free, Brian Armstrong