This was first written just for fun, then I thought about it, and realized that there is something more here.
I don’t know about you, but in the movie “The Karate Kid”, I actually liked the Cobra Kai guys better. Sure, they were jerks, but as a martial artist studying from physically agressive teachers in a physically aggressive environment, I wasn’t “feeling” the Daniel-san experience. And I certainly wasn’t convinced.
Does this make me a bad guy? I’m sorry you feel that way, but not everyone who doesn’t root for the underdog is wrong.
You see, martial artists have this thing, that they want to believe you can be the weak man, the scared man, the man who is less prepared–and still be victorious over the bad guy. I don’t think so. We are talking the truth here, aren’t we? Excuse me, I’m a practical, forward person by nature. I don’t like to lie, and I don’t like to promise what cannot be delivered. Martial artists want to be the baddest guys in the streets, without doing what is necessary to be the baddest dudes on the street. We want to be great fighters…. without fighting. Huh? What’s that all about? They don’t want to train too hard. They don’t want to dedicate their time, effort, money, blood and tears towards the goal of being a superior fighter. But at the same time, they are constantly looking for the one style, the one technique, method, teacher, who will make them unbeatable. Yeah, so you want to train part time, and not even give 150% when you train, but you think you’ll be able to take on a parolee who spent the last 10 years pumping iron and bashing other people’s brains in… and defeat him? You’ve been reading too many comic book ads!
Here’s the truth about Self Defense: It doesn’t exist. Sorry. Either you fall prey to the natural-born killers, or you become one. There is no short cut towards success in this arena. Learn to kill people, then train until your body is fully capable of doing it. And even then, you will have to mentally prepare to hurt people. What good is it to be a perfect shot on the gun range, when you lack the emotional and mental ability to pull that trigger with another human in your sights? Your “realistic” self defense class runs a 0% risk of someone getting a bloody nose, yet you believe you will actually be able to prevent someone from giving you one?
You are fooling yourself, and so has your teacher. In this arena–fighting on the pavement–the bad guy is the expert. You will have to be prepared in every way to deal with him. You must be stronger, have better tactics, have more durability to withstand his attacks, and have a mental aggression you can switch on and off at the drop of a dime if you are to beat him at his game. This ain’t no seminar, brothers, I’m talking about a real fight. A guy wants your wallet, or the keys to your car while you still have a 2 year old strapped in the back seat. Two guys have entered your home while you’re in bed with your wife, and they won’t accept that you’ve just given them all the money you’ve got in the house. Some jerk on the subway wants to prove to all the passengers and his boys that he can scare a yuppie, and you’re it. Some young punks need to jump on somebody to validate themselves as thugs, and you’re the one they plan to use.
I sure hope you can turn yourself into Johnny Lawrence when it happens. He’s the one that most guys are going to avoid, and if they fight him, he’s the one who’s going to ruin their day.
Wait. I’m not saying to run around bullying people. But I am saying to be the guy that no one will mess with. You can’t be that guy acting like a Daniel San. You must train to be indomitable, and learn to do all it takes to exercise this attitude. That means, you’ll have to mix it up in some way; whether in tournaments, on the mat, or in the street, but you’ll have to do something. They say that boards don’t hit back, but then neither do people who get hit by fists that break boards.
As a martial arts teacher you have to answer a question about your students: Do I believe that a mugger will be successful against each student of mine? Or will he get his jaw cracked and sent to the hospital? One night very recently, I was teaching a student of mine with this very thought in mind. He is an older student of mine, in his early 50s, has knee problems, an immigrant Mexican who still has the language barrier. He is a family man, doesn’t drink or smoke, and dances at the California State Fair as a part of a Mexican dance troop performing traditional Mexican dances. Nothing about this gentleman says he has a mean streak or any other killer qualities. However, he is a hog on the floor, and trains very hard. Lately, he had told me that he wanted to focus on forms, as his reason for training was more to get in shape than anything else. I hear this all the time, because I have a natural inclination to spend more class time on sparring than anything else. Anyway, I had this student spend more time in my Jow Ga Kung Fu class than my FMA class. That night, after I pondered this question I went out back to get fresh air and when I came back into the gym, I see him in gear, fighting full contact with my young guys from the kickboxing class! Not just that, but he was kicking my guy’s ass!
The point of this was that as teachers we owe it to our students to gauge our progress as teachers, by gauging their progress as fighters. We need to ask ourselves, “would each one of these guys be a victim, or the vigilante?” I don’t want to have to worry about any of my students in an altercation, because they are trusting me to prepare them for combat, and I must have a way to know if we are successful or not. One thing I can say about Martin Kove’s character John Kreese in “The Karate Kid” is that he has prepared his students for combat. Can you?
Self Defense as we know it is not preparing you for taking the attacker-victim relationship and turning it around. I want the guy who decides to attack you to walk funny and talk funny for the rest of his life. Let’s look at how we can make this happen…
But next time. The wife just fried me some fish, and I’ve got a plate full of rice waiting on me!
Thank you for reading my blog. Check back with us real soon!