Hard Outside, Soft on the Inside

Martial artists are too soft on the inside.

They are what my kids call “emos”; in other words, so emotional and easy to get a rise out of them! This is what is meant by the saying that the tough man should wear his toughness on the inside and stop trying to wear it on the outside. See, we cloak ourselves in tatoos and tough talk so much, and hide behind excuses not to back up our words, that we often will will forget what a coward we really are… until the day comes that someone tests you.

This is why I advocate sparring outside of your circle of safety.

BTW, “Circle of safety”:   a groups of friends, classmates, and otherwise familiar people.

Too many people patting each other on the back, complimenting yourselves on skills you really haven’t seen. Vouching for people whom you have never fought or seen fought. Agreeing too damned much, and being afraid/offended when someone questions the validity of what you’re saying.  How about surrounding yourself so much with friends, that you will not stand alone with a dissenting voice… let alone face opposition without calling your homies to help you out?

Yeah, martial artists do that too much. Especially FILIPINO martial artists. People who follow the crowd so much, that when a guy says in public, “I don’t think your art is valid”, it offends you to the point you get pissed and can’t discuss it like a damned man. Or settle the shit like a martial artist.

And here we get to my point.

Question: who was a better fighter, Angel (Cabales) or Leo (Giron)?

Damned pusses. You can’t even bring yourself to answer the question. Well, I met Manong Leo, and he told me that he was the better fighter. But most people would never admit who they *think* was a better fighter, and the truth is, nobody but those two men knew who was the better fighter. I’m sure GM Angel told his people he was better (behind closed doors), and GM Leo told his people HE was better. But the bottom line is that both men are not afraid to say, I am the best. If somebody doubted them, you can bet–sure as shit–that either man would have taken up arms to prove his point… without acting like a damned fool getting all “emo” over it.

Now, let me guess, when those two men fought, do you think they talked of killing the other? Or did they try to poke each other’s eyes out or seriously maim the other?

No. They fought like men, with dignity, and RULES. Basically, they fought each other with respect, regardless of how much they liked each other or disliked each other. From what I observed–the little I saw–from Manong Leo, he felt superior to GM Cabales and possibly did not like him. Can’t really tell, because GM Cabales had been dead a few years and there was enough respect between them that he would not have dishonored him by saying anything bad about him. However, he did let on that he was the better fighter, and I was not a student, but a guest.

The two men respected each other because they fought. They knew who was the big dog between them because they actually attempted to establish it, and there was no need to set the record straight or pose and show boat. If you know about Filipino masters, very few will ever say “I got beat by that guy”, and almost all will claim to be undefeated. It’s a Filipino thing. But they will not hide behind anonymous fights and altercations, and will leave a trail of names and past matches and people who can say, “I fought him.”

Question:  Where did these masters fight?

Answer:  In tournaments. Every last one of them. It may have been in a gym. It may have been at the marketplace. It may be in the school of another. And none of them were fight-to-the-death duels. In fact, the only assholes claiming to hate tournaments and will only fight to the death are martial artists who don’t fight…. This is the convenient philosophy to avoid having to fight in public. Every master you ever read about fought in the same tournaments their martial students and grandstudents put down. Antonio Illustrisimo. Ben Lema. Leo Giron. Nap Fernandez. Lito Gonzales. Joe Mena. Cacoy Canete. And the list goes on. They were not on the street killing unnamed waifs who have no history. These are men who can name their opponents and point to actual, verifiable matches, wins and losses. They did not hide behind excuses, so that they can look you in the eye, and say to you, “my way is the best.”  Most teachers today–if they do claim to fight, will tell you how hard he had it in the Navy, on the police force, or working at Walmart as a Security guard nabbing crackheads during the night shift.  Cool Steven Seagal-like stories, but they do nothing for who you are as a budding martial artist. The competition is a place people prove their points, test their theories against people who don’t give a damn how dedicated you are to the style or how nice you are, and get the chance to try out new things in a format where you won’t have to pay a permanent price should that technique you’re doing fails you.

Oh… But I digress! What I’m getting at is that all of this “tag-playing” gets you used to opposition, so that you don’t turn into a bitch on the rag every time someone doubts that your way is the best. Have you ever walked into a boxing gym–a REAL boxing gym–repping the martial arts? I tell you what, every guy in there thinks the fighting style you do is pure crap, and he can’t wait until the trainer puts you in the ring with him so he can be next to put you on your behind.

Hey, brother, it ain’t nothing personal… this is bidness!

This is the business of the martial arts:  people who think their way is the best, and the eventual contest to see which one will win. No use getting all up in arms about it! This is just how things are done in the fighting arts. Which is why they call this fighting arts. No need to threaten violence or get all pissed off about it. Every real fighter you meet, whether you realize it or not, is going to think he’s better than you. Don’t miss an opportunity to find out if he is or not by exchanging pleasantries and business cards/email addresses. And don’t miss the opportunity by walking away thinking that he isn’t supposed to question your way of doing things. That’s why God made sparring gear and rules. I know you don’t really want to assault people, and I’m sure you don’t really want to get your nose broken. So go ahead and fight with rules, even the great masters whose browness you carry on your nose developed the arts they passed down with these rules. It won’t kill you, and it won’t negate your skills and rank. Unless, of course, you’d rather live in the imaginary world where every fight you will ever take part in is a death match. And that’s how real arts were developed…. one guy thinking he can kick some ass–and the next guy saying, “I don’t think so.”  Man up.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Please tell all your dojo boyfriends about it, and invite them down!

Author: thekuntawman

full time martial arts teacher, full time martial arts philosopher, and full time martial arts critic

3 thoughts on “Hard Outside, Soft on the Inside”

  1. allah akbar! brother i love it!

    Karate people must learn to control their fear and anger, so that their technique will be nice and focused. if they are too busy worry about how they look, it will be easy to unbalance them by mushing the insides with words. If he cannot handle words and emotions like you said, his hand skills will lack control.

    Well written, selamat akhi.

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