Sports Fighting and Self Defence

As I grow older, I grow more repulsed by sports fighting. I have not even the slightest inclination to step into a ring or onto a mat and try and hurt someone until they give up or a referee says to stop. There is no sense, no purpose for the violence of blood and broken teeth and strained joints.

 

Last week I accidentally went along to a tournament sparring class in the wing chun school I’ve just joined. I strapped my gloves on like everyone else to see what their combat fighting style was like, and after a fun and sweaty workout, they invited me back next time. I politely agreed, knowing in my heart that I really had no desire to repeat the experience. Fun as it was, I left with bruises, scratches a worryingly sore (broken?) toe, and the deflated ego that comes from being punched all night long. It confused me greatly how some of the students who attended couldn’t get enough of ring fighting, and celebrated hurting other people to claim a victory.

 

I used to think that tournaments and competitions were good ways of seeing how you’d go fighting someone who was trying their best to hurt you. I figured that if you could beat a guy in the ring, it would mean you’d probably be able to beat a guy on “the street”. I’ve since realised that the rules of a sports match, and the aim of beating the other guy, are hardly at all applicable to self-defence.

 

While I was walking down the street with Beth, staggering somewhat due to quite a bit of stomach pain, my peripheral vision noticed someone hurrying towards us from behind. In a split moment, I realised that their pace and direction meant they were either about to barge between us, or they had some business with us. As I turned to face them, they reached a hand towards me and I brushed it aside with a soft hiki uke (hooking deflection), then shot my seiruto (palm strike) straight into their neck. For reasons I could not say, I did not actually strike but rested my palm on the man’s neck without putting any pressure into it. Then it clicked: he was one of my colleagues from work and had come to say hello.

 

More recently still, I was jogging with a friend, chatting as we approached our cars. I heard a sudden heavy footstep behind us and turned as a body blurred towards us. His arms moved towards me and I stepped back, executing a chopping backfast and a depressing palm strike in quick succession. He had swerved to avoid me too, pulling his arms back so that I didn’t need to deflect them. Then it clicked that he was my third, much fitter friend whom we had gone jogging with, whom we hadn’t seen in about half an hour as he tore off into the distance.

 

In both these instances I reacted defensively, and I think appropriately. (Admittedly I scared both the people who caught me off guard, however both of them found it funny and neither of them were hurt.) Those responses (not reflexes) might have served to keep me safe and well if indeed I had been under attack. I used to wonder if I really was good enough at martial arts to protect myself, and because tournaments weren’t the best way to find out, maybe I’d need to go into Northbridge and get into a fight and try and break someone’s arm or knock them unconscious. I never did, obviously, because that would have been stupid. However I did use to worry about it a lot, that maybe if push ever came to shove I would lose. I don’t worry about that any more.

 

Why? Is it because I think I’m hot stuff now that I’m a black belt? Well, kinda, yeah. More accurately, it’s because I trust that all of the thousands of hours I’ve put into grooving appropriate responses will be sufficient if the need ever arises for me to protect myself. Every now and then I’ll be surprised by what could be a potential attack and I’ll respond in a way that makes me feel like I would have been okay if there was any actual danger. I also get reminders from time to time that if a real attack had been imminent I would have gotten my head caved in. I think both of these are important, and it’s worth striving towards being safe and being peaceful.

 

I don’t mind people who enjoy the game or sport of competitive fighting. I just don’t feel like it will help me learn the sort of things I want to learn from martial arts. And also, I don’t particularly enjoy being beaten up, or even beating someone else up just to prove I could. That’s the arena of bullies.

Advertisements

My 2002 Diary

Going through my childhood diaries has turned out to be more emotional than I anticipated. I mean, I always knew they got me down, though I hadn’t quite anticipated how much they’d affect me. Immersing myself in their contents for more than a few minutes at a time brings me right back to the way I felt when I was writing them, and that’s been a bit difficult to overcome. I’ll have to be more selective about which entries to read fully, which to gloss over and which to skip. As Bethwyn reminded me last night, “I am not that person. I am me.” Anyway, here are the highlights of my journal as an 11-year-old!

***

My brother and I bought our diaries at the same time, and he excitedly wrote a “fact” on the first day of each month. One of them was “As a stunt, a man ate a whole heap of lacky bands and then fell off a building. The lacky bands in his stomach made him bounce off the ground.” Classic creative genius.

***

Much of what I wrote was about the troubled relationship with my brother. He was cruel and punishing in those days, and yet I had so many good memories with him as well. For instance, he kept me indebted to him through an ingenious sticker system where I bought expensive stickers and then put them together in various combinations for modest prizes. He also sold me some tags which prevented him from opening doors, touching items and seeing or remembering things. (They were expensive, and didn’t seem particularly effective.)

***

As in my 2001 diary, I was very dramatic. For instance, I referred to a small patch of grass on the oval as “The Place that Evil Cannot Go”. Sapo was still among my closest friends (although I renamed him “Desdemona” from the Cairo Jim books), and I named Katrina my shorm (the person who I would trust with my life if they asked me for it) before I realised it was stupid. I swung wildly between hating and loving my closest friends.

***

I was still obsessed with finding someone to love romantically. In the end, I concluded I didn’t love anyone at school, not even Jessica Carroll my best friend who I courted for most of the year. In fact, she got so sick of my attention that she invented a friend named Melanie White, who she convinced me used to be in love with me and I’d forgotten all about her. I spent much of the year trying to get more details about Melanie, gathering information rigorously (including a phone call where I spoke to someone who sounded suspiciously like Jess putting on a voice). In hindsight, I’m pretty sure Jess was just trying to deflect my affections but was in too deep to back out of the complex spirals of lies she had to spin to keep me from harassing her.

***

Speaking of imaginary friends, I created an imaginary sister named Sarah, and an imaginary girlfriend named Velvet Dark (named from my favourite game at the time). I even wrote an elaborate story about how I reluctantly used violence to deter a bunch of bullies and win Velvet’s affection on her first day of school.

***

It was very important to me to keep announcing how bored I was, even though I was having fun.

***

I was pretty hardcore religious back then as well. I donated like 80% of my pocket money to charity, always took great pains not to use the Lord’s name in vain, and prayed the rosary just for the pleasure of it. When Jessica offered to teach me how to use her magical powers (healing, telekinesis, x-ray vision, telepathy, granting people speed and strength, making people nicer, powers of death and powers of resurrection), I refused them for myself because I considered it unholy black magic, even though they sounded really super awesome. I was obsessed with not sinning and taking God very seriously.

***

That made it really awkward to explore my emerging sexuality, and I felt really, really awful about becoming a sexual person.

 

***

I was also strangely obsessed with coming up with nicknames for Katrina.

***

After watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and playing craploads of Perfect Dark, I created an amazing game where I got points for shooting cars, cyclists and pedestrians while my Mum drove me places. I started off with my “Agent Peace” (sedatives) character, and when I earned 5000 points I would earn enough to “genetically transform” into Agent Destructo (explosives), Agent Blast (magnums), Agent Shocker (electricity and lasers), and even the legendary Agent Dark (pistols, machine guns, shotguns, blowdarts, radioactive grenades, crossbows and lightsabers). In each case I’d have a variety of different weapons and ammunition strapped to my body and clothes – I knew where each gun was, how many bullets it had in the magazine and how many spare magazines I was carrying for each. As we were driving around, my Mum would glance over and see my hands working furiously, spinning imaginary guns as I shot at passersby.

***

I invented a “trademark”, what I now call my emblem. Well to be fair I invented a few, though this one is actually meaningful and appeared on 30/05/02 in its earliest form. It’s a symbol I still use to this day.

Xin

***

I was really obsessed with privacy as I started my journey through puberty. I considered it the most heinous crime to have my privacy violated, and it happened surprisingly often as my friends shared secrets I told them and my brother punished me by going through my stuff. I think it was the start of me casting out on my own, believing that I could only trust myself and that if I just had enough strength I wouldn’t need other people. Even then I had begun to think about suicide. Sad and dark times were ahead.

***

Things weren’t all bad though. In one entry, I randomly wrote the following:
“I have incredible mental powers. Most people would have seen a psichiatrist by now, but not me. I can resist and smile very easily.”
I was a resilient young man, determined to face the world with a smile on my face, to forgive and to love in spite of my pain.

 

Reading these diaries has been an interesting experience for me. I’m not sure how I’ll go reading the next year, the worst of them. I think it will be elucidating and worth the effort though, so look out for that in the future. Now to go shake off all this old stuff that’s come back up.