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Completely off topic - Wanna fight?

Posted on Tuesday, September 20 2016 @ 17:26:51 PST

This will be a bit of a lengthy blog post. Even though it's off topic and not related to video games, the topic is something I'm quite passionate about.

Martial arts has been a huge part of my life for the past seven years. Previously, I did absolutely nothing and thus lead a poor life style, which resulted in severe weight gain and general negative health. I loved watching martial arts in movies and video games and I would often arrogantly think to myself, "Yeah, I could probably do that" when really, no, I couldn't. Not in a million years.

It wasn't until I attended a friend's birthday party one night at age twenty one where I was assaulted by two big, drunken guys. The experience was obviously horrible and it left me feeling humiliated, scared and deeply ashamed. I didn't want to leave the house by myself and if in public with friends, I was still scared that those two guys might just show up.

Shortly after that night, I took up judo to learn how to try and defend myself, should the situation ever happen again. To be absolutely truthful, I took up judo for two reasons... one, it was close (and I didn't have my driver's license back then) and two, it was a cheaper martial art (I didn't have a job at the time, so no income, little to no money). I was incredibly unfit and despite only training twice a week, each hour and a half session felt grueling, I seriously felt like I was going to die... but instead of wanting to learn how to fight, I learned something else. I lost six kilograms (just over thirteen pounds) in two weeks. I knew if I kept this up, I could lose weight and get healthy.

Nine months later, I was thirty two kilograms lighter. Starting off at one hundred and twenty eight kilos (over two hundred and eighty pounds), I eventually became ninety six kilos (just over two hundred and eleven pounds). Seven years later and coming to eight, I'm still doing judo.

Just to clarify, despite my dumb user name, I'm not a "master" by any means nor do I wear a black belt, I have a brown belt in judo, at least. While I have still so much to learn, I have learned a lot from judo, not just about the art, but about life in general.

I also did two years of Wing Chun kung fu during my first two years of judo, but really, I wasn't very good at it. I also found it difficult to do Wing Chun, along with judo, along with trying to go to the gym whilst working full time. Coming home at nine o'clock every night was a pain in the arse. I wish I continued, but time and motivation were factors that I was lacking. I had to drop something and since I loved judo too much while also wanting to get stronger, I reluctantly made the decision to drop Wing Chun.

I try to avoid talking about judo as well as martial arts in general when it comes to in person conversation because frankly, it can annoy people. When I first started, I was very passionate about it, because of how life changing it was for me and while it was a passion, but it annoyed people. But another reason I don't talk about martial arts very often is because of two reasons. One, I end up feeling like a target and two, the more common reason, I get criticized, critiqued and essentially "taught" by someone who has never been formally trained in anything, e.g. a keyboard or couch warrior. These two circumstances don't always happen, but it seems annoyingly common.

I've met so many people in the last seven years who always have something to say when it comes to martial arts and self-defense, especially when they don't do or/and haven't done anything themselves. When I first started judo, a mate of mine asked me to show him a throw, so I showed him slowly, without actually throwing him. His response was "But what if I did this?", followed by a flurry of make believe punches, all aimed close to my throat. The lesson I learned? Don't ever try anything with anyone, because everyone has an unbreakable backup plan that will mess you up.

When I practiced Wing Chun, one of my class mates who to put it lightly, is an unfit, egotistical jerk, would always criticize judo. This contradicts my previous statement regarding people who don't or never have done martial arts, but this fella is an exception, as Wing Chun was his first martial art, which he was quite passionate about. He never actually tried judo himself nor has he actually fought anyone with a judo background. Try and explain how grappling can be beneficial, "I'll just do this", followed by classic Wing Chun "chain punching". The lesson I learned? Grappling is useless because you'll always get knocked out if you try and get close. Screw grappling.

I got a mate who claimed traditional Japanese jujitsu is better than judo, because of jujitsu's original purpose, which is to incapacitate an opponent in empty hand, close quarters combat so they can then be killed. Little did he know of judo's history, that judo comes from Japanese jujitsu and is actually an improved, refined and ultimately superior version of jujitsu. But nah, judo sucks man, because jujitsu is about killing people and judo isn't. The lesson I learned? If your martial art doesn't involve killing people, it sucks (also, don't try and debate with a drunk person).

I had a discussion with one fella who claims he used to do Wing Chun in some guy's backyard where ol' mate was apparently "the real deal" and "knows his ****" about Wing Chun. Did it for, you know, five or six years. Goes on about how he's gotten into fights at the pub or the night club, and how he can describe said fights in novel-like detail about how he dropped one or two guys, then concludes it with something like, "So you know, I could **** you up." The lesson I learned? Backyard martial arts are the best martial arts.

Finally, I had a great displeasure of someone who I won't formally mention... but he's the kind of douche who tries to make himself look bigger than he really is. Ever hear of "ILS"? That's "Imaginary Lat Syndrom", where a guy walks around with his arms apart, thinking he has a massive, Tom Hardy Bane-like back when really, their back is as flat as a surf board and as wide as a cricket bat. He's one of those kind of guys. Upon learning about my judo background, without me telling him (seriously, the creepy bugger looked me on the Internet), he goes on to explain about how he "used to" do kick boxing, how he "sometimes" does Krav Maga (or "Krav Munga" as he incorrectly calls it) and that "I'm a big guy" weighing a hundred kilos (about two hundred and twenty pounds). He also told me about the time he went to a night club, almost got into a fight with a guy, then decided to surprise ambush said guy later on in the night, as a "precaution" to protect himself. This is then concluded by "So yeah, you wouldn't wanna mess with me." The lesson I learned? Don't mess with part time martial artists who are cowards.

I could go on for ages about the people I met, but I won't. Instead, I'd like to point out how these five mentioned examples are bullshit. Here's the real lesson behind these kind of people.

When someone has to tell you about how tough they are, like... how many fights they've been in, being able to describe the fights in every detail, well, they're probably lying, or at least exaggerating their epic battle. If someone tells you how good they are but they don't want to show you or that they apparently can't, then again, they're probably lying. If someone tells you about all the experience and training they apparently have, but can't tell you specifically who trained them (and what their qualifications are, if any), where they were trained, when they were trained, or even the heritage and history behind their training? There's a seriously good chance that well... they're probably lying! People who claim they could beat you up, or that you shouldn't fight them, are probably full of **** too because... sure, in their imagination, they've probably thought of a dozen ways to cripple or kill you with their bare hands but in reality they're not gonna do ****. Why's that? Easy, they don't wanna go to jail.

The people mentioned in the above paragraph... if they do/say any of these things to you, they're most likely trying to show off, basically by trying to verbally prove to you that they are the alpha male and you are the beta, so to speak. It's just a lame attempt at intimidation, to make you feel small and weak, to make themselves feel big and strong. It's pretty much school yard bullying.

Here are some actual lessons I learned from martial arts.

Humility. If you train in martial arts, especially competitive martial arts like judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, MMA etc. then you are going to eat Humble Pie on a regular basis. You will get knocked down, you will get "tapped out" by people who are smaller and weaker than you, hell you will probably sometimes get beaten by people less experienced than you, it happens. These kind of sports teach you that if you get knocked down, you have to get back up and face the person who beat you, again, and you may very well lose again. In life, you're always going to encounter people who are better than you and more experienced than you, even if they aren't your size or age. In a way, martial arts teaches you to accept this and be at peace with this, while also helping you to overcome fears and get out of your comfort zone. To give you an example, I am six foot three and well over two hundred pounds, I'm not small. For a while, our judo club had a French black belt who was like five foot six and not even a hundred and fifty pounds, a small guy. However, because of his experience, speed and his aggression, he would wipe the floor clean with me, and it hurt! But I am thankful for receiving the opportunity to train with him and learn from him. There's always a bigger fish, even if they aren't exactly bigger than you.

Respect. Respect your instructor (coach, sensei, whatever you would like to call them), respect your elders, respect your training partners and most importantly, respect yourself. Martial arts teaches respect, it teaches that respect must be earned, not given. Respect is earned by being a good, reliable and hard working person. You won't earn everyone's respect in real life because some people are just the way they are for whatever reasons, but to be fair, not everyone will deserve your respect either.

Discipline. You show up to class, you train hard, it becomes a part of your routine in life. You begin to listen intently to your instructor, you try things, question things, you then research things in your own time and you might start diving into other forms of exercise outside the dojo, maybe running, swimming or weight lifting, you might start eating healthier too. By improving yourself physically (by exercise and training) and mentally (learning techniques, gaining experience and overall mental toughness), it may motivate and inspire you to further lead a healthier life style. A bit of respect leaks into here too, but the funny thing about martial arts and self defense is that over time, you might find that you don't want to get into a fight, you would rather avoid conflict because despite learning an art that can hurt people, you don't want to hurt people. This is showing respect for yourself as well as self control through discipline.

Understanding the difference between aggression and anger. Believe it or not, aggression, especially in competitive martial arts, is not a bad thing. Anger on the other hand is very bad and unwanted. Aggression can allow you to take action and deliver your techniques with full commitment with little to no hesitation, e.g. attempting a big throw, or a round house kick to someone's head etc. Your goal is to make the technique work, not to hurt the person. Anger on the other hand is the opposite. Anger is letting emotion and ego come into play, anger might feel like aggression but really, fighting angry means fighting blind and dangerous. You'll become inaccurate, sloppy, exert more energy than you should but most of all, fighting angry increases the risk of injury to both you and your partner. In a training environment, sure you want to win, but you do not want to hurt your training partner, that's the last thing you want to do. Hurt your partner, who are you gonna train with? No one wants to train with the angry guy who tries to hurt people. This one is an important lesson to me personally, as I have been hurt by people fighting angry (my right shoulder got hurt recently due to someone fighting angry with me, I haven't done judo in almost a month) and in the past, I too attempted to fight angry and got I hurt myself as a result.

And finally, martial arts isn't always about "fighting". This one will sound pretty funny, but hear me out. You might train in something, but every martial art and self-defense out there employs techniques that involves violence. In judo, you throw people on the ground, in muay thai, you change the shape of people's heads with your shins. Some people criticize or mock certain martial arts (I know taekwondo for example cops a lot of flack) but the point is, not everyone is in it to learn how to "fight". Some people might enjoy the additional benefits that martial arts offers, such as the above points, as well as the strong, powerful friendships that can be formed. It's not all about fighting. Personally, I think martial arts is all about self improvement.

If you don't practice martial arts, I'd highly recommend that you should! Not only will you learn some amazing skills, but it will help to continue building your body, confidence and overall character, plus you can make some amazing friends from these arts. And remember, if someone discovers that you've taken up krav maga classes or something and they decide to talk to you about how they trained in CQC in Big Boss' back yard... they're probably lying! ;)

"Snake, try to remember the basics of CQC..."


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