Tough it out to give it out

The first person to dislocate my jaw was my brother. He started out as a really small kid. Small, frail…and temperamental. As he got older, that temper turned into a sinewy strength. In his teens, he was only small compared to a lowland gorilla. The sinewy strength was still there, but now it had some massive muscles to back it.

Being the older brother, I had an advantage in training. So when we were sparring in front of a class full of my students, and he got me in a headlock, he panicked a bit. He told me later that as soon as he managed to get a grip on my head, the first thought that went through his head was “Oh shit, I’m grappling with Randy!” He jumped back as fast as possible, before I could apply my hands to him. Would have been a good move for him, except he took my jaw with him.

Well, half of it, anyway. I remember looking up and wondering why everything looked sort of sideways and twisted. And then I wondered why everyone was looking at me with expressions of horror on their faces…and then the left side of my jaw relocated. CLUNK. That was when I realized what had happened, and realized I only had a second or two before the pain hit.

Seemed only natural to try and beat the tar out of my brother in that time. I have no idea what I did, but I remember that he tapped, and then I nearly passed out when my jaw reminded me of the state it was in.

The martial art that had the most effect on me was taught to me with one simple rule: You should be able to take twice what you can dish out. Endless hours of training time were spent driving punches over and over into each other. Or taking turns using each other as a kicking post. No flinching allowed, no visible signs of pain, or it was pushups for the whole class. As the Sensei explained, the only difference between his class and full-out abuse was that we would someday graduate out…

It was a great mindset for unarmed combat, and served me well going forward. But for armed combat training…not so good. When you are keyed up to take a hard shot and give one back? Having to acknowledge that delicate little touch as something that would stop you sucks. It doesn’t feel right. It feels like cheating. It makes me feel like I’m not being respected as a fighter, I’m not getting the honest opportunity to really showcase what I’m capable of. And that feeling? It’s whining. Pure, simple, pathetic whining. And there is nothing I hate more than whining.

You have to take the hit before you can dish out the hit. You can’t be a pussy about it. Suck it up. Fair? No, it’s not fair. Realistic? That’s a bullshit question, really. When people whine about realism in blow calling what they are really saying is that they want the right to only take a blow they feel good about, which means a blow that they recognize, one that they understand. In that world view, you should be able to ignore a sniper shot to the back of the head.

I trained to take hard shots, but that never, ever meant I got any slack from my instructor for letting a single punch land on me. We had a student in class once who was listening to a young hothead gas on about how tough he was in streetfights. The student listened for a bit, and opined that only an idiot got in streetfights. Young hothead made more noises about training, reasons to fight, and being willing to take his licks because he was a badass. The student said he was a badass too, but that didn’t help him at all from being stupid, and suffering the consequences…which he demonstrated by removing his glass eye. Souvenir of a street fight.

You can read historical accounts of people being run through, and fighting on. You can hit the internet right now and read stories of people who’ve survived multiple gunshots…If someone pulls a gun on me, I’m not going to weigh the odds that I might be one of those survivors. That’s not realistic. And when someone tells me they don’t think they hit me with a good blow with a sword…I tell them I don’t care, I never should have let it get that close to me.

When I’m fighting someone I’m happy to call back my bad shots, or even unintentional shots…sometimes the tip just wobbles about against my will and winds up hitting my opponent. Sucks for me, I want a chance to try my skill correctly. I call it back. But wounds happen all the damned time by accident, bereft of intention. Life can really suck sometimes. That’s reality.

Reality isn’t what the “tough guys” think it is, and what they are really asking for is the right to whine. Sure would be nice if the world always gave us an ending we expected, but I’ve never seen it happen yet…except when kids play pretend.

2 Comments

  1. I think I get what you were getting to at the end here Randy. Is it that regardless of what might happen in reality we should focus on the perfection of our craft.

    Yes, that sloppy shot of mine might have punctured your lung, but I was aiming for your shoulder and got sloppy and lucky, therefore don’t take it or it rewards my sloppy shot.

  2. Of course, the flipside of the coin is “the harder you practice, the luckier you get”, as Gary Player originally said.

    Or in this context, be happy with luck that goes your way, if it comes out of dedicated practice. 🙂

    (I’d always remembered it as “the more you practice, the luckier you get”, but hunted down the original for this comment).

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