October 01, 2003

There's Real Fighting, And Then There's Hollywood

I'm a black belt, and that doesn't mean shit.

Despite nearly seven years of martial arts training, I'm still relatively certain that, under the right circumstances, I could endure an ass stomping the likes of which you'd never know.

If someone is truly enraged, with adrenaline and whatever cocktail of drugs swimming in their system, there's a very good chance that all the martial arts training in the world won't be able to prevent the inevitable ass thumping.

These thoughts came to me last night as I drove home from my hapkido class. There are some really BIG guys in the beginner's class that I teach. I mean, professional football offensive linemen big. When they throw a punch at me, I feel a genuine obligation to get the hell out of the way. I find myself wondering, if I ever bump into a human behemoth in a bar who wants to crush me, whether I'd be able to defend myself.

The answer is yes. And no. The conventional wisdom is that, if I end up in a fight situation, I should let my opponent make the first move, thus absolving me of some sort of legal argument that I "started the fight." What I've come to believe is that is complete and total bullshit.

If I let someone attack me first, there's a real chance that attack will be successful. And, then I'm screwed. Even a slight grazing of the head with a fist is all that's required to unbalance and disorient me enough to make me vulnerable for an onslaught of follow-up blows.

Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that, if someone takes an aggressive posture with me, I won't be waiting for their first attack. I'll be crashing into them with knees and elbows flying, and I won't stop until they're motionless on the ground. And then I'm going to run away as fast as my fucking legs can carry me.

Back when I was a red belt, during my buddy's bachelor party, I ended up in a situation that should have ended differently, in retrospect. I asked a drunken kid to turn down the stereo at 4 a.m. and he refused. So, I turned it down for him. He then turned it up even louder. I then turned it off. He then tried to break a beer bottle on the kitchen counter and come at me with it, except the bottle didn't break, so he held the fully intact beer bottle in his hand and threatened to whack me with it.

That's when I tried to "negotiate" with him. I tried to explain to him that jail is bad, and he loudly asserted that he wasn't afraid of jail. My negotiations weren't going well. In a move I still can't quite fully understand, I shot my hand out in a lightning quick motion and . . . I snatched the bottle from his hand. The bottle made a super cool transition from his hand to mine. I was now the armed opponent, but only for a moment, because I threw the bottle behind me.

Even though the situation was defused with no loss of blood or consciousness by either party, the altercation still bothers me. What the fuck was I doing trying to "negotiate" with a bottle-wielding drunk? The moment he came at me with a bottle was the moment I should have laid into him with every foot and fist technique I know. By hesitating, I was putting myself at more risk. It haunts me to think I could be so cautious when instant action was required.

Since that incident, I've made a point of working out each week with the heavy bags at my martial arts studio, practicing, over and over, cutting the distance between myself and the bag and bashing it repeatedly with my knees, elbows and fists. I found myself wondering last night if all that practice will be enough "the next time."

Hopefully, "next time" won't happen, but if it does, I hope I kick the fucker's ass.

Posted by Ryan at October 1, 2003 10:38 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!