Rungs of Violence

I’ve noticed that a lot of young men waste their time trying to be tough. Yet obsession with fighting and toughness and all that junk is actually holding you back from moving up (or surviving) in modern society. All the time spent learning to fight, all the nightly training — how much better would it be to simply learn some lucrative skill? A rhetorical question, because it would be much better.

Yet those folks who are not inherently aggressive psycho assholes, how could they possibly expect to climb over the mountain of bodies that leads to the ivory tower of success? No, it takes an aggressive character to do that. So those of us who are naturally less aggressive might need some direct exposure violence in order to co-exist with the turbulence caused by ambitious egos. Or to meet our social needs.

At our (MA) school, the sparring situation is a purposefully intense experience. We do a month or so every year of extremely intense, full-contact fighting. To some degree, the most violence me and my classmates will ever experience happens in that class. And compared to other schools we’ve seen or invited to train with us, our training is pretty rough. So it makes me think that this isn’t even just training for a violent confrontation, but that our training itself is a violent confrontation. It isn’t training for the real thing, but it actually is the real thing.* And while that seems insane initially, like we’re just some stupid fight club (and maybe we are!), that’s how all skills should be practiced.

With practicing this stuff, I’ve come to be somewhat skeptical of romantic ideas about martial enlightenment, Budo and so forth. The whole imagery of the valiant samurai and so forth — it’s mostly a romantic fantasy. It’s like talking about policemen or military men romantically. They’re just doing their job and a lot of the time it sucks and they’re just as weak and easily corrupted as any other group of humans. While some people may happen to become “enlightened” by martial arts practice, the martial arts are so easily and constantly perverted by aggressive macho nonsense. You could even say that’s what has propagated the arts. And so it makes me wonder whether I’m not just another nutcase who secretly loves the lifestyle.

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* Yes, I know all about how martial arts don’t prepare you for the street and how it’s a foolish mistake to think the dojo/dojang/daoshang is at all like a real-life confrontation. I’m only illustrating that we take training seriously.

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