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Becoming an internet uber-warrior
a.k.a Dojo Darling
On this page:
A short reality break |
As much as it might put students of MA/SD/RBSD/DT/combatives/knife into a state of liver quivering joy to think of themselves as deadly warriors. If said students were ever to actually go out and try to apply these exotic systems, the common result is either a dead student or said student eventually being raped in the prison showers.
This is why we say there are only two problems with these 'deadly' combat
1) If they don't work
2) If they do work
Understanding this reality about violence, blows away all the "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by six" or "There are no rules in a streetfight" bullshit that these morons so love to intone. Violence has consequences. These consequences seem trivial when you're caught up in the emotional baggage of not thinking that your dick is big enough so you need to go out get trained in some killer kung fu SEAL combatives system. However, once you pass through the portal of violence, you're going to discover just how big -- and long lasting -- these consequences are.
However, when you're suffering the trauma of standing naked in front of a mirror holding a ruler, these consequence look tiny. And that portal looks like the way to cure that trauma. But, I can guarantee you -- from personal experience -- that any 'pre-shitstorm' trauma is nothing in comparison to the consequences waiting on the other side of serious violence
Having said that, there are a lot of people out there in the MA/SD/RBSD/DT/combatives/knife world who want to sell you a metric ruler (things look bigger in metric). They'll stand a nice safe distance from that portal of serious violence and talk your ear off about how they're ready for it when it comes for them. This all occurs under the umbrella of big named superstud instructors offering to make you a deadly street warrior if you learn his secret fighting system. Man, how appealing this must be, by just standing in the reflection of their diamond hard ass, you too can be an uber-uber warrior
Well, we just want to take a little look at exactly how silly this whole idea is. But more importantly we want to warn you about the dangers of putting yourself in front of the portal of violence and taking poses showing how tough you are. What a lot of people don't realize is the ground before that portal is icy slope. Nor do they realize how easy it is to slip and find yourself in some deep shit. Deep shit that had they not been playing around before that portal, they never would have found themselves in.
A Short Reality Break
Let's start from the position that your deadly fighting art, does work when you finally get to unleash it on someone. Issue number one, we live in a country with "views" on violence; and those views are awfully dim.
In these days and times, if you engage in violence you can almost certainly expect to have to deal with the police. That is unless of course you are a borderline criminal yourself and know how to avoid it. But even then, criminals have to deal with the cops all the time and they have a pretty high failure rate of convincing the cops they didn't do it.
Unfortunately, criminal streets smarts and how to avoid getting caught is not a topic that these warrior cults commonly teach. Nor do they pay too much attention to legal use of force considerations when fantasizing about using their deadly arts to defend themselves in a "real streetfight." So right here you have a very serious problem, you're learning to bust heads with no understanding of when you are legally justified or how to get away with it when you aren't.
Call me a gloomy Gus, but that sure sounds like a good way to get in trouble to me.
Don't just assume that if criminals (whom you think are stupid), can get away with it, then you can too. You can't just go out there and open a can of whup-ass on someone because you were scared. Specifically, it doesn't matter what you think "self-defense" is or what your Diamond Ass Street Warrior Guru tells you is justified to do to someone who looks at you cross-eyed on the subway, the standards you will be held accountable to are not what the people who touch themselves while watching Roadhouse are telling you. And we're not going to go into the stigma associated with being a violent person in polite society or the PTSD issues. Which might not sound like too bad, but tell me about how insignificant they are after ten or fifteen years of dealing with them. And again, that's the voice of experience speaking
More importantly though there is the issue of being able to perform.
What these wanna-be warriors fail to realize is that if they are in a situation where deadly force is justified, they are a thin millimeter from dying. This isn't a big bad boogey man "what if?", the danger is not only right there, but it is coming at them! Putting this into perspective, it means they're a whole lot closer to being carried by six than judged by 12.
And when that happens, things get a little hinky. No matter how well you think you are trained for it, most people freeze when they find themselves seeing their own mortality coming at them. It's one of the big differences between fighting and combat.
Many people who have bought into uber-warrior fantasies hear this and utter such profound statements as "That's why we train in a combative system hurh hurh!" Quite frankly this is like a virgin telling me that he knows everything about sex because he watches porno flicks. It might impress other virgins, but it just doesn't impress those who've been there. There is a huge visceral difference between thinking about being in a dangerous situation and actually looking at death charging down on you. In general, it's a whole lot harder to be able to do something about it than people think. And being able to do something other than running, screaming and climbing a tree is harder still.
That's because your little lizard brain looks at the danger, and based not on your training, but a life-time of experience, decides what to do (Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence). It is going to attempt to do what it has the most "faith" in. A course of action which experience tells it is, if not the best solution, then at least the one most likely to work. Problems tend to arise however, when you try to force your lizard to do something that it thinks is a dumb idea. Your pride, ego and fear of being thought of as a pussy might be pushing you forward, but your lizard brain recognizes that this guy can kick your ass is seriously trying to get you out of there. This creates a conflict between what different parts of you wants to do. In these circumstances it is extremely common to freeze. Not because you are a coward, but putting it in computer terms, you have two programs fighting over the same extension.
And when for the first time of your life someone is actually trying to kill you, this "computer freeze" is really likely. You may think you've been traumatized in your life, but the gut clenching horror of realizing that this guy is intentionally trying to kill you takes it to a whole new and terrifying level. If you think being in a fight is stressful and unsettling, wait until you have this one coming at you in a dark and lonely place. It is the ultimate pass or fail test ... with no retakes.
Contrast this with a state of emotional outrage or -- and this is more likely -- fooling yourself into believing that you are in more danger than you really are. In these circumstances it is easier to act because the danger is to the other person. What you are reacting to is not immediate danger, but imagined danger. It is far easier to act in these circumstances than when there is real danger. In these circumstances unleashing all that "deadly combat training" is like discipling a Chihuahua with a sledge-hammer.
I mean stop and think about this, if these people fool themselves into believing that a drunk throwing a punch at them is a life-threatening streetfight, how do you think they'd react to to real danger? They can't even control their emotional reactions if a tough guy looks at them crosseyed and yet they believe they'll be able to function when a knife is flashing towards their guts?
This puts their deadly fighting moves into one of two categories either you don't have time or it is too extreme -- either dead or raped in prison. That's the reality of "reality based fighting" or a "combat martial art."
Obsessing on violence
Have you ever noticed that the people who fight the most don't think about it that much? They're kind of too busy doing it. What I'm saying that to these people fighting is kind of a by-product of the lifestyles they lead. More over they don't spend too much time fretting over the nuts-and-bolts issues of how to fight. They tend to rely on speed, surprise, ferocity and a clearly defined goal (to fuck their opponent up) more than technical details.
Contrast this with the fact that most of the people who are involved in these martial arts/reality based self-defense cults don't even fight. Sure they train. In fact, they tend to dive head long into aggressive sparring with fellow students in the school. Some even go so far to engage in Mixed Martial Arts sporting events. These guys spend an obsessive amount of time fixating on how best to fuck up another human being and yet, their training prepares them for a sport fight. Now sports fighting is a legitimate focus of the martial arts.
But where it gets bad is when people start telling themselves that sports fighting is the same as combat. Where it gets ridiculous is when they start believing sports fighting training makes them "warriors." I'm going to pull a quote from ex-Marine and martial artist Bob Orlando's book Martial Arts America: Begin by accepting the fact that all training is based on the simulation of reality. The operative word here is simulation.
So in effect, this is the equivalent of telling yourself your a pilot because you play a computer flight simulator
In fact, they remind me of dogs who have found themselves standing at the den of a sleeping bear. Part of them is smart enough to know that there is something very dangerous in there that they don't want to mess with, while another part of them won't let them walk away. They can neither take the plunge or run away. So instead they end up sniffing around the mouth of the den growling about how tough they are, while hoping like hell that they don't wake the bear up.
What they do in the mean time is engage in obnoxious and rude behavior towards other "dogs" that are suffering the same quandary of common sense vs. their obsession. All it takes to see this behavior displayed in full techno-color is to visit many of the martial arts forums on the internet. Damn, there are some dangerous warriors on the internet and if you are willing to listen, they'll tell you all about it. And they will also tell you why everyone else isn't a real warrior.
In the mean time there is a whole lot of people who are actually "blooded" who are just shaking their heads. That's because they know something these guys don't: You can tell a real heavy hitter by how he treats -- and is treated by --other heavy hitters
In a room full of dangerous and armed people, nobody wants to start trouble. They don't want to wake that sleeping bear and have it come charging out of the den. And that fundamental awareness is exactly what is lacking among these so-called warriors and their forums.
When your "back up" backs up
Perhaps the thing that annoys me the most about these "uber warriors" and how they drone endlessly on what bad asses they are is the fact that I have worked with entirely too many people who displayed the same traits.
Putting it bluntly they were not only cowardly, but they were unreliable.
When the shit hit the fan, the guys who had been going on the most about what Billy bad asses they were were the first to disappear -- especially when they were the ones who started the shit in the first place. In professional use of force circles the the most damning thing you can say about someone is that "as back up, he backs up."
You couldn't rely on these people to be there with you when it went down. The guys who talked the loudest and made the biggest production about how dangerous they were always hung back and let someone else take the chances. As you dove into you always noticed that there was a big gaping hole where they should have been.
The Buddhists have a saying "It is the teachings, not the teacher." I agree with that. I also throw in an additional comment "It is not teachings, but where the teachings take you."
I have seen entirely too many people focus on either the teacher or the system. This instead of focusing on taking the trip to where the teachings are supposed to take you. From this loss of focus I have seen politics, fanaticism, obsession, cults, illegal business practices and literal wars between "camps." I've seen this in the martial arts world, the reality based self-defense world, the defensive tactics world and the close quarter combative world. Each group claiming that they are the sole possessors the TRUTH™ and everyone else is full of shit.
If it wasn't so neurotic, it would be funny. What's worse though is that it can dangerous too.
I say this because quite often people who are attracted to this kind of behavior have "parts missing." Something is missing in their lives and they think that adherence to either this guru or to this system will plug it. What exactly these missing components are varies from person to person. Often however, these people are trying to prove something, not necessarily to the world, but to themselves. I specifically used that word "plug" because many people aren't trying to fill the hole, they are instead seeking to plug it. That is what trying to prove something to yourself is, a plug, not a fill.
Because of this, most people when they try to prove things to themselves fail. When you lack for something inside of yourself it is that hole that is your critic. It, not you, is what defines the lack. What seekers don't realize is that it isn't the hole that is the problem, it is "what is keeping the walls of that hole intact" that is the problem.
Imagine if you will a four sided damn in the middle of a lake. These walls keep the water out. But people are complaining because there is a hole in their lake. They try to either build over this hole or to fill it up with various "stuff." But no matter what they do, it is never quite right, no matter how they try. The thing is nobody ever bothers to ask, "What's up with those walls in the middle of the lake?" They assume the walls are normal and that the hole is the problem.
As long as those walls that define the hole are there, proving something to yourself is nearly impossible, because it will never be enough.
When I first started teaching I was faced with an interesting choice, make money by giving people what they wanted -- so they can lie to themselves and hurt others -- or stick with teaching the realities of violence. For personal reasons, I chose the latter. I am not enough of a sociopath to encourage behavior that I know to be selfish, dysfunctional, neurotic, sometimes illegal and most often, just plain bad manners.
It took me many years to realize that it was my doing those kinds of behaviors that got me into most of the violence in my life. Because I could fight, I wasn't getting my ass whipped, which meant, that in a twisted and warped way, I was "getting away" with that kind of behavior. Truth was, the reason I was getting into so many fights wasn't because I didn't know how to behave. I knew, I just willfully chose to ignore those rules and do what I wanted to do.
The only thing fighting did was to extend the time that it took for the message that it was my behavior that was getting me involved me in so much violence to get drummed into my thick head.
Imagine my surprise: How I treat people has a direct correlation to the amount of violence in my life. If I didn't want to get shot at, don't piss people off. Wow what a concept! As did who I associated with and where I lived have an affect. Hanging around violent people and living in violent areas had a lot to do with how much violence happened in my life.
There were a lot of things I could do to change the amount, and the degree, of violence in my life. Turns out that the most "effective" strategies for handling violence had nothing to do with how much of a bad ass I was. They had to do with how I behaved, who I hung out with and where I went. As long as I insisted on keeping up with that kind of behavior, I continued to invite danger into my life.
Unfortunately, this bit of information is exactly the last thing people who are likely to get involved in martial arts/reality based fighting cults want to hear. A whole lot of the appeal of these groups is the false promise that you can keep on doing what causes you pain and suffering and not pay the price -- because you are such a bad ass for knowing this unbeatable system you can beat up anyone who decides not to put up with your bad behavior.
There are a lot more reasons for joining cults, but I think you will find that this is a pretty consistent theme through many of them. People who don't know how to behave working on everything except their social skills.
Living with violence
Violence is a very real and very horrible experience to me. And like many people who have survived combat, I don't like being glorified because of it. I hate it when people try to make me out into some kind of hero because of all the things I faced.
What they don't realize is that good friends died and, in order to survive, I had to do horrible things. Things were woken up in my psyche that I liken to living with a dragon as a roommate. A cold blooded nasty thing inside me that I can never get rid of. It is always there like an obnoxious Siamese twin. Something that I must live with for the rest of my life that is more destructive to me than anything else. It colors everything I do. Every person I meet is looked at as a target. Part of me, coldly, calmly calculates their threat potential.
Sound cool? Try living with it for 10, 20, 30 years. Every day, every night and even in your dreams. It gets damn tiring to be isolated from people in this manner. It also gets real tiring to have people being scared of you. Because even the most unaware person senses this about you and withdraws. They don't know why, but for some reason they are uneasy about you. Those are the nice ones. The not so nice ones seem to come out of the woodwork and head straight towards you -- and usually they are coming to fight you. Even in polite company, verbally violent people will recognize the violence in you and target you.
You can never relax. At first it is because you are always watching against danger. Later it is because if you do it will come rushing out and hurting people you love. You can never relax because, like a venomous snake, you can never trust that part of you not to strike. Now imagine having to constantly hold a poisonous snake for the rest of you life, never able to put it back into a cage.
This is why when people come to me and ask me to teach them to be a streetfighter I tell them no. I'm not in the habit of giving venomous snakes to children.
First, I can still look at myself in the mirror knowing I won't get someone unnecessarily killed by passing on bad information. Violence isn't a "what if" game for me but a bloody reality. Second, I don't have to deal with sycophants who are stabbing each other in the back to get next to "guru." Third, I don't have to keep coming up with more and more bogus information to keep my cult members busy mastering miniscule details of my "never-ending" system. Fourth I know that I am not assisting arrogant people swaggering around sneering at everyone else because they know an "ultimate" fighting system. That last translates into them thinking they are such total bad asses that they can get away with being pricks to innocent people.
I also refuse to let people treat me as something more than I am...a man who made some serious mistakes in his life and has learned a thing or two the hard way. I am not a hero, I am not a genius, I am not a grand master. If you are looking to sit at the feet of a living god learning deadly fighting arts (and fill a hole in your life), then you got the wrong door, try down the hall.
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