Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies. It's a nickname for Beezelbub, and also the name of a novel and a couple of subsequent movies about schoolboys shipwrecked on an island who quickly lose the veneer of civilization and revert to savagery.

Now and then, the point comes up in the discussions on fighting about how martial arts won't work against the real predators out there -- there are lots and lots of predators in the world.

In here, too. I see one every time I look in the mirror. Having spent some quality time roaming around in the night, the dark doesn't scare me. The attitude is, "Dude, you need to be the one looking over your shoulder out there when the sun goes down."

We naked apes are at the top of the food chain. We kill and eat everything below us, and sometimes each other, and we are all still born with a couple of pointed teeth. We are, some of us, more civilized than others, and the door to the hindbrain that keeps the dark thing locked away is locked tighter in some than others, but we haven't evolved past the reptile enough so that it no longer with us.

I don't know what it takes to slip the catch on your door to let the thing out of the cave, but I do know that I have loosened mine a time or two, and that if I feel really threatened, it will come forth again. I know this.

We can dance off into the, Oh, you don't know what you'll do if X happens! theoretical scenarios, and you are are right -- I don't know exactly what I'll do. But right to my core I believe that if you come at me and I see you coming, if it's a choice of either you or me walking away? It isn't going to be you unless I'm unconscious or dead. I might not win, that's true. But I am not the fellow to leave off trying.

This isn't monkey dancing. I'm not a bad-ass. I'm just determined.

You don't have to believe it, doesn't matter if you do. I believe it -- and have as much faith in it as I do the sun will come up tomorrow. It isn't about skill, it's about will. The training is all to abet that. The only question is, what tools can I bring to it? I think I have some that will help.

Everything else is second.


Dosbears said...

BTW, Beelzebub comes from the Hebrew ba'al z'vuv, literally "master of flies."

Dan Moran said...

Certainly no argument with any of that. Having a baseball bat is great, but you have to be willing to hit someone with it.

J.D. Ray said...

There was a time in my life when I was feeling so stressed out that I was starting to snap at people around me on very little provocation. I sought the services of a therapist to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. Along the way, I told her that I was raised around people who resorted very quickly to violence, sometimes involving firearms, and I was concerned that if I let my guard slip, I might resort to such early teachings myself.

She said she didn't believe it would happen; that I might yell and scream, but never hit someone or hurt them physically some other way. I didn't tell her so, but I don't really believe, based on the few sessions we had, that she was so qualified to tell me that. She may be right, but I don't really want to bet the life or safety of someone I care about on it, nor of someone I have no previous acquaintance with. As it stands, I'm still guarding the door.

And, yeah, Steve, I know what you're saying. I'm orders of magnitude less capable in anything martial as you seem to be, but I'd bet a donut that I'm just as stubborn. Stubborn goes a long way in just about any endeavor.

Master Plan said...

I think it's another red herring. Given what we were talking about in the prior post. You can't know, so how can you make such a blanket assertion either direction?

I just won't work, period, against any real predator, ever. Nonsense.

Conversely saying that it will work, for sure, against any predator is nonsense.

Finally I figure it's true that some MA won't work against some predators, but then some MA won't work against other MA, and clearly some predators get got by other predators, and so forth.

I also don't think that belief is particularly important in the end, it's certainly reassuring to me to feel that way (the way you describe) but I don't ponder the whole issue much, nor work to assert and reinforce my belief that I'm capable of brutal violence against another human being that is trying to harm me (or somebody else) I just try to work to be aware of situations as they develop and respond to them as required. It's like spinning 360s on a snowy highway...just respond to what is happening as best you can as it comes up. Be here now and all that.

Steve Perry said...

MP --

Not at all. My experience is that attitude triumphs skill alone, and that attitude and skill triumphs either attitude or skill alone.

It's not the Doc Holliday Syndrome -- because of his TB, his attitude gave him an edge when the guns came out. A man who doesn't care if he dies, as long as he can take you with him is dangerous in a way a man who isn't ready to die isn't. But the notion that you will do whatever it takes to get the job done is apt to get your through better than if you don't have it.

Goes to that idea we discussed earlier. If you don't think you can beat three guys, chances are you can't.

If you believe you can, you still might not be able to pull it off, but at least you start out willing to try.

If you are willing to drop the hammer when somebody attacks you, then you can learn the tools that will help you. If you aren't, then the tools won't do you much good.

If you aren't willing to shoot somebody, stab them, or hit them hard enough that they fall over, then you ought not to be carrying a gun, knife, or spending money for martial arts -- unless you do the latter for exercise or camaraderie or such like.

My post allowed as how I might not win, so that wasn't a blanket it-will-alway-work statement. It was a blanket I'm-always-gonna-try, and that is so.

People who believe in God can't prove that God exists. But they are sure of it.

Faith and science aren't the same. I have faith in myself that i will do *something*.

I don't know if that mind set can be taught (or learned). I do know that through the years and a bunch of classes, I have come across people who didn't seem to have the wherewithal to actually use the stuff did it come to that.

My point is that I've done enough soul-searching and navel-gazing over my life to feel comfortable with who I am, and that includes the core belief that if push comes to shove, I will have what it takes to use what I know. Since the fight is mostly mental in that respect, then all I need are a few basic tools that work well. Since I've been able to knock people about in class using them, the physics are there.

If the only tool you have is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail, and patently this is not the case, but you can be death on nails ...

I've heard the stats on who shot in which war and who didn't, and they may be true. But enough guys on the American side shot so we didn't lose wars until Vietnam, and that one was not lost as much as abandonded. (Though a win there would have been unlikely, just as it is in Iraq or Afghanistan. Because the enemies there have attitude in spades.)

Dojo Rat said...

I've been thinking of doing a post along these lines;
A while back a young guy who was about to get his Black Belt (at a different school) said he wondered if his skills would work if he had to defend himself.
I said "Seriously? Haven't you ever been in a fight?" He said no.
Hell, I was in lots of fights before I ever started training in the arts when I was 19 or 20. Never gave it a thought.
I've had fights that were emotional, or angry, or scared, or just cold procedure. I could experiance any of those feelings, but the machine still turns on.
I'm gettin' old now, and there's plenty of people out there that can hurt me so I try to stay out of trouble.
(I'd better put a tm on these comments!)

Justin said...

Steve, that's what we call "cutting a promo."
I liked it.

Here's another great promo example:

Stan said...

MP posted, ..."Finally I figure it's true that some MA won't work against some predators, but then some MA won't work against other MA, and clearly some predators get got by other predators, and so forth."

It sounds a lot like Lincoln's mixing the two would yield: You can "MA" some of the predators, ALL of the time; you can "MA" ALL of the predators, some of the time; but you can't "MA" ALL of the predators, ALL of the time.

I was the "easy to pick on" target throughout my school years. I do remember a brief fantasy period of returning home and kicking a few asses, but the "funny thing" was that when I actually gained enough mat time, recovered from enough training injuries, willingly engaged in a wide variety of training scenarios and found myself standing bloodied and battered (including losing a few teeth, but that was a very expensive lesson!)but STILL STANDING...I really stopped caring / worrying about what other people "might" be able to do and focused much more on developing my own maturity, control and dexterity (vs. mastery).

Then I went so far as to work with documented "deficient" clients, where battery was a frequent reality. Friends and I used our training to develop a program to help in that scenario, too. (Reduce and prevent the battery, not just "win/survive.")

I still enjoy an occasional "hammer and tongs" just seems like it takes a LOT longer to recover! More important to me, I really do know/believe/have faith that I will have no problem "bringing my A game" the next time it's needed.

Come to think of it...that's not too bad of a feeling...not bad at all!

Thanks for the thoughts, Folki!