Comment of the day – goodmath

This is a few weeks old now, but I just read it today so it’s new to me. The whole thread is a fascinating read (except for a few strawmanning jerks swinging false dichotomies around like ape poo), but this comment by the post’s author really stood out. Particularly the story with the little boy in karate class. It very much illustrated a lot of the internal struggle I had when I was doing karate — can’t now, no dojo here. :( You’re sparring with someone and everything in your body is telling you not to hit them, but you have to really try to hit them 1) to make yourself a better fighter and 2) to make them a better defender. Otherwise you’re just dancing. Sensei would have to remind us constantly not to fake our punches, because we weren’t doing anyone any favours. In real life, attackers don’t fake their punches. He’s right. Not that he was encouraging us to go Mortal Kombat on each other (in fact, excessive aggression was discouraged and punished), but most of the time we weren’t even punching anywhere near the other person. Defending a punch that’s intended to land < 1 cm from your nose (the closest responsible approximation to a real punch to the nose) is very different than defending a punch that’s going to land a foot away from your ear — which is what we were doing a lot of the time. But it’s hard to overcome that basic revulsion.

I would totally put my kids in karate if it’s available in our area. It could be something we do together. Not because I want to make my kids “violent people”, but to teach them the severity of violence — that it’s something serious that they shouldn’t do unless it’s absolutely necessary to defend themselves. And, if possible, to try to reduce (in a way) some of the guilt that comes with defending oneself. When some jerk attacks a nice person and they defend themselves, it’s the nice person that ends up with the guilt if they seriously injur the other person. That’s a good thing, in a way, because it shows we’re nice people. But if someone is attacking you, they gave up their right to protection.

I think that’s something people who don’t do martial arts don’t understand. We’re not violent people. I’m a fairly meek person (physically — mouthwise, not so much) and I’m not much of a physical threat. Living in an urban area, I wanted to be able to defend myself if necessary from rapists, muggers, etc. Would I feel bad if I permanently damaged someone’s speech by punching them in the throat so I could run away? Definitely. Did they deserve it? If that was the most effective way I could escape from the dangerous rapist…then yes, definitely. It’s not that they deserve violence in general because they’re dicks. It’s just that in the moment, after they’ve attacked you, they have no expectation to personal safety and you would be well within your rights to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself.

That being said, pummelling a person after their down is a whole other story. They very much stress in karate — do not start fights, do not do more than is necessary, and escape as soon as possible. Does that sound like advice from a bunch of violence-encouraging nutjobs? You land your blow, you disable the other person enough to escape, and you run like a mofo. Sounds fair to me.

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2 responses to “Comment of the day – goodmath

  1. I lost access to a dojo for the style (Meibukan goju-ryu) I was in during late high school when I moved to Halifax. I was somewhat saddened; it was reasonable exercise, it helped me be a bit less clumsy, and got me out meeting some new people, on top of the reasons you stated. So yeah, I totally support putting kids in karate too.

    Really what I wanted to add was a story that my sensei told us once:

    There was a gathering of sorts of a number of higher-ups in the “society” (I guess?) of our particular style. I believe it was during a visit of some of the heads of the style from Okinawa, but I’m not sure. In any case, a number of them, all black belts and my sensei one of the lower-ranking, went out to a bar for some drinks and some socializing.

    Unfortunately, it was clear to the other patrons that these folks were karate practitioners and a rather inebriated fellow decided that to prove his own fortitude he would pick a fight with one of them.

    So he started pestering this one particular guy (who was fifth degree out of ten, I think?) and trying to start a fight. The guy tried to be polite and ignore him but the drunk was persistent, and eventually the guy got irritated and decided to take action:

    They all got up and left the bar, leaving drunk guy alone and (likely) with a sense of superiority at having scared them off.

    Man, those terribly violent people!

    • Haha, lucky for the drunk they weren’t from one of those evil movie dojos like in Karate Kid.

      That was another thing they would tell us, too: don’t be a bragging fool. Some teenagers before had been apt to shoot their mouths off that “nobody better mess with me because I know karate” and other kids would try to test that theory. Sensei said that inviting a fight was the same as starting a fight. The best thing you can do is keep quiet.