The Power of Intent.

A man put his arms around my neck and brought me to the ground over the weekend.

He didn’t mean to hurt me. He thought he was challenging me. He thought that with my skill and experience that the lesson of being attacked from behind was a good lesson. The intention: teach me to never have my guard down I suppose.

I have battled with a pinched nerve in my neck for the past 3 years.  Lightning bolts of pain shrieking across my head as a consequence for looking up and to the right, weird, but true. My chiropractor has done wonders and I am very careful now about how I move, what type of workouts I can and cannot do, and how I train.

It was camp and sparring is my favorite thing, so I put myself out there.
But, when we landed on the ground, his arm around my neck, his 175 pounds on me and I heard the crunch of the junk in my neck I was not happy.

Stupid tears.
Walk away, eyes closed, shaking and hoping they wouldn’t betray me. Bastards.

My emotions overwhelmed me and I just couldn’t stop crying. Upset to get hurt. Mad that my guard was down. Mad to be attacked by a ridiculously dangerous move. Shocked by the potential loss that a real injury sustained could do. My whole world. Not be able to teach? Unthinkable. New karate session in a couple of weeks; How could he have put me in such jeopardy? What the hell!

What were the problems with this situation?
I do not, and will not, consider him my teacher. I did not expect this level of play. And, his ego got in the way, when he was trying to live up to a new rank and impress his teacher, at my expense.

If you are not a martial artist then you may be saying to yourself:

  • “What’s wrong with the situation? Well, How about a guy put you in a head lock and threw you to the ground.”
  • “Play? You call that play?” You people are screwed up.

Yes, we probably are. But that is the miracle of knowledge. When physicality is your language, then a throat grab, a knee to the groin, and an arm bar start to take on different meanings.

And sometimes they don’t.
My logical brain knows he did not intend to hurt me. He is my friend. But my instincts were on high alert, identifying imminent threat, mortal danger, bad, bad, bad.

There is a funny thing that happens to new teachers. It happened to me so I can relate.
When you are the student you simply don’t have the experience to SEE when your teacher makes a mistake. I do not ever recall my instructors messing up a kata, nor do I recall getting many, if any, shots in on them when we would spar.

When I became Sensei, I would take it as a sign of failure on my part if any students could get a punch or a kick past my defenses. My response would be to escalate the situation to my advantage. This of course would prove to you that I was better than you and therefore worthy of being your teacher.

When a friendly sparring match escalates it is just a sign of hurt pride entering into the mix.

Eventually I realized that the best teachers create the best students. These talented people grow and become capable of breaking through. Instead of being offended or taking it personally if someone gets a shot in, now I just acknowledge it and we move on. We can stay level in our play, without the need to escalate.

So far, so good.
Day 2 and I am not feeling any major ramifications. Feeling thankful.


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