How violent am I, part 3

Sometimes you just read something and it just resonates so completely, I do wonder with these series of posts whether its just too personal – a lovely person has recently advised me to be cautious, but I don’t know – doesn’t feel too wrong. If you don’t share, how can anyone understand you any better – even the most intelligent people can only guess based on their experiences, but they don’t know, they don’t live in your shoes. Blogs do help do that, even the most incoherent rambling ! I recently blogged at work about why I blog, I think that would be my number one reason, to explain to the world, life in my shoes (but not my running ones – too smelly).

I’ve been doing a bit more martial arts blog searching lately and found an amazing lady at the weekend – Way of the Warrior Queen. There is a great article about aggression and fighting outside the ring – having completed a fight so recently I found it fascinating and made me think so much – I think its very well put:

“As fighters, we spend several hours a week training in striking or otherwise physically dominating other people. It’s controlled, it’s a game almost – most of the time. But we’re nonetheless conditioning ourselves. Very often, we spar until we are exhausted. Other fighters hit us when we’ve got no resources left. Train hard and long enough and you will develop a “fight mode” mental space in which you can push yourself beyond your normal limits. This mental space becomes a place where go when you are pushed – physically and mentally – beyond what you could normally endure….

…You’re conditioning yourself to punch when there’s no gas left in the tank. You’re conditioning yourself to keep going when the person in front won’t let up even though you hardly have the energy to keep your hands up. That’s extreme.

You should not be surprised if – when you get pushed emotionally – some of these coping mechanisms want to come out. Once you realize what’s at work, though, it becomes easier to contain a potentially aggressive reaction. If you feel pushed beyond your emotional limits, get physically out of the situation. Walk away. Tell the other person to get out of your space. Basically insert some distance between yourself and the stimulus. Breathe. Try to remember that as a fighter, you have the responsibility not to use your skills outside of the training context.” (1)

When you sense that you are in danger,  I mean a serious threat such as your safety, it is important to act and remove the threat, using appropriate movement if you can. Either way assuming you are still alive, you will learn from that experience.

This really hits home though about reacting to things outside of the dojo. How do you switch ‘modes’ – self discipline, perseverance, self-control, meditation etc I think some of it can be controlled by respect, not something easy to demonstrate when you are feeling tension/stress etc. Wim Demeere has written a couple of fantastic posts about respect.  Respect inside the dojo feels very natural and comfortable to me, we are all trying to improve, there are people with incredible experience and we learn more from them if we show them respect.

“Respect is also all about self-discipline. It’s about restraining your own feelings, desires and little (or big) pet peeves and hold all that back while you concentrate on someone other than yourself: your teacher, your fellow students, all your opponents, the rest of the world basically. If you can’t even control yourself enough to show respect to these people, you probably won’t have the discipline to excel in the ring, cage or on the lei tai” (2)

“Keep your ego in check. This relates to the previous bullet: when you train with hard contact, tempers easily flare. You might think the other guy is hitting way too hard for the drill you’re doing or he might think you’re messing it up on purpose and are trying to hurt him. Either way, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, crank it up a notch and turn things into a real fight.  Touching gloves or bowing before you begin reminds you why you’re there: to learn and increase your skill. Both goals require you to keep your ego in check. Showing respect helps you do just that and in turn helps you train better.” (3)

But outside the dojo where you train this is much harder to do. In my second fight, when I got punched in the face, I reacted very aggressively initially to the shock of it and because it was unfair. However by second round, I had to try to immediately calm myself back down in a matter of seconds. It wasn’t like that in the fight last week though.

We live in a world which is demonstrating increasing informality and rudeness, I have really noticed a significant difference in martial artists I train with and others. If you lower your guard and communicate in the same way, it is very hard to then put it back up again – but not impossible. I’ve been very fortunate to talk with someone over the last week about respect – I think not just for myself to improve in this area and become a better martial artist (without overdoing it and taking it excessively seriously – again no need to react in an extreme way to acquiring the self-discipline either), I really do appreciate how much opportunity that you do get in martial arts to demonstrate this respect, but it applies to all aspects of living in a world of humans. Its fantastic to find experienced martial artists willing to share these thoughts on their blogs.

Gamsa Hamni Da !

1. Schauer T (2010), Aggression and fighting outside of the ring, Way of the Warrior Queen blog, available at:
2. Demeere W (2010), Respect in the mixed martial arts, Wim Demeere’s blog, available at:
3. Demeere W (2010), Respect in the mixed martial arts part 2, Wim Demeere’s blog, available at