Enter The Danny: Round 3


"When one's own attitude on courage is fixed in his heart, and when his resolution is devoid of doubt, then when the time comes he will of necessity be able to choose the right move."  From The Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai

I have been struggling this week with anxiety.  I've tried to play it off for laughs in my blog entries, but having the collected negative energy of two different countries directed at you takes a serious psychic toll.  But there was something else, too, and it took me a while to realize what it was.

I was afraid to go back to class and fight.

You may remember in the last post, I mentioned that class ended with some free wrestling time.  I went a few falls with my training partner, and then made an excuse about only having a babysitter until 7:30, and quietly stepped out the back.  I wish I was making that up to be funny, but it's what really happened.

I've been in exactly one fight in my life, not counting plenty of sparring with my brother.  I was thirteen years old, and we each hit each other one time, realized it hurt, and called it a draw.

I'm afraid to engage, and I really don't know what to do once I have.  I feel like I missed that week of guy school.

My training partner yesterday was Ryan, the Tech student who I mentioned talking to at my last lesson.  He's a sharp guy, an exercise science major, and considering joining the Army when he graduates.

The main focus of class was on footholds.  It was a really interesting area, because it was much less strenuous than some of the other things we've done, but also much different in other ways.  The other techniques that Tony has taught since I've been coming to class have been locks and holds.  As he put it in class last night, "This is not a locking move, this is a pain move."  The goal of these moves is to make your opponent tap out.  From a standing position, you trap your opponent's foot beneath your arm, and then fall to a sitting position.  From there, you can do a whole variety of really wicked things that hurt a lot.  Did you know that there's a spot on the back of the calf, where your muscle joins to the Achilles Tendon, that if you apply pressure to it with the bone in your forearm will make even really strong guys groan in agony?

Poor Ryan, man.  He's very good, and ran the moves on me flawlessly.  Then when it was my turn, it took me some time to get it, and Tony was cool enough to spend some time working with me individually.  What this meant for Ryan is that he got several footholds in a row performed on him by one of the world's premiere martial artists.  I'd be surprised if he isn't walking with a limp today.

But here's where I started to process the fear.  I didn't wonder if this was going to hurt.  I knew it was going to hurt.  Tony told us that right at the beginning of class.  He demonstrated it on one of his assistants, and you could tell the exact moment when the sting kicked in.  And I knew that in a few moments, I'd be letting Ryan do this to me.  It's like when you know you're going to get a shot at the doctor's office, and you just have to reconcile yourself to it.

I was not afraid.  And it did hurt.  I've been sore after the other classes, but it was that good kind of sore that you get after a really hard workout.  I'm sore today, but it's the kind of sore that you get when somebody has been working you over.  Which brings me back to the wrestling at the end of class...

Ryan and I wrestled a couple of falls.  He pretty easily shut me down, but I like to think that I was kind of holding my own towards the end of it.  Then Tony told us to switch partners and practice with somebody else.  Everybody paired off, and the only free person I found was Ronald, a huge bear of a guy.  In pretty much no time at all, he had me in a choke submission and nearly blacked me out.  I couldn't even reach the mat to tap out, so I was just kind of flailing behind me, trying to tap out on him.  When Tony told the group to line up for the end of class, I told Ronald that I hoped I hadn't hurt him too much.

My throat is killing me today.  I still wish that I had a better handle on what to do when it comes time to wrestle, but I'm learning to accept that I've only been doing this for a very brief time.  I'm not over the fear, but I'm learning from it.

Little change in plans for next week!  I've had something come up on Monday that I'll need to attend.  However!  Tony has extended an invitation to me to attend some of his other classes, too, so I'll be doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on Wednesday and Friday this week, and a Muay Thai class on Thursday.


Roy B said...

As a totally layman's opinion, I'm wondering if the setting may be part of the problem. You mentioned in an earlier blog that you were normally the biggest guy in class. I think you also said that meant you 1. never really had to fight, and 2. were worried about hurting other kids (I may have done a Roger Clemens and misremembered #2).

I bet that's still part of it. You know you're probably not going to hurt your sparring partner, but you also know he's not really going to hurt you. Well, not on purpose anyway and you can always tap out. So, what are the pros of fighting w/ reckless abandon and trying out your new skills? There really aren't any. If they work, you might hurt the guy and you would feel horrible about that. If they don't work, the guy fights back really strong and maybe actually hurts you? Plus, you're pissed that your new stuff doesn't work.

I don't know if any of that factors in or not. Just a loose cannon theory. I'll tell you this, which may or may not help, before I got on the PD, I had been in only one actual fight that I could recall, not counting the 100's with my brother. I had the kid down and was pounding him, but he refused to officially give up. I finally got tired of slugging him in the back of the head and let him up. He called that a draw! lol

Anyway, like you I was a little bit trepidatious about how I would do in an actual fight. All I can tell you is this...your motivation to fight is entirely different if the guy is actually trying to kick your ass and/or kill you. You didn't miss any days of "guy" school. You just don't see the point in intentionally hurting someone or having them hurt you for no reason. Neither do I!

Try this. I'll give you the address for a couple of crack houses I know. Go bursting in the door screaming, "What's up, mother fuckers? Let's party!" I'm betting you'll awaken the inner beast and discover you're a much better fighter than you realized.

Maybe not...

Danny said...

It took me a day to respond to this, because I wanted to give it the thought that it deserved. I didn't state #2 outright, but it was always at the back of my mind. Even if I wasn't expressly worried about hurting other kids, I always knew that the blame would fall on me if somebody did get hurt, because I was the biggest kid there. This happened more than once, and P__ W________, a weaselly little bully who I went to grade school with, quickly learned how to take advantage of it.

I think your analysis is spot-on. The things that we do in class are actually really interesting. Just from a nerdy standpoint (which is how I approach a lot of things), it's fascinating to see that if you apply such-and-such moves, your opponent's body WILL respond in a certain fashion. But learning that, and then trying to apply it, are different. When you try to apply it, you can only "pull your punches" so much without making the exercise ineffective, so you have to put a certain amount of force into it. But in the back of your mind is always that you don't want to hurt/be hurt any more than you have to. You worded it better, I think.

I also think that there's probably something to the context, as you pointed out. My motivation to fight a really friendly college kid is a lot less than my motivation to fight a hypothetical somebody who was hurting my children would be. It's that whole "Straw Dogs" scenario, played out in real life.

Do they still let civilians do ride-alongs with the PD? I'm guessing that even if they do, they probably wouldn't let a non-officer come along for a crack house bust. If they would, though, I would like to sign up to join you on one. I am not kidding about this. The only catch is that I will be blogging about it afterward.

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