Saturday, June 10


So, I leave college and see friends I haven't seen in months. What's one of the first things we start doing? Fighting. With our fists and even a sword. Well, with only one friend actually, and it's entirely mutual. It started a few weeks into the spring semester. We were instant messaging one another, and he was telling me about the Tae Kwon Do class he had enrolled in. I followed that up with a report on my kendo classes (you can check out my post on kendo in the April 2006 archives). At some point, I jokingly suggested that we match our respective martial arts against each other, which really is a moronic idea seeing as how Tae Kwon Do is unarmed while kendo utilizes a long sword. Anyway, for whatever reason, we eventually did do it. We were at his house, and I brought along my short hardwood sword. We went back maybe a quarter mile into the sandpit next to his house and went at it. It quickly became apparent that the sword was a mistake. Though it kept my friend at a respectful distance, I was completely unwilling to actually use it and risk hurting him too bad. Once I put my bokken away, it was on, if by "on" you mean a lot of grappling, which sucks when you're on top of a mud track. Anyway, after a half hour, we were done. Last night, we had our second fight, this time in my backyard where there is a merciful lack of mud though more dangerous obstacles like a firepit and low clothesline.

How did I ever turn out this way? It was only a three months ago that I advised an acquaintance, after he informed me that he was working out to prepare for fights in the summer, to instead spend that time making friends with them and to "Think of the fun you could have frolicking together rather than trading blows." What changed? Well, there are two things I can pinpoint and another that may have an indirect influence on this new past time. The first is kendo. I realized that one can fight merely for the sake of fighting. There doesn't need to be pent-up frustration and rage and a desire to hurt another. All there really needs to be is a desire to see who can best the other in this particular form of physical contest.

The second major reason is Fight Club. Watch enough of that, and it warps your mind. Even once is enough. Fought a friend at college after she saw it for the first time. Really, really didn't want to hurt her though, so that was rather silly. I think it ended up with me tossing her to the ground seven times. Some friends who were watching said it looked like I was raping her. Wow! Look at that digression go! but it's over now. Fight Club just gets into your mind with its eminently quotable little lines like "How much can you know about yourself, you've never been in a fight? I don't wanna die without any scars," or "I want you to hit me as hard as you can." Like, I said, it just gets into your head, and you want to try it out. So far, it's worked out. No permanent damage, and I haven't lost control and gone off in a violent rage on my friend.

Then we come to the possible reason, Battle Angel Alita, a hyper-, ultra-, mega-, uber-, ura-, violent manga by Yukito Kishiro. Worth a look. At the very least, the art is beautiful, and I've pulled off a few Knowledge Bowl answers from it. I call it possible because I hadn't read it in months before my first fight, but I went through my collection a few weeks ago and came to realize how much some of it applied to my present situation. One line, in particular, sticks out. It's delivered by Jashugan, the greatest motorball fighter ever, while he's beating the snot out of Alita during their second fight, one that exists completely in her mind as it occurs while she is enthralled by the mind control program of the mad karma scientist Desty Nova. How could you not want to check this series out after a situation like that? Anyway, it goes something like this. “I have not begun to attain the ultimate levels! All I have done is come to grips with my own limits, and the purpose of battle is to attain the greatest heights within your own limits! Doubt! Wonder! That is where you find your path!” After hearing this, Alita gains the tricky, mad skills, defeats Jashugan in her next move and never loses another fight. Hasn't achieved the same effect with me, but the sentiment resonates with me.

And that is why I fight.

Who wins between the two of us? Well, we don't follow any scoring systems or anything, but I'm the only the one who has ever called "Stop" because my friend has actually practiced grappling and knows how to make a headlock really hurt. But that's not the point.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

If you had your wooden sword and not a real one, someone using Tae Kwon Do should stand a good chance, if they know how to block properly and are careful with their footwork.

I'll take you on sometime, if you wish...