After a gruelling pre-bank holiday class, I am still reeling from the shock of ‘light’ sparring for 5 minutes. I mean come on, 5 little minutes! Yes, another stunningly weak performance of stamina and strength from Mr Lame-ass (aka me). When it comes to sparring I am about as effective as a chocolate fire-guard. I think I am suffering from that oh so middle-class phobia – the fear of getting punched.
The common symptoms – flinching, ducking and diving, cowering and tensing up. This disease is often found in civilised societies where the gentry have lost all semblance of Darwinian survival of the fittest, and now wallow in greed and self-actualisation theory nonsense rubbish blah blah blah. Ok, rant over.
The root cause of my fear is pain as a direct result of a heavy fist connecting with my soft, unconditioned body. The knuckles of said fist leaving a silly-putty indentation in my tepid oblique whilst the body fat ripples with the seismic resistance of freshly made jelly. Like a bullet smashing into a watermelon, the devastation is complete.
Is it that I have forgotten what it feels like getting physically hurt? In my single-digit years I accumulated countless scrapes, bruises and knocks from general rough and tumble play that most boys engage in. Entering into my teenage years I remember hours of fun derived from inflicting and receiving pain with other willing kids e.g. Chinese burns, dead legs, knuckles…the list is endless. When and how did I forget to take a punch?
I don’t know how I unlearned the skill of rolling with the punches. The art of entering into a sparring session with playground confidence, relaxed in the knowledge that you will take a few hits but that you’ll also deliver a few deft jabs, too. Perhaps it was the drip-drip-drip of my push for academic and social achievement that over 15 years has finally engulfed and drowned any remaining desire to fight or be fought with? It’s quite sad, I think. Sad because I think as a man, I should be able to fight…at a moments notice. Without fear. Right now, if push came to shove (pun intended) I think I would fail. That needs to change. It’s not that I want to fight – rather to know that I can fight if needed.
So how to conquer this fear – the only way a middle-class man knows how: read a book.
And boy, what a book! Sensei kindly gave me a book to read (Waking Dragons by G. Powell) that has really affected me – isn’t it amazing that books have this power? Or rather, isn’t it amazing how a talented author can captivate your imagination, fill you with inspiration and connect with your emotions in a few words? Amazing.
Rather than recite the whole book, here is what I got from it. It’s about a guy who studies martial arts and talks about trying to conquer fear – I have found the secret to mastering my fear within this book. What is it? Ha haa…now that would be telling! You will just have to read the book for yourselves.