Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pain and Joy

I was at a martial arts seminar, recently, and I was practicing a take down with a lock with a new friend.

I didn't think anything of it when he said, "grab my wrist."

I was in the uke position.  As my friend performed the technique (which he had been doing adequately up to that point), an instructor came over to correct him, and to show him how to make the technique better.

Better, meaning, "much more painful".

As he put me in the lock, which hurt (A LOT), I yelped and laughed.

I laughed.

This is actually not uncommon in my experience.  When something painful happens, we might scream or yell, but really, we laugh and grin.

Mr. Chick, having a lot of  fun

I can't explain why this is.  It does hurt.  It really does.  There doesn't seem to be any reason for laughing, but we do.

And then the next reaction is, "That was cool!  Do it again!", usually said with a big smile.

Now, I do not mean the same thing as injury.  Injury takes you out of being able to play, which is not our goal.  Nobody laughs or smiles or experiences joy at injury (your own, or when you injure somebody else).

We laugh, when we experience pain, or when we see someone else reacting to pain, in the context of learning martial arts techniques.

I don't know what is wrong with us martial artists, I really don't.  It's not sane.

This is, perhaps, the main reason why people who do the martial arts consist of such a small percentage of the overall population.  All martial arts training involves risk, and we all experience pain in our training, due to a lock, or a throw, or a kick or strike taken while sparring, or due to somebody learning how to use a weapon and accidentally hits us in the wrong place...

Most normal people avoid pain.  We martial artists seek it out, not for the pain itself, but for the technique associated to it.  Feeling pain is part of the way we measure the effectiveness of what we do.

The other factor is pride - we are proud of ourselves for being able to take pain, aren't we?

It may not seem like it, but Mr. Chick is laughing here.
I bruise easily, but I don't think I've really had a good training session if something isn't sore. It's a mark of effort, I guess, but also, I think the joy we find in this pain is something that binds martial artists together, regardless of art.

It's hard to explain to non-martial artists - the joy we feel when we experience pain in the martial arts. But I know I feel it, and I bet you do, too.

So what do you think?  Why do you think we have this (admittedly weird) joyful reaction when we experience pain while training?  What stories do you do have about the joy of pain?  Share with us!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go ice some bruises.