Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THAT GUY: Ranky McGee

This actually happened.

Once a long time ago, when we were moving around and figuring out where (and what) we would train, we attended a pretty decent tae kwon do school for a few months.

Now, at the time, Mr. Chick was a brown belt and I was a blue belt in a different version of TKD, and both of us had been studying arnis for a couple of years.  So, it wasn't like we were fresh newbies to the mat by any means.  However, we were both wearing white belts in class as we were being assessed as to what our proper rank would be in in this new school (in my opinion, the right thing to do in cases like ours, and we had zero problem wearing white belts in that school).

So one day in class, Mr. Chick and I were discussing a self defense technique that we weren't quite sure we were understanding very well.  It involved someone who places a hand on your shoulder from behind, and, without looking, you turn, remove the hand via a block, and punch the person.

Mr. Chick and I were discussing the ramifications of this among ourselves off to one side of the mat - why we were not sure if we understood the "DON'T LOOK" instruction. What if the person behind you is, say, grandma offering you a cookie? Or a police officer telling you to move your car?  Maybe we should take a look before we start punching?


A brown belt overheard our conversation and came over, patted me on the shoulder (thank god, from the front - if it were from behind me, I should have knocked his block off), and gave me the following sage advice.

"You'll understand when you're an Orange Belt."

Yes, O Wise Brown Belt, I'm sure earning an orange belt will help me get over the impulse to look at who I am punching before I start with the punching.  I'm sure the color of my belt will help me, somehow, when I have to take grandma to the hospital or when I'm being put in the back of a squad car for assaulting a police officer.

That brown belt is a great example of THAT GUY: Ranky McGee.

How do you spot Ranky McGee in your school?
  • Ranky McGee always defers to the higher level belts and is smug and condescending to the lower level belts.
  • Ranky McGee gets really angry when he is made to wait for his next ranking and tends to think that the time he's worn the belt is the exact equivalent of skill on the mat.
  • Ranky McGee hates working on techniques with the lower rank belts and will avoid it at every opportunity.
  • Ranky McGee, when forced to work with lower level belts, will never allow the lower level belt to gain any sort of advantage and will morph into THAT GUY: The Bad Uke.
  • Ranky McGee will always insist on every single right of his rank and become indignant when those protocols are not followed and respected to the letter.  He may even make up a few and convince the lower level belts that they are real.
  • Speaking of respect, Ranky will expect you to respect him simply because of the color belt he wears, not for his skill.
Most schools of any size seem to have a variant of Ranky McGee hanging around.  Sometimes Ranky is actually a parent of a student, and is not seeking the rank for him or herself (but still exhibits all of the characteristics), so you might find him on the sidelines versus the mat.  If Ranky is a lower rank than you, you might not actually spot him unless you're looking for him, as he's very good at making sure that you, as a higher level belt, get a good impression of him.

They made a movie with Ranky McGee as a major character. 
The Karate Kid, Copyright ©1984 Columbia Pictures.  Via http://www.fast-rewind.com/kkid/index.html

If you're above Ranky, your job is to get him off the status thing and let him know that he's not there to lord it over the lower belts.  If you're below Ranky, it's a much more difficult proposition to deal with him, as it's not always visible to the higher level belts and teachers (as I noted above, he's a great suck-up).

At the same school (again, a good one - but it was huge, and when you're big, you get more than your fair share of THAT GUY), a different higher level belt thought he'd go hard on Mr. Chick and I during a self defense drill.  Now, if we were real white belts, it would have been painful and incredibly demoralizing.

But we weren't real white belts, as I've already noted.

After tolerating this a couple of times, I decided I'd had enough of his shenanigans.  The next time he was paired with me (we were quickly rotating with each other doing self defense drills), I pulled a technique out of my toolbox that 1) I was pretty sure he hadn't seen,  2) I knew I could execute very well and 3) When done properly, hurts.  A LOT.

THAT GUY went easier on the lower level belts (as far as I could tell) for a while after that.

So, have you encountered Ranky McGee?  Were you ever Ranky McGee yourself, and how did you change?    Tell us!