Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TROY-KWON-DO: Pride & Battle Scars

Jackie was showing me her usual collection of arm bruises from the previous Arnis week this morning and it got me thinking… Martial Artists are weird.

How you can tell we had fun training.

I have some neat scars myself and have told their stories a few times. Without sounding too much like “Fight Club” I wanted to explore this “pride” we have with something generally thought of as barbaric; the pride of our injuries/scars/aches/etc.

They serve as a reminder of some event that we were able to overcome. No matter how silly that sounds, it’s true. I have a scar from wrist surgery and a scar inside my lip from getting jumped. My nose is slightly crooked from being broken during my Black Belt test. (Which was awesome by the way; my Gi was soaked in blood for the rest of the test – the funny part was that I didn't even feel it at the time, so free toughness points).

Each has a story.

The flip side is that “normal” people find this kind of stuff abhorrent. “Why would you subject yourself to that?!?!?! Why do it if you’re going to be hurt? Why are you smiling?” These questions get asked from time to time – and I think the answer is because… “We like it”.

I have been knocked out twice in my martial arts journey. Once while sparring my first boxing coach, and the other, from our aerobics program...

Yep, that one’s gonna take some explaining...

The reason I bring this up is to paint a picture of how differently this violence is viewed from inside and outside the martial arts.

While boxing my coach, he threw a cross that landed perfectly on my jaw and it was lights out. After I woke up from the best nap ever, I walked it off a bit and continued the round. Though I returned the favor with a hook, it wasn't quite the KO I had received. He thought nothing of it, and afterward we celebrated a good match with handshakes and fight analysis. We had grown closer by this match.
Violence was expected and celebrated.

Weird right?

Then, during our aerobics program (no fighting whatsoever, purely aerobics) we were exercising to music. Keep in mind our aerobics demographic is much different than our TKD base, it is mostly non-martial artists wanting to lose some poundage.

So here we are doing a squat-sidestep-hook kick drill and while facing the left, I feel a crack and hear a high pitched ring. Then I wake up on the mat to a movie-like scene where the record stops playing and everything.

My buddy Michael, who is 6’ and huge, wasn't watching where he was kicking and landed his heel on my jaw from my right side. Didn't even see it coming. After I got back up to continue, it felt as though the entire room was spinning, and I was suddenly the deer-in-headlights and Michael was the car.

Most of the students were completely freaked out that this had just happened – like our cover was blown or something. “OH MY GAWD, how could this EVER HAPPEN in my SAFE WORLD where nothing BAD HAPPENS ever to anyone??” was the general consensus judging by the looks on people’s faces. Of course Michael apologized and we shook hands and all that (he was truly sorry), but we didn't think much of it.

I learned a valuable lesson that day – hook kicks are murderous.

I think it comes down to expectation. If you live in world where safety is key and no physical risks are taken, then violence is unthinkable. The smallest injury seems life threatening and every precaution needs to be taken to prevent it.

On the other hand, in an environment where violence is experienced constantly, you grow to like it. As long as it doesn't keep you from training, it actually makes you feel a little good. That’s why Jackie shows me her collection of arm bruises from Arnis and why I talked up my broken nose earlier.

It shows that we did something.

It makes you feel alive (there’s your Fight Club reference). It shows that you are game. It shows you have heart. And in reality, it’s never as bad as people make it out to be. To us, it’s something to be celebrated. To everyone else, we’re just weird.

Do you have a favorite battle scar or injury? I’d love to hear its story – please comment below!

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. This one time I hit myself right over my left eye trying to figure out abaniko double-action.  Left a good bruise and I saw stars.  Good times.  -The Stick Chick