Running With Scissors
by :Simon Morrell
Having previously written about the confidence Martial Arts can give both children and adults it is only right I temper that with a sometimes frowned upon opinion; Running With Scissors.
I can almost see the question marks forming on the heads of the reader but simply translated it means one of two things; overconfidence or false confidence bringing little respect for our new found skills. As worthy and important confidence is it can also be a dangerous gift used wrongly.
I have unfortunately witnessed many occasions when hard earned skills became abused or taken for granted. It is a crying shame. I know personally a man who suffered deep depressions due to his irrational fear of violent attack, Admittedly he lived in a very violent city but his fear grew bigger than him and engulfed him. He took to Japanese Karate for salvation and upon becoming proficient at it took to the nightclub doors as a bouncer to enhance his skills. He discovered he had a talent for violence and this escalated into a thirst for the same. On an almost nightly basis he would stand toe to toe with anyone who challenged him until his pent up rage grew out of his control. During a decade of fisticuffs he clocked up more than 500 fights until karma caught up with him. In an altercation that could so easily be voided he beat a man within an inch of his life, my friend’s well earned skills now his own biggest foe. As he watched the bleeding heap lying in front of him his life flash backed years previously and he yearned for his previous, peaceful existence. It was almost too late….almost. The man made it through and in an attempt to let the matter rest both combatants decided to let things be with a handshake.
This lucky escape forced my friend to re-evalute his current lifestyle and he took a time machine back to his loving, gentle self. Still very capable but now realising he was in affect a weapon, he reined in and gave lesser people passage.
I have also seen a different side of people, people who train but not to the extent of my aforementioned friend. They however did not realise this and thought of themselves as invincible…they weren’t. Upon receiving his Martial Arts licence (which is really just a piece of liability insurance paper) one of my students proudly held it up and proclaimed; “Now I am safe! Anyone gives me any nonsense at the bar and I’ll just show them this!” Shaking my head in despair it took me quite sometime to convince him he wasn’t a lethal weapon and that perhaps Karate was not for him. After listening to the consequences he could face for waving his paper in front of the local bruiser, he agreed and gracefully bowed out…leaving his licence on my desk.
I am always at pains to explain to my student both child and adult that Martial Arts can, used correctly, be a great confidence builder and if trained at the right school a great physical asset but should never be either abused or taken for granted in false security. The first instance in this article had devastating affect and luckily I was able to prevent the second one going the wrong way. These two very true examples are not uncommon in Martial Arts and should be addressed by an instructor. Great lengths should be taken to ensure the student knows that they are learning potentially life changing skills but that they should always be used wisely, never flippantly or gratuitously.
As for myself I was a very frightened, very bullied teenage victim and struggled to see a way out. Fear became my menu for the day. Any success? I couldn’t even spell the word let alone live it. Then I found a spark of courage and battled with demons so big it seemed they would crush me yet still I used that spark to overcome agoraphobia and sought solace in the dojo. Entering for the first time since I started my recovery I kept my head down and got on with what I was asked to do. As I plodded along I gained some self respect and decided to throw caution to the window and dare test for my first belt. At the grading I caught the eye of some top black belts and they went out of their way to speak to me afterward.
My first thoughts were that they were being kind even polite but over the following weeks I was included in their conversations and asked to join them for private sparring sessions. Within months I was fighting in national tournaments and adding other disciplines (boxing, wrestling, kickboxing) to my resume. More awards and compliments followed until I had to be brutally honest with myself; I was good at this fighting business, very good. To my pride (and astonishment) my name grew and I became known locally, later nationally and even later still internationally.
Then offers started coming in. Offers to do security (bouncing for one) then watching over people keeping them safe and dealing with idiots. Generally being useful to those that needed it. I turned them down. Except for the ones that really mattered or the ones that involved family I turned down the work. Why? Because I respected my new found skills to much, I didn’t want to abuse what I respected so much and wasn’t sure I wouldn’t let my (sometimes fragile) ego get the better of me. I had seen it happen to so many friends. I had seen capable men and women take on this work and still remain humble but the former prayed on my mind more than the later. Just because I was good at fighting and loved it didn’t mean I wanted to use my skills to bash someone for a few dollars on a Saturday night. I made a conscious effort not to run with scissors. Not an easy choice but mine to make and it was nice to have the luxury and morales to do so.
So we must keep our guards high! Watch out for overconfidence and keep our eyes wide open to spot arrogance. Either could have potentially awful consequence. Train diligently, honesty and with respect but never run with scissors.
Simon Morrell is the author of the books From Bullied to Black Belt and its sequel An Everyday Warrior. Both are true stories and available throughout the world direct from Amazon. You can contact Simon via www.simonmorrell.com