Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Can Fighting Make You a Wiser Person?

I've written in a few previous posts that I was working out at a local Krav Maga school.

What I didn't write was that I had taken the sparring classes there. They hold them every few months. I've had my ass handed to me multiple times. I've also given a few people a rude awakening with my hands and feet.

With a school like this, even though it ain't so big, you get beat, and you get to beat others sometimes. Law of averages.

A few weeks back the instructor was giving his shtick on the initial shots you hurl out at an opponent. Don't expect them to connect. You are just using them to test out their responses, see how they react. Once you understand how they react to your attacks, THEN you figure out how you will attack them more seriously. No cookie cutter combos. No brilliant plans you set up beforehand. You improvise as you go along.

It made me think about previous attempts to do the fighting arts 20 years back in college, and also the general approach to life that my relatives (and other would be role models and finger wagglers) tried to instill in me.

Years back, being overly influenced by Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies, I expected/wanted, martial arts to make me an invincible killing machine -- bad guys don't touch me, but I connect and kick the shit out of the other guy with every shot.

Reality is much more sloppy. The other guy will connect. You will get hurt. You will bleed. The key is to get more shots on them than they can on you.

And as for the general approach to life others tried to instill in me?

The approach could only be described in two sentences;

-Get it right the first time, or don't do it at all.
-Do it elegantly, with class and style.

Over the span of multiple sparring sessions, its become apparent that you have to allow yourself to screw up a few times, to have attacks that went to crap, so you can learn from them, and figure out new and better ways to do it next time.

Moreover, Krav Maga is anything but elegant. There are no beautiful kata or forms like you see in karate & kung fu, no fancy high kicks like Tae Kwon Do. Like boxing, Western wrestling, and to some degree kickboxing, its simple, effective, but ugly.

It made me think back to episodes during the past 15 years in my personal and professional life. Without going into too much detail -- things never worked out whenever I sought out the bling/brilliant goal, the elegant way of approaching/solving a problem, or the perfect no trade off's solution to things. I often achieved my goals after taking unusual approaches that made no sense to friends/relatives -- largely because they involved trade-offs they would never make in terms of time, energy, and the potential loss of face (where the whole elegance thing comes into play).

In life, as in fighting, the ultimate solutions are the product of initial screw ups, improvisation, and being focused on the most efficient way to solve the problem -- not the most elegant.