Pre-Caffeinated Wisdom: “Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.” –Yoda

Lack of understanding leads to fear. After Yoda’s progression, we end in violence. Another profound quote I came across recently: “We come asking for peace with weapons in our hands.” — Lacus Kline, Gundam Seed.

For those seeking a more peaceful world, disarmament is not the answer. Ask any Gundam fan. “Sic vis Pacem, Para bellum.” One of my favorite quotes, as well as the motto of my dojo, the School of Hard Knocks Martial Arts academy. It’s Latin for “If you want Peace, Prepare for War.” Violence is not the answer, but unfortunately, it seems to be the only language that some people understand. Another quote that I use often is “Forced Pacification through Display of Superior Firepower.” — Patrick Swayze, Point Break. Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War that “the only true way to win a fight, is not to fight.” While at HKMA we teach extremely brutal and nasty techniques, we study other styles and schools to exploit their strengths and weaknesses, and especially study competitive rules to use them against people who focus on competition, our primary specialty is mind games.

I am often told I talk way to much. I agree. But this is a result of three major factors: a: I’m the only child of an only child. I spent much of my life having no one to talk to, so when someone shows an interest in something I am also interested in, I overcompensate, trying to make up for the lack of communication in my youth. (Which is also one of the reasons I’m not that good at communicating my point clearly, since I didn’t get a lot of practice as a youth.)

b: My mouth is my greatest weapon. While I am almost always armed in some form or fashion, my training and reflexes make me dangerous even without a blade or firearm. It is a running joke about the fact that I always carry a red Sharpie. What most people don’t know is that the Sharpie is one of my favorite weapons. I can inflict insane amounts of pain with it, even permanent damage if I choose, and it is not something that is commonly viewed as a weapon. (It also comes in handy for jotting down notes and signing things.) I’m not saying I’m the baddest around, just that I am trained and have hair-trigger reflexes. I know several people that I wouldn’t last a second against in a real fight, and I have no illusions that any random stranger I run across might be able to do the same. I routinely train people to easily dismantle people that are bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than them. This is usually through trickery and/or mind games, as I reference Sun Tzu again, “90% of combat is deception.”

But back to my mouth being a weapon. I often state that I have talked my way out of far more fights than I fought my way out of. I have several examples I routinely cite in class of my own real-life experiences where the right attitude, right words, or right actions have ended the fight before it began. Sometimes it was as simple as convincing the person there was no point. Sometimes it was doing or saying something in such a way as to prove to my would be attacker that laying hands on me would be an extremely painful (and sometimes embarrassing) mistake. Other times, it simply involved correcting a misunderstanding. In the time that I worked as a bouncer, a job I greatly miss, I actually worked more as a Cooler. I was hired because the bar was experiencing increasing violence on a nightly basis, but when I took over security, I let rumors of my reputation run rampant, played mind games with the trouble makers, and always stepped in at the right moment to diffuse a tense situation with words. Sometimes the would-be combatants backed down out of fear (and in a few cases respect) of/for me, but usually it was because I said the right thing. In many ways, Bouncing is a lot like baby sitting. 90% of the altercations I had to intervene in were started because a third party twisted the words of the first party while repeating them to the second party. Once the original two were nose to nose, simply asking them to repeat their own words would clear up the misunderstanding, thus ending the need or desire for bloodshed. In fact, in this hostile, violent environment that was on the brink of becoming nothing other than a drunken brawl-house when I signed on, I only had to lay hands on someone once, and that took less than a second to disarm and pacify them. Lack of understanding leads to Fear. See above for the rest.

I like to refer to myself as a “Well Armed Pacifist.” While I always enjoy strapping on gloves and going a few rounds in fun, true fighting is a dirty, nasty thing. To those of us who follow the Way, it is akin to blasphemy to use our training to actually inflict harm, thus is used only as a last resort. This is a quality I firmly instill in my students. Yes, I carry a gun. Yes, it is loaded and chambered. (Otherwise, what’s the point?) Yes, I can have my knife out faster at close range. Yes, I am prepared to use either. Yet I pray that I never have to use either. The last time I was in an actual street-fight, I was attacked by a well trained MMA fighter who outweighed me by at least 50 lbs. It took me less than ten seconds to hospitalize him, and then I helped him to the paramedics as I apologized for injuring him, and to this day still regret having both cracked his skull and shattered his pride. If I ever have to take a life in defense of myself or another (I say this knowing that not ever having done it, I do not know what I will truly be capable of doing until put in that situation, yet experience has taught me that I can put emotion aside and react necessarily,) I will do so without hesitation, and then be haunted by it for the rest of my existence. Thus I pray that I am never forced to find out whether or not I will actually be able to pull the trigger.

c: I view and define myself, first and foremost, as a Martial Artist and a Teacher. Martial Arts are not about fighting, competing, or hurting others. They are about growth, enlightenment, self-improvement, and discovery. When I grew up as a child in the Arts, I was rarely taught the ‘why’ of different tactics and techniques, thus did not truly understand them. Truth be told, I don’t think my instructors did either, at that time. That is not a blanket accusation, as I did have several instructors along the way that did understand, and either shared or did not share that understanding, for their own reasons. I often state that in order to teach something right, I first have to teach it wrong, then go back and re-teach it correctly. Anyone who has ever earned their Black Belt from me can attest that one of the first things I tell them after they reach this milestone is that “Everything you know is wrong.” And then they start over.

An old HS buddy commented on one of my posts this morning that he often likes to play devils advocate, just to make people thing. I do as well, and more often than not. Many times, I will make a counter point, just to make the other person explore their point more deeply in order to defend it, which brings them a deeper understanding, and thus enlightenment. I truly love when I am engaged by an educated and intelligent arguer, who is able to do the same for me. One of my favorite people to argue with, (though I don’t much any more because I know it gets on his nerves and he has enough stress in his life, and also because I’ve come to understand him enough that I can pick up almost as much without the arguments and just by observing him now,) is so intelligent and experienced that every time I butt heads with him, I walk away in stunned amazement. I sit on things for long periods of time until I can get a private moment, and then even the things that seemed so infuriating and horrendous are reduced to inexplicable amazement and enlightenment in a matter of moments.

I too, am still learning harsh lessons. Statements I make and stances I take are often attribute to those I am affiliated with, despite the fact that I speak for myself, and myself alone, unless otherwise stated. I get annoyed when people speak for others, often without their knowledge, as I likewise get annoyed when others speak for me, or assume I’m speaking for others. I admit, sometimes I speak for the benefit of others, but that still has no indication of their own thoughts or views either as a group or individual.

I wear many hats. I am a Martial Artist. I am a Teacher. I am a Network/IT Tech. I am a Biker. I am a Husband and Father. I run a Memorial Foundation. I represent a Martial Arts Organization. I am a blogger. I am a writer. I am a gamer. I am a mentor. I am a Ham Radio operator. I am a gun owner. I am a geek. I am many things, and often times I will speak as one, but be misinterpreted by the community of another. When I blog or rant, I do not speak for my students or staff. I will Use the dojo’s page for that. I do not speak for the foundation. It also has a page. I do not speak for those I ride with. I do not speak for those I fight fires with. If I am speaking on behalf of a group, I will say as much. If I speak out in support of something, some group, charity, affiliation, that does not necessarily indicate that I have a link to them other than that I support them. This is especially true when I play devils advocate, because my intention then is to make people think, not misrepresent one of the many communities I am part of or the groups or ideals I support. Always consider Poe’s law when reading anything I say. Sarcasm, one of my many services, is easily misunderstood in the written word.

Fear and lack of understanding are often the sparks that ignite powderkegs, especially around me, the guy who casually smokes a cigarette while gassing up his bike. (Yeah, that’ll get some raised eyebrows, but I worked for a full service gas station and I studied chemistry and physics. I know what it takes to set off gasoline and what won’t.) People are harder to understand than physics, though, and it’s been made obvious that many people don’t understand me. I am always shocked when people take issue with something I say, but rather than confront me, attack someone else. While I’m not the best at approaching others, I like to think that I’m pretty approachable, and just like the many altercations I broke up while bouncing, a few words can often put the situation to rest.

I don’t think like most people, and as a result, I often forget or fail to understand how other people think. If I offend you, ask me about it. I probably just didn’t explain it right. Likewise, if someone else offends you, speak to them about it. It’s often a misunderstanding that can easily be resolved.

There is too much angst, fear, anger, and hatred in this world that stems from simple lack of understanding. That’s why I ask questions. I want to understand. The more I understand, the less I fear, the less I hate, the less I get angry, and the less I suffer. Follow the wisdom of Yoda. When you feel fear, anger, or hate, or even suffering, seek understanding, and often that will grant you comfort. Every time someone gains understanding, the wold becomes a little bit better.

I think we can all agree that the would could be a lot better place, and every little bit helps.