Guest Post by Mark Gower
Mark Gower has trained in martial arts since he was five years old. In recent years, Mark trained and later worked at Florian Martial Arts under Keith Florian and former UFC fighter Kenny Florian, as a striking coach and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainer. He’s had two amateur MMA fights and is looking forward to his next one.
Martial Arts Mysteries
Once in a while, on social media, a friend will post some funny clips of a so-called martial art master throwing his pupils around without even touching them — as if he possessed some sort of Jedi mind control. I admit to having a good laugh at these clips.
One time, after chuckling, I couldn’t help but feel sad for these people in the Youtube videos. I wondered, “How did this happen? Where does this come from?”
I came to realize, just like any other myth, it probably has roots in reality somewhere along the line.
Now, I’m not saying that once you master martial arts, you can control someone like your name was Obi Wan.
Jedi Mind Tricks
I’ve been studying martial arts a long time and I’ve never seen anything that would convince me that this ability exists. However, I do believe it could exist in another form and that is communication.
Bruce Lee told a reporter once, that to him, “Ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing oneself.”
“Ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself. It is easy for me to put on a show, and be cocky, so I can show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly enough; that my friend is very hard to do.” Bruce Lee
Since 75% of communication is nonverbal a lot can be said about how you carry yourself.
Enter the Dragon
In Bruce Lee’s movie, Enter the Dragon, there’s a scene where one of Han’s henchmen approaches Lee during a tournament and asks, “Why you no wear uniform?”, then pokes him with his clip board. Lee slowly traces the clipboard poking his chest, up to the man’s eyes — and gives him a look from hell.
The henchman feels the weight of Lee’s eyes and leaves immediately. I’m not saying that staring people down will make them do your bidding. What I am saying is when you’ve put your time into training and you’ve mastered your craft, people’s subtleties become shockingly obvious to you.
You’ll read people like books
Of old, the expert in battle would first make himself invincible and then wait for his enemy to expose his vulnerability ~ Sun Tzu
What happens in Rockland, Maine…
I’ll tell you a short story of something like this happening to me. I come from Rockland, Maine. Every first week of August, Rockland becomes the second biggest city in Maine, thanks to the annual Lobster festival. It’s a fun week to be there, it goes from a sleepy, fishing town to an attraction bringing in people from all over the country.
I’ve met and seen everyone from Michael Douglas to Willie Nelson at the festival. Every year, the U.S. Navy sends a warship to anchor in the harbor. The sailors do the tourist thing like all the other people coming to Rockland for the week.
…hopefully, stays in Rockland, Maine
Just like clock work, though, every single year, there’s always some sort of brawl at the nearby pub on the Saturday night of the festival.
Some years, it’s navy men fighting each other.
Some years, it’s navy guys fighting with tourists.
And some years, it’s fisherman vs fisherman.
This gigantic man in a navy uniform starts punching everyone in sight. Almost like a tornado, he ripped across the floor, mowing down anyone around him.
I had no idea what started it.
I stood by, watching as the ruckus made it’s way toward me.
The man knocked two dudes out with two quick punches and turned around with his fist ready to go, only to look down and see little ol’ me standing there. I cocked my head a little, much like a dog does when you ask him if he wants a treat or to go outside. I was curious and not frightened.
The man looked at me for a second, saw I was no threat and went back to his chaotic rampage of punching people.
Now why didn’t I get socked?
I may never really know, but I do know that if I had panicked or been aggressive, he probably would of engaged me.
This is the beauty of martial arts though. I don’t have to think about how I would have reacted, I know that my training would have taken care of me.
When you’ve truly studied martial arts, you’ve pushed your body so far from what is considered normal stress, that nothing physical really bothers you much anymore.
In training, you’ve been beaten up and defeated so many times that even the thought of losing doesn’t scare you anymore.
When you’ve reached this point, you no longer have to think things like “OK, if he punches like this, I’ll do that or if he kicks, I’ll do this.” Your training does this automatically, much like how your eye blinks when dust comes toward it. You don’t have to think about it, leaving your brain to freely think about what’s go on around you, without worry.
Now to bring this back full circle
The thing about these so-called masters and their fake mind-control demos on social media is, they clearly haven’t earned the sort of power they claim to possess.
Even if there is a possibility of mind control, they don’t deserve it.
They haven’t forged mind and body in the fires of the dojo, to actually accept defeat and to truly listen to their fears.
There’s a quote by the great karate master Ginchin Funakushi that I love
“Very often the man who lacks that essential quality of deadly seriousness will take refuge in theory.” Ginchin Funakushi
To me, I see this in the antics of these “mind controllers”. They’d rather pretend, than actually deal with the problem at hand.
The problem always is, how do you react to people? How do they get to you? This is what it’s all about.
Your natural reactions, like flailing your arms about during an attack, become unnatural physical acts full of grace and explosion. Your unnatural acts like calmness and reason during duress become the natural state of your body and mind.
When you’ve truly trained in martial arts, you become humble to the fact that anyone can have a gun and a four year old girl could choke out a judo master — if she gained positional advantage.
Reminder: Don’t go getting into useless fights
This is the only true way of becoming a master.
Stay tuned for more stories about fighting and the art of “fighting without fighting” contributed by BJJ purple belt, Mark Johnson
DramaGuru Player Analysis
OK, DramaGuru player, here is a question to consider , “How did Mark avoid getting punched in the face?”
Maybe Mark’s calm demeanor in the face of chaos created an “interrupt the pattern” moment. When the attacker sensed “no fear”, he paused and in that moment, he chose not to act.
For Mark, that moment changed the game and kept him from being knocked out by a drunken sailor.
Or wait…maybe Mark would have been the one emerging victorious.
We will never know.
Each one, teach one.
How do you DramaGuru?
Share your story in the comment section below.
photo credit: Popeye punching Brutus Bluto, Brutus Bluto goading Popeye, Mark Gower Facebook cover page, Bruce Lee as Kato, Bruce Lee – let the bodies hit the floor, Bruce Lee defensive posture 1, Bruce Lee defensive posture 2, Bruce Lee defensive posture 3, Bruce Lee smirk