Martial artists and the tao of routinely getting your ass kicked
Got into a conversation with A the other night (not sober) about how martial artists tend to be some of our favourite people. There are a lot of exceptions to this, of course, but it’s a true enough observation that it sticks out to both of us. I’ve tried to pin this down before in past conversations, and mainly what I’ve ended up with is this: martial artists routinely beat the shit out of other people, and also routinely get the shit beaten out of themselves. This is ideal. Basically you end up with a tasty swirl of confidence without cockiness, humbleness without self-loathing, and constant concern with self-improvement but not to the point of being a culty non-blinking cheer zombie.
I don’t know how much this has changed since the upsurge of mixed martial arts — the sport tends to have a douche fan base so maybe there’s a high occurence of douche in the gyms as well — but truthfully I doubt things were that different back then when I was training. The best thing about this ass kick/ass kicked formula is that it transcends all that stuff. Some of the best people I’ve met through martial arts are people I wouldn’t have built with at all given different situations. It’s an equalizer.
The Star recently profiled a local muay thai fighter and instructor named Jenypher Lanthier. I’ve never met her, though we know a lot of the same people, but she had this to say and she’s already cool in my books:
“I was convinced that if I was in Thailand reading and doing the things that I wanted to do, that I would grow as a person and my life would change,” says Lanthier. “You think, ‘I’m gonna go away, discover myself, iron the kinks out.’ Then you come back, and within three months, the kinks are back,” she says.
“I just didn’t feel like I meshed with society. After a few years of that I realized that it had nothing to do with society, it had to do with me, and that that’s where the change comes from.”
That kind of mentality and that kind of reasoned real talk has been missing from my circle and from my life the past however many years. The time since I got back from Malawi in 2009 has been a roughshod ride, but on the plus side it’s given me the distance to stand back and at least notice what’s missing, see the patterns of my failures and of my successes, and realize what’s been healthy for me and what’s been toxic as hell. That specific knowledge doesn’t really change things for me, but at least I have a starting point. Whatever’s around the next bend, I’m glad to have martial arts — and hopefully soon, martial artists — back as a part of the journey I’m on.