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Worshipping in the Temple of Ouch
Achieving Self-evolution Through Combat
I met Erique 18 months ago through his FMA instructor. One day his instructor brought him up to me and said to him, "I know what you want, and you want what James does. You want to fight. You want to break down walls."
That was it, the ceremony by which a muscled-up comic book nerd was thrust into a 'fraternal wolf-pit' that most Baltimore area combat athletes fear to enter. Erique has put in between 6 and 12 hours a week training with us since then, and has become a force to be reckoned with in the sparsely populated world of minimal gear full-contact weaponry.
Below is a piece he sent me about his experience thus far.
I tell people what I do on the weekends, and I get the same bewildered looks and questions about my mental health.
"I fight on the weekends", I say.
"You fight?"
To be fair, I practice and participate in full contact sparring in Filipino Kali, Arnis, and Escrima. Sparring implies practice, but if I'm lucky, my practice sends me home striped with bruises and abrasions. Then, I fight in no-holds barred stick and blade fighting tournaments. Semantics, I guess.
"That sounds crazy. Aren't you worried about getting hurt?" they bleat.
Hell yes! I'm getting hit. An entire, other grown man is beating me with a rattan cane. At first, the only thing I could think about was how I don't want to get hurt. See, my parents raised me to exist as a non-violent being; safe and insulated in my suburban cocoon in the cul-de-sac. Confrontation was frowned upon. We never solved our problems with our fists. And yet no one told me that sometimes a closed fist is the best solution. I love my parents, but the fact that I shook like a leaf during my first few classes, and that I regard voluntarily getting the shit beaten out if me as an eye transformative experience...well, that says a lot.
"I wish I could explain it," I lie.
Spend a lifetime safe and protected, but of afraid everything and everyone. Now stand right there, and I'll stab you in the throat with this Sharkee trainer knife.
How can you know your limitations if you've never been tested?
How can I, who has never had to truly struggle or fight for anything in my 30+ years of life, live the next 50 without realizing how strong, skilled and capable I can really be?
Six months in, I stopped worrying about getting hurt and started worrying about whether I'd hurt my opponents. I worried that once I was able to let my aggression out, and impose my will on my opponent, that I wouldn't be to turn it off. I told James, my trainer, about my fear of this.
"That'll fade over time," he simply stated.
Three months after that, I stopped caring about hurting other people, and started worrying about winning.
I worried about technique, my strikes, honing my power, and proving the perception true that I was every bit the fighter people say I am, but couldn't fully believe myself.
I set aside my ADD; set aside anxiety.
I set aside introversion and perfectionism.
Now, a year in, I look back and see that I’ve rewritten the rules for what I've allowed myself to be.
I’ve Re-wired my gentle, submissive brain to drop perfection, drop pretense, dismiss ego, and rely on my instincts; girded for a war I never knew I could fight and survive, let alone win.
I remain wary of coming across as the chest-beating jock, or a violence-minded pain junkie. Looking in the mirror of my past fears I can see clearly that I'm none of these things. I simply opened a door to a personal challenge that not many would think to pursue.
You may wonder why I chose to become a warrior of Modern Agonistics.
I wonder why you're not one of us, yet.
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Add Comment
KARENJuly 17, 2014 9:24 AM UTC

I'm soo very proud of my son, Erique'.... Personal growth can be painful.... but the lessons are empowering. Thanks for mentoring to his evolution.
responds:July 17, 2014 1:12 PM UTC

Karen, I hope that means I get a pass for beating him with that stick. Hopefully you will get to see him return the favor on November 2nd.
EriqueJuly 17, 2014 9:04 AM UTC

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to put this up, J!
responds:July 17, 2014 1:14 PM UTC

You're welcome man. I enjoyed it. Hopefully more of our readers and training partners will send in articles as well. Just email it to me as a word manuscript at jameslafond.com@gmail.com.