Keeping Out of Harm's Way

A lot is said about how to deal with the threat of bodily harm, as if it were possible to train body and mind for the unpredictability of violence, rupture, a realignment of the stars, a cataclysm.

Mostly this is Monday morning quarterbacking. It is in retrospect. That's the problem. I'd reached brown belt, black point, in the Violeta Dojo and thought I reached a certain pinnacle. Then it all came tumbling down. I put myself in harm's way. My wife asked me to leave the house, I never saw that punch coming, or if I did, I paid no heed. I fell into a dark hole no Sanchin could avert. The center would not hold, I fell apart. Confused, I strayed from the dojo onto the street, my only exercise routine was the ten-drink sit down in a continuous two pack a day zazen.

When I finally surfaced I found my wife leaving for New York with my two kids. The night she told me this I had a meeting with an old professor friend, a business deal he wanted me in with a bookstore. Drinking on an empty stomach, and trying to follow the conversation with this very edgy bookstore owner looking for a silent partner in my professor friend, I stood up woozily and tipped the table over and fell on the man who screamed for help. Out sprang the bar help, pool cues in hand. All hell broke loose. My first in-karate brawl, as luck would have it. I came out okay, would have made Kimo sensei proud, but it did not. I lost control. I found out that my Goju worked in the worst possible scenario, I was completely out of it and hurt a lot of people. It cost my professor $300 to keep it out of court and jail. He took me then to my apartment and laid me on the floor. I spent the better part of the next say putting the pieces together and and expressing my regrets to whomever I tussled with the night before, it seemed like everyone. Word got back to the sensei.

I spent the other half walking in a daze, couldn't bear to see my kids off, and ended up at midnight in a corner street looking at my reflection in a store window. Swore off the booze as a vow until my kids came back.

Got the black point stripped off my brown belt. Made amends.

Moral of the story: Keep out of harm's way. The best strategy for fighting and life. But once in harm's way, deflect or engage fully. Life is no joke, and death is no laughing matter. Trust what you know, it will save you in a clinch. Some harm can stay with you forever, so deal with it best you can. Study virtue, no harm can come from that.

Practice often and practice hard, as Kimo would say.

10 Rules of Engagement

  1. Steer clear of harm's way.
  2. Sticks and words may break your bones but a gun or knife will probably kill you.
  3. Do harm unto others lest they shall do harm unto you.
  4. Do not argue with the enemy it shortens your breath.
  5. A fight is not a dance, end it quickly.
  6. Have absolutely no qualms.
  7. Any fight could be it, act accordingly.
  8. There is no going back once in.
  9. Don't stop until he drops.
  10. Retreat with haste.

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