Growing up, I hated the Cargo Net in Gym. It stretched all the way up to the top of what looked like a 220 ft ceiling. When you are in 3rd grade, that’s what it looks like at least. I would get about halfway up, you know when the other kids start to pass you and I would freeze, just stop climbing and think to myself, ‘What the crap am I doing?!”
I didn’t make this decision you see. It was made for me by my legs and arms. As I was climbing up, my extremities reminded me that if and when I should fall the only thing to soften my blow to the wooden gym floor below was the ½ inch pad or gym mat as we were told it was called. My limbs proceeded to convince me that the gym mats only purpose was to keep me from dying, and that they did not want any of their bones broken.
I would have made a lousy pirate.
So, believing that, I complied and proceeded to climb back down, listening to the wussy limbs that were attached to my wussy body.
When you get older you realize there are just some chances though that you have to take.
Drinking urine is not one of them, unless it’s a survival thing.
But you must start learning to trust things…like cargo nets, people, some Mexican restaurants in neighborhoods with no stray dogs, car mechanics and should you have to travel this way, airplanes that fly livestock.
When I was training to learn how to fight, something that scared me to death was getting hit. There is nothing more idiotic than putting a pair of gloves on you hands, with another full grown adult and agreeing that you are about to beat the crap out of each other for 2 minutes at a time.
With enough training though, something amazing happens. Frank Trejo said it best,
“Kenpo is just like Music...No simple formula seems to exist, what can be discerned is a grand simplification in a way a cord sequences in a melodic development...you hear, see and feel the sound or movement before the muscles engage”.
In due course of sparring and training you begin to trust yourself a little bit more each time and become more confident of your own abilities. You find yourself making statements to the other guy, who is shaking like a leaf mind you with enough nervous energy to punch a hole in the wall, saying “Don’t worry, if I get hurt, it’s my own fault.”
I mean…who says that? Really?
But it’s true. When you have been experienced enough to know the damage you can take and the pain you can bear and still continue it isn’t arrogance that drives you on, it’s your own personal experience from pushing that breaking point above and beyond the top of that Cargo Net.
There was a guy at our studio whose name was John. But everyone called him “Big” John. Sure he had muscles and a face like a thoroughbred, but I mean, he was THAT big. One day, I was told he had begun training not for an MMA bout but for a straight boxing match. Hearing that information I understood he was going to have to train a bit differently. He must have gotten bored in those coming months because he wanted to spar one night and not box. I thought sure, why the heck not.
“Big” John and I squared off and within 30 seconds I realized something. Sometimes…just sometimes, you run into those individuals who are too stupid to feel pain. I realized after the first….oh I don’t know, 20 hits, that no matter how much I struck “Big” John he was going to just keep coming. This is where I discovered that sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. I could hit him, move and lock him up, but in the end, he just didn’t respond to any “pain stimulus” I was laying down.
And then he hit me.
The first one came about a minute in. He had been measuring me up the whole time. He figured out how I telegraphed my punches, knees and how I worked the environment around me. The first shot was enough to make me see stars; the second dropped me to my knees.
Now, depending on multiple things like your training, character, heart and discipline your conscious mind no longer controls your next set of reactions. You either stay down, and put your hand up in that universal “give me a moment” wave.
Or you realize you got hurt, and it was your own fault, and you move.
In fighting, I realized how close to an analogy to life it really is. Constant struggle is what builds and defines a Human being to shine brighter than others, especially when they succeed.
As a Christian I hear often that God wants to test you to see how much you can bear. I respectfully disagree. God doesn’t want to see how much you can bear, he already knows.
He wants you to know where your breaking point is, and through training make the realization that with Him you can be greater than you think you are.
Isa 41:15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.