My favorite movie of all time is the original Karate Kid. I was 7 years old when it came out and although I have had a fascination with the martial arts (thanks to re-runs of David Carradine branding his forearms in the old Kung Fu series) since I was old enough to toddle around the room, I credit that movie with jump-starting my involvement and lifelong passion for martial arts and self-defense.
A funny memory I have is remembering my being very, very scared to the point of tears as a little kid when my folks brought me to a local dojo since I was petrified the instructor would act like the “bad guy” from that movie and make me do knuckle pushups.
Remember this was the early to mid 1980s; there were no “McDojo” Day Care centers on every block, no USA spangled red, white and blue gymnasium rooms, no pudgy 8 year olds running around with unkempt uniforms and black belts on, none of that shit. These places looked like they came out of a movie-wood paneling, bamboo stringed doorways, framed black & white pictures everywhere and weaponry hanging all over the place. These joints had the feel of martial mysticism and lethality hanging in the air so thick you could feel it and commanded a level of automatic respect. That is the world I was introduced to and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
My favorite scenes in the Karate Kid, aside from the ending fight montage of course (and yes, I do have the soundtrack in my car), are any of the scenes in the Cobra Kai dojo where the “bad sensei” John Kreese dispenses wisdom to his students, all of which are obviously terrified. The scene below, while being one of my personal favorites also offers some solid nuggets of wisdom that I have grown to appreciate more as I get older and more seasoned in my Wing Chun training for honest, no-bullshit self defense and combat. Let’s have a look:
Gotta love the boot camp style Q &A!
Kreese: What do we study here?
Students: THE WAY OF THE FIST, SIR!
Kreese: And what is that way??
Students: STRIKE FIRST, STRIKE HARD, NO MERCY SIR!!
Kreese: I can’t hear you!!
Students: STRIKE FIRST, STRIKE HARD, NO MERCY SIR!!!
Even though he’s the bad guy…I’ll be damned if he isn’t 100% dead-on this time. Principle #3 of John Kary’s “6 Principles of Combat” is a biggie:
Attack with RUTHLESSNESS and AGGRESSION
What does this mean for us as practitioners of Wing Chun, and more specifically, practitioners of Wing Chun for simple, effective and efficient self defense? Simply this, that if you are forced to protect yourself or your loved ones, show the attacker ABSOLUTELY NO MERCY.
A Game of Inches
In the film Any Given Sunday, Al Pacino’s character delivers a great motivational speech to his football team prior to their playoff game. In it he states,
“Life’s a game of inches…In any fight it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna get that inch…On this team, we fight for that inch, we claw with our fingernails for that inch because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gomnna make a f***in difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying!”
That is a great way of describing how one should approach a combat encounter. In line with Principle #1 (Developing an Offensive Mindset), your attacks cannot be halfhearted. There is something empowering about committing full-on to a course of action. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “I see before me only the objective; the obstacle must give way.” And so it is with self defense, TRUE self defense.
If someone has made up his mind that he is going to rip your eyes out NO MATTER WHAT, then there is a high chance he will succeed. Why? Because he is hell-bent on accomplishing his objective. If someone attacks you and your response is not one of unbridled aggression and ruthless commitment to doing them as much damage as you can, your odds of surviving an encounter just went down the can.
It All Comes Down To You
Think about it: if someone grabs you and your response is to do some half-assed attack, you will piss them off; you will make it worse and the most damaging aspect is that you will effectively have demoralized yourself from the very beginning. However….If someone attacks you, and in response you explode in a frenzy of indignation, clawing their face, grabbing their balls, striking at their throat, with all the intensity you possess, your odds of survival just went up astronomically.
As much as I love the martial arts I must confess that most schools, styles and systems today leave more than a little to be desired as far as realism is concerned. Wing Chun is no different. As I always say, Wing Chun folks tend to hang their hats on lineage and buzzwords like simple, direct and efficient but far too many don’t train that way. What’s worse, even fewer train in a way that mentally prepares them for the realities of self-defense by fostering a sense of power and purpose through attacking their attacker and doing so with ruthlessness and aggression. (Click HERE for a guide to begin training in just such a way).
The Redcoats and San Jacinto
Wing Chun was developed as a guerrilla warfare style against an oppressive government. Think of it: if the colonists had fought like the British, we would all be wearing powdered wigs today. One of my favorite fight scenes on film is from the Revolutionary War film The Crossing, when George Washington leads the colonists on a surprise attack against the Hessians, German mercenaries hired by the British. The colonists invade their camp and before the soldiers can get into formation and fight “properly,” the colonists stomp, stab, shoot and club their asses to death.
Another war film scene that gets my aggressive juices going is the scene from the 2004 film The Alamo. Texan leader General Sam Houston has just learned that the Alamo has fallen and all defenders have been slaughtered. He stirs in his troops such a strong sense of vengeance and indignation that six weeks later at San Jacinto, they ambush the much larger Mexican Army during siesta (nappy time) and once again club, stomp, shoot and bayonet their asses to death.
In both scenes, the sense of rage and ruthlessness is undeniable – and so are the results.
Remember, if you can remove yourself from a situation without resorting to violence, that’s ideal- if you have no choice, attack that scumbag like your life depends on it, because the reality is that’s exactly right-it sure does.
Train Smart, Stay Safe