I watched a kickboxing match last night. I’ve kickboxed, but never professionally; I’m not in that league. I wouldn’t armchair-criticize the athletes I saw; it’s easy to see what someone “should” do if one has the luxury of watching all the moves on a screen, instead of from behind gloves, waiting for the next strike.
But there was something about the boxer in the blue trunks. You could see how angry every blow made him, and the boxer in the silver trunks, a surgeon, used that at every turn. Every time the fellow in the blue trunks shifted his legs, the silver trunks shifted as well, so there was never room turn the shoulders and hips for a straight punch, and every time blue trunks tried for a jab, he found his own stopped by another jab.
Part of this was likely unavoidable; silver trunks had beautiful footwork and was, if anything more precise than the pre-fight hyperbole had suggested. But part of this was: every time blue trunks got hit, you could see his fury. And in that momentary fury, he clearly lost his concentration, and the guy in silver trunks kept throwing straight into his confusion. Blue trunks never had anything that resembled a chance.
And it made me think of the messages I hear everywhere.
We keep framing our current situations in the most apocalyptic terms. The current situations change all the rules, we are told; we need to be discombobulated. If we don’t act like we’ve just taken a punch every time some new outrage pops up, then we’re not taking the situation seriously.
And we must, I hear, break all the old rules to go forward. Only nobody can agree on what the new rules ought to be. We fight, all of us, like desperate hyenas at bay, reflexively, viciously, but not well. We’re told that, once we win, we’ll make all the right rules and we’ll know what to do.
But we’re told that by those who keep sailing a jab over our guard every time we become furious. We’re told that by those who keep snapping a front-kick under our hands every time we get distracted. Every time we look in one direction, we’re hit from another direction, and we’re told to get angry.
Sometimes, getting angry is unavoidable. Sometimes, anger is deserved.
But in a fight where your emotions can and will be used against you, you need to start mistrusting anyone, friend or foe, who tells you to be mad. Because even if you deserve to be angry, that anger could cost you the whole fight.
If you want to fight to win, then take this advice:
Stop getting mad. Start getting calm.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction.. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, pre-order “I HATE Your Prophecy“. It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.