Saturday, January 16, 2016

Remind me not to make you angry

(What follows is a far too common conversation between a martial artist and a new acquaintance)

NEW ACQUAINTANCE: "I hear you're a Black Belt in Karate."
MARTIAL ARTIST: "Yes, that's right."
NEW ACQUAINTANCE: "Remind me not to make you angry."

The signature line from the The incredible Hulk, goes like this, "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." These ominous words were spoken by Dr. David Banner to Mr. McGee, a pesky reporter who was trying to uncover the secret behind a series of Hulk-sightings. Banner was an otherwise mild-mannered scientist who, who as a result of an overdose of radiation, would transform into the Incredible Hulk whenever he was enraged.

In every episode, someone, somewhere, somehow, inevitably made Dr. Banner angry and he would lose it. In fact he would lose everything, except surprisingly his pants - which seemed to fit both a scrawny 5'5" Dr. Banner and a 7' 300lb green Schwarzenegger-esq Goliath. He lost his shirt, his complexion, and control over all cognitive capability. The hulk was a monster.

This is troubling. I truly hope that practitioners of the martial arts are not seen in the same light as a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde cartoon character who's most brilliant articulation was "Hulk Smash!"

Almost every martial art requires years of disciplined training to achieve success. This discipline not only applies to physical conditioning, but also to a student's mental and emotional development. If you were able to easily make me angry such that I would use my fists, feet, and training to attack you, I wouldn't be a very good Black Belt, ... right?

Martial arts training is more than just punching and kicking; it's about self-respect, confidence, discipline, and the inner peace that comes from letting go of our fears. Unless you intend on getting me angry by hitting me with a pool cue (I wouldn't advise it) - it is unlikely that you are going to agitate me to the point of violence. Frankly, I'll just walk away.

I realize that most of the time the people are just trying to pay us a compliment when they say "remind me not to make you angry." So, if you meet someone and learn that they are an accomplished martial artist, the nice thing to say is, "Cool, I feel safer now" - - because you are.

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