Friday, February 22, 2008

Reality Training

Today, on the rough streets of Columbus, I had the opportunity to employ my martial arts training. I called upon my thousands of hours sweating and training in the dojang, and I am proud to report that my body reacted exactly as it had been trained. My enemy was vanquished, and I lived to tell the tale with a minimum amount of injury.

I called upon my training in the ancient art of nakbop sul.

I will wait a minute for those of you who need to open another tab and Google that.

That's right, I called on my training in falling techniques to save the day.

That's right, my foe: the sidewalk. I italicized the word sidewalk to make it seem more nefarious. It's the text equivalent of evil music being played during a soap opera.


Anyways. It's winter in my part of the universe, which makes for treacherous roads and walkways. While I'd like to say that my training has given me an impeccable sense of balance and movement, the ice can always bring a double dose of humility the even the most seasoned martial artist. Even tai chi masters quake in fear of icy sidewalks, partially because you have to be almost 90 to be a taiji master and by then you're afraid of breaking your hip.

(In unrelated news, many people are still unable to detect humor on the Internet.)

Have you ever watched someone lose their balance on the ice? I couldn't find any videos on youtube to embed, but I'm sure you could search for "newborn calf walking" and get a rough idea. Like my early morning hyung practice, it ain't pretty. The arms flail wildly, and the legs lock up in a futile attempt to stay upright.

Learning nakbup properly, you learn quickly that resistance is futile. You learn to just bend those knees, tuck your head and go with the flow.

Oddly enough, this whole scenario came up on Tuesday during our dorm demo. We paired up with the Shuai Chiao club to entertain the students, and they were fascinated with the falling techniques. It turned into a lengthy dialogue with students on the real benefits of martial arts training.

When will your training come in handy? It probably won't be in a dark alley against a gang of bikers, it probably won't be in a cage fight, and most of us are mature enough to avoid a bar fight. Chances are, you'll need it in a very mundane situation such as slipping on the ice, falling off your bike, missing a step on the stairs.

Oddly enough, these "boring" issues have one thing in common with the biker fight scenario: they still hit without warning, and if you haven't properly trained a reaction, you're going to get hurt.

( Later addition: My first real training in breakfalls came from the Shuai Chiao club at OSU, when Sifu Grigsby spent a day training us in the finer art of taking a throw. Since that time, I have taken numerous bike spills, slipped on ice or stairs, etc. My martial arts training has prevented certain injury in many cases. Thanks again to Sifu Grigsby and the Shuai Chiao club for reminding me of this and for sharing your knowledge over the years!)
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