Sometimes people are just out to prove a point. These people tend to be arrogant and confident, and due to the nature of martial arts they can be very, very dangerous. I would like to share a story with you today about my Shorin-Ryu Sensei that he has told me about people who are out to prove a point.
A few years ago a man came into the dojo for his first class. He put on the white belt and participated as normal, but afterward he wanted to learn about sparring. My Sensei agreed to go ahead and teach him a little about sparring and started off with teaching him how to block a kick. In doing this he was kicking slowly and softly for the new student to get used to the idea of moving and blocking. What my Sensei did not know at the time was that this man was a black belt in Judo and apparently trained extensively in Japan, and apparently was out to prove a point that he could beat a Karate Sensei with his Judo training.
This man had not mentioned his training or his intent, but instead made it evident by grabbing one of my Sensei’s kicks, sweeping his other leg out and slamming him down full-force on his neck. Upon doing this he commented that such a throw would have knocked out a normal person. At this point my Sensei was in a great deal of pain from what ended up being a bulged disk in his neck that pained him for about 2 years after this incident, and if the floor had not been padded his neck would likely have broken, leaving him paralyzed or dead. This man came into the dojo not to learn Karate, but to prove his Judo against Karate. He was never allowed back.
This sort of thing is very dangerous and it happens much more often than it should. What if he did it in a dojo with a hardwood or concrete floor? What if he did it to an older instructor without the flexibility mine has? What if he had done it someone with a wife and kids and had killed him? The people who go out with the intent to hurt someone to prove they are tough will not think about these things, they will only think about how hardcore they will seem when they beat up a martial arts instructor, or even if they go and beat up on martial arts students.
Another story that my Sensei told me was about back when he was a teenager who had just been promoted to Shodan. He was sparring with a group of guys, all white belts, when a big, aggressive guy walks into the dojo and tells the Sensei of the dojo that he is a brown belt in another style and just wants to fight in their sparring class. He was allowed to join the sparring class, but only because the white belts were not your average white belts–they included an MCMAP Instructor, a Special Forces guy, and a few other military personnel. The brown belt guy sparred hard and tried to beat them up but they handled him just fine, causing him to get very frustrated and leave the dojo cursing about how the school was full of “ringers” pretending to be white belts when they weren’t. He never came back.
These types of people are perfect examples of bullies, and they should not be tolerated in the dojo. Obviously in the first example there was no way for my instructor to know that secret-Judoka’s intentions, and so they only way to have avoided what happened would have been to prohibit him from learning sparring until my Sensei knew him better. In the second case the intentions were evident from the beginning but the instructor knew that he didn’t have to worry about the white belts getting hurt, and I suspect that he kept a close eye on the sparring as well.
People displaying these types of behavior should not be tolerated in the dojo–they are dangerous and they wreak havoc on the positive learning environment that the dojo should be. If you have experienced people like this in the past and responded to their attacks in kind it is important to learn from the experience and do what you can to avoid doing so again, whether it is by telling the instructor sooner or simply stepping off the mat. There may be some who will think less of you for not trying to beat them up in return, but we can only hope that someday they will come to understand that we do not train to beat people up, but we train to defend ourselves and to develop the mind, body and spirit.