There are experts out there, whom are very skilled in the art, tactics, techniques, philosophy, approach, and execution of knife fighting. They are experts, because they’re more knowledgeable and capable than anyone else, but as good as they are, how many students are coming away from their training, believing they can defend themselves in an actual knife fight?
And … it’s not just the experts that teach this. Many traditional martial arts teach techniques designed to defend against knife attacks. A student learns a new skill, practices it on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the dojo, (but not every Tuesday and Thursday). Hmm …
Many years ago, I came across this retired SWAT guy that was teaching a gun takeaway. You know, when an assailant is pointing a gun at your face from about a foot away and you snatch it away before he can even think to pull the trigger. Anyways he said this, “practice this one-thousand times. Practice it 990 times and you’re dead.”
Not sure how accurate those numbers are, but you can see the point he was trying to make. I have three black belts and trained with some dangerous real-world experts and one day, many years ago, I walked in on a bank robbery and had two assailants press their guns into my head; one in the forehead and one in my right ear. That’s reality saying “f*ck you and your training”.
It’s very dangerous when you believe you can do something and in reality, in real-time, you find out that you can’t. I normally don’t like to repeat things out of respect for those whom are paying attention, but this is very important and it goes for many things in life: It’s very dangerous when you believe you can do something and in reality, in real-time, you find out that you can’t.
But, back to the knives: I have three rules for getting into a knife fight. I mean this literally as well as an analogy: 1) Don’t get into a knife fight. 2) If you do get into a knife fight by some crazy unexpected turn of events, don’t be afraid of getting cut, because you will. You will be cut and you will bleed. 3) Why the f*ck are you in a knife fight?!
Years ago, I was in my garage having a conversation with one of my neighbors. She was so excited to tell me about the two-hour self-defense seminar she just attended with her son’s boy scout troop. “I tossed a 220-lb black belt onto the mat! I feel so empowered!” She actually said those words. She was 5’, 5” and about 130 pounds and while I said nothing to burst her bubble, I knew I could physically destroy her in mere seconds and there wasn’t a damn thing she could possibly do to stop it.” Scary, right?
There are times in life where knowing the wrong information is much worse than knowing nothing.
This isn’t about knife or gun defense or martial arts. This is about Satya, the second of the five yamas under the eight limbs of yoga. It’s about truthfulness and what is real?
Satya is derived from the Sanskrit “sat”, which means true essence or that which exists. It also means that there is no distortion whatsoever. It is reality in its purest form.
We distort our perceptions of reality with our own thoughts, our mood, emotions, reactions, beliefs, politics, religion, theories, interests, alignments, backgrounds, relationships, personality, character, actual capabilities, and so on as we each relate to the dynamics of reality, multiplied by how many other people are involved who each bring their baggage of distortions.
It’s been said that the universe is in perfect harmony, but is only humans who create chaos.
Satya is much more than expressing truth in our words or actions. It’s more about who we are, for real, within the nature of reality itself.
In a vacuum, that knife defense technique works. The vacuum being a dry, air-conditioned dojo with a willing and cooperative training partner. But, that’s not reality. There are far too many variables to account for to practice in reality, so this is all we can do.
Same goes for the classroom, that book on success, or anything else for that matter. What we learn and what is taught, doesn’t directly translate to reality. The knowledge, tactics, approach, mindset, and philosophy are all sound, but teaching specific techniques as if they themselves are Satya is a disservice.
Satya is truth and reality as it is, for real. All teachings should be delivered with the caution of Satya.
So what can we do then? Learn the techniques. Practice them 1,000 times. Know them so well that they become a part of us and who we are; a natural way of being. Then, whatever the reality is, our perception of it and reaction to it is automatic with real-time intelligent adjustments as the situation unfolds.
The better we know the black and white of things, the better we can live and operate within the infinite gray. When we know Satya, navigating reality becomes easier. We live with ease, leaving the poisons of distortion that cause dis-ease behind. This is Zen.
Have a pleasant journey. Cheers.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash