I was going to write about a topic near and dear to my heart, but I figured I’d get back to this whole Striking is Love, blah, blah, blah thing first.Â (Here’s a topic that can go on for days)
As I talked about last time, standing there and letting someone hit you is not normal…and being afraid of being hit and the accompanying pain IS.Â I asked Vladimir what the hardest part of Systema was for him when he was learning and he said “taking strikes, because I was so skinny.” That should give you some insight on striking.
I may not get to this entire list today, but here are 10 Aspects of Striking to Consider before you indiscriminantly start wailing on people:
- It hurts
- Fear of being hurt
- Emotional experiences of prior abuse resurfacing
- Pre-existing conditions, e.g. having tachycardia or previous injury
- Memories of being hit hard or hurt by the striker previously
- Fear of appearing weak in front of others if you show pain.
- Mistrust, leading to fear and tension, toward the person striking you,Â or the striker has no idea what he’s doing
- The misguided notion that ANY pain or injury is actually in the best interests of the person being hit
- EGO of the striker, wanting to prove how hard he can hit you.
- Finally, the idea the striking is “medicine,” and how it should be dispensed, and by whom.
I came back from a seminar years ago in Florida where we were all hit repeatedly with an escrima stick.Â Yes, the experience was painful of the sort I’d not volunteer to go through again on a regular basis, but I survived and admittedly felt like I could take any hit and be ok.
The after-effects were pretty major.Â My entire abdomen was bruised for at least a week, if not more.Â It looked like I spilled grape juice all over my stomach.Â It did help me keep my Form because I couldn’t bend. 🙂
A few days later, I happened to see my sister the nurse who about fainted when she saw my “souvenir.” Â I got the lecture about hematoma, blood clotting and internal damage, etc.Â After I got over my macho “but I did it” phase, I thought a bit deeper into what she was telling me, that striking could cause MAJOR damage, either short or long-term.
I’m going to jump to #10–the idea that striking is somehow medicine.Â Let’s look at other “doctors” who dispense medicine for a comparison.
- Doctors have to be licensed and go through the appropriate training to be considered qualified to dispense medicine. You can’t just open a medical practice and start prescribing drugs to people.
So I’d be leery of just any guy at a seminar punching me willy-nilly, even knowing that I can deal with punches.Â That’s natural.Â Fear of idiots, especially with a little power and in numbers, is high on my list.
- Before prescribing any medicine doctors do an evaluation of the patient and his history. I have a student with tachycardia, an abnormally rapid heart rate, so punching him in the chest over and over is out of the question–and has nothing to do with “being strong.”Â I don’t feel like having a dead guy on my mat. Do you ask your partner if there’s anything out of the ordinary, or that you should know about before you hit him?
- Doctors know what the medicine they prescribe does to people. Does the guy hitting you?Â Does the strike do exactly what he expects, or is he just throwing it and waiting to see what might happen?Â If you don’t know–Find a QUALIFIED Instructor.Â
- Doctors have your best interest at heart–they are trying to help you. I’ve seen all too many chuckleheads (thank you Lance Rewerts for the term) punching a guy standing there as hard as they can with ZERO REGARD for him, striking out of anger and ego.Â Then, even worse, getting mad when the other person hits them.Â This is only made worse when the person CAN hit hard (been on the receiving end of this several times and this could hardly be called anything close to “love.”)
I’ll close with this quick example. It’s about an instructor, drunk with power, going around punching people saying, “I’m healing people, I’m healing people…” not being aware that he broke someone’s sternum and injured a few others with his “healing.”Â Healing like that, I don’t need.Â Sigh.
Striking IS awesome, fun and essential.Â Striking just has to be approached the right way by someone Competent and by someone you Trust.