Straight Bashing

Ever have dinner with a bunch of assholes? Couple weeks ago, I went to dinner with some acquaintances. I didn't know the woman, a financial planner, who had been on a hike I'd gone on would be there, otherwise I would have bailed like hay. Unfortunately, she was not the worst of the six peeps around the table in the grimy hot pot restaurant.

One of the main themes I explore in my book, Nightfall, is ego. I had gotten a real lesson of what ego really was during my stint teaching at the martial arts school that I used to attend. Of course, they taught not to have one, but they were of the school 'Do as I say, not as I do', which was one of the main reasons I left.

In Nightfall, I don't preach about not having ego, nor do I preach about having one. Certain characters will fall due to their ego, and certain characters prevail because of it. And as a writing guideline, I don't lecture about it, but show how ego can affect each characters' actions and the consequences that befall them.

Knocked Tha Eff Out

Knocked Tha Eff Out

In real life, ego plays out in different ways. I'm a huge UFC fan. By his legacy, Anderson Silva is considered the greatest of all time MMA fighter. He holds the longest winning streak in the UFC, is one of the most feared fighters, and seems to have skills beyond the normal human being. According to him, his showboating in the cage is just who he is. I think it's part of his mental game, taunting his opponents' mind to make a mistake. I always attributed that to his ego, and he's been successful at it. That was until he fought Chris Weidman, who knocked Silva out while he showboated. Now, Weidman had admitted that Silva's showboating pissed him off and caused him to throw caution to the wind and sling punches, something that Silva wanted. But this time, Silva got caught. So is ego bad?

Ergo
Ergo

At dinner, the guy who chose the restaurant was a total dickwad, DW. He asked a new transplant to the City how long he'd been here. A couple months, but he'd been to San Francisco six previous times to interview for jobs. DW asked if they flew him here, and the new guy acknowledged. Laughing, DW stated that if he'd been the interviewee, they would have flown him out dozens of times, touting his intelligence. I knew that DW thought he was smarter because he stated so and even called the guy stupid. If this was DW's sarcastic attempt at joking, he fucking sucked at it.

Then he turned his attention to me. Ooh, a challenge. Somehow we got on the subject of same sex marriage, and I told everyone at the table that I supported it. DW asked me why. What business do I have telling someone what they can or cannot do, especially when it doesn't affect me. He scoffed and stated that a lot of things people do don't affect me. Whoa, he is smart.

"What if someone shoots and murders another person," DW asked.

I wanted to tell him that it still didn't affect me, because I assumed the threat wasn't immediate to me. But I didn't think he would have understood that, so I stated that's an extreme situation, and the threat is real if that murderer turned their attention to me. Even then, he didn't quite accept my argument, but agreed it was extreme, and was upset that it didn't support his stance.

The financial planner then argued, "Well, they're stealing money from me?"

Crazy Ass Byotches
Crazy Ass Byotches

Since Thelma and Louise, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to gay couple criminals, and asked what she meant. I know. They weren't lesbians.

DW applauded her and threw her argument in my face. She explained that married couples have tax benefits, and therefore, are stealing money from her by not paying more taxes. Geezus Kryst.

"Couldn't you say the same thing about heterosexual marriages?" I threw back.

"No, because men and women have been getting married for thousands of years," she assured. What do you call a female dickwad? Dickwaddess?

DW aplauded again, then asked me if I was gay. Before I could answer, he accused me of being gay. Before having the opportunity to react, DW then asked if I like butts. What ignorance. I couldnt believe he was gay bashing me. But I admitted I was a butt man, as that is my favorite part of a woman's body.

fuck u jerry
fuck u jerry

"You better stay away from me, man. I don't want a reputation," DW said, showing me the hand.

At this point, about a thousand thoughts barged into my mind. One being that I could kick this guy's ass, and I don't say that unless I feel that's a real possibility. I know, I'm a pussy. More importantly, I chose not to defend myself, and the reason was simple:

To do so would mean that I at some level affirm that homosexuality is deviant, and that I would have to lower myself to DW's level and swim in the garbage that is his mind. Homosexuals may not be socially acceptable in some circles, which is complete shit, but that doesn't fucking mean it's wrong. Again, the thought of punching this guy in the face blared in my mind. I just don't think the public defender would do a good job on my behalf.

My ego was bruised, not because someone accused me of being gay, I mean, I am what I eat, pussy, but that this guy was so full of himself, I wanted to be Weidman and knock this asshole out. The financial planner too, but she's naturally a bitch and couldn't help her own stupidity. And both these assholes live in the City, the capital of Gay Pride. What a couple of putz. Putzes? Putzi?

Leggo My Ego

I’ve been waiting for this night for seven years! I write about ego in NIGHTFALL, talk about it, how it can affect choices. I don’t actually lecture about it, making the narrative a freaking lecture, which was how I felt Dan Brown was doing in THE SYMBOL. I just weaved the affects of ego through the narrative, hoping that I’ve communicated my views through subtext.

Broke Back

Broke Back

Tonight was a historic night.

One of the most talked about UFC fights was UFC 162, Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman (pictured left). Silva (pictured right) has been the reigning middle weight (185 lb) champion for the past seven years. In mixed martial arts (MMA), that is unheard of because no one has accomplished that, save Silva.

I’ve always felt that Silva had an ego, though you'd never know with the words he uses. Like a shark that can sense blood from a thousand miles away, I can sense a person's ego. We see evidence of Silva's arrogance in his previous fights when he taunts his opponents, giving little respect, despite the fact that he says he respects every single opponent.

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Actions speaks louder than words. Women know this. I know this. Does this make me a woman?

Silva’s fights always starts with some form of reading his opponent, where they’ll attempt some form of attack, but Silva always evades, doing calculations like a supercomputer, reading their reach, timing, rhythm, skill, mind set, etc. And once he’s done with his calculations, he pounces and often finishes his opponents in the second round.

When the main event of UFC 162 started, I saw Silva come out, completely relaxed. Weidman charges to the middle of the octagon, also relaxed. In spite of Weidman, who is a very accomplished wrestler, taking Silva to the mat, the champion easily evaded all submissions attempts and got back to his feet. A few moments later, Silva’s supercomputer was on its way to finishing the calculations. I know this because when the champion starts taunting the challenger, he'd figured out Weidman. My body reacted from watching all of Silva's other fights, expecting a huge knock out finish of the challenger. From my point of view, Weidman seemed lost, but he also looked relaxed, a good thing. End first round.

Here’s the important part. When the second round began, Silva came out and taunted Weidman again. When Weidman tried to strike, Silva would dodge and move as if the challenger had nothing on him. The champion even pretended he was hurt when a punch grazed by his cheeks, an expert at going with the flow of punches, making him very difficult to knock out. More taunting, show boating ensued, something the fans of the UFC, and me, were used to.

Then it came. Weidman threw a combination, which was a little messy but worked because a half-hearted back fist had forced Silva’s head to flow left, and he blinked. Weidman quickly followed it with a punch to the chin, knocking down (out even as Silva’s eyes rolled up) the former champion. Weidman then followed Silva with punches to the ground to make sure he was done.

Knocked Tha Ef Out

Knocked Tha Ef Out

So this is a long diatribe about how ego can be anyone’s downfall. I’m not saying I don’t have one, but I’m aware of it enough to not let it step in front of me and control my actions. Most of the time.

Ego has brought down civilizations, religions war over which god is better killing millions upon millions, corporations have withered away when the focus is on material wealth rather than serving the people. Sometimes it takes time. I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took a damn long time before it fell. Israel is still a subject of huge contention. Blackberry and Microsoft were caught with their pants down when Apple released the iPhone.

I’ve written how I’ve left my martial arts school because I didn’t believe in them anymore, their form of teaching, and the egos displayed in every inch of that school. They commented on my website, trying to dissuade me from my opinion, and as I’ve written here, I don’t read reviews unless I’ve solicited for it. My former school, on the other hand, have changed part of their system to accommodate for my criticism, and failed because they simply didn’t understand my article and the simple truth about how humans learn physical movement. The crazy part is that article listed simple things they could do to improve their student’s abilities. Dorks.

Yes, I do have a spy there. And they will never figure out whom. If they did, oops. Sorry, dude. Or dudet.

The Earth is Flat

A flat Earf

A flat Earf

How crazy is it? There is an actual society, a group, that believes the Earth is flat like a plate sitting on a flat table in the middle of a flat field on a flat Earth. Um...what? Despite the plethora, myriad, the millions of freakin' pictures, and apparently no evidence of an edge, these peeps perpetuate the idea that the Earth ain't a sphere. Get out much?

Don't touch me there!

Don't touch me there!

Last Halloween, I went to a party with a whole bunch of adults trying to reclaim their childhood glory days. I was dressed as an Asian man in American clothes. A friend of mine saw a sculpture, a bust, and asked me if that was Yip Man, Bruce Lee’s famed teacher. I’ve never met the Man (get it?) and shrugged. The party was held at a Wing Chun / Yoga studio in San Francisco. A cowboy said that was his Wing Chun teacher. I’ve met a Wing Chun master before and asked him a question about the system. If you’ve read my bio, then you know my absolute love and devotion and complete disregard for the classical martial arts. Though, I will admit, Wing Chun does something that most classical martial arts don’t do.

Uh...what?

Uh...what?

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” he said, supporting one of the main tenets of Wing Chun. This ain’t no math class. I would know. I came to the party as an Asian. Circular strikes aren’t really taught in Wing Chun. All their strikes come from the center of the body with little to no movement in the hips or shoulders for speed.

Time for bed

Time for bed

Now, it’s true, the shortest distance is a straight line. So why do boxers have hooks, uppercuts, overhands along with their jabs and straights? Simple. Limiting your strikes limits the amount of tools and avenues of attacks. And if the boxer is good, they can set up strikes and hide circular ones like an uppercut. Sneaky. Add kicks to it, and not only do you have to worry about punches but kicks. Take a fight to the ground, and all of the sudden the fight changes completely, needing a completely different skill set.

That’s what we have today. Mixed martial arts are a combination of different martial arts. Duh. As Bruce Lee always taught when he came to America, take what’s useful and throw out the rest. For those classical martial artists, like my former school, they hold on to their tenets, doctrines, dogmas created thousands of years ago. They’re like Catholic priests who don’t believe in evolution. Nothing is more evident of the evolution of martial arts than the Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as the UFC.

Deodorant much?
Deodorant much?

The initial idea was to see which martial arts was the best. They had boxers, Karate masters, wrestlers, etc. But most infamous was Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). When the UFC first started, there were no weight classes. So you could have a 300-pound man fight a 178-pound dude. And that’s basically what happened. The tournament winner, Royce Gracie, a 178-pound man, was a BJJ whiz, submitting all his opponents to win.

All of a sudden, everyone started to study BJJ. BJJ schools touting the Gracie name popped all over the place. Karate? Kung Fu? Boxing? Kick boxing? Pff. Waste O'time.

Then evolution kicked in. Since the UFC was basically a no-holds-bar kinda fight, with some rules, people started to put things together. Wrestlers were great at getting the fight to the ground and keeping an opponent down, but had to learn how to strike and submissions; strikers began to learn how to avoid getting put on the ground and learned BJJ and wrestling (grappling); BJJ practitioners needed to learn how to strike and incorporate wrestling; and round and round we go. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to be successful in the UFC if you aren’t what they call a complete fighter, having a complete grasp of submission, striking, and grappling skills.

Gimme yo lunch money!

Gimme yo lunch money!

The need for evolving one’s skills became evident in UFC 60, when then current welterweight champion, Matt Hughes fought Royce Gracie. Remember, Gracie is a master submission artist (BJJ Blackbelt), but he lacked striking and wrestling, something Hughes had in his arsenal. Ultimately, Hughes used strikes and wrestling to get Gracie down to the ground, almost submitted the submission master, but ended the fight in the first round with strikes.

I’m not saying that for someone to be able to defend themselves on the street, they have to be a MMA fighter. But training only in straight lines can be limiting. Stranger even, my former martial arts school practiced hundreds of highly complicated techniques in the air that would not work on a real person (I’ve tried with friends), having little idea of what’s it like to deal with the physical weight of a real person like grapplers do. At least Wing Chun has a lot of partner drills, something that seems to escape my former teachers.

So why am I writing about this on a site that mainly talks about storytelling, trying to promote my book NIGHTFALL? The time to submit (get it?) query letters is fast approaching. And I love talking shit about my former school. How crazy is it? They had a whole meeting about little ol'me when I wrote this article. Get out much?

Trash Talk

Number one, suckas!

Number one, suckas!

Trash talk.  When it comes to sports, trash talk can spell death for the one talking. We saw this with the men's French swim team in the last Summer Olympics held in China. “The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for," Alain Bernard said, referring to the freestyle relay event.

Despite being heavily favored to win, the French lost.  Not sure if you can tell by Phelp's reaction:

My pants...!

My pants...!

Even when you win, trash talk is something fans don't appreciate but pay attention to cause it creates drama. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a great example, considered as one of the best boxers in the world. His trash talk had earned him searing spite among fans. So fans pay to watch the fight to see him lose or get knocked out. As of today, no one has been able to do either.  Still, fans of the sport give little respect to the man holding a 41-0 pro record.  An oddity when legendary greats like Tyson or Ali have losses.

I had attended this past weekend's UFC 117:  Silva vs. Sonnen.

Get away from my behind

Get away from my behind

Anderson Silva is considered the best pound for pound mix martial arts fighter in the world.  All of the top fighters in his division (185 lbs) have tried to beat him.  None ever came close. Silva has won 11 straight wins coming into this fight. In the world of MMA where there are innumerable ways to lose, this is amazing.

But I was never a fan when Silva came to the UFC, and I doubt I'll ever be.  Why?  I want someone who's open and real, and somehow he's not genuine. I'm not the type to like someone just because he's a winner.

Then comes in Chael Sonnen. He was an NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at the University of Oregon, two-time University National Champion in Greco Roman wrestling, and a US Olympic team alternate. But forget about that.

Not only did he sell tickets and create interest in his fight with heavily favored Silva (7 to 1 odds) with his trash talk, he had earned a fan with me. Here's why:

"I think I can win this fight, I don't know I'm gonna win," said Sonnen on Jim Rome's radio show.

This has been my life's philospy. If you wanna be a New York Times best selling author, an Academy award winning actor, a great pro athlete, then you have to start with "I can" and not worry about "But will I?".

You gotta be in it to win it.

And for four and half rounds, each one being five minutes long, Sonnen had dominated Silva.  As far as I know, Silva had only lost one round in his UFC career. Silva vs. Sonnen was one of the most exciting fights I had seen. I was one of very few who leaped out of the seat, Jersey Shore fist pumpin, screaming as Sonnen pounded away at the champ.

Oh, crap!  I caught his chin!

Oh, crap!  I caught his chin!

Get your hands off my face!

Get your hands off my face!

But like all greats, Silva had pulled a triangle hold and won the bout.

Sonnen had backed up every single word, save winning the championship belt. But in the world of MMA, he has made himself a huge factor and revealed a gaping blackhole in a once invincible champion.

Bring or Not to Bring?

I was holding a small get together to watch UFC, which is basically no-holds-bar fighting with rules.  So not really no-holds-bar.  There weren't any bars.

Anyways, one of my close friends, a fellow teacher from my old days of martial arts, asked if he could bring anything.  I told him no, but if he wanted to bring some beers, then that'd be cool.  I'd have dinner ready by the time the fights started.  I'd also invited some family and was a little perturbed that they didn't ask if they could bring anything.  Anytime they held UFC gatherings I had always asked if I could bring anything.  I don't do it out of courtesy as much as a practice of giving and receiving.

A few years back I had been listening to a lot of lectures fromDr. Wayne Dyer.One of the seminars featuredDeepak Chopra.Chopra said something that struck me.  He had always taught his children, now grown, to always bring something when going to another person's house.  It didn't have to be anything material, even a compliment would suffice.

Because when we look at the big picture in order for anyone to give they must receive.  And in order for anyone to receive they must give.  Like life and death, giving and receiving are opposites that work together.  The Ying and Yang.

Coincidentally, everyone arrived at the same time.  My cousin, who usually holds these events, saw my friend lugging two bags of goodies, more than I had expected, which was nothing.

My cousin hollered, "Why didn't you tell me to bring anything?"

I ignored the question, invited everyone in, and proceeded to get dinner ready.  When dinner was served, my cousin complained about the garlic bread being too garlicky.  I admit, I had used fresh garlic and enough to clear the sinuses of a rhinoceros.  Oops.  The point here is to appreciate what you receive.  And if you don't like something, don't eat it.  Complaining gets you no where and leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth, despite the fresh garlic.

But out of the whole group, only my close friend asked if he could bring anything.  Lovely.  What a sense of entitlement.

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Karate Heah

Mr. Miyagi points to his head. "Karate heah." He taps his heart. "Karate heah." He grabs his belt. "Karate nevah heah." photo

I was reading an article in one of those karate or kung fu magazines. It was written by a practitioner. He was discussing how spirituality was missing from MMA, specifically targetting UFC fighters. That all fighters wanted was to be champions, to have fame, fortune, and busty ladies swarming around them.

Hell...what man wouldn't want that?

It's obvious there's a huge misunderstanding of how spirituality should be practiced, or that MMA fighters don't practice it. And it was also obvious this practitioner didn't watch MMA, read the forums, interviews, and watch post fight conferences like I do.

It's one of my many vices.

The wise practitioner, the writer of this wise article, full of wisdom, full of research, and full of shit harped on the lack of inner peace. Through his wise words I knew this person never fought, or if he did, then he approached it without inner peace. As wise and full of wisdom as he ascertained.

I'm a huge MMA fan. Watched hundreds of hours of interviews. And one thing that all fighters strain to get is inner peace. One of the most popular UFC fighters is former light heavy weight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Lidell. His monicker indicates that his nerves are as cold as ice before, during and after a fight. Every fighter praises him for that. Because if a fighter gets too excited, they'll waste energy, suffer from an adrenalin dump, or are prone to mistakes. And mistakes in a game where there are literally dozens upon dozens of ways to lose isn't a good thing. Keeping your cool is essential. And the current dominant fighters of the UFC and Strikeforce exhibit this without a doubt.

I get more nervous watching them fight.

Back to this all wise practitioner. His practice of inner peace is through meditation. I'm surmising here. But it's pretty common. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's pretty easy to reach inner peace when you're peaceful.  It's kinda like going into a room full of yellow balloons to look for a yellow balloon.

Now, if we place a fighter punching this all wise practitioner in the face, how well would he be able to keep inner peace? Not well. But MMA fighters do this every day. And their ability to keep this inner peace allows them to adapt to the fight. It's very common to see one fighter losing the fight badly, and with a slight change of strategy he comes up with the win.

This can't be done if the fighter panics because he isn't present enough to analyze what's going on.

MMA fighters also practice 6-8 hours a day. They have to love the process and love the journey to continue to learn and challenge themselves. Another principle of spiritualitism.

All fighters want to be champions. But as they climb the ladder to contention, they remain present and focus on their current opponent. They study tapes, go over strategy, hire fighters who can mimic their opponents, and rarely think pass them. The principle of being present is at work here.

MMA fighters practice inner peace, but they do it in an environment that doesn't elicit it.  So who's more skilled at inner peace?  Someone who practices in a peaceful environment?  Or someone who practices in a violent one?

I wrote this because it struck me as a huge misunderstanding of MMA fighters.  To be misunderstood is a sore subject for my main character in my book.  He's continually misunderstood by the people he's sworn to protect, but he pushes on because it is what he does.  What hero gives up?

How Old Are You?

One of the things I had to be clear about was the cultural elements of my fantasy. Is marriage a common thing like it is in our world?  Are there family dinners?  Or do people fend for themselves?  Or is it more like a socialist society where the bounties are shared?

In creating my world, I borrowed from different cultures.  Not that I studied any one of them in depth.  I didn't need to.  The elements I chose were used to convey an overall philosophy without explicitly writing it.  A couple of examples:

In the Matrix, the real world is not the real world.  And the world after being awakened was due to a choice of taking the red pill.  The whole movie is about choice. 

In Karate Man, aka Karate Kid, the man who believed in himself and was of pure heart won out.  Not the one with the bigger muscles and or more experience.

Fast and Furious is interesting.  If you gots the most fastest cars, the bestest finest chicks, and the deepestest voice with big ass muscles, then a plot or a message need not apply.  This is kinda true for Transformers.

Age just happens to be an important element.  For example, a toddler is referred as someone who's in the morning of their lives.  As they move into the coming of age, which just happens to be different for every one, they've entered the afternoon of their lives.  And as you may have guessed, once wisdom settles in, the person strolls into the evening of their lives.

There is a reason I refer to age this way.  And it ties neatly into the culture of the provinces.

I think about age a lot because so many people place some sort of limitation due to age.

Look up a guy named Randy Couture.  He's a UFC fighter who's currently 46 years old.  He takes on guys over a decade younger and wins.

One of my ex-employers said once he hit his thirties, his metabolism slowed, he got fatter, and felt tired.  He failed to see that as he grew older he did less and less.  When he dated his wife, they went out a lot, went on vacations, took walks.  Now that they're married with kids, they stay home a lot more, barely take any vacations, and any type of physical exertion has been removed.

Age had nothing to do with his physique.

I'm 37 years old.  I workout four times a week.  Yes, I like to look good.  So I'm a bit superficial.  Nothing wrong with that.  There is a more pertinent reason why I exercise.  When I studied kinesiology, one of my teachers was a physical therapist.  All of his clients were senior citizens, his specialty.  He said something that never left me.

"There's one truth about human beings.  You'll leave this world the same way you came in.  Bald, drooling, and pooping in a diaper."

I pressed my lips together, pondering what it's like taking a dump in diapers.  Then he said something that totally changed my view on exercise.  Exercise will improve the quality of life as we enter the evening of our lives.  I'm not sure if I'll do a number 2 in diapers.  I don't spend much time thinking about that.  But I've made sure exercise has become a part of my life.

Luckily, my family, my mom included, has embraced that as well.

One last thing about age.  I've now encountered about half a dozen men who shy away when asked how old they are?  WTF?  It's one thing that women shy away from this subject.  But men?  Is this a growing trend?  Have they become sensitive about their age?  Grow a set of brass balls.