Fighting and sparring with friends

By Eli Shirian

Last year has been dotted with minor scuffles with friends and relatives. These people know I have been training for many years in Ninjutsu; they want to check my abilities, even if it's done jokingly.


Almost all the confrontations looked like this; a friend was talking to me and then suddenly charged forward with pushes and shoves that end with my back to the wall, meters behind me.


All these incidents happened in the gym I work at, and the machinery and free weights lying around make every throw an imminent danger for my opponent. Now, if this was a regular confrontation against someone I don't know I would deal with it rather easily, but when my fight vocabulary is restricted because of safety reasons my response will always be lacking. I did not mention this, but an important fact is the weight difference, all my friends are very muscular bodybuilders, and weigh at least 90 kilogram (180 pounds) that’s much heavier than me. The weight and strength differences are a major factor, because it makes "playing" the confrontation very difficult.


In all these cases I was pushed against the wall and only then, when the wall countered the push and helped my position, I managed a guillotine or carefully went down to the floor with my friend.


I recalled what yossi said: "you shouldn't be in these situations", but for me not to reach this situation means being tense and ready all the time, even with my friends, and that's a lifestyle I do not want to adopt. A tense state of mind is not something I am willing to experience all the time. At this phase in my life these confrontations are a given, my close social circle know I am an AKBAN veteran so friends will check my abilities.


Technique is not the main point here, as my abilities can be shown only against an experienced practitioner or maybe in some severe, real-life situation. The main point is the attitude.


When you lose you learn to deal with your surroundings, it is a problem. Some martial arts systems do not prepare the practitioner for different grades of confrontation and the shame that losing carries with it; so even in sparring people tend to come on strong, to try to "win". This is not our way here, in this school; I can see all the time veterans spar and intentionally lose – they play. If someone is just looking from the side, if someone does not initiate him or herself into this intentional playful loosing frame of mind then there is no way to understand the real world usage of this behavior, but I know.