Mac played a sneaky trick.
Weeks ago, he e-mailed to make sure that I had today free for "a weapon thing at Scotty's." He said Kevin would be there. So, let's see...hmmmm... Mac, who is as much a father to me as an instructor at this point; Scotty, who I admire as much as any martial artist I've ever met; and Kevin, who is the person I try to send other people to to learn weapons are all going to be in one place for a "weapon thing". What kind of idiot would miss that?
The sneaky trick was that it was going to include a weapons tournaments.
I hate tournaments. I've competed and done very well but even in my first judo tournaments 25+ years ago, my stomach would knot up at the thought. I don't like tournaments: I hate the idea of an audience and being judged by someone who wasn't sweating and bleeding. I despised the idea of the gladiator, someone who would trade in death an injury for an effete Roman or, in modern times, for a fat couch potato thrilling to the vicarious danger and domination. A gladiator is someone who will fight for the entertainment of someone he despises, and that leaves me cold. BECAUSE I hated tournaments, I'd always forced myself to compete in the old days and I've racked up wins in SCA grand melees, judo tournaments, jujutsu, karate, fencing, Norse wrestling...
Does that not make sense? If you hate tournaments, I can guarantee that you will hate being ambushed on the way to your car; if you have trouble facing another human being, I can guarantee that you will have problems grabbing at the knife hand of a real assailant and driving his head into the wall, the table and the floor. Fighting for your life is brutal and nasty... and unpleasant. One of the best minor trainings is to do things you find unpleasant quickly, decisively without hesitation or whining. Whether it is taking out the trash, diving into cold water or competing in tournaments.
I'm older now, more "mature" and very interested in integrating all the things trained over the years into one simple and decisive action. Competition, now, offends me at a deeper, higher and more strategic level: if I've got to fight this sucker, why not do it in the locker room when he's tying his shoes?
Still it was a blast, as always. We rolled and brawled and bled a little. Learned from everybody. Talked with Kevin for at least an hour afterwards, watched Mac like a hawk for any tidbit of knowledge he let slip. Saw Shawn for the first time in a year and met his student/son (who came very close to beating his old man, baton against staff).
I got a little competitive. It's that old warhorse thing. It is fun.
So now a nice gin and tonic, some ibuprofen and a backrub. Life is good.