You and I are lucky.
We’ve never kicked crack.
We’ve all had some vices. The occasional smoke, coffee, ice cream, a favorite drink.
Mine, as an American southern – whiskey. Or Southern Comfort.
A while back I was asked to teach a class for the Dekalb County CLEAN initiative, as a part of their credit hours in their drug program. Dekalb County GA, where I used to live…it’s one of the scarier places in Atlanta. Memorial – Candler – Glenwood.
When people talk about Atlanta being a murder campital, Dekalb county in Atlanta city limits is a hotspot. Not a night went by that I and Carly Krantz (an artist I manage) didn’t hear gun shots or see things we didn’t want to see.
But Dekalb County was overflowing was drug cases and they instituted a special program for offenders to commute their sentences if they enroll in a program. These are people who have hit life’s dead end and it hit them back – and they enroll to get clean and stay out of jail. It’s a three year program and it works.
It’s not Ft. Benning…it’s not the Land Warrior Development Group…it’s not Ft Bliss…
It’s a different world.
I was given certain guidelines – do not teach combat, teach movement. Teach them health, talk to them, teach them. When I stepped into the class I was surrounded by a group of survivors. 20 people who were mine to teach for the next few hours.
But it wasn’t what I taught them – it was what they taught me.
In the course of those hours I watched mothers who used to trick learn to sit efficiently – men who were pimps learn equilibrium – gay men who had AIDS learn to roll efficiently.
Recovering meth addicts learn how to use the box, protective prone position, and box to get up.
They loved it. They really loved it.
Martial art, combatives, health – it’s all about discipline. The discipline to work out daily – to do you drills every day – to go to class – to do your visualization exercises.
Everything we do, in martial arts is about discipline…will power.
We could be on a couch.
Instead, we are training.
But, most of us have never had to have the will power to kick meth.
Most of us have never had the will power to kick crack cocaine…we don’t even know that level.
We don’t even know what that is. We lead lives of discipline for our arts and systems, styles and methods – while we look at those in program and think, ‘What a moron, they were on crack.’
What we don’t realize is – if you can kick crack, you can learn meditation. If you can kick meth, you can learn a throw or a wedge.
It’s all about application – application of will power.
By the end of the night, when we were winding down and doing our relaxation exercises, I did the usual Q&A. Everyone wanted to know how I learned all this – how they could learn it.
The Q&A turned to a reverse – me asking them about willpower, what they had learned.
The lecturer was lectured.
I leave you with this….
Every time we, as instructors, teach – we have one student who does more than anyone. Usually, we see their potential, and we push them hard. We abuse them a little – we push them around – we test them because we see that potential, but we have to judge their willingness to go through that rite of passage every serious student goes through.
My subject was a 26 year old, strong as an ox recovering crack addict – clean 1.5 years – working for UPS – his clothes were tattered – he was scarred and had seen more fighting than most will ever see. He told me he had no real place to live, lived here and there.
Working with him, he challenged me – which I like. The strength, the pride, the experience, the knowledge of what a real fight was about. I could tell that he was a walking debrief.
After class we got into a conversation…he wanted to begin training asap. I told him he couldn’t until he finished the prgram – and he had 1.5 years to go. He said he’d contact me when he did.
He never did.
But, he told me a week before he was attacked with a knife on the street while walking to his job. I asked him what he did. He showed me – it was perfect.
He side stepped the initial lunge (he said it helped it was a crackhead), pushed the arm, hit the face, and began kicking the legs as hard as he could to knock the guy down.
Then, he ran. He said he had been doing it for years.
It’s exactly what I would have done.
What can you teach him????? Odds are – most self-defense instructors can’t teach him shit.
When he asked me how I had the willpower to stay in this so long and keep training like ‘some bruce lee shit’, I asked him how he had the willpower to kick his habit.
‘It’s in me, I guess. Just didn’t know it was until I had no other choice, then, I had to do it. Kicking the habit is like the street – it’s either in you, or you die alone brother. Alone.’
You want to learn about martial arts – martial art is about self-mastery.
Go teach a program like this.
I learned more in those 3 hours than I have in 14 years.
It’s the next best thing to kicking crack.