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Pride or Respect

After three years of regular weekly training I am no longer an actively training martial artist.

The bare facts for my quitting are unarguably petty and stupid.

I was trying out a Filipino stick fighting class that I was planning on attending in addition to mixed martial arts, and they required a badge be sewn on my pants.

Simple enough, my MMA class is so laid back I figure I could just add it to those pants and nobody would care, and I was probably right. But, just to be safe I emailed the head instructor asking about it, since the exact policy wasn't entirely clear, and no one seemed to know definitively.

I wrote, what I thought was an enthusiastic and deeply respectful email chock full of verbal cow-tows. His immediate response was annoyed and didn't directly answer my question, so I apologized for contacting him.

The resulting disastrous email thread is likely familiar to anyone who uses the Internet and has a temper and/or drinks too much.

One of his replies in particular was so petty and disrespectful that I just couldn't take it.

If it happened under the fluorescent light of the dojo maybe I would have taken it on the chin. But in the light of day, with a clever t-shirt on it just seemed too much.

I have some breathing tricks I use to calm down, and I immediately got up and walked around downtown Hopkins. It was a beautiful day and my adrenaline was pumping from sparring with my deadly word foe. I walked until I my body settled down and reassessed the whole thing.

My options seemed clear, either I was going to just stomach the fact that I would continue to pay $100 a month to an unrepentant asshole, or I'd quit.

I have issues with pride, I often take things the wrong way and get combative. I know this and it is something I try to keep in check. I have a mantra I recite to cooldown that specifically highlights the importance of not being an ass.

So I really didn't want to succumb to that. On the other hand, I just couldn't see myself rolling over for this "instructor" who had so thoroughly destroyed my enthusiasm to train with a few flippant emails.

I'm a student, it isn't my job to be patient. It is my job to ask questions respectfully, which upon rereading, I think I did.

However, this is complicated by the fact that one of the things I honestly enjoyed about martial arts training was how terrible I was at it. It was difficult, I had no aptitude for it, the warm-ups would leave me exhausted and stupid, I would constantly forget basic things and have to be taught them again and again.

Confused why that is fun? Think of a golden retriever's exultant and desperate dog paddle, his head just out of the water.

This latest weight though, felt like it dragged my mouth and nose under the waterline, the only choice left to learn to breathe water or get out of the lake.

In the end, I politely told him to go fuck his own face, and it felt suspiciously awesome.

Whether it was because the vengeful demon in my heart was happily chomping on the steak I had thrown it, or it was the swell of self-respect for having properly addressed a grievous insult like a 19th century Englishman I still don't know.

I strongly suspect the former, but maybe that isn't all bad. If a broken clock can be right twice a day, why not a bloodthirsty rage?

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