Anger is something I don’t like to carry around, so I abandon it any time I can. I like to leave my anger on the front steps. Anger to me is useless; it causes more problems than it solves. At the gym this week we had two incidents that involved anger and those things cannot transpire in the gym. The gym is sanctuary and anger and malice cannot live there.
Getting hit in the face is inevitable in jiu-jitsu: it happens regularly. I know a few guys at the gym that have sacrificed a tooth or two to a wayward elbow or knee—it happens. White belts are the usual suspect, but it’s not their fault, they’re learning.
Two guys were training last night, one of them punched the other in the face, I’m sure by accident, then anger took over and retaliatory strikes and verbal threats of death followed, silly really, and totally out of character for the threat maker.
It was so out of character it made me think that he was angry before he stepped into the gym, that there was something going on outside of the school that was being buried and upon being hit, that simmering anger sprang up–uncontrollable and wild.
You cannot bring your anger into the gym.
A couple of guys from another gym visited West Side this week. They trained with the class, and in the process of rolling, one of them was caught in a triangle from the bottom. He tapped, he tapped again, a fourth and a fifth time but to no avail, soon he was on the brink of unconsciousness. Even though instructors and other classmates were shouting “He’s tapping, he’s tapping!” Brian, the triangle applier, would not let go—he was angry.
It turns out that our visitor thought a good escape from the triangle was to dig his thumbs into Brian’s eye sockets, hence the extra pressure on the triangle and the ignoring of multiple taps. I understand Brian’s actions—eye balls are valuable.
This story is a little different. Even though Brian became angry (and I don’t blame him) he didn’t come into the school angry. He actually really could have hurt the guy if he wanted to, if he brought his anger with him who knows what would have happened to this guy. I actually think he handled the situation pretty well. The guy wasn’t hurt and he learned a lesson—the eyes are off limits.
Anger does not belong in the gym, but I am no hypocrite. I have my own stories; one of which involves my uncontrolled anger while in college. I broke up with my girlfriend and I was angry. The next day during football practice I went berserk: fighting, throwing guys down by their face masks, hitting guys after the whistle, cheap shots, purposely stepping on fingers when guys where getting up off the ground, spitting and cursing, throwing elbows to the throat, basically just being an all-around-asshole. The thing is it wasn’t these guys’ fault. They didn’t deserve this treatment. I had brought my anger with me and it had turned me into a jerk, a violent dick.
Anger doesn’t belong in the gym or on the field or in your house. Abandon it. Leave it on the steps and when you’re leaving, if you still want it, pick it up on the way out.