Friday, May 31, 2013

War is War: A Captain, Spousal Abuse and a Cause

I ran across this video today and I now have even more respect for Patrick Stewart...not only because of the actions he's taken in addressing domestic violence, but in the way he is able to relate what he has to say on both personal and corporeal levels. I especially appreciate the fact that he addresses the issue as one in which men, as a community, bear a responsibility.

Especially with the recent issues we've been having as a community and Mundials coming up, it highlighted something a few people in jiu jitsu do that's always kind of hit me the wrong way. I've seen post after post about "going to war" and "armor", and they always made me cringe just a bit. Though I don't suspect any ill intent, they make me wonder how I'd feel about people using the terms in reference to a sport, albeit a combat related one, if I'd seen combat, or lost a loved one, a home or a country, to war. I'm not a member of the military and my family has very few members in the armed forces, but it still rings sour in my ears. This video was one of the reminders why.

As much as I appreciate the bravery it requires to risk life and safety doing anything for any cause, the glamorization, and trivialization of the concept...I find them both disturbing. The video, and Patrick Stewart's intimate relation of the effects of war beyond the battlefield, and into the household, highlight a cost of war that tends to get glossed over.

I've been wondering if people who have been more directly affected by any war feel similarly and would love to hear their take. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jiu Jitsu Style and my (lack of) Confidence as a Writer

Blogging has pushed me in ways as a writer that I would never have expected. I am...well...I was pretty confident in my writing. Then came BJJ. I didn't realize how much wider exposure can rattle confidence until I was asked to expound on this piece by Jiu Jitsu Style magazine.

It should have been a breeze. I thought back to my junior year in high school, the year my special little school decided English class should become a writing bootcamp. Three, four, sometimes five times a week, we were given 40 minutes to analyze and write 700 words on pieces like Hemingway's Big Two-Hearted River or Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn (my stomach turned a bit just typing that). 1800 words on a topic in BJJ that I'd already started thinking about? I could do that in my sleep. I was beyond needing to feel inspired to write...or so I thought. Funny thing how NOT doing something can inflate your sense of skill.

I've written for publications before, but none in communities I cared as much about as I do BJJ.  I found myself worried--doubting my grammar and my voice. Was I being too casual? My syntax! Is proper use of the subjunctive too stuffy? I use too many ellipses? (The answer is yes. Yes I do.) I texted my brother, whom I've watched go through the painful cycle of writing death and rebirth many a time. He assured me that he'd only be worried about me if I weren't concerned about my work. if you run across a copy of the Gunnar Nelson issue, check out page 80. That project calmed a lot of my fears, but between that and upping the ante with projects over on the journal side of GiFreak, I'm less confident than I've been in a really long time. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Kids aren't any more cruel than adults...they just haven't learned how to mask it yet."

That statement will always stick with me. My therapist aunt made it during a discussion of bullying.

Reading Ryron Gracie's post on Mother's Day brought it back to mind. Specifically this statement:

"Through every year of my life and to this day, I have heard men mock, lie, tease, belittle, and place themselves above women and I completely understand why.  The same way a child bullies another because of insecurities, men bully women.  Keep the women down and we will stay on top."

I've talked before how kids, women...honestly, any minority, frequently plays the canary in the coal mine of society, but I think that analogy is a bit off.  To say that sounds like the toxic conditions that affect the birds manifest themselves naturally or on their own. Ryron's post opened up a different connection for me...I realized that sometimes, those in power or privilege are emitting the gases themselves. The gasses of sexism, ageism  racism, class-ism, weight-ism, homophobia...they're all carefully crafted bullying, mostly carried out by adults.

That all, is why the current discussion of bullying disturbs me just a bit. Children, to an extent, are mirrors. They learn their behavior from adults, and while the effects are more poignant to watch in the form of a child's tears or a teenager's suicide note, they are no less real in the alcoholism of a co-worker or eating disorder of a friend.

When people tell me they're surprised that I spend my free time around fighters and grapplers, I tell them that what happens in a cage is nothing compared to the subtle and quiet violence against the ego that I watch people so masterfully carry out in the spaces that we've deemed "professional" and "polite".

I wonder why we never have this conversation plainly...why we have a need to dress up childish oneupsmanship in sophisticated terms. Maybe because if we paint it with too broad a brush...if we simply call it a need to control, or a need to dominate, or a need to look down on another to feed our need to feel special...maybe then it will just become too hard to run from, too hard to push off on an "-ist", too personal.