It's been a while since I've written about anything outside of the usual reports and events so I thought I'd share this bit that recently got my attention.
Here in Bangkok there are a number of street-side seamstresses (male/female) all over the city with their stations well staked out. On this particular morning as I was approaching one station, there seem to be some uproar with a seamstress (male) swinging a machete at a taxi-driver. Now I had seen them hang out with each other drinking beers so I knew they weren't strangers but the look on his face was serious and the taxi driver at best managed a smile and laugh to disarm the situation. It cooled out as quickly as it had erupted but the seamstress was definitely upset and slowly returned to his work with machete in hand. I had no idea this job required weaponry but I guess you never know.
This scene reminded me of a story that was told to me not too long ago about two taxi-drivers. Apparently my friend was in the back seat of one taxi as another taxi violently cut them off. When stopped at the red light, they exchanged a few words from their seats and soon they both busted out of their cars. My friends driver ran to the trunk and pulled out what he described as a farmer's-sythe/blade. The opposing taxi-driver saw this and quickly pulled what he said looked to be a 'katana' sword from under his seat. There these two taxi-drivers stood amidst the stopped cars like a mexican-standoff. One with a sythe and the other with a katana. They exchanged a few words and immediately my friend's driver took a swing and the other guy defended with his sword. Both recoiled back, faking each other out before the katana-weilding driver inched back to his car. Soon both drivers back in their seats, the light turns green and they're off. The driver calls to his buddies with the other taxi's number which I'm assuming means business will be taken care of later. The driver turns around to my buddy with a smile and says 'sabai sabai' which loosely translates to happy happy or it's all good.
Now, besides the shock of how common place having a weapon might be in Bangkok. I think it says a lot about how we manage our emotions and in particular our anger. I live in a city where people go out of their way to keep the peace and save face for right and wrong but given the right cirucumstances people can be pushed to violence. And when you think about how much is held back on a daily basis, pent up inside, when the damn breaks the results are often more bite than bark. I believe we all experience this kind of stress, especially when living in large cities where personal space is a concept not equally understood by all, haha.
We bring a lot of things with us when we enter the gym/academy/club but it's an exercise of self-discipline and focus that allows us to let go and move on. At least for myself, when I allow that outside stuff to enter the time I've alloted for training, I suck. I'm unable to focus, I get frustrated easily and make stupid mistakes. It only makes me feel worse than when I came in, defeating the purpose of the entire evening. We all have varying degrees of stress in our lives but whenever I enter the academy, I take a breath and remind myself that this is my time to train, relax and have fun.
On the flipside, if I am checking myself when entering the academy I should have the same attitudes towards others when training. Don't let comments or verbal-jabs turn a positive training session to a mexican-standoff. Yes, it's a contact sport but it all operates on respect and trust. If you can't have that then you have no business being on the mats and the higher more experience belts will prove it to you(at least at my gym). If you happen to be a higher-belt that is abusive, then that's the culture you're creating for yourself. You will surround yourself with like-minded people that bring in that anxiety and anger.
I train to help relieve stress, exercise and have an exchange with interesting/easy-going people that want to push themselves in jiu-jitsu. Sure, we train hard and people do get hurt but it's without malicious intent. Don't be the crazy guy weilding the machete at his friend. Serve it up with a clock-choke or wrist-lock and be done with it. Have a laugh and go back for round 2.