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Let me start this by saying a few things. I have not been in a ton of fights in my life. I'm no saint, however; I have been in a number of dust-ups. That is not the same thing as having a violent life. Violence is present in anyone's life, unless they live in a bubble. Some of us are exposed to more examples of it, and varying types of violence. This is just what my story is, and how it has changed me over the years.
I am a life-long martial artist. I started the summer I turned eight, but by then, I had already tasted unprovoked violence. I had already stained myself with blood from another person.
When I was in school the previous year, my brothers and I used to ride the bus. On this bus was a bully named Steven. He was the same age as my older brother (three years older than me) and had found it fun to keep giving my younger brother (three years younger than me) a bloody lip. My older brother and I would always run him off the second it started, but there were times we just couldn't get there fast enough. It was at least once a week Steven would try this. Our parents tried to go to the school about the problem, as well as the bus driver. They TRIED to do it the civilized way. It just kept happening. So, the approach changed, and Dad gave us a great plan. My older brother and I became charged with a new level of protection. The next time Steven approached our little brother, my older brother put him in a headlock, while I pulled out his hair. It worked! I'm not sure if it worked because he was just a spineless bully, or because I went above and beyond, and rather than pull out his hair, I kneed him in the face several times. Either way, we won.
Our parents had a bad break up, and a messy divorce. These was yelling all the time, things thrown more than once. After mom was on her own, Dad became more aggressive and he aimed it ay my older brother, until he moved out a few months later. Next in line was me. Mostly yelling, and belittling, but not always. I can tell you right now that no son should ever be thrown down by his father and kicked in the ribs. I can also tell you that he had just had a crappy day at work, and the punching bag was what he needed. Now, there are studies that say someone violently abused is more likely to become violent in their later life.
This brings me to the beginning of my adult training. At 15, I began taking Okinawan Goju Ryu, a rather hardcore traditional form of karate. My instructor, for all his faults, did at least train me to be strong. I trained all the time. I wore a hole in a leather boxing bag in a few months of having it. Everywhere I hung that bag, the ceiling fell in within a few months. I had plenty of anger, and I released in the most immediately constructive way I knew how. There was no peace in my house as a teenager, until I was 17. By that time, I had become an assistant instructor at the Goju Ryu dojo, and no longer paid any tuition. I was free of dad's ability to take me away from my training by not paying my monthly dues. Dad decided to take his anger out on me, and this time, instead of fear, all he saw was icy rage. I still remember the feeling that first time. I knew in my bones, I was ready to return every blow and every abuse that man had ever dealt on me. So did he, it would seem, because for the first time, I saw fear in him.
He tried shortly thereafter to take out his bad day on my younger brother. That was the first time I kicked a door down, and the first time I promised to take a life. He backed off, so I didn't have to do anything more than reattach a door frame.
Fast forward a few years, and I am a Nidan, teaching as much as my instructor, or more. I lost my job, but kept going to class. My phone got shut off, and my instructor, who had no working car at the time due to a wreck, told me he could not trust me, and accused me of stealing money from the other students I had collected to buy him a present that got delayed in customs (JUST after the 9/11 attacks). The present arrived within 48 hours of that accusation, which I find ironic. He thought that I had taken the money because I had lost my job. I had not collected enough money to cover the shipping costs, and used me last paycheck to from the job I had lost to cover the entire cost of the item. I was obviously hurt. What hurt more than the accusation was that he did it in front of several students just before class started. This wasn't a calm statement. It was very loud, very heated, and he was very expressive with his hands. Several people told me later they expected us to come to blows. Total honesty, I was hoping that he would take an aggressive stance. It was what I knew, what I was good at.
Obviously, that was the last night I had in that dojo. Soon afterward, I got a job doing security work for a club on the edge of some rougher parts of town. This job was mostly pretty quiet, but hearing nearby gunshots was not uncommon. I was taught to be paranoid, and proactive in dealing with suspicious people. It taught me how to subdue and control people, and how to throw them around to force them into handcuffs. I took a side job working as a bouncer at a bar downtown on the weekends to supplement money. I say that because at first, it was true. It didn't take long for me to enjoy the job. The adrenaline, the rush of tossing people around when they were drunk and acting fools, the occasional bar fight I had to break up with my fists, it started to get to me. After that, I became a motorcycle mechanic, and started riding with a club. It was small, tight knit, and we never had to get into an all out fight. I did train most of the members on ways to fight, though. It became commonplace for our meetups to devolve into sparring, wrestling, and things of the like. We knew we were in an unsafe lifestyle, so we planned to be ready.
I went out of town for some job training, and remember very peacefully bouncing a guy's head off his car for threatening his young daughter (maybe six-years-old) with a black eye. I remember standing over him and asking him how the black eye felt.
It would seem, thus far, I was fated to be a warrior. I started a bit rough, and the road hasn't been glass, that is for sure. I still wrestle with violent tendencies to this day. However, I did not put these events to page to make myself feel better. I wrote this to show how often I wanted violence, and was ready, but chose the road of peace. Yes, I have failed, but everyone fails. I have chosen peace far more often than I have chosen war, and for that, I am a warrior. I do not pretend to be some perfect Samurai or Yamabushi Monk. I am human and I wrestle with it all the time. I want to yell at people for doing things I find foolish. I was to slap insolent young adults for thinking themselves so all-important that they do not take others into consideration. I want to set every man pun on fire.
WE ALL HAVE A CALL TO VIOLENCE. The path of a warrior is not easy, and it is not absolute once you begin walking it. You will slip, you will fall. You might even enjoy it for a time. It does not make you broken. It makes you human. Your job as a warrior is to check your violent tendencies as best you can, and to pick yourself up when you fail. The picking up, that is what makes you great.