"The Empty Hand"

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When to Fix the Roof

I love quotes. They make me feel (and hopefully seem) smart without having to put in the hard work. I heard a good one recently from a man much wiser than myself:


“You can’t fix the roof when it’s raining, but you don’t need to fix the roof if it’s not raining.”


So true. The quote made me think about Karate training right away, but then again most things do. Take a look at the first part of the quote: “You can’t fix the roof when it’s raining.” So, if someone is beating you up you can’t suddenly learn how to protect yourself and fight back if you haven’t put any time or effort into it up to that point in your life. You’re probably going to lose. It’s raining and there is no opportunity to fix that roof.


“But you don’t need to fix the roof it it’s not raining.” OK, hard to argue with that. So you have put zero effort into learning how to protect yourself, you get beat up, eventually the fight stops, and you haven’t been beaten up again since. Guess you’re fine then, right?


Maybe, maybe not? You’ll be fine until the next time. And maybe it won’t be you getting assaulted. Maybe it will be someone in your family or a friend or even someone you don’t know and you see them getting beat up. It must be a terrible feeling to be in a position to help but lack the ability to help. But many have the mindset of not fixing the roof when it isn’t raining.

One of my favorite quotes is from Louis Pasteur:


“Chance favors the prepared mind.”


How wise! I have trained in several different martial arts for many years. And unfortunately, from my law enforcement career, I have had to use my training many times. And each time I was in a fight, there was absolutely no guarantee that I was going to win, especially when the other person was much bigger than me or they weren’t feeling any pain due to their level of intoxication (The first time I witnessed this was when a lovely young woman, after kicking me in the crotch and spitting in my face, wouldn’t get off the ground and I used a pressure point technique on her that I learned in the academy. She looked at me and said “Is that supposed to f-----g hurt?” I felt about 2 inches tall.)


And while there was no guarantee that I would win the fight, I would say chance definitely was leaning in my favor due to all my years in the dojo. I was prepared to deal with these situations, both mentally and physically. And I’ll say that, in my experience (take that for what it is worth), you really don’t need to know a whole lot of martial arts to be better prepared than 95% of the population. Get competent at some basics and you’ll have a decent chance of coming out ahead.


I know the martial arts isn’t for everyone. You can say that about anything. But I think the desire to be safe is inherent in all of us. Nobody wants to get beat up, nobody wants to be a victim. I would encourage anyone to “fix their roof” when it isn’t raining. After all, “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.” (I told you I love quotes!)


Train hard and with intent! Thank you for your time



-john g

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