Real Strength!!

When I used to do wing chun, one thing I heard all the time was the sheer naughtiness of BRUTE STRENGTH.

THOU SHALT NOT BRUTE STRENGTH! Don’t bloot stlength! As the Japanese would say.

At the time, I thought it was pretty good advice, and I still do. It’s one of the lessons I am definitely glad I learned from wing chun.

Brute strength was considered taboo, which was great news for a skinny nerd like me. It meant I could use all my fancy kung fu-ery on musclebound Eastern Europeans, and the forbidden honour code of honourable kung fu students honour meant that he couldn’t resort to just ripping my arms off and beating me with them, which is what he would have done had I tried that stuff “In teh streeeyt”.

What would inevitably happen is that an instructor would first attemp the technique with “brute strength”, and then with super-mysteron kung fu power. Naturally, the brute strength method would fail miserably, and the mind-meld death force version would triumph. We all ooohed and aaahed at it.

Actually, it’s not far off the mark. It’s simply teaching proper technique over lazy, ineffective use of muscular strength. But the thing that I realised the other day, is that the people demonstrating brute force, didn’t actually have brute force. I mean real brute force, the kind that they show in movies where bad guys rip up trees and then beat people about the legs with them, or headbutt rocks until they explode, or elbow buildings until they fall over. It’s kind of like when they say “now this is how a boxer throws a punch” PAUSE! Wait a minute! No, that’s nothing like how a boxer throws a punch, but none of us know the difference or even care so please CONTINUE!

Long story short, I encountered that kind of BOLO brute force the other day, and let me tell you, it’s nothing to scoff at. I did some standup sparring with a judo blackbelt. The guy is a bit shorter than me, with arms roughly the size of an elephants leg, and thighs the size of, um, fourteen baseball bats sellotaped together. His head disappears directly into his chest, his feet are splayed almost flat from so many years of mat work, his hands are like knobbly little hunks of flesh-coloured iron that open and close with a gonad-terrifying snapping motion.

I put my hands on him and we started off slowly. Just taking a grip on his gi was like grabbing hold of some kind of large, pulsating tree trunk. I could feel the raw, hard power. Within about two seconds, my face could feel the raw, hard power of the mat as I headbutted it pretty hard thanks to some fancy trip thing by him. I had no idea what happened but I ate the mat about ten times in a row. I felt like a six year old trying to outwrestle his Dad. This guy’s strength was just unbelievable. It completely overwhelmed me.

“Wow”, I thought. “Now that is some wicked brute strength!” My instructor wasn’t very happy about it as it is pretty much forbidden to get thrown about by judo people in your own jiu jitsu dojo. He recommended me to just sit down on the floor during sparring instead of actually trying to trade throws with him, or just quit and train judo. Butthead.

Anyway, real, hardcore, external brute strength is, um, really strong.