11/14/2007 5:31pm, #1
Inside the Mind of an Accidental LarperOn Bullshido, it's easy to get used to the mantras: aliveness, resistance training, pressure-testing, and so on. For anyone with even the slightest experience of genuine martial arts, these things are self-evident. They make the difference between practical, well-conditioned fighting and fantasy-land patty-cake.
But what's so disturbing is how quickly these assumptions can evaporate. For even the most accomplished fighters (to say nothing of the rest of us schleps), it doesn't take long for the mind to play tricks. There's something about the ego that tends toward self-aggrandisement; an urge to incorporate more into itself than it merits.
And in this, we can see the fool's gold of martial arts: the deluded confidence of the martial larper.
Recently, my own experience has reminded me of this. It's been over a year since I last trained Judo, and years since I fought in Karate (or on t3h str33ts). Seriously injured for eighteen months, I spent far too long sitting about, eating and...er...typing at the computer. I got fat - over one hundred kilos.
But over the last few months, I've been doing a bit more exercise, chiefly isometric kata for mild conditioning. I've stripped my diet down, and done more walking. I even took up Tai Chi (see here).
The end result of all this is satisfying. I've dropped twenty kilos, I can lift my son more, and do more handyman stuff. I've got more movement, strength and sexiness (don't deny it, you fanboys).
And recently, I found myself imagining my way into martial arts. Maybe I could try full-contact Tai Chi? Maybe I could even work my way into BJJ or Judo grappling? Maybe I could still use Judo in a street fight? I'm a martial artist, right?
I recently went to the Throwdown in Melbourne. While I knew I couldn't train, it was a visceral wake up call. I was reminded of what martial arts training really is: intense, painful, exhausting and violent. The mood of the throwdown was incredibly polite and respectful - there was no ego bullshit, no intimidation (well, not deliberately), no macho crap (except from Lily). But I would have been seriously hurt by the stuff they were doing. In even the lightest rolling, my neck would've given out. And in the stand-up, I would have been weak, slow and uncoordinated. The sheer physicality of it all was beyond me.
My very simple realisation was this: despite my experience with fighting and training, and despite my knowledge of training methodology and methods, I was still carried away by my fantasies. I knew I couldn't roll at the Throwdown, but I simultaneously began exaggerating my capacities.
To my mind, this was an important reminder of the larper's mentality. It's not necessarily idiocy or stupidity (although sometimes it is, in spades), it's really a healthy psyche in the absence of confrontation.
The essence of the martial arts is confrontation, in both senses of the word: physical struggle, and facing up to painful or uncomfortable reality. When you spar properly, you have to confront yourself, your opponent, and your mutual strengths and weaknesses. You can't pretend to be or do more than you can - at least not while you're on the mat (like a fisherman, you can always tell taller stories later).
Without this confrontation, the psyche begins the slow, insidious process of self-delusion - physical and psychological reality is quietly embellished.
I'm not suggesting this is big news - in one way or another, we all know this. But I thought it might be interesting to see it 'in action', so to speak. Even knowledge of 'the facts' doesn't always stop the slow decline into larpdom.
11/14/2007 6:47pm, #2
Excellent post, DAYoung.
In my experience, training has always gone in "cycles." We'll be on our game for a number of months, years even, then for some reason or other things taper off.
I have thought about this more and more as I have gone through a number of cycles myself and have decided that it is not necessarily a bad thing. The times that it has gotten the better of me were when I lost sight of when I was in top form, forgot that I was at the bottom of my cycle...
Sounds like the Throwdown was a good wake up call to get back in your game (if that is what you'd like), climb back up to where you were.
Last edited by Steve; 11/15/2007 2:07am at .
11/14/2007 7:01pm, #3
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
Dude, this is one of the best readings I've ever seen in this website...in the sense that you actually touched the wound. I'm willing to bet that everyone in this site and I mean EVERYONE, has at a certain point of their life done a little larping. Hell.maybe they've done a lot of larping and by the readings I do...I'm guessing someone of them still do.
I haven't been training for almost month now, just because of time constraints, but still, it could be twelve months for all I know...since the weight and lack of cardio is gaining on me! I feel that I can't perform as well as I did a couple of months ago, but still, I have this idea on the back of my mind that I can still tap people left and right or simply beat the stuffing out of any poor sap that crosses my path...sad indead!
I have been fighting this form of larping by simply acepting that I'm in bad shape and that I should return to proper training...but still, there's a part of me that still thinks I'm "hot ****" and can still hold my own in sparring or rolling. But here's the FYI..I started running again the other day and couldn't even run for 15minutes without feeling like I was about to die!
11/14/2007 7:39pm, #4
It's bullshit that I can't rep you for that DAYoung. Excellent post.
11/14/2007 8:28pm, #5
It was a very good reflection.
But I think it's an important distinction that you were sort of forced to LARP - because of your injuries, and I think because of your desire to train and throw down, your brain naturally started to form notions that may have seemed physically ridiculous. I do agree, that is healthy, it's a sign of not letting your situation or injuries bog you down, your brain is looking for ways to get you back up and running.
IMO that's kind of different from LARPers who think fireballs and ninja smoke magic are the keys to ultimate combat. They're not forced into thinking that way, they choose to indulge in the fantasy, and close off their minds to reality - unlike yourself, that even in the midst of this forced LARPing of yours, you can still recognize that it's technically LARP.
11/14/2007 8:49pm, #6It takes a special kind of courage to admit that you're less of a man. Not the real kind of course; the muscular, empire-building kind that the rest of us exhibit when we beat each other senseless. More of a synthesized, illusory pseudo-courage.
Nevertheless, well done.
Oh, and can you just wipe up that sweat patch in the corner when you're done? Ta.
11/14/2007 9:21pm, #7
That was a good read. I've done a lot of point fighting (call me sir larpalot) but I have moved away from it (I've always knew it was unrealistic fighting...just a game of tag).
Lately, gi and no-gi grappling tournaments have been my thing....the last one I went to was a real "wake-up call" for me. I won my first match and lost my second at the last tourny...both matches went nearly five minutes, and the next day I felt like I'd been hit by car....I was so sore I swear my hair was hurting. Gotta love starting old!
11/15/2007 1:38am, #8Originally Posted by Steve
At this point, hitting a heavy bag would be an achievement.
11/15/2007 1:40am, #9Originally Posted by Kokujin
11/15/2007 1:42am, #10Originally Posted by EternalRage
But in some ways, my experience is more telling. I'm not a chi-ball nutcase (see my soon-to-be uploaded Tai Chi demonstration from the Melbourne Throwdown), but even I fall victim to self-aggrandisement in the absence of confrontation.