For Whom The Bell Tolls

July 4, 2007

The following is not an easy subject to write about; I’ve put off thinking about the matter for several days now because it has been difficult to gather such thoughts into a coherent, understandable form. However, I think it is time I tackle the matter of Chris Benoit’s death.

I think the correct term for what happened is double murder-suicide. For reasons as yet unknown, Benoit, an accomplished professional wrestler, his wife, and his son were found dead by asphyxiation. The leading theory is that he killed his wife and child before killing himself. However, what reason he might have for doing this remains uncertain. Some speculate it was the steroids, some believe it to have been premeditated, and thus is likely the result of something else. Whatever it might be that would drive a man to kill his family, I am certain there is an element of mental instability involved. Sane people simply do not up and decide to push aside all of their natural paternal instincts. But then, it isn’t always easy to spot the insane ones.

(the following is a reconstruction of my original thoughts I ultimately lost to technology, and thus in my mind, while is comprable to the original, is ever the poorer for being the replica)

Some people do not see professional wrestling as a sport, and certainly not a martial art. It is possible to think of kung fu at the other end of the spectrum, not a sport either (that which is a sport is not kung fu), with absolutely no rules. Regardless of how such activities are classified, there is still at least one similarity that applies to any skilled physical activity. Our status—whether it take a materialized form or remain within ourselves—is largely dependent on our physical condition. And as our physical prowess wanes, so too does our mental self-image. What follows tends to be either depression or denial, both resulting in self-destructive behaviors.

Chris Benoit was 40 at the time of his death. Today, I average two new problems every three weeks. As prone to injury as I am now, I can only speculate as to how I will be in twenty years, when a night or two is no longer sufficient to fully recover. Today, I can break my body by consciously removing the unconscious checks that the mind has in place to prevent this exact type of damage. In fact, I do this on a controlled scale when training so as to keep lock and key from getting rusty. In twenty years, I expect the checks will cease to be relevant when even minor missteps will result in weeks of abstinence.

Even more damaging is the fact that, only after a week of lethargy, I already find myself quickly winded. A good indicator of my age is when it is easier to get out of shape than to get back in shape, at least for me. I cringe at the thought of what is necessary merely to remain in place—no mention of improving. Consequently, know what needs to be done, I wonder whether I will have the discipline, the dedication, the drive, the desire to carry out the tasks necessary to keep from dropping hard. I know Sigung has a certain piece of his morning reserved for his morning routine, and I am certain Fighter has made the same arrangements. I also know for certain that the masters at the OKFS make the effort; their presence speaks for itself. They are motivated by their students and grandstudents such as myself. The reasons to practice from their youth no longer apply, and in its’ place, they’ve found new reasons to keep themselves in shape.

The real question is: Will I?


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