Bad Guy Rule Number One

Martial Arts Dojo


(February ‘97/#27)

I entered the art at a Brand XXX martial arts dojo. It took me a while to figure it out, but when I did, when I realized I was going to have to put aside my false sense of myself, and the art I was studying, and actually learn something, I was better for it.

I studied long and hard in my new art, eventually earning my black belt. Interestingly, I got into the martial arts because I wanted to be tough and unbeatable. Once I got my black belt I wasn’t interested in being tough, or unbeatable, either. The reason I tell you this is to lead into the strangest fight I never won.

There was a fellow at work, I’ll call him Tom, who had begun learning martial arts. He was taking lessons at my old Brand XXX school.

It didn’t bother me where people learned from. I had come to grips with the fact that a person can evolve, and it doesn’t matter where he starts, so I used to invite this fellow over to work out whenever my friends and I decided to get together.

Interestingly, he would come over, but he never wanted to work out.

One day he invited me to a party. I went, wandered around, talked to people, and generally had a good time. That’s what you’re supposed to do at parties, right?


Suddenly Tom comes up to me. ‘Hey, see that girl over there?’

I looked across the room to where a slender girl stood talking to a couple of fellows.


‘She’s an instructor at Brand XXX, just got her brown belt.’

‘Hey, that’s great,’ I responded. And it was. Achievement is achievement no matter where it is.

‘She says she can kick your ass.’

I looked at Tom.

I told her you were a black belt over at Brand AAA School and she said she’ll outlast you and jab you to death.’

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘I guess I better give her a wide berth.’ Off I wandered.

I had studied at and been an instructor at Brand XXX. I knew the tricks and the faults of that art in the most intimate way. I had even written the instructor’s handbook they used! I also knew that I had at least three times as much experience as her, outweighed her severely (100 pounds), and was probably, because of the rigors of my experience at Brand AAA School, in the absolute best condition of my life.

I wasn’t scared of her.

I was scared of Tom.

It was Machiavelli, over 400 years ago, who set forth RULE NUMBER ONE for all bad guys on this planet. (I often call this the ‘Root of all Politics!’)

‘Divide and conquer.’ Act like you’re a friend of the weaker, change sides when the other person grows weaker, keep them fighting until they’re exhausted, then move in and take over.

Here was a person who, had I met her normally, I probably would have talked to, exchanged laughs and ideas, and treated like a human being. Yet the fight had been fought and lost without my even knowing it through the intentional efforts of a ‘Real Bad Guy.’

I never invited Tom over to work out again, not at my house, and not at any martial arts dojo. I was scared he’d shoot me with his mouth.


A Martial Arts Dojo is ‘a way place.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *