San Antonio. The center of the Texan Universe has been taken over by urbanity on the Fourth of July (aka people who prove that Darwin was right but who haven't won the Darwin Award yet .... just give them time).
During the three days we were there on July vacation (having survived the Valley of Moo - post #135, and the Valley of River Sardines - post #136 .... go back and read those first and in order if you haven't already) I was doing my normal ("Hey Honey .. look at him ... look at them ... see that family .... ooooo ... would'ya look at that") routine in which I people watch.
I people watch A LOT and I classify everyone I see.
All good Budoka should engage in people watching. Serious people watching. Not just sometimes but all the time. It should be an embedded part of your being in which you always have your head up and you watch everyone around you in order to not become a victim of assault by sub-humans and barbarians, or to prevent yourself from just walking off a cliff, a high curb or into oncoming traffic; or in the case of the Riverwalk, literally the river.
People watching is more than simply not using your cell phone or looking across the street before you cross or walking around a group of people who seem marginal. People watching is looking beyond the crowds of badly dressed Goths's or nihilists who carry a certain "aroma" around them; for within the crowds of "urban-ity" who may be watching the oblivious tourists, drunks and silly teenagers were the true feral population. The Lone Wolves. The real sub-humans.
I tend to classify people into several slots at first glance and then leave it up to them to convince me to change their classification. I don't apply this to friends or co-worker necessarily or even to my agency clients (some of whom I would tend to put at the bottom rung) based on how they treat their employees when I conduct enrollment meetings.
I tend to use this system pretty extensively for strangers tho' and for prospective deshi when they walk into the dojo, or for that matter when I teach at seminars away from home where I might walk into a room with 100 people there, 90% of whom I simply have never met before. You have to do this otherwise you could find yourself cold-cocked by some Budo-Wannabee who is there to prove a point by taking you out. First time it happens to you or you see it happen to the guy running the seminar then you learn really quickly what "people watching" and placing them into instinctive classifications really means, and why it's necessary.
So as a rough draft (and I reserve full right of modification as I get older and hopefully a little smarter about all of this and I don't claim total omniscience in the arena of people classifying) is:
Uber-Human: Able folks, open-minded, ethical, moralistic, ex-military or LEO's who kept up their training, profession martial artists, high rank Aikido, Judo, Daito Ryu, Muy Thai, etc. who are smart, trained, skilled, alert, aware, and act it and wear it. Ever seen a prospective student walk into your dojo to join your classes and the second he pulls off his shoes, puts them into the shoe rack and walks over to introduce himself you just know that he's trained by the way he walks, how he holds his spine and how his feet grip the floor and how he precisely and succinctly expresses his goals and desires about everything from MA to his career to his family? That's Uber-Human.
Human: Basically lots of potential to become Uber-Human but still raw material and unkneaded dough. They just need a good Sensei, some good co-Aikido players to work and train with and a lot of nurturing. Anyone who's a senior player, a Sensei or who runs a dojo was here at one time and we just got lucky in who we signed on with. There were likely a lot of humans on the Riverwalk who were just as observant as we were while strolling thru' the Valley of the Sardines (really crowded) but they were, I think, greatly outnumbered by the People. Most humans will likely never be serious martial artists because they lack the drive or they start with the drive and then at some point are overtaken by career, family or other issues and never make that leap to "Uber-dom".
People: I love all the vampire shows on TV these days and the terms they use (not to mention all that hot "vampire sex"). "Meat Sack". Very descriptive in how the vampires view their walking plate-lunch but in this case it's the guy who walks into the dojo to ask about classes and he's done everything, been everywhere, but knows (and can do) absolutely nothing at all. A dabbler with a loud opinion and a lot of short training stints at every type martial art in existence.
Or, another example would be a female I ejected a couple of years ago who claimed she wanted to learn and begged to be on the mat so I thought she's harmless enough and I let her try. Three months later she's still trying to figure out how to take even the most basic of ukemi and every time we put her on the mat she says she's too tired and every time someone grabs her wrist for a technique "It hurts". But she loves the idea of Aikido and just wants to be around the people who do it so that she can claim that she too, is an Aikido player.
Basically "People" have no potential and don't want to have any potential and view life as a series of texts on their cell phone, the Sunday ticket on cable, another plate of greasy french fries and three McRibs with a side of diet Coke in the gallon container. They can be friends and family (so you gotta' love some of them in spite of the total BS involved) but they can just drive a high level player crazy with their inane comments and off-kilter unrealistic view of the world and weird views of what self-defense is .... and ain't.
I once got into an argument with a family member who fits into this category with the argument centered on the danger of certain dogs and how genetic selection for aggressive predisposition could be selected and seen in some breeds. I even cited Gregor Mendel and the response was "Who?" causing me to understand that he slept through AP Biology in high school.
No use. He still thinks that having a chain saw on a lease around children is a good idea as long as you "love the dog" because the dog is just "misunderstood". So with this attitude how can you think that he would understand the use of force and when and how to apply it, or the idea that some people are ...... just ...... evil...... and like the evilness because it completes them. He'd likely want you to "discuss" the issues and reach a "mature" agreement about your impending butt-rape with your assailant; as opposed to reaching for the nearest club to crease their hair with.
Barbarians: These would be the nihilistic Goths and Urban Animals and high school punks that we saw everywhere on the Riverwalk. Dangerous in a groups but for the most part little more than obnoxious bags of hot air if encountered singly and faced down. A few could be dangerous individually due to background and/or training at your local Karate Bob's Nail Salon and Self-Defense Emporium. Poorly educated, or well educated and lacking purpose, direction, manners and self-respect. Dressing to irritate daddy or to prove that they are not part of society, but by doing so become part of a new societal tribe with few civilized rules of behavior (think a pack of drunken high school jocks or college frat-rats). The kind of people who cut in line to buy movie tickets and dare you to object. The kind of people who drive bouncers at night clubs and sports bars crazy with their out-of-control drinking and wild aggressive actions. The kind of people who may have bullied you in high school and that you still run from at your 30 year reunion (unless you have since become Uber-Human). Loud attitudes based in no knowledge of anything of importance (but they're completely willing to tell you what you are doing wrong and if you object then they'll do the Knock Out Game on you and steal your sack lunch, bag of Oreo's and your beer and have no guilt).
Subhumans: The Feral Kid. I saw him probably a good half-dozen times every day that we were in San Antonio. There are two primary types of subhumans. Those who are really smart and who do well at blending into the crowds of barbarians so that they are less noticeable; but who are really very dangerous lone wolves; and those who are so far off the scale that they don't fit in anywhere and run alone on the fringes of everything. As a famous movie character once said (paraphrasing), "There are just some men in the world that you can't talk to or reason with. They are just different from everyone else and they want to watch the world burn".
I discount the bums and the usual street people from this category. You could argue that they also are sub-human but in my view most of them are just down on their luck or have unfortunate mental issues. The one's I'm concerned about are the one's that very, very few people in the crowd saw and who basically embody evil and all it's traits and who have the ability to harm others without concern, without guilt, without hesitation. Very dangerous even for well trained players since a decent person might have a moment of hesitation before pulling trigger while the Subhuman has none of that consideration or hesitation.
Barbarians get old, married and hopefully mellow-out. Subhumans on the other hand just get more experience at being evil and correspondingly become more dangerous.
The danger to people today is that of walking blind and not seeing the feral kid. Every time I saw him he was alone, walking fast, sliding in and out of the people on the side walk so easily no one seemed to know he was there and quickly gone. Uber-Humans with training would be aware of him immediately because he just didn't fit and his body actions and posture were just different from everyone around him.
The look in his eyes, intensity, focus, obviously not on drugs, athletic with that lean, wirey type of body, moving like a cat (or black panther due to his clothes). Dressed all in black but his clothes were clean so he wasn't a street person and had somewhere to sleep and bathe. Hair combed and well kept. Clean shoes. A lone wolf because while there were Goths like him everywhere, he was different .... on the hunt .... and since he moved alone I would suspect that the other Goth's saw that he was different enough from them to cause them to fear him and to stay away or, he looked at the others dressed like him as not being worthy and in his mind, being lesser beings than he and refused to accept them.
When I started this blog several years ago I began by stating up front that I wanted to be different in how I wrote and that I wanted to deliberately provoke thought. Any fool can write about ki or internal power or the ethics of Budo or ria or sen or maai and indeed, the blog-o-sphere is full of those type writings, some from competent teachers and some from foolish wannabee's; such is the internet in its' ability to allow global audiences to the boring and the incompetent.
My goal and purpose with this blog is to discuss the mentality of martial arts. I may on occasion roll over into a diatribe on technique or running a dojo but once you learn your system in full, what is martial arts, really? .............. other than the mental work?
So next time you go out, start to build the habit of classifying everyone around you. Don't feel guilty about and don't follow the idea that all people are good at heart and deserving of consideration. Accept that some are just ..... evil and conduct yourself accordingly.
Did the Feral Kid make his score at the Riverwalk on that 4th of July Weekend via assault, robbery, rape, theft? I mean, I saw him everyday we were there so he had obviously, for whatever reason, picked the Riverwalk as his hunting ground and apparently had success because he kept returning day after day.
I don't know if he scored or how many times he scored or who his victims could possibly have been.
I just know that because I saw him, and because more than once I looked into his eyes as he walked by and held his gaze to deliberately let him know that I saw him, his score wasn't us.
L.F. Wilkinson - Kancho
Aikibudokan, Houston, Texas