Power in the Storm

The gas in your car has enough power to move tons of metal, fast, for hours. 

Cars keep that power isolated and stable. If you burned that gasoline all at once it would make a big boom. Spectacular, like in a movie, or deadly, like in real life. And it would be over quickly. Not much left but hot metal and memories. 

The car would be useless. No more trips to the store or to work or to school or to games or the park or to visit your family and friends.

You have been training hard for years. You are not like you were before. You have a lot of power, a lot of stored energy onboard. You can train for hours in the snow and keep your body hot the whole time. You can do a mountain workout with hours of climbing in and hours back down at the end of the day, no problem. You can release explosive power in the milliseconds it takes to break a brick or stop a challenge. 

We train our body and mind not only to develop power but to keep it secure and stable and accessible when we need it. 

Violence is risky. For individuals. For gangs. For countries.

We train to increase our defensive fighting skills. We also train to see clearly and to think ahead. We train to avoid impulse and distraction. We train to stay focused. Without composure, judgment and skill, power is worse than useless. It is a disaster.

There are people who lack confidence. An instant of eye contact flips them out. They may explode with rage, hit hard and fast, but their volatility gets them nothing but hurt, locked up, hated, or dead. And then what? Nothing. A life consumed in a blaze of rage and memories. 

Impulsivity and self-indulgence are celebrated in pop culture, and naïve people take the bait. We don’t. We train to balance strength and skill with stability and judgement. 

Farmers everywhere know that plants need water. You might need to dam a stream. Then you could open the gates once in a while, to irrigate the fields. 

Someone without experience, but with grand ideas, might decide it would be right and just to release all the water at once. To relieve the artificial pressure created by human interference with nature. Then the field will be flooded, the seeds washed away, the people left with no food to eat or crop to sell. 

Power, properly channeled, produces life. Power uncontrolled, produces damage and death. 

Some people will tell you that addictive drugs are harmless fun. They were warned. But they wouldn’t listen. It is an old story: pleasure, then desire, craving, dread, anxiety, robbery, murder, loneliness, betrayal, sickness and death. No surprises there. 

Promiscuity, some will tell you, is freedom. Check back with them in a few years and see. 

Borrowing money, the illusion of getting something for nothing, for gratification without delay, traps people, confines companies, and brings nations to their knees. 

Violence seems like a great way to get what you want, at first. Be a winner. Get respect. 

Bullies, badasses, gangs, raiders, rising empires and failing empires all agree. Hit them hard and take their stuff. Now it’s mine. Seems easy at first, when the victim is unsuspecting. But then, overlooked on the way to their big smoking hole, is that other people, very soon, will wise up, and respond in kind. 

Though the lesson is sometimes forgotten, the benefits of order and mutual interest have proven their value, again and again over time.

We work hard. We get strong. We have the presence of mind to avoid, evade, or de-escalate when we can. If the road is steep, we are ready. 

We train to make the most of what we have. Like the gas in the tank, we can conserve our power until we need it, and then expend it in the right way, to the right degree, to take care of ourselves and the people who depend on us. 

Real power doesn’t show off. It doesn’t demand to be used. We don’t waste it. We don’t worry about it. If the storm hits, we have what we need. 


Post and photo by Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate, Saluda, NC, Yamabayashi Ryu, author of The Good Fight – The Virtues and Value of the Martial Arts and The Rhinoceros Tale – Martial Arts and the Path to Freedom. Post copyright © 2022 Jeffrey Brooks and Mountain Karate Dojo, LLC.

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