During my free time this week, I starting watching the first season of The Walking Dead. For those of you who don’t know, the show is a science-fiction thriller that follows the challenges of characters trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by monsters. What stuck out to me most about the show so far, five episodes in, is how the characters use or misuse physical force in the plot.
Besides using force to fight off the living dead, the characters predominantly use force to settle disputes amongst each other. As one can imagine, living in a post-apocalyptic world that is overrun by the living dead is a very stressful life, and the survival of the characters swings in each action their group takes. With each of their lives on the line, not all the characters are so quick to concede to one another when they disagree upon an action the group should take. At first, I was appalled at how almost every disagreement was resolved by a male brandishing a weapon aggressively or punching someone senseless; however, given their circumstance, it makes perfect sense. In a savage world where all one has to rely on is one’s self, force speaks powerful words, and the meek can only follow. In this way, the female characters, and the other characters that the show portrays as being weak, are completely at the mercy of the strong young male characters. In the plot so far, sometimes force was used to prevent a bad thing from happening, but other times it was used to lead the characters down a path that was not constructive to their survival.
The point should be clear to the martial artist: combative ability allows one to be in control of one’s own destiny and to be a check against those who would misuse physical force. Thankfully, it is not always the case that one must rely on combative ability to maintain independence and personal control of a situation. In our current era and modern society, there are many times when things can be reasonably discussed, and that’s wonderful. At the same time, there are possible situations in which this is not possible, and it doesn’t take a zombie-apocaplyse to get there. Simply by stepping into the wrong part of town, one runs the risk of encountering a situation that may require the use of force. Those who are up to the challenge will dictate the situation and walk away, but those who are not will be victims and have the outcome dictated to them.
As martial artists, we must keep the weight of what we are learning in mind. The skills and techniques that we are learning in class are thing that better allow us free will and independence in nasty situations. These skills can be used not only to preserve our own lives and independence, but also the lives and independence of others. Always carrying this thought throughout one’s training is part of being a warrior.