There’s a special kind of paranoia that often accompanies a serious practitioner of martial arts.  Upon entering a room, we begin assessing possible threats and analyzing escape routes, like Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard.  I usually pick out the biggest, meanest looking guy and imagine ways that I might take him out.  It’s only natural to want to use a skill you’ve worked so hard to acquire.  But, it’s scary too, because you just never know….

I approach the bar to get a drink and accidentally bump into the guy, or step on his foot.  Maybe, he catches me checking out his girlfriend, and I can’t “smooth talk” my way out of it.  He’s determined to teach me a lesson.  I begin to go to that place inside myself, where it seems like my life is happening to someone else, like I’m watching it all on TV, or something.  I stay calm enough to avoid a premature adrenaline dump.  But, it’s coming on, as I feel my heart rate increase and senses begin to heighten.  We’re facing each other, and, after a few choice words, he takes a swing at me.

It’s a big overhand right.  I instinctively duck under, to the outside, and explode into his liver with a left shovel hook.  An uppercut, with the same hand, lifts his chin, and I immediately punch through his jaw all the way to the back of his head with a right cross.  Of course, my hand is broken, but he drops and doesn’t get up.  All those hours on the heavy bag finally paid off.

But, maybe, he’s too fast for me to duck, and I just barely manage to cover my head.  When I feel the impact of his punch, I instinctively wrap the same arm I just used to cover with over the top of his punching arm and manage to get a dominant overhook, or whizzer.  Then, I make a base by lowering my center of gravity and widening my stance.  He is swinging at me with his other arm, so I place my free hand in the crook of his elbow and prevent him from punching me.  While controlling that arm, I manage to twist his shoulders out of alignment with his hips and begin to pull him forward at the angle perpendicular to an imaginary line between his feet.  In one fluid motion, I step in front to block his legs and drive him into the ground, landing on him with everything I’ve got.  That took the fight out of him.  He may even have a couple of broken ribs.

But, maybe, he used to be a football player.  So he rushes in to tackle me, right after throwing the big right hand.  I couldn’t get control of his arm, becasue he lowered his level too fast.  But, as he drives into me, I’m able to throw my feet back and drop all of my weight onto his shoulder.  Somehow, one of my arms ends up across his neck, and I establish a front headlock.  If he has an arm in, I gator roll to an arm-triangle type choke.  That would be way cool.  Otherwise, I jump guard and do the classic guillotine.  Either way, he’s not breathing too good, anymore.

But, maybe, he’s too fast and too powerful.  I’m stunned by the punch, even though I was covering my head.  So, he just drives right through me with the tackle, and I’m underneath him on the ground.  Luckily, I ended up with one leg on the outside, so I’m in half-guard.  I work to get control of an arm and pull his head to my chest, not letting him posture up.  I need a few seconds to recover.  As soon as I can, I make my move.  I slide my hips out to the side, while pressing on his thigh with my forearm.  Hopefully, there’s enough space to pull my leg through and establish full guard.  From there, I place my shin across his hip, like I’m going to do a scissors sweep, and push myself away making space to kick him in the face with my other leg.  If it works, I’ll be able to stand up…and then we’ll see.

Of course, there are a million possible scenarios that could play out.  I guess, there’s really no such thing as a perfect fight.  Plus, I’ve been thinking like this for over twenty years, and nothing ever happens.  I always manage to stay out of trouble…and that’s good.  But, sometimes, it sure is fun to fantasize about.