“Nice guys”

by Jinryu

I don’t care when people are “nice guys” or “nice girls,” because they’re a dime a dozen.  What matters to me is the passion and/or substance.

I lost my cool on thursday at judo, and I don’t even feel that bad about it in retrospect. I was paired with [Will] for some tachiwaza  (standing throws) practice, as well as randori (sparring) for both standup and ground work.

I’ve spoken about Will before, and my main description of him revolves around the fact that he’s about as meek and non-commital as they come.  I think I’ve gone as far as calling him a coward.  He’s either afraid of hurting people or is afraid of making mistakes– perhaps all of the above– and the end result is that he is a terrible training partner who never really wants to engage in any experimentation and exerts little effort.

When it comes to technical practice drills, his throws are still extremely jagged and mechanical.  This is a bad thing, because the more mechanical you make a throw, it actually makes it significantly more difficult for your training partner because it’s difficult for them to break their fall.  In reality, he knows how to do the throws, but he suffers from such crippling lack of confidence that his strength and weight is not taken advantage of.

When it comes to randori, his energy is 99% spent fighting you to a stalemate.  He only attemptsto use the same couple of techniques head on once in a while, but for the rest of the match, he uses a strategy of “stiff arming” to basically push the opponent away and prevent the opponent from coming in and throwing.  It’s a stalling tactic that is normally penalised in competition, because it gets nowhere.  It’s recognised at even the Olympic level that if two players of roughly the same overal training and size fight, and one of them is allowed to put all his energy into not being thrown, it’s really difficult for an opponent to deal with.  It’d be like watching a boxing match where one of the boxers just basically spent the rounds running a marathon in circles around the ring to avoid getting hit.

While we were doing the technical drills, I was doing 90% of the throwing because he simply didn’t want to.  He kept telling me to do the throws.  I told him, “Will, you need to start somewhere.  It’s your turn, just try one.”

“It’s just that, if we don’t know how to do it, it’s meaningless to try.”

Excuse me? Well fuck you, man.  Yes it’s true that to a certain extent, not knowing the basics of a technique makes it such that it’s less useful, and perhaps even dangerous to a certain degree to attempt it.  But we’re no longer white belts.  Even if we don’t know the finer points of throws we’ve never seen before, we know enough throwing technique to experiment and build a technique up from experimentation just by watching others.  It’s not the job of the sensei to give us private lessons about every last thing– we need to move and experiment.  It is a martial art, and we are not here to be coddled.

Meaningless?  You mean to say that you’re just watching me throw you around and you think that what I’m doing is meaningless? What about everyone else in the room who is also working hard to figure out their way? Fuck you, man.

Well, I kept my mouth shut about that for a while, because I wasn’t sure if perhaps he wasn’t feeling well, or perhaps that he’d been injured and was just embarassed about it or something. So I let it slide and just continued to do all the work…

When we moved on to stand up sparring, I ended up doing a round against him and as usual, he was working to basically prevent himself from being thrown the entire time. I suppose it’s a legitimate tactic, but what really are we learning by playing to stalemates?  If I didn’t attack, the round would literally have gone 5 minutes without anything happening.  I guess I have to fight more and more aggressively to break it down, but does he really feel like he’s doing anybody favours by not attacking?

WHen it came to ground work, that’s when I got really pissed off.  I had him in my guard at some point (a neutral-ish position, considering that he’s significantly heavier than me).  And all he did? He stayed perfectly still.  That’s all he did.  I tried a few position changes and he just retreated and retreated.  At some point, I gave him guard, and all he did was lie on his back, waiting for me to act.

Okay, sure– I suppose you could say it’s an opportunity for me to work on whatever I want to work on.  But to have an opponent who is basically playing the sandbag in a part of my day when I’m supposed to be working on tactics and experimenting, not just on attacking a brick wall mentality but also on how to train my own defenses?

Before the sparring round on the ground ended, I said it flatly to the face: “Forget it.  I”ve had enough.  You’re not trying, you’re wasting my fucking time.  What the fuck are you doing here? If you don’t want to work, stay home.”

Now, those of you who know me in person know that I’m a pretty friendly guy.  I swear here and there, but it’s almost always in a joking context or a descrptive sort of way to add emphasis.  “That was fucking hilarious!” or “I had no idea what the fuck was going on.”

As an English major, and as someone who has spent time teaching, coaching, and workign professionally, I make no apologies for swearing– like other techniques such as timing, rhythm, body language and delivery, swearing has it’s place in effective delivery of ideas.


But it is seldom that I will swear at someone.  In fact, I don’t remember the last time I swore at someone.  For me to use swear words in anger, and to blame my anger directly on someone at the same time: “What the fuck are you doing here?” is a usage that is different for me.



I’ve spent almost two decades in martial arts and sport taking on people who wanted to beat me, or beat me up.  Oftentimes they succeeded.  But I was seldom ever angry at people for them going after me– what has consistently angered me about people is not when they direct their energy at me, but when they have no energy at all.


I often end up training with Will because he’s roughly the same weight as me (although by roughly, he’s actually almost 10kilograms heavier than me).  I have been doing judo for a bit over a year now– we started at the same time.  I have always been kind to him.  I”ve been very patient and very understanding of his personality.  So it’s not that I’ve not given him a chance– I’ve been working with him for over a year now.


But, nice guy as he is, he’s useless to me in judo.  I’m fed up of him and, from now on, I’ll avoid training with him whenever I can.


It came up in discussion at dinner with some classmates how much I hate the expression “he’s a nice guy” or “she’s a nice girl,” because to me, it’s a waste of breath.  If you want to put it cynically, I only make friends with people who are useful to me.  That means that I have to enjoy the time I spend with them for some reason or another.  There has to be some sort of benefit.   I’m not saying necessarily that it has to be a material benefit– it could also be psychological or spiritual. I might just enjoy your company, I might enjoy the conversations we have.  But if you’re just nice?


I’m not someone who has infinite time and patience for people who are simply harmless.  There are billions of people on the planet who are actually interesting– why waste time with the ones who aren’t?


WIthout any passion or substance, and that could include history, people are fundamentally worthless to me.