If you watch footage of old judo masters demonstrating their skills against their own students, it’s unclear just what they could do against a resisting opponent — but these masters have long track-records of trouncing such resisting opponents in their youth:
The same cannot be said of all martial arts masters. In the case of aikido master Yanagi Ryuken, things got out of hand — quite literally:
Apparently he and his students believed their own hype — which led to this rendez-vous with reality:
As Sam Harris notes, it is sad to see a confused old man repeatedly punched in the face, but you can take some satisfaction in seeing a collective delusion so emphatically dispelled.
And that’s why Mr. Harris is now studying Brazilian jiu-jitsu and experiencing the pleasures of drowning:
It is a remarkable property of grappling that the distance between theory and reality can be fully bridged.
I can now attest that the experience of grappling with an expert is akin to falling into deep water without knowing how to swim. You will make a furious effort to stay afloat — and you will fail. Once you learn how to swim, however, it becomes difficult to see what the problem is — why can’t a drowning man just relax and tread water? The same inscrutable difference between lethal ignorance and lifesaving knowledge can be found on the mat: To train in BJJ is to continually drown — or, rather, to be drowned, in sudden and ingenious ways — and to be taught, again and again, how to swim.