When I was 18, I had an encounter with my dark side, Its something I still think about to this day.
I was out with my brothers and a couple of our male and female cousins, we were at a family event and then we split off to have a few drinks ourselves afterwards.
we were having a jolly old time of it and I was a little bit drunk.
As we were walking down Grafton street in the early hours of the morning, we passed 2 guys that were probably 10 years older than me and pretty drunk, one of them shouldered me pretty hard as he walked by.
I looked back but just kept walking.
A couple of minutes later, I felt a hand on my shoulder and when i turned around, it was the same guy, he had followed us down the road with his mate in tow.
I told him to fuck off and mind his own business as I stepped away from the girls to try and create some space and draw him away.
He was being pretty aggressive and of course, one of the ladies stepped in to try and calm the situation down.
I told him one last time to turn around and go home but he wouldn't stop.
Then he pushed my cousin pretty hard and she fell on the ground, that was when I lost it!
Everything slowed down and I felt completely emotionless.
I moved around to the back to separate him from the group of girls, as he turned, he swung at me with a punch, it seemed like complete slow mo, I kicked his lead leg out from under him and followed with a left hook as he dropped to one knee.
I distinctly remember having internal dialogue in my head as I wound up for a kick.
In the back of my head there was a voice screaming "leave it now, he's done, he's no longer a threat" but that scary calm rage just overshadowed it.
I could still hear the voice of reason screaming as my right shin connected with his face and he fell and cracked his head off the ground.
The voice screamed louder, but it was as if I was on auto pilot, I kicked him while he was on the ground, again, and again, and again. I couldn't even tell you how many times.
The next thing I know, I was pulled away by a girl who was just screaming "STOP, STOP, STOP" at the top of her voice.
It was like coming out of a trance, I looked around me and people were just staring at me with scared and horrified faces. I felt like a bit of a monster!
I walked away.
In my mind I tried to justify it to myself by saying he deserved it, it was self defense etc, but I knew that was bollox.
As a martial artist, I should have used the minimum necessary force to put him down, no excuses.
If that girl hadn't stepped in, who knows what could have happened, my life could be very different now.
It still enters my head often.
In the weeks after that incident, I mulled it over in my head constantly, I had been in many fights before this , but it had never given me this feeling of shame, what was different ??
Almost all of the fights I had been in up to that point were usually defending myself, and I was usually outnumbered, so I never felt unjustified in my actions, whereas on this occasion I allowed the darkness to take over, and worst of all, I used more force than necessary. When he was down and beaten, I Didn't stop, I let my rage control me.
As a martial artist and as a man that tries to be honourable, I let myself down.
I met my shadow that night, and it was scary, but there was a deep lesson in it for me. I would say that it was a real turning point in my life, I realized my potential to do damage, the actual destruction that I could cause if I stopped giving a fuck, If I just let that shadow control the direction of my life.
The point that I'm trying to make is that we all have A dark side to us, that ancient chimp ego that rises up and urges us to do unthinkable things. And I believe that knowing and understanding that side of ourselves actually makes us stronger and more responsible. And ultimately allows us to control it better.
I like the saying : "with great power, comes great responsibility"
I am glad that I have seen that side of myself, I am glad that I understand the true destructive force that I can bring to bear, because it scares me, it forces me to keep that side of the me in check.
I remember discussing the incident with my sensei at the time, who was a great mentor to me as a young man. What he said stuck in my head to this day : "Any time you engage in physical combat, you must be willing to see it through to its ultimate conclusion, and that is the possibility of killing someone or being killed yourself."
He wasn't encouraging me to go out and use lethal force, he was warning me about my own ability to cause harm.
Those words hit me hard and ultimately drove home the lesson that was contained in his following words :
"Every man has that darkness inside of him, It is something that we all have to battle with, however, there are times to let it out and times to restrain it. when you are in danger, it is your greatest ally. Be very wary of anybody that denies their capacity for evil, because that instantly makes them a lier"
That darkness can manifest itself in many different ways, and it is so important that we give ourselves outlets to exercise our primal selves.
Yes, we are civilized, but beneath that thin veil of civilization lies millions of years of evolution of savage instincts designed for survival at all costs.
One other thing that I really want to address here is the potential for alcohol to put us in a weakened position where the shadow can take over in situations like this.
How many people do things that they would never never do sober under the influence??
How many unnecessary deaths are caused under the influence?
we all know those people that seem to flip a switch and go dark after a few drinks, their shadow rising to the surface.
Thinking back on it, I realise that this isolated incident when i was 18 years old actually had a huge affect on my relationship with alcohol.
anyway, rambled on a bit there, but i would be very interested to hear anyones thoughts or input on the matter.
have you encountered your shadow,
did it scare you ?
make you ashamed?
Do you think you are all nice and well meaning and that you would never hurt a fly ?
Thanks for listening,
Keep the war chimp in its box !