I randomly remembered a weird incident that happened to me 30 years ago: getting my ass kicked in a martial arts class in the basement of the UN.
In the mid 90s, I was working at an accredited NGO at the United Nations. As such I had a few privileges like being able to attend intergovernmental meetings, collect legal documents, and use various services that the diplomats and staff had access to.
One of those services was a collection of special classes and clubs. They had classes on a bunch of subjects like languages, music, and fitness, including martial arts.
As a teen I had studied some Japanese and Korean martial arts, but it had been awhile. So I was curious what it would feel like to take a new martial arts class. I found an instructor who was teaching a Korean form I didn’t know much about, but it sounded interesting.
So, one evening, I found myself in a section of the UN I had never been to. There were maybe 5 or 6 students, all of whom seemed pretty novice. We were in a musty, dimly lit storage room that had been converted into a small gym, with a few exercise mats and random exercise equipment lying around.
The master was a middle-aged Korean gentleman who had a firm and commanding presence. I don’t know if he knew that I had some martial arts training, but he picked me out of the group to demonstrate his technique to the class.
He proceeded to basically kick the shit out of me in front of the other students. He would have me throw a slow punch, which he would block and then twist my arm around my back and drag me down into a submission pose. Then he would have me do a front kick, which he would block, sweep me to the floor, and pretend to do a finishing strike to my temple. This went on for maybe ten minutes. He didn’t injure me, but it was pretty painful and embarassing.
Needless to say, I never came back after that “lesson.”
To this day, I don’t know what that was about. Was he making an example out of me? Did he think I needed to be put in my place? Was this his teaching style? Or was he just an asshole?
I’ve since learned that there are many successful martial arts dojos that use these techniques to basically bully students into submitting to the will of the master.