Saturday, 28 February 2015

Angry Gerbils. 28.02.15

I was chatting last week with some clever folk about people who refuse to tap out - the sort you put into a perfectly legit joint lock or choke, and they just refuse to acknowledge it. You end up with two choices: do damage or let them go. Most people, if they are just training or playing, choose the latter. The non-tappers appear to class this as a win: they refused to give up and prevailed. The rest of the world tends to look at the situation in far less complimentary terms.

I'd never much thought about the power dynamics in that situation. The non-tappers' strategy relies entirely on other people's unwillingness to hurt them. Their "win" has nothing to do with their superior determination; it is solely dependent on the fact that most people are reluctant to hurt others over a game.

Having that pointed out to me was quite upsetting. I'm not a non-tapper in the gym, but I have often relied on my unwillingness to give up in real life. Being usually the smallest and weakest person, I decided at a very early age that if people were going to try and hurt me I was going to make it as costly to them as possible. I was, like, fierce and shit. Think Wolverine… scale him down… scale him down some more… OK, I was a very angry gerbil.

Mostly, it worked. In any environment (school, clubs, work) I’d generally ever get picked on only once, and things never went very far. I thought it was because of my superior ferocity. Now I wonder if it was just because my opponents were either concerned about the paperwork (bodies can be hard to hide if you've not planned ahead), or just kind of sorry for me. If it was the former, I could still nearly class the whole thing as a win. Had I not demonstrated my extreme unwillingness to be walked over, they would have probably carried on doing it. I am averse to being squished, so any means of stopping the squishing is fine by me. 

But what if it was pity that stopped them? What if they felt sorry for the little woobie who didn’t know when she’d been beaten? In a social setting, that could have been the case. I am left half-hoping that I’d rightly read those situations as asocial, just so I can feel like less of an idiot.

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