Folks - This was first contributed
by brother Badger to Rec-Martial Arts (an Internet chat room he
frequents) hence the constant references to both it and to specific
people and events from that board. Even without knowing any of those
people or events, this FAQ is still a hoot and gives some helpful
advise should you ever find yourself challenged to a deathmatch over
the Internet. - Pete K.
"Sometimes he deserves a killin'
and sometimes he doesn't deserve a killin' so if you're going to kill
someone, make sure he deserves a killin' " - W. Hock Hochheim
Whaddya say, people? Isn't it time we stopped giving our money to the lawyers and started giving it to the undertakers? Sure it is. It was good enough for our ancestors, and it should be good enough for us. And it never did them any harm - why, they lived in a halcyon age where teenagers were respectful and didn't dress oddly, and the sun was always shining except on the way to school when, inexplicably, three feet of snow fell overnight, and hills slanted against you both there and back. But I digress
1) Getting Started - the Challenge
Of course, there are so many ways that this can
happen. Rarely does it occur because of personal insults. Typically
it is a response to someone refusing to see that the Sweet & Holy
Light of the Universe shines out your ass.
1a) Are You Talking to Me? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?
Characterized by belligerence, posturing and a
thin skin. The most common form of challenging, often engendered by
the incorrect belief that everybody will agree with you and rally to
your cause. Things escalate because nobody rallies to your side, and
you look like an idiot with your ass dangling in the wind. Lots of
smoke, but not much fire. Often, but not exclusively, the parvenu of
someone who hasn't been posting long.
1b) You Are So Full of Shit, I Mistook You for a Porta-Potty at Woodstock
Characterized by utter disbelief at another's
assertions. Utterly common point of view, but usually stays at the
flame war level.
1c) But Sokitumi Sensei Told Me Our Style can Defeat any Outrageous Number of Armed Attackers
People resent having their illusions shattered, or
even questioned - more so when that belief has been propped up by an
old man with a thick accent. It probably tugs at some psychological
level untapped since childhood, when Santa's sleigh disappeared over
the Atlantic, the Sandman was arrested for throwing grit in
children's eyes, and ice cream cones weren't filled to the
2) Various Levels of Understanding the Niceties of Challenges
Okay, so most universities don't offer credit in
Code Duello anymore (even as an elective! Why, it makes me furious I
can tell you... but I digress), and can therefore be excused for not
having all the details down. We'll just hit the high points.
2a) If You Accept my Challenge, Can I Sleep on Your Couch?
All onuses are on the challenger to cover travel
costs, find accommodations, propose acceptable limitations, etc. All
the challenged has to do is either accept or refuse the challenge,
although historically choice of weapons, time and location were
usually up to the challenged. It is somewhat unsporting to deny a
challenge out of hand, but the challenged is not obligated to accept
The Trav Clause: Trav may elect to pay for one of the challengers to come to a venue of his choice and sleep with the fishes - er, on his couch. Don't say you weren't warned.
2b) Retreat, Regroup, Repeat
There are many things in your life done in the
heat of the moment that you will regret later. Here's three: getting
drunk in Las Vegas, visiting a tattoo parlour while drunk in Las
Vegas, or challenging someone. Offering a challenge, and then
adding/changing conditions is a common way of trying to back out
while attempting to maintain some dignity. The problem is it doesn't
work - your dignity was shot to shreds a while ago and all this does
is reinforce the widespread belief that you are a poseur. Popular
variations include "my technique is too deadly," "a true martial
artist doesn't lower himself to fighting," and "my mom won't let
Emin Boztepe & Royce Gracie is a good example. (Although not Rec-MA participants, this non-event was precipitated by Rec-MA discussion - way to go, and better luck next time)
2c) Gentlemen, Take 10 Paces, Turn and Fire
Both sides up to it, understand how these things
work, set it up. About as common as a pair of brown shoes at a tux
rental shop. (Carl and Gi, Mike and Chas)
3) What Constitutes a Challenge?
With the modern standards of incivility, it can be
difficult to decide whether somebody is actually trying to fight you,
or merely communicating using Standard God-Damn
3a) Oh yeah? You Talk Tough for Somebody on the Other Side of the Atlantic!
A challenge does not consist of offering to fight
somebody, telling him or her to come visit, and boasting of victory
when the opponent does not immediately run out to catch the next
flight into town. This is sort of like tapping somebody on the arm,
and then running away claiming that you used 'dim mak' and are
therefore the victor.
3b) Come to the Clambake - If You Dare!
The word "challenge" does not necessarily need to appear in discussions to make it a challenge. Choose whichever euphemism you'd like, call it an "invitation" if that makes you feel better - certainly nobody else expects tea and cucumber sandwiches to be served. Hell, call it the Death-Jamboree if you need to, just don't let semantics get in the way of a good fight.
Chaplain-X "inviting" Chas
3c) Whaddya Mean You Didn't Hear About My Challenge?
Grumbling to yourself in the car, writing a letter
and losing it behind the couch, or taking out a classified ad in the
local paper do not constitute issuing a challenge, and certainly
don't give you bragging rights. C'mon now, you're trying to get
somebody to fight you and it does require *some* effort.
3d) Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain
Ah, the joys of newsgroups, where nobody knows
you're a dog (well, except for your habit of occasionally lapsing
into "grrrowf! Rowf!" in your messages). Unfortunately, it is
impossible to issue credible challenges *and* remain an anonymous,
gutless troll. If you are going to challenge, you will need to leave
your bomb shelter or mom's basement long enough to stand up and be
identified. Of course, if you were able to do this, you wouldn't be a
*real* troll in the first place, so this section perhaps applies only
to the several species of lesser troll: the spotted troll, whooping
troll, wide mouth troll, prepubescent troll, etc..
When both parties have agreed to a particular date for the challenge, Gichoke will grab anybody showing up at his door on that day and toss them into his basement. If only one person shows up, he wins by default. If a person self-identifies as one of the trolls in question, he will be considered to be that troll. If more than one person claims to be a particular troll, a voir dire challenge match will settle identity issues before the main event.
4) Challenges - the Denouement
There are few ways that challenges finish, and
typically they are (as Chas might say) like being pecked to death by
ducks. Slow, painful, humiliating, and kinda annoying, frankly.
4a) Reality Bites
The combatants meet, fight. Can anybody remember
where this has actually happened with Rec-MA participants? Anybody?
All I can hear is the sound of crickets
Hello? Is this thing
on? I know, I know, I'm asking somebody to admit to possibly
committing a felony, but help me out here.
4b) Tune in, Turn On, Weasel Out
Emin Boztepe & Royce Gracie
Tim & Gi
Fu/Ollie & Gi
Disappear, wait for the heat to die down, hope
nobody remembers it when you start posting again. An alternate
version is to try and exit the mess by saying you will never, ever,
ever post to Rec-MA again, at least until next week. Common.
4c) Gee, You Looked Smaller on the Internet
Fight or flight, what a dilemma. So he opens the
door in response to your knock and looks waaaay down at you. You note
that his smile is composed entirely of steel teeth and that his
eyebrow piercing is actually a large fishhook. Do the only sensible
thing possible and refrain from making a threatening move. Although
you have been told that it is a myth that animals can smell fear,
perhaps now is not the time to find out.
Don Miller meeting Mike Sigma
4d) I Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us
Carl & Gi - everything going swimmingly,
neither side being a baby, logistical problems nix it. Both sides
agree that neither was being duplicitous or evasive. Rare but not
Mike & Chas - Mike visits Chas, demonstrates (amicably) what the hell he is talking about, Chas is man enough to say he was mistaken and gives an in-depth account of Mike's internal skills on Rec-MA.
5) Instructions to Spectators
There are two distinct phases here: before the
challenge, and at the challenge.
Before the challenge, when things are being openly debated in this grand forum, input from spectators is necessary to remind the participants that somebody cares. As Oscar Wilde said, "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." Show them you care with a steady stream of comments - actual content is not obligatory. In fact, it could be a distraction to the fighters. They're busy working themselves into a frenzy, and you're asking logical, thoughtful questions. Well, knock it off!
At the challenge is a different matter all together. Seeing how challenge fights are, well, illegal, perhaps you shouldn't make a scene in case it is being videotaped. Wear clothing you don't mind burning when it is all over. Do not hold up signs that say "John 3:14" and avoid bringing large foam-rubber hands inscribed with "Kick Him in the Groin" or "Choke Him Unconscious".
Don't distract the participants. They have enough on their minds without a schmoe like you yelling, "your shoelace is undone." Polite golf-tournament clapping perhaps would be most appropriate. For a particularly spectacular technique or graphic injury a demure "My Goodness!" or "Here, here! Good show!" is the sign of a considerate spectator.
6) Location, Location, Location
Where to have your challenge match is as important
as who to challenge, and what to challenge them about. In fact, the
location of the intended match has managed to spike several Rec-MA
challenges before they ever made it to the starting line (Tim &
Gi, Carl & Gi, Emin & Royce).
Therefore, in the interest of speeding these things along, the official Rec-MA challenge facility is declared to be Gichoke's basement. He's promised to sweep up a bit before you get there, honest. Alternate location is Trav's backyard.
A third alternative is the random urban setting, in case neither of the previously listed venues is available. A two square block area is marked out on a map. The challenger attacks from surprise, giving the defender an affiRec-MAtive defense with the authorities if he prevails.
So many of us are realizing what the poets have
known for a long time: namely, chicks dig guys they think are
"sensitive." This, of course, explains the popularity of Tai Chi. The
other thing that the poets had right is that a tragic death earns the
memory of you a certain immortality. In recognition of that, the
death match has a certain appeal in the minds of some.
Really, the rules for a death match aren't all that different from your regular challenge. Okay, so you are trying to kill your opponent - that's a pretty big difference - but otherwise the above infoRec-MAtion applies. As for etiquette, it is the hallmark of a courteous fighter that before offering or accepting a fight to the death, you really should let everybody know what your win/loss record is in death matches.
The only other point is just a suggestion: be kind to the viewing audience and agree to the use of weapons in your death match. People are busy these days and won't be able to devote the time necessary to watch you and your opponent bludgeon each other to death with your fists. When choosing a weapon note that bigger is better, with one exception - "serrations." A fight to the death between two men armed with grapefruit spoons will grant you a legacy that will last a lunchtime.
If you can't think of anything, Jeff/Batman has suggested bowling balls. No, I don't understand either - must be a Texas thing.
And the thought occurs to me that any deathmatch that arises between the pro-gun and anti-gun factions will be entertaining, definitive, one-sided and mercifully brief.
8) The Dress Code
But what is considered the "must-have" outfit for
Challenge Matches? A matter of some debate, I admit. Speedos! say
some. Street clothes! say others. Flowing sequined robes with a big
Carmen Miranda fruit hat! say a merciful few. Perhaps the less said
the better, other than it should be appropriate to the challenge (no
cheating and wearing a suit of armour unless that was part of the
thread that provoked the challenge). The only definite rule is for
shrouds: white sheets only, please.
9) The Rec-MA Code Duello
Now, as to the actual rules of the challenge
i) All challenges shall involve only the two principal members of the discussion that precipitated the challenge. In the event that a thread on surviving multiple attackers sparked the challenge, all will convene in a small town bar, where the patrons will be encouraged to provide complementary boxing lessons.
ii) All challengers will be accompanied by a second. However, since most of you people don't have any friends, scratch that.
iii) In the unlikely event that a challenge arises from a "How to defend against a dog" thread, suitable dogs will be acquired from the local pound, and outfitted with the usual lasers, knives and other digressions that abound in such threads.
iv) The match will not be considered to be in progress until one or both participants have lost an eye. Until that point, the challenge will be considered to be "all fun and games."
v) A winner will be automatically declared if one of the participants is unconscious, incapacitated, dead (see section 6), is missing one or more limbs, says 'Uncle', or is otherwise unable to continue. At no point may a fighter declare that the other fighter was correct in his or her Rec-MA assertions, as the opportunity for adult behaviour is long since past (if it ever really existed in the first place).
vi) All challengers are to refrain from eating the corpse of their opponent, unless the thread that provoked the challenge had to deal with the martial capabilities of biting, or the winner is a silat practitioner. If the latter, bring a barbeque and peanut sauce.
vii) If a referee is to officiate at the match, the position must be filled by a Catholic priest, Irish, preferably named Father O'Flanagan. This is doubly important if the challenge arose from the ubiquitous "Christianity in the MA" thread.
viii) Nobody's mom is allowed in.
ix) Please note that the judicial system does not recognize Trial by Combat anymore. Frickin' lawyers gone and spoiled everything.
x) Challenges involving tai chi practitioners will take place at full speed.
xi) All participants are to govern their actions with strict attention to courtesy and decorum as Cough, cough Okay, I know I'm not fooling anybody with this one.
xii) If the "Delayed Death Touch" is used, the impending time of death must be announced in advance - much like calling your shot in pool. Both participants must then sit in chairs until the appointed time. A death occurring within 10 minutes of the agreed-upon time will constitute a victory.
xiii) In the event that somebody is challenged to enter a tournament of a style different from their own, they will be governed by the rules common to the tournaments they are used to. Eskrimadors, leave your knives at the door when you enter the TKD tournament.
xiv) Video and merchandising rights must be claimed by non-participants only. The only permissible forms of merchandise include: t-shirts, posters, and commemorative drinking glasses. Those figurines with the big, bobbling heads are strictly forbidden.
xv) Any challenger wishing his corpse shipped to his preferred place of burial must provide sufficient funds for shipment by bus before the challenge begins.
xvi) Any casualties not claimed by relatives 5 business days after the challenge will be fed to the creatures that dwell in the dank pit in Gi's basement.
In conclusion, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life it can often slip our minds that threats of violence over the Internet do not solely belong to creepy guys who drive white vans slowly and erratically in school districts. We *all* have a responsibility to be as belligerent and fractious as possible to those around us. Let us not slough off our duties onto the poorly-socialized among us but instead take comfort in knowing that violence is truly the world's only universal language
Badger runs the Young Forest Kung Fu Club in Ottawa, Canada and is a free lance writer.