Your Competition May Not Be As Tough As They Look


Hi folks,

Life is full of surprises, so don’t let your competition psyche you out (it’s not over ’till its over).

When I was a youngster I joined a judo club. After only a few months of training our group of 15 to 16-year-old boys was asked to participate in a martial arts demonstration in a large auditorium in the center of town. We didn’t know much, but then our role was to act as a backdrop for the real performance. When we arrived at the hall I was surprised by its size and how many people were there, about a thousand. In addition to other performers, a famous martial artist was in town to present an exhibition of advanced street fighting techniques designed for self-defense against a range of attackers.

After an hour or so into the program it was our turn. We trooped onto the stage, a bunch of shy and not so shy kids in judo uniforms, and carried out a choreographed set of moves and some simple sparring. Once we were finished, our job was to sit cross-legged around the back of the stage and observe the ‘master.’ We had the best seats in the house. The visual implication of the arrangement was that we were students there to learn, and learn we did! The martial arts expert was impressively fit, well-built, and clearly experienced with this type of public display of his skills.

Following a brief speech about self-defense, on came his first challenger, a big, rough-looking guy who went straight into the attack but he lasted no time at all. He was disabled in a matter of seconds. Then two attackers, followed by three, then two with heavy sticks, then a tough with a hammer and another with a knife, and so forth until the finale, a man with a gun (loaded with blanks). He was small and wiry, and he stepped up quietly behind the master self-defense expert and put the gun to his back. In a flash (literally), the expert whipped around, grasping the attacker’s arm to direct the gun away from himself. Again the assailant was disarmed and disabled in a trice. At some point during this flurry of activity the gun fired with a deafening retort. Remember that in addition to lots of noise, blanks generate a six-inch flame from the gun barrel. We watched in silent surprise as the ‘victor’ bowed to the applauding audience. We were not surprised by his apparent success. Our attention was on the neat round black hole punched in the center of the back of his judo top. There was even a wisp of smoke rising from the burned material. I am sure that he was in some pain from the burn inflicted by the flame from the gun barrel. Had this been a real gun loaded with live bullets it would have severed his spine. We also noticed that he was careful to avoid turning his back to the audience.

Endurance sports are like street fights, in that you can never predict the outcome. My previous coach, Chris Haute, told me, “Kevin, if you go faster because you see your competitor ahead of you, why weren’t you running faster anyway, because you were clearly able to do so?” So don’t let the appearance of your competitors influence your performance one way or the other, just do your very best. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog that counts. My goal as a triathlete is to become a little dog with a big gun!

-k Your Medical Mind


  1. I remember it well. The lesson I learned was not to take a knife to a gunfight!

    I also remember when in the Royal Navy when I was carrying a loaded gun the officers and petty officers seemed to lose their flair for bawling insults at you. Some of them even boardered on being polite; although my fluid memory might be stretching things there!

    I was taught unarmed combat, not self-defence, and have spent the rest of my life attempting to forget it. However the memory seems to solidify about some things that you want to forget.

    I hope the race(s?) went well and you had a good time.


    • Kevin Morgan says

      Hi Trevor,

      Yep! Had a great time at the race, thanks! As far as fighting is concerned, I sure wish that it was never necessary, but life on planet Earth is one long battle. The thing I liked most about martial arts was the fact that one was trained to avoid a fight if possible, by using diplomacy from a position of mental strength, but as you know ‘that and 40 cents will buy you a cup of coffee,’ most of the time.

      Kind Regards,


  2. Kevin Morgan says

    Hi Trevor,

    This is an American expression that I learned in Arkansas about 20 years ago. Basically, if you say ‘that and forty cents will buy you a cup of coffee,’ which cost 40 cents (at that time), it means that ‘that’ is worth zero. Now I hear people say ‘that and four bucks will buy you a latte at Starbucks.’



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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.