It's my fault. I should've known better than to believe the bullshit he was feeding me. I should've seen through the lies, but I mistook illusion for reality. I willingly bought into the idea that I needed someone else to provide the feeling of self-worth I so desperately desired.
The Master is always right.
I was bullied for much of my childhood, and I never saw myself as powerful, never in control of my destiny. I tried to go to my parents for help, but my dad didn't see a problem and my mom avoided conflict like the plague. I was left to fend for myself, and the situation deteriorated over the course of high school. By the end of my senior year, I was so deeply mired in despair that I nearly took my life. When I failed at that as well, I knew I had to find a different path out of the hopeless situation I found myself in.
I enrolled in classes at the university while I continued to live at home. Near the end of my first semester, I found a poster which touched me in a way I had never before experienced.
Are you unable to stand up for yourself?
Do you let others bully you into doing what they want?
Can you stand on your own two feet?
If any of these questions are in doubt,
answers await you at ______________.
The stern face looking out at me from the laminated paper was the
epitome of confidence. His eyes bore a hole into my soul, revealing the
multitude of wounds covering the entire surface. For once in my life, I had been offered a cure. I could not turn away.
I will never forget the day I met the Master. I had been attending classes for a week without picking up much in the way of technique. Being slow to learn and too frightfully timid to ask questions, I tried to blend into the class and thus protect myself from ridicule. I succeeded at this until I showed up on a Saturday and got pulled into an advanced class. I still remember his speech years later, as if each word was etched into my memory by chisel. As far as I have come since then, I cannot help but still feel the same awestruck energy as I did on that day.
"When you go out there, it is truly man on man. You have to show that you've got it. You must measure your technique versus his technique. You must place your training against his training, your conditioning against his. It is about the thrill of finding out who is the better man. And whenever I go into combat, I know I am the better man. I always believe in that, and I will never let anyone else make that decision for me. I was once told by a doctor that I would never fight again. Think about that fact for a moment. I should not be here, doing what I am doing, but I am. I became a champion, a goal which modern medicine declared was impossible for me to achieve. The world does not know the real you. Always remember that."
The mirage before my eyes was too intensely real to be denied. I had found the Master. A role model stepped into my life as if on cue, an actor waiting behind the curtain for the perfect moment to appear. The mask he wore reflected the way I sought to feel inside. The hook was in before I even knew I had taken the bait.