Self Defense: a parable

Sarah was on her lunch break, enjoying the sunshine as she sat at a table in the park, reading a novel. Right in the middle of a particularly enjoyable paragraph, she was interrupted by a young man.

“Excuse me,” he said with a perfect smile. “My name is Hank. I’d like to give you this.” He put a little comic book — not much bigger than a business card — on the table in front of her.

Sarah picked it up and gave it a look. The book had a cartoonish picture of some kind of four-armed monster and was titled simply, “The Beast”. She turned to the man. He was young, perhaps college age, and casually but nicely dressed. She noticed he had one of those silicone bracelets around his wrist embossed with “WWJCD?” Sarah held up the book he’d offered and said, “Thanks, but I don’t normally read comics.”

“It’s not just a komic,” Hank said. “It’s about defending yourself. You want to know how to defend yourself, don’t you?”

Sarah looked at him with a bit of suspicion, wondering where this was going, and said a tentative. “Sure.”

“Of course you do!” Without really being given permission, Hank sat at the table across from Sarah. “That’s why I’m here to give you the good news about Mortal Kombat.”

“I’m not into video games,” said Sarah.

Hank seemed genuinely surprised. “Not at all?”

She shrugged. “Not for years. I played a bunch when I was younger, but none of them was really satisfying.”

“Wow,” Hank said. “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll be attacked and not know how to defend yourself?”

“Not particularly. I’ve been studying martial arts since I was a teenager, and have been training in Jeet Kune Do for eight years.”

Hank shook his head. “That doesn’t mean anything by itself, though. You might know some moves, but how you behave doesn’t matter when it comes to self defense. What matters is whether or not you are obeying the rules set out by the Thunder God Raiden. If you do that, then you are guaranteed ultimate viktory in the next life!”

Sarah laughed a little. “Seriously? But what about here and now? I want to defend myself when a problem arises, not after I’m dead.”

“Your feeble demonstrations of kombat skill mean nothing to Raiden. If you accept him into your heart then he will fight for you. All of your enemies will ultimately be defeated. Just give Mortal Kombat a try and you’ll see what I mean.”

“I’ve played Mortal Kombat. It didn’t tell me anything about martial arts that I don’t already know, and there’s too much made-up stuff for me to take it seriously.”

“What ‘made-up stuff’? Mortal Kombat is the truest game there is! It was kreated by four programmers — Ed, Dan, John, and John — inspired by Raiden himself! Their kode was without flaw and has never been changed.”

“Never been changed? I’m sure there had to be a debugging process. And weren’t there four different Mortal Kombat arcade games? Plus the console versions?”

“The konsole versions are just ports of the original, so they’re true so far as they were translated korrectly. And no, there was no debugging of the original kode needed. You also have to realize that those four different games were just four different tellings of the same Mortal Kombat story. It’s like four different people who witness an event — they might tell the story differently, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t telling the same story.”

“There’s no way those four games were all written by four guys. There’s even credits at the end of some of the games that list more people.”

It was Hank’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know about that. I’ve never gotten to the end of any of the games, but –”

“Wait — you’ve never completed any of the Mortal Kombat games?”

“No. They’re hard, and frankly after a while they get kind of boring. But it doesn’t really matter if you finish them. What matters is if you accept them into your heart.”

“That makes no sense to me. But then the whole thing makes no sense to me. Like I said, the game has nothing to do with real-life self defense.”

“But it does! If you are threatened, just ask yourself ‘What would Johnny Cage do?’ He was the perfect example of self defense!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Johnny Cage used magic. There’s no magic in real self defense.”

“Yes there is.”

“No, there’s not.”

“Well, sometimes there is. If you trust in Johnny.”

“No, there never is. If I’m wrong, show me an example.”

“Mortal Kombat is full of examples of magic in kombat!”

“Those don’t count. It’s just a video game.”

“Just a video game? Seriously? In other kountries, there are people who follow the way of Virtua Fighter. Now that’s just a video game, and Raiden dooms those people to defeat. They’re just deluded. When Johnny Cage was defeated, he accepted all of our defeats, past and future, and turned them into viktory by returning alive in the next game. You only have to accept his viktory for it to be yours.”

Sarah could see that this was going nowhere. She tried to change the subject a bit. “Okay, that aside, I don’t mind hearing what you have to say about defending myself. What good, practical, useful advice does Mortal Kombat have about self defense?”

Hank’s face brightened. “It has the best advice of all — the Ten Martial Laws! Anyone who rightly calls themselves an expert in self defense follows these ten laws to the letter.”

“Okay, give me an example.”

“Well, the first Law is ‘Thunder God Raiden is the only true master of self defense.”

Sarah sat in silence for a moment, puzzled. “That’s it? How’s that supposed to help me defend myself?”

“Raiden is the one true source of martial-arts knowledge. How can you defend yourself if you don’t accept him as master? And that leads to the second Law, ‘You shall have no martial arts master but Raiden.”

“That’s two laws out of ten, and I still haven’t heard any practical advice.”

“Let’s see… ‘Don’t speak against Raiden,’ ‘Don’t fight on Raiden’s day off,’ ‘Don’t punch your parents’ — I know! Law #6, ‘Finish him!’ That’s good, practical advice right there. No arguing that!”

“But ‘finish him?’ What does that even mean?”

“It means that when someone hurts you, you have to fight back, and when you win you have to totally smash your opponent. It’s an obvious Law. Everyone agrees that it’s true.”


“Always. No exceptions.”

“So if, say, someone bites me, I should fight them and then finish them when they are defeated?”


“Even if it was a baby that bit me?”

“Well, no, not if it was a baby.”

“And what if the person gives up and says they’re sorry? Should I still do this ‘finish’ move?”

“Well no, no then. That wouldn’t be right. But those things aren’t what the Law means. It’s komplicated.”

“If it’s that complicated, I’d say it’s close to useless. Why not just learn to be good at defending yourself and forget all the silly Mortal Kombat stuff?”

Hank’s eyes grew wide at that suggestion. “Are you kidding? If Mortal Kombat isn’t true, if Raiden isn’t the great sensei, then where does self defense come from?”

“It’s something people worked out, with reason and logic and practice.”

“But what’s it grounded in? What’s the reason for following it if not to guarantee ultimate viktory? If there is no kreator, then your martial arts system is really nothing but a bunch of random movements, and you can’t use random movements to defend yourself. That would make no sense!”

“Speaking of things that make no sense,” Sarah said, her lunch hour almost up and her patience for time-wasting slipping, “I’m starting to think that you don’t know a thing about martial arts.”

“Are you kidding? I have a black belt in Mortal Kombat!”

“Really. And how did you earn that?”

“By accepting Thunder God Raiden into my heart and being kleansed in fire! While you waste your time practicing and working on your tekhnique, I am filled with the light of Raiden and know in my very soul the perfect kounter move to any attack. So long as I keep my faith, I am invincible!”

Sarah started to stand, saying her time was up, but Hank was on a roll and spoke right through her as she got to her feet.

“Look at you,” he said. “You may think you’re fit and lithe, but your so-called defensive skills are all based on self interest. They have nothing to do with true defense, just kombat, ultimate viktory, or real martial-arts knowledge. You don’t play the one true video game — just like a Mario fan! Or Hitler! Without Mortal Kombat you will be doomed to spend eternity vanquished to Netherrealm with no quarters left to play! You are abhorrent — defenseless! There is no attack you could mount that could so much as ruffle a hair on my head, so worthless and wasted are your pathetic attempts to –”

That’s when Sarah shot a fist across the table, smashing Hank’s nose across his face and sending him flying back, off his seat, to the ground.

She ran around the table to where he lay, flat on his back, blood pouring from his nostrils. “Oh, crap!” she said. “What happened! I thought you were going to defend yourself!”

“I did!” Hank sputtered. “I win! Do what you want but I know the truth! Thank you Johnny Cage! Praise Raiden!”

That’s when Sarah decided to get the heck out of there. If there was one thing she’d learned after years of martial-arts study, it was that you can’t fight krazy.”

Posted on September 29, 2010 at 11:47 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: Essay · Tagged with: 

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Kristian
    on September 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Kuite possibly the stupidest thing ever written . Religion is not a video game and not even close to analogous with it. Christians do not even make arguments even close to the straw man you put in his mouth. The end shows the truth with the atheist punching the Christian though! Christians are very much under attack and violent in your face “new” atheists are definitelly at the forfront of trying to shut us up with any means possible!

  2. Written by ff42
    on September 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Very funny, very true. Religion is based on irrational self-contradictory statements which harm the innocent. Even when they lose they think they win. Apropos.

  3. Written by Akane
    on May 14, 2011 at 9:55 am
    Reply · Permalink

    WHOOO! GO BLOG WRITER WHO I FORGOT THE NAME OF (very sorry, my memory is terrible and it doesn’t say at the top of your posts…)! ATHEISTS ROCK! (Well, Falrians rock more, but we have similar/the same THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS GOD logic…)

    So funny, so true. THAT ROCKS. Christians are so pompous and convinced they are right just because they believe some weird thing which they have no evidence for and which killed thousands of innocents. They believe they are better than us, when many of us go to university and spend our lives studying and working hard at science, just because they believe in some God.

    *goes to find the next one*

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