- Posts: 26
- Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:13 pm
He spotted among the spectators an old friend who told him the tribal chief's eldest son would be defending his championship title in 10 consecutive years. The 10th annual mixed martial arts "lei tai" championship was a full-contact tournament with no protection for the fighters such as protective headgear and gloves.
There were no written rules or round limits, no weight categories and no referee. The fight continued until either fighter surrendered, was thrown or forced from the stage, was incapacitated or even killed. The winner would remain on the stage unless ousted by a stronger opponent. If there were no more challengers, he would become the champion. In other words, a fighter had to defeat countless opponents to become a champion.
As the defending champion, the tribal chief's son was the first martial artist to go up onto the stage and issued his challenge to the crowd below. One after another, he was challenged by 18 martial artists, but he swiftly demolished them in succession. The spectators could see him moving his mouth throughout the fights, but they could not hear what he was talking.
After 18 consecutive wins, he raised both his fists in the air as a gesture of victory and invited anyone among the spectators to knock him off. After waiting for a while, there seemed to be no more challengers. As he was about to declare himself the unbeaten champion in 10 consecutive years, a man in his early thirties suddenly leaped up onto the stage.
The defending champion said something softly to the new challenger. As the spectators could not hear the conversation, they took it as an initial greeting. As in his earlier fights, the defending champion kept muttering something throughout the fight. The challenger showed no response but kept fighting hard with a straight face. Unlike the rest, the challenger did not give up fighting after getting hit with a clean punch. After a long drawn-out fight, the defending champion was kicked off the stage like a football and carried away on a stretcher. Filled with curiosity, the priest turned to his old friend.
Priest: I am not surprised by the defeat of the undeserving champion. What's puzzling is the irrational behaviour of the first 18 challengers. Why should they concede defeat after exchanging a few light blows?
Old friend: Your question brings to mind my bitter experience in the 1st annual mixed martial arts "lei tai" championship 9 years ago. Despite the passing of time, I can still recall it as if it were yesterday. At that time, that so-called champion was 30 years old -- about the same age as me. He built the first "lei taiâ€ platform in the tribal region and challenged all martial artists to a fight.
Among 30 martial artists, I was the first to challenge him on the elevated fighting arena. After exchanging greetings, he warned me in a whisper: "There's a special place in hell for any martial artist who dares to retaliate against my attacks. My father, the tribal leader, will arrange with Yama, the god of death, to invite you and your entire family to the underworld if you won't acknowledge defeat."
Throughout the fight, he used a combination of taunts and intimidation to pressure me into capitulation, labelling me â€œan embarrassmentâ€ and a â€œterrible martial artistâ€. â€œYou are easily this regionâ€™s worst martial artist yet," he whispered.
He continued taunting, "Honestly I think you have done a terrible job so far in your martial arts school. You should be ashamed to call yourself the grandmaster of your martial arts system. Well as Iâ€™m sure you know, Iâ€™ve closely followed news of whatever happening in your martial arts school all my life. And I think you've done such damage to your leadership that your disciples should rename it to like, gang leader or something more sounding, like mafia boss. You accept all kinds of characters into your school. You are the founder of a terrorist organisation in this region.
"You acted so meek and mild during our breakfast meeting this morning only to be the first challenger in my first mixed martial arts â€˜lei taiâ€™ championship, telling the other martial artists that my invitation to them to a duel is kind of insulting. You are very dishonest and weak. You have stolen many pupils from my martial arts school by regularly lowering your tuition fees. My punches are in response to your repeated theft. If you want to be the adult in the fighting arena, you need to behave like an adult."
Priest: It looked like the so-called unbeaten champion was conducting a psychological warfare to undermine your will to fight.
Old friend: Quite true. Accusing me and other martial artists of starting the problem by unfair competition, he said: "If you and other martial artists retaliate, youâ€™re making a mistake. Due to unfair competition by all martial artists, my school's enrollment has decreased tremendously. Thereâ€™s very bad spirit when I have a small enrollment and all of you keep taking away my students so my martial arts school can never catch up. Thatâ€™s not a good thing to do. And I have very, very strong measures that take care of that. The numbers are so astronomically against all of you. I shall win this championship a thousand times out of a thousand. I shall not be pushed around. Itâ€™s going to change, 100%. My martial arts school is like the piggy bank that everybodyâ€™s robbing. And that ends."
So he kept taunting and insulting me throughout the fight. Gradually I lost my temper. If the gates of hell opened suddenly, I would not hesitate to throw him down below. However, I was aware of the catastrophic consequences of defeating him. My entire family and I, even my relatives would be executed by the tribal chief as punishment. Hence before any tragedy happened, I gave up fighting by leaping down the stage.
Priest: Did he use the same psychological manipulation techniques to force the others into submission?
Old friend: Yes, I found out from all the other challengers that he had used the same underhanded tactics against them in the past 9 years.
Priest: How did the spectators, particularly your disciples, respond to the outcome of your match?
Old friend: The spectators found it very puzzling why I should give up fighting for no rhyme or reason. Of course, they could not hear the big bully's taunts and intimidation because he uttered very softly, almost in a whisper. I was labelled as a coward and failure. My reputation was destroyed in the wake of my apparent defeat. Many of my disciples left to join his martial arts school. After some years I had to close my school because of declining enrollment.
Priest: Did the same thing happen to the others after their apparent defeat?
Old friend: Yes, many of their disciples went to learn martial arts from that so-called unbeaten champion. Many martial artists had to close their schools due to declining enrollment, and some of them had their schools taken over by the big bully.
Priest: Then how come the last challenger could dismiss all the threats and put up a good fight to become the new champion?
Old friend: The last challenger is deaf. That explains his apparent ignorance of the bully's intimidation, and his smashing success in smashing the crown of the undeserving champion to smithereens.
Priest: It seems that you know the last challenger very well.
Old friend: For many years after my apparent defeat, I suffered from depression and anxiety. Then I decided to exact revenge against the big bully. But I could not find any way to deal with him until I saw a busker performing acrobat jumping in a street. He is the best person to teach that big bully a lesson for the following reasons:
Firstly, his kung fu fighting techniques were superb. Actually that so-called unbeaten champion's martial arts system is not that superior. If not for the big bully's underhand tactics, he could have been vanquished long ago by any challenger.
Secondly, he is an orphan without any family or relative, and a vagabond without a home. If the tribal chief wants to revenge his son's defeat, the only way is after the new championâ€™s blood.
Thirdly, he is deaf so he would be immune to the undeserving champion's taunts and intimidation.
Using sign language, I persuaded him to compete in the championship.
Priest: Did you inform him of the big bully's psychological manipulation techniques?
Old friend: No, I want to ensure that both his sanity and his will to fight will not be undermined by the enemy.
Priest: But he will be executed by the tribal chief if he stays behind to receive the prize money and be crowned the new champion.
Old friend: Although I did not inform him of the big bully's underhanded tactics, I had warned him of what might happen if he won the fight. Hence he would run for his life immediately after the fight. I had asked my old servant to wait for him with two horses -- one for each rider -- some distance ahead on the main road. I had given both of them more than enough money to last for the rest of their lives. By now, they should be heading towards a neighbouring tribal region on their horses. Down there, in my old servant's birthplace, they will live happily ever after.
Priest: Capitalism exists everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. Is there any betting on the championship?
Old friend: There was betting during in the first few years on the championships. But after five or six years, when the people found out that the same person always won the championship, they stopped betting altogether. I could have won a huge fortune if I place my bet on the new champion.
Priest: Why didn't you do so?
Old friend: I don't want to be the prime suspect of the big bully's defeat. I don't want the tribal chief to exact revenge on me.
Narrator: The spectators were awestruck at first when they saw the so-called unbeaten champion of 9 successive years kicked off the stage by a newcomer. Then the dead silence was broken by a huge applause. However, when they tried to look for the new champion, he was nowhere to be seen.
After bidding farewell to his old friend, the priest continued his journey, knowing somewhere in front of him two men were speeding on their horses towards the border of a neighbouring tribal land.