When you get to that point in your training that you start wondering what it`s all about and you wonder why you are there, and you wonder what else you could be doing with your time that`s normally a sign that you`re just about getting there.` - Geoff Thompson
If you are the kind to hit up the nightclub scene after a Friday night`s training (I`m talking to all you bouncers out there), you really owe it to yourself to checkout Geoff Thompson.
Geoff Thompson is the author of numerous martial arts videos and books. Watch My Back is the autobiographical account of Geoff`s martial arts project - a profound examination of the nature of courage.
Much of this book involves what Geoff calls "The Fence" - fighting at handshake range. While he is the first to admit he did not invent the ideas in the Fence, anymore than he invented common sense, he does a masterful job of conveying the lessons of his teachers - the security crew at the most violent nightclub in Manchester, England.
Getting someone in this range is very dangerous, especially if they plan to knock you out. But after reading this book, you will learn when someone means to hit you, when they are close enough, and when they have crossed the line.
But Watch My Back is more than just a catalogue of 1001 sucker punches, or a collection of war stories. At any given time, the book reads like a novel, or an autobiography, or self-defense manual, slipping between these different forms like a boxer slipping punches.
Geoff Thompson can fight and fight well. He can also write, and write well. Before a quarter of the way through the book you may find yourself laughing at how often he will distract you, close the range, pick his angle, and unload some surprise, whether it be a punch line, personal insight, revealed truth, or just plain charm.
What he is doing here is showing rather than telling how his idea of the fence works, and that`s good writing.
Watch My Back is also filled with the contradictory, paradoxical images that a fighter may encounter. The best example of this is his description of fear management.
Fear can give you that all-important edge of intensity over an opponent, if it is properly controlled. So, while every fiber of your body is telling you not to do something, you do it anyway. It is sometimes necessary to abide in these two contrary states of mind at once and the result can be transcendent.
Thompson`s book resonates with this kind of dissonance as beautifully as a jazz chord progression.
This mysterious coexistence of opposites extends right down to the man himself. While watching his videos, he looks ordinary, but you keep doing a double take as if you saw something out of the corner of your eye. It keeps happening until you are studying him like you are the only guy in the room that doesn`t get the joke, or a boxer who realizes his opponent is toying with him, and can hit anytime he wants.
Geoff`s style is like a million bucks wrapped in newsprint.
He is that rare combination - the Warrior/Poet.
Somehow Geoff turned his tenure at the door of the most dangerous nightclub he could find into a school of higher knowledge, and in doing so escaped palooka-ville.
The highest praise I can give this book is it made me proud to be a martial artist. If you have ever doubted what you are doing in â€˜the arts`, or wondered where it is taking you, Geoff Thompson has not only drawn a complete arc, but shows you how to use your â€˜technique` for a higher purpose.
During the question and answer portion of a seminar the visiting â€˜pros` from out of town are giving, you may hear the question, â€˜Why did you start in martial arts, and why did you stick with it?`
The answer may begin with a lowered gaze and a mumbling about insecurity. Then, as if surfacing from a memory, the gaze is lifted and the answer comes, â€˜It`s the people that you meet.`
Geoff Thompson is one of those people.
You can get to know him better, read samples of his writing and view a clip of the movie being made from this book at his web site. http://www.geoffthompson.com/