D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

To Be Prepared

                                                    2015   Dawu Village

                                To Be Prepared

Most young boys—including myself—used to dawdle to school and dash away from school. Perhaps, it was the four walls or the 3 r’s that bothered us. Yet, there was something that I learned outdoors from my physical education (PE) teacher. He said to us that we must always be physically prepared for whatever happens. I suppose that recommendation was also ingrained in me from boy cubs and scouts. I extended the concept to mental and spiritual areas, too.

In terms of physical training, though, I trained daily. I carried this habit with me to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis didn’t quite know what to make of it since they shy away from work let alone work-out. My training involved two hours a day--shine or shine. I suppose though I would be called a slacker by Olympic standards. Depending on my work schedule, my work-out might have been at noon, after school or in the early evening.

If you have doubts about this schedule or training then you need only ask the military to show you their recording of my training session. One night I noticed a red flare that shot up into the sky. A half mile away there was a helicopter hovering. Twenty feet away from me they had set up a camera. It all came as a surprise to me, but I was prepared.

Basically, I exercised almost non-stop for one and a half hours. My training was done to the music of Rammstein which certainly got me pumped up. To give you an idea it began with quick punches concentrating on accuracy through the openings in an iron gate. Then, from a standing position I would drop 10 times and catch myself—practising how to fall. I would throw 2000 punches or about the length of three songs. This was followed by a series of side punches and kicks. Several hundred kicks were done afterward. I then ran full speed toward a wall practicing flying kicks. They were followed by kicks against the cement wall. Open palm punches against the wall were numerous. I always remembered the number of sit-ups and push-ups because they equalled my age. I would then throw punches with two bricks in each hand. Of course, there were very quick sprints. However, what they couldn’t film was the half hour of long distance running after this routine—making a total of two hours.

My objective was simple. Be prepared for any physical test. If it were a fight then my objective was to crush my opponent in one minute. If I failed to accomplish it then I was prepared to flee or continue fighting for one hour. The irony though was that two of my “tests” involved non-combat.

Generally speaking, in Saudi Arabia, I felt safe. This is despite the fact that one of the five places in which I was stationed was Al Baha. The highway of death ran through the truck stop where I lived. It was not called that for vehicles which lost their brakes on the mountainous declines. Our bus driver simply jumped out of his moving vehicle to safety. Rather, the area got its name from the fact that most of the 911 hijackers had lived along the route. I personally witnessed the arrest with shots fired of an individual in the city.

I routinely hitchhiked the 17 km to the city from the truck stop around which troops of baboons were running around. The young drivers were quite friendly and didn’t mind some gas money. My employer warned me not to hitchhike, but he was the one who put us out there in the wilds in the first place. Effectively, we were in a hotel prison. My employer and I happened to be standing near a guard gate when advise was proffered. I side kicked over it with ease. I won the argument.

One can’t however be prepared for everything. On one occasion, I was exercising in the mountains. When I turned around I was face to face with a camel. I learned to detect them at a distance by the sweet smell of the leaves when they grind them with their teeth.  

It wasn’t though in the land of baboons and terrorists that I had my first test. It was in civilized Damman along the Corniche where Saudis liked to picnic. They would park along the road, toss a blanket on the ground and start up a barbecue for their family.

One time I was running along the sidewalk. There was a Saudi standing in the middle of the sidewalk about 50 yards ahead. It was odd that he wasn‘t going to his car or from his car. Curiously, he also had his back to me. I asked myself if I would turn my back on someone coming up behind me. Certainly not. Then, I realized that if I passed him I would have my back to him. That I would not do either. I thought something was wrong so I immediately crossed to the other side of the road. 

However, I wished him to think that I had crossed by chance to the other side. Therefore, as I passed him on the other side I did not look directly at him, but only with peripheral vision. He had jumped into his car. He was matching my speed. I knew I would be vulnerable up ahead because a road crossed my path. I continued to jog leisurely for a few more hundred meters. He was still pacing me. I quickly veered off into the sand and zigzagged my way home. He couldn’t follow me with his car and for all intents and purposes never knew I was on to him. This non-encounter I won.

In China, I faced a new set of issues with regard to my training program. No doubt you are all familiar with Chinese athletes who have won numerous medals at the Olympics.They train rigorously with direction of coaches for eight hours a day. However, the average Chinese is not inclined to design his own specialized, individualized training program nor does he have the will to follow it. Anything associated with the individual is discouraged by authorities, too. Furthermore, cooperation rather than competition is encouraged in physical training. Badminton is fine—especially when there is no winner. From my own point of view, though, one is a winner, whiner or wiener. I train to win.  

There were many impediments placed in the way for the average person who wished to physically excel. For example, at one university the track and field was out of bounds. I suppose it was saved for mass rallies or as a monument to greatness. A few of the more intrepid athletes including myself would climb over the barb wire fence to gain access. That came to an end in the dark one night when I saw someone wildly waving his arms on the track in front of me. I ran through him knocking his shoulder. Supposedly, he was the guard.

That permanently ended my access to the track. I was refused entrance. I did what any typical Chinese does and went around the problem (and I don’t mean the guard). However, I did it in a unique way. I created my own track at the center of the campus. There was a man-made lake at that location which was sunk down about 15 feet. It had a path around it and that became my race track. For competition, I would run short distances against motorbikes and cars along a road that passed nearby. Students used to find it humorous to shake the leaves of snow-covered tree limbs to coincide with my passage. 

Of course, the administration did their best to dissuade me from exercising at that location, too, but to no avail. I would begin training at 5 am. There were no athletes out at that time, but students would practice their English by reading out loud across the lake. No doubt these winners had been discouraged from practicing in their dorm at that hour.

The attempt to dissuade me came in the form of nurses who were concerned about my health. It was my habit to train without shirt in any weather. That meant training in wind, rain, heat, snow or ice pellets. They said I would catch cold or pneumonia in the below zero weather. That may be true if I had had a shirt on to absorb my sweat or had not become daily accustomed to the cold or stopped exercising thus ceasing to generate heat. I was actually worried about their health because they were shivering in hat, coat, scarf and mitts.  

However, I was also prepared for the cold weather for another reason. At the end of August I had submitted a request to the administration to repair my hot water heater. It wasn’t done. As a matter of course, nothing is done about one’s problems in China until it becomes their problem. One might remember that concerning the human rights issue, too.

From that point on, I added cold showers to my training. The water got colder and colder through fall and winter. I thought of the Macedonians whose habit was to bathe in the cold rivers throughout winter. I learned to wash head first and dry it, torso next and dry it and finally legs. The temperature of the water was approaching freezing.

Naturally, I knew that if the temperature got cold enough then the pipes would freeze and burst. It happened on one of the coldest days of winter. The pipes on the roof froze and water poured down into the apartment above me. That apartment happened to belong to the Vice-President of the university. The hot water heater was fixed immediately. I had won by doing nothing.  

                   Meihuazhuang 1993  Beijing

                           Graduate School






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