WoW + Karate = Life Lesson

Duane used to laugh at me; back in "the day" (i.e., 2006) when we played World of Warcraft at the same time, I’d level a character through the mid-teens, then I’d get bored or frustrated and roll a new character.  My reasoning was always the same; I’d come across an inherent weakness of my current character’s chosen class, so I’d choose a new class or class variant and try again, to find the "perfect" character with which I’d make my way to Level 60 Overpowered Bliss.  It didn’t help that through the first couple years of the game, Blizzard Entertainment would regularly open new servers, so I’d hop from server to server to stay ahead of some magic curve, running through various permutations of warlocks and priests and shamans and druids with utterly reckless abandon.

Well, Duane might be astonished to learn that I have a character that is now about a year old.  On server Misha, I have an Undead affliction warlock named Elianna who is now … drumroll, please … about to hit level 29.  I logged into her for the first time in months last week, rather on a lark, and have decided to keep playing her, exclusively, until I get bored with the game again or hit 70, whichever comes first.  I only have two other remaining characters in all of WoW — a 23 Night Elf druid on Misha named Gillikus, and a 19 Tauren druid on Blackwater Raiders named Thundermane.  All other deprecated characters have been deleted.

My old friend might ask a question — what prompts the change of play style?  Before I can answer that, I need to share another anecdote.

Over the last year, as I’ve continued my karate study, I’ve been introduced to the fine art of free-form sparring.  You gear up (pads for hands, feet, head, and a mouth guard) and go at it against a friendly opponent.  It’s the application side of the theory and forms training of the regular karate classes.

I admit that I haven’t been to a sparring class recently; however, the early training forced a re-evaluation of some of my assumptions about conflict, both physical and political.  I had thought about self-defense with an abstract strategy in mind:  Keep distance, strike from afar, exploit openings created when blocking an attack.

Problem is, my body isn’t designed for that sort of approach.

I’m of average height (5’10"), below-average strength, and below-average flexibility (unlike some of my fellow students, I couldn’t deliver a well-formed roundhouse kick to the head to save my life), but I do have above-average cardiovascular function and above-average speed (when I slow down and relax, that is). 

Thus, a more effective sparring strategy for me is to quickly move close, strike hard and fast, and then retreat when fighting a bigger person — and do a lot of kicks and full-chambered punches when fighting a smaller person.  This is, however, inconsistent with what I would choose for myself in principle; I prefer the idea of maintaining distance and responding forcefully to an attack.  But if I fought according to the principles that I prefer, I’d lose more often than not.

This truth inspired an insight:  No general approach to a problem is bulletproof; to be successful in your efforts, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses as they are — not as you wish they were! — and plan your tactics accordingly in response to an actual, discrete situation.

There’s no right way to prevail in a sparring session; there are only more or less effective techniques given a person’s abilities, relative to any particular opponent.  There is no "best" character class in WoW; there is only the fine art of learning to play the strengths and defend the weaknesses of your chosen class while exploiting the weaknesses of other classes.

Wishing might be great for fairy tales.  In life, as in WoW, wishing divorced from reality merely leads to a corpse run.

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1 comment

  1. I think you’re on the right track, Jason. One other thing I learned (which is not really useful in “friendly” sparring) is to focus attacks on the mobility of someone you are facing. If you end up in a situation (hopefully never) where you have to defend yourself, getting in quick is the right thing to do, but before breaking it off, you should do a quick focus on the opponent’s legs. You might also think about looking into some jujitsu (or judo, the sportier version of the martial art), as it is solely designed to use a larger person’s weight and height against them. Can’t tell you how many negative experiences turned positive for me because the other guy was on the ground and my little feeties were propelling me in the other direction.

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