Counter Punch the Devil in the Face

(photo ElMarto)

In boxing you are either throwing a punch or dealing with a punch being thrown at you.

Most people would think winning in boxing means focusing only on throwing good, accurate, and strong punches. But a good defense is pivotal in boxing - and a counter-punch while on the defensive can end a match.

Check out Mike Tyson, who is known for his raw power and also his defense. A lot of his knock-out blows came as a counter to a punch thrown at him. He had amazing defense and was a counter-punch expert.

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The counter is extremely effective for a few reasons:

1.) In taking a shot at you, your opponent is risking his guard in order to land a blow. When your opponent is throwing a jab with his left hand, his arm and hand are no longer defending his face and body. Countering can be a game changer when a boxer dodges an attack and then capitalizes while his opponent is partially off-guard. He turns a situation where he is on his heels into an advantage.

2.) Your opponent's momentum works to your advantage. When your opponent lunges forward to throw a right cross, you have an opportunity to counter-punch as he lunges forward. If you understand physics, this creates a scientific phenomenon known as "intensified oucheyness". Countering uses a drastic change in momentum to deliver an ouchey.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier before he had his huge conversion to Christ. He knew battle very well and even suffered a debilitating injury to his leg. In his writings on the spiritual life, he talks about how the soul can only ever be moving in one of two directions: towards God or away from God.

Notice St. Ignatius does not add a third position for the soul: temptation. Temptation is not a neutral situation. Temptation either works to move you closer to God or further from Him.

When the tempter throws an attack your way, you can either sit back and get knocked out or you can counter-punch him in the face. There is no third option.

St. John of the Cross talks about dealing with temptation, and mentions a way to counter the devil by an act of raising our attention and love to God.

From The Spiritual sayings of St. John of the Cross (Peers, vol. III, pp. 289-291)

"When we feel the first movement or attack of any vice, - as soon as we are conscious of it, we should meet it with an act or movement of anagogical love directed against this vice, and should raise our affection to union with God, for by this means the soul absents itself from its surroundings and is present with its God and becomes united with Him, and then the vice or the temptation and the enemy are defrauded of their intent, and have nowhere to strike; for the soul, being where it loves rather than where it lives, has met the temptation with divine aid, and the enemy has found nowhere to strike and nothing whereon to lay hold, for the soul is no longer where the temptation or enemy would have struck and wounded it..."

When you are facing temptation, you could focus on the opposite virtue that would combat the vice.  For instance, when tempted to lust you could combat it by meditating on the virtue of charity.  In this way we are blocking the attack with the virtue.

But a better way, says St. John of the Cross, is to slip out of the way of the strike all together, raise your attention and love up to the Father, and deliver a counter right to satan's smug chin using the temptation as an opportunity to grow closer to God. Just what the devil doesn't want.  He tries to dish it out on you and BAM! you counter by reminding yourself of God's presence and lifting up your gaze and love to the Father.  

St. John is saying that by not focusing on the temptation the devil is throwing at you, evading it, and countering by raising ourselves up to God, "the enemy has found nowhere to strike and nothing whereon to lay hold".

1.) In taking a shot at you, your opponent is risking his guard in order to land a blow.  When the devil throws temptation your way, he is risking the opportunity for you to become aware of the temptation.  When you become aware of temptation, you have the opportunity to react by moving towards God and away from the temptation.

2.) Your opponent's momentum works to your advantage. The stronger the temptation, the stronger the surge of the heart towards God needs to be. In this way, temptation gets thrown back in the face of satan like swinging a golf club at a land mine.

So the next time you experience temptation, don't stand there and take it - go for the knockout.