Right Arm and Hand

A few months ago I started taking weekly classes in hand-to-hand combat.  I needed some exercise, hate gyms, fantasize about being an action star, and “have a lot of aggression,” so it seemed pretty logical.  I’ve also been assaulted in real life and nurse an obsession with horror films and literary thrillers; I am fully alert to the presence of danger! walking down a city street and have a tendency to plot evacuation points whenever I am in a room for a prolonged period of time, so why not put all this occasionally justifiable paranoia to use and actually learn how to defend myself rather than just fantasizing about it?

The classes have been everything I hoped for and more.  I mix it up by attending beginner’s-level classes to work on my basic skills and advanced-level classes for variety.  While already outnumbered 10:1 in beginner’s, I am usually the only woman in advanced classes, and I thrive on it.  Aware that I may be regarded as weaker, more delicate, and less intense (and therefore an undesirable sparring partner) intensifies my aggression and need to prove myself.

I am not just a girl, I think, I am a threatI may be physically weaker, but I can be faster, smarter, and unexpected, and that is what makes me more dangerous.  It’s getting into a mindset that I think will serve me well in life in general.  Focus, train, emphasize your strengths, protect your weaknesses, and if ever cornered and in doubt, go for the balls.  Hard. (Note:  That’s not the playground tip – read on).

Particularly in the advanced sessions, I am often outclassed by people who have been training months and even years beyond my experience.  Almost all these guys are gracious partners and, while still challenging me, offer useful tips and assistance.  In turn, I do my very best to learn from them and give them the opportunity to get the training they are paying for by being a good partner (and it is a lot easier to attack than defend, so I think I do alright).

And sometimes I get the shit kicked out of me, if it’s a good class.  What follows are a lot of pictures of bruises, and a few thoughts on the nature of injury. (more…)

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