I’ve always thought Martial Arts – or anything of the sort – was dorky, not to mention weird and 100% fake. Watching participants in parades or movies was uninteresting to say the least. Knowing how to react to “planned fighting” was rather unimpressive and in no way a good form of self defense in my opinion. These people couldn’t protect themselves from a feisty 13-year-old fighting for her bracelet collection, let alone a legit attacker.
I’ve had a few weird things happen in my neighborhood. A car and two houses have been broken into on my block. Surprised at the lack of security I felt in a neighborhood that at one time appeared to be safe, I’ve become especially loving towards my roommate’s 90-pound lab (with very sharp teeth and a mean bark that gets set off with the precision of motion sensor lights). I’ve also become a proud owner of a Louisville Slugger, intended for more than a little backyard fun.
Still, my boyfriend isn’t convinced I’m safe in my own home – whether or not he’s present. And so, as a “date night” this week, he signed us up to participate in a self-defense class. I was excited to get a run-down of every pressure point, tips on how to perfect my crotch-kicking aim, and how to hold a baseball bat to ensure the most painful strike on an attacker. This was going to be great!!
Instead, we pulled into the parking lot of the Fargo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu facility. People inside were dressed in Japanese-like uniforms and were performing routinely rehearsed “fights.” This “self defense” wasn’t going to do jack for me. My time would be better spent curled up in the vehicle, praying for nobody to ever lay a finger on me.
We were greeted by a very friendly man who seemed to understand nerves were running high. I was terrified at the idea of making physical contact with a stranger and definitely didn’t want to reinforce the fact I didn’t stand a chance at protecting myself against a larger male (sans my baseball bat). Come to think of it, my outfit – a hot pink tank and spandex workout capris – probably was a good indication of how great of a fighter I’d be.
He took four newbies into a corner and began teaching the basics. Soon I was being shown how to – rather easily – choke out my 270-pound boyfriend.
My boyfriend is a great guy, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this was a very proud moment in which I felt beyond empowered. That single move chipped away a tiny portion of the fear stored in my gut since the latest neighborhood happenings and scary local news stories. I had complete control of a man twice my size. After tapping out, he turned around to double-check it was me. His face was red and he looked stunned. Neither of us could believe my scrawny arms were able to do anything other than slap and attempt to protect my head from a solid pummeling.
Granted, he had to lie limp in order for me to get him into a position where this was possible, but the teacher ensured with proper training, it was possible to complete these moves on a real attacker.
Taking classes to build confidence and the ability to defend myself is something I should have looked into the day my little brother got stronger than me, bringing our continual physical fights to an abrupt ending. After all, even though the Slugger still provides utmost assurance, I have been known to leave home without it.
The first class was surprisingly effective and continuing self defense education is something we are looking into.
Until then, I’m going to get practice by offering to “teach” the choke out to anyone who rubs me the wrong way.
Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.