Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Becoming a Supah Ninjah

Had my first day of MA class at the new school yesterday. Biked half an hour out there, had class for an hour and a half, and biked a half hour back. Tomorrow, I get to do it all over again!

We opened with kicking drills and then did an hour - an *hour* - of grappling. I'm not using to doing a lot of holds & etc. work, and especially not for an *hour,* and we switched up partners a lot, which was good.

One of the tough parts about starting a new school is that everybody's sort of uncertain about what level of contact their partner is comfortable with, and you have to work it out and get comfortable with it as you go along. Something that made me really happy about my last school was that I partnered with guys a lot; being as tall and heavy as I am, it helps me a lot more to get paired with somebody of equal size.

There was a lot of merry dancing in the beginning as all the women in class had been partnered at least once with all the other women in class, and then the instructor finally prodded everybody into mixed-sex pairs.

Most people were great, but I ended up partnered with a guy who was really nervous - either about partnering with a girl or possibly being beat by a girl or *something,* and when I went to practice the hold, wrapping my hands behind his head, pressing my forearms against his chest and pulling his head forward and down, he exclaimed, "Oh, look, cleavage!"

It was the most bizarrely inappropriate (and inaccurate) thing I think I've ever heard in MA class, and my immediate thought was, "Wow, this guy must be, like, 12." I wasn't, in fact, showing any cleavage, as I'm small breasted and was wearing a sturdy sports bra under a high scooped neck tank top.

Perhaps he thought this was a way of alleviating the tension he experienced while being partnered with a girl, or perhaps he thought this would somehow make me feel more relaxed. Who knows? He went on to knock the glasses off my face and leave a big claw mark on my forehead when we should have just been doing some friendly hold-and-release drills. The behavior drew the attention of the instructor and several classmates, who were just as curious as I was about what he was trying to prove showing that he had better skillz than the New Chick.


Aside from that, it was a really good experience. We finished up with some time with glove and mitts, which felt sofuckingunbelievablygoodyouhavenoidea. It's been awhile since I got to hit things.

I had a lot of anxiety about getting back to class. I usually end up being the fattest person in class, and last night was no exception, so I spent the evening doing just as many pushups as everyone else and muddling through things I should probably have asked for more help with. Always trying to prove things...

What I told myself when I first started MA classes back in 2004 (dear lord was it that long ago?) was that, even if I sucked and got everything wrong and was totally weak and uncoordinated and had the body type of a mushroom that I would never again be totally new and unfamilier with how to hit things, with forms and how to do drills and all that. Sure, you have to relearn things and get back into it and recondition and all that, but it's never totally new. You're only totally new ONCE. That space in your head for all of this stuff has already been pushed out, and your body can get back into it a lot more easily than it did the first time.

That kept me going, and yeah, it payed off. Because starting a new school is a *lot* easier than it was starting my first school. I feel like less of an idiot (and less of a mushroom), and less uncoordinated, and the whole deal. I don't feel incompetent, and I already know some of my biggest strengths and weakneses.

When the class formed up for the night, I realized that the shirts that everybody was wearing read:



Something tells me that me and this MA school will get along just fine...

2 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Melanie Charis Bron said...

Which martial arts discipline are you doing again? I've been rather charmed by aikido for some years now, in part because the quality of man seems rather less wrapped up in gender-differentiation than some other disciplines I've been in contact with (translation: as oft-times the only woman on the mat, I've rarely felt discomforted by this because the men, by and large, just don't make me uncomfortable). I've seen (from the sidelines) jiu jitsu, sometimes named as a close cousin to aikido, crossed with wresting, and have also noted there seem to be (here in Belgium, anyway) a largish percentage of women and even young teenaged girls engaging in this particular discipline....

Just wondering, but thanks for your continued chronicalling of your journey here on-line.

Melanie Charis Bron

Kameron Hurley said...

My background is mosting in regular boxing, but out here, I've decided to take up Muay Thai. I've done a class or two of it before, and it combines a lot of the other stuff I've learned in boxing and kickboxing classes...

Glad you're enjoying the posts!!