Thursday, December 16, 2004

how do they bruise me? let me count

Kung fu last night. Good class, but it made marks on me in more ways than one.

This morning I have John's fingerprints in brown and yellow on my wrist. And I have a bruise on my lower back, just above the waist, where I landed on the floor.

None of this happened, mind you, during the class itself. This happened after Sit said, "Okay, we're done, you guys practice," and went upstairs.

So John and I had been horsing around. He teaches akido when not in Sit's class, and he shows me little things, tricks and tips. He's quick, soft, patient, and knows how to gradually increase his force as my technique improves. He's in his late forties, a bit taller than me, medium built. Not a large man. Nevertheless, he is a man, and a good deal stronger than I am.

It's strange for me, working with these guys, learning the theory of fighting, while in practice realizing just how much stronger men are than women. Sit and Matt frequently remark on how strong I am, for a woman, but I can't bench more than 70 pounds. My strength is in good structure and confidence, but almost every class I strain something because I'm trying to use too much muscle against those guys. Sit says, "If you don't believe it, it won't work," but I am desperately aware of how much I still have to learn.

Anyway, we had been practicing these arm-locks, foot-traps, pull and pin and control, which I would be absolutely foolish to use on a full-grown man. Nevertheless, I learn the technique, because the principles are the same in all the applications. We were all horsing around near the end of class, improvising, throwing in extra punches and mixing things up.

I don't know if John wanted to test me, or what. I don't exactly remember what happened, but I suddenly found myself being thrown toward the wall, with his hand in the middle of my back like he wanted to pin me. He didn't shove me hard, so I decided (decided? that may be giving myself too much credit--I reacted) that I didn't want to go against that wall--this wasn't in the program. So I somehow slipped sideways and down, out from under his arm, twisted and punched at his solar plexus. Just touched--didn't hit, but of course he countered and after that my memory gets a little murky. Somehow I ended up on the floor. Not surprising--he's quite good at sweeping. Hence the bruise on my back. I curled and landed without getting hurt, rolled up and tackled his leg, tried to push him over.

Up until this point it was pretty much fun and games. Then he crouched over me and pinned my shoulders to the floor and I kind of panicked. Friend or no, there is just something really scary about having a man kneel over you and hold you down, and I'll say right now, I've been fortunate enough to never find myself in that position before.

On the other hand, I used to wrestle with my dad, and I curled up and over somehow, kicked at him, rolled over my shoulder or spun or something--I don't remember what happened. He stopped, though. I have the feeling he let me up. I simply don't remember. Maybe he saw I was getting too wild, maybe he was just done playing. I came to my senses in a crouch, and he was kneeling next to me--I was panting. I don't know if I was scared or mad or just hyped. I still don't. I kind of slumped over with a gasp of exhaustion. My vision had tunneled. My hair had fallen down because my barrette broke when I rolled back over my head. John picked it up and then picked me up. "Good twisting," he said. I have no idea what he was talking about. I don't remember what I did. It's weird; I've written about battle-fog a few times, but that may have been the first time I felt it.

I thought I looked and acted cool, but then we went upstairs and Mary looked at me and her eyes kind of widened and she said, "Wow, you look really. . ."

"Flushed?" I said, and my voice sounded kind of strangled.

"No, like you were really getting a workout." I think that's what she said. I'm pretty sure it's not what she started to say.

I still feel vaguely like I was assaulted, but I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. We don't do any real sparring in that class, and all of our grappling is in slow-motion, so nobody gets hurt. If I ever want to be able to use this stuff for self-defense, I need to practice it in real-time, and get over my fear of getting hit.

By the time I got home I was so drained I could barely get ready for bed, but this morning I feel quite good, so I suspect it was adrenaline-drain. I'm more than a little alarmed that I would have such a violent reaction to a little horseplay in class. I've never been beaten or assaulted nor even in a fight since I was a child, so it wasn't a reaction to any post-traumatic memories.

Being able to hold one's own in a fight is greatly dependent upon one's ability to stay calm and think clearly. I don't like that I can't remember what I did.

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