I spent the weekend at a self defense class offered from Impact Bay Area. If you are curious what they teach there will be a public demonstration next Sunday from 4-5:30 that you can come watch. Let me know you are interested and I’ll give you the address.
I have been to a public demo in the past. It was intense and a little scary to watch but it inspired me to want to take the class. I want to be able to do those skills! I’ve got to say, there isn’t much in life that is more viscerally satisfying than kneeing someone in the head and watching them fly four feet before they land on the ground.
After one of my “fight” sessions I managed to deescalate things verbally so I didn’t actually physically fight. The instructor could see I was disappointed so she asked if I wanted to go again for an actual fight. Then everyone burst into laughter. No one else was nearly as eager to physically fight. I felt quite blood thirsty.
It is a very tightly structured class which is both good and bad. The good is: they have a lot of material and they cover it very well. The bad: I have a hard time with people who want to have that much control over my bladder. *I* don’t have that much control over my bladder and I tend to feel pretty humiliated about that. Sorry. I haven’t been able to stick to the bathroom breaks other people assign ever in my life. I just can’t. Physically. That’s an ongoing issue for me in life. I will break the rules and go to the bathroom when I have to. But I’ll feel ashamed of myself and like I am bad the whole time and that dynamic sucks.
I get that they don’t want people wandering off to text for a while and waste time. That’s fine. I pee quickly. I just have to do it right when my body says.
The techniques they are teaching are challenging, but easy to start picking up. I’m going to need to practice a number of them. I’m pretty bad about punching when I shouldn’t. I have hurt my hands pretty badly in fights in the past so I understand why they have the guidance around not punching. Hands are delicate little objects–all those miraculously small bones are easy to break. I’m aware. I’ve worn multiple casts. (Not from fights. I’m klutzy–not that blood thirsty.)
I am unsurprisingly vicious when I’m taken from behind. One of the instructors commented, “Wow. I could hear the suit’s plastic thunk from across the room when you hit him. That doesn’t happen very often. You had to hit him very hard to make that sound.” Well… I was scared. What do you expect? Oh. You think I am here to *learn* to hit people. Naw. I’m here to learn more about *where* to hit them and *how* to hit them. I’m already very good with the whole “hit” part. Done lots of that. I’m totally comfortable with the idea of making someone else hurt very badly in defense of my body.
Based on the classroom discussions (lead by the teacher) I don’t think they get all that many students who are happy to hit people outside of martial arts. They don’t talk as if that is common.
I’m struggling with a few things the teacher has said. Not because she was wrong to say them–because I struggle with these things. There was a lot of conversation about how it is very legally necessary to verbally deescalate things. If you swear at someone and try to piss them off to provoke a fight you are on shaky legal ground to beat the shit out of them. It’s not exactly self defense if you egg a fight on.
The thing is: my attempts at verbal deescalation don’t work that well. A lot of my experience is that I do better to bring an absolute torrent of swearwords then guys will back off and leave me alone. My experience is that if I try to be firm but not engage I have more problems. I understand that legally I have no right to piss someone off and then hit them. I get it. It’s just something I am going to struggle with mightily. My experience is that the best tool in my arsenal for getting people to leave me alone is demonstrating (correctly) that I’m crazy and a random attacker has no god damn idea what I might do. I might just completely go ballistic and make your life a living hell. I’m like that sometimes. But only if provoked.
I try to believe that defending myself is a worthy cause. If it is a worthy cause it is worth absolutely all the energy I can throw at it.
I have deep respect and gratitude for the teachers at Impact. Even when they said or did things I didn’t especially like they were always very clear about why they said what they said. They had justifications and reasons and data. They did not *ever* rely on “because I said so” which I appreciate.
Saturday (day one) was a lot less hard than Sunday and I don’t think it is just because the techniques were more simple. The first day we worked on scenarios I don’t have a lot of personal experience losing. I’ve never been assaulted by a random person walking by and it’s a little baffling to me that people (in the most general sense possible) are terrified of those kinds of occurrences. My issues have always happened with people I know.
Sunday wasn’t necessarily about “people you know” but there was more direct fighting off sexual assault techniques. That was hard for me. I cried through part of the class because just watching the other students was very upsetting. I was grateful that I had a support network in class.
It was sorta funny. One of the lovely women whom I’ve never met before offered me a hug, I suspect because she saw me hugging the people I already knew before the class. I got to say, “Actually I’m not very comfortable letting people touch me until I’ve known them for many years.” One of the women whose hand I’d been holding said, “Yes I’ve known her for many years and today is the first time I’ve ever touched Krissy.” The nice stranger kind of blinked for a bit and said, “Well ok then.”
Yeah, I’ve got boundaries.
But it was the nice kind of running into a boundary. It was safe to express in a nice voice. I like it when that happens.
*I’m* not ok with people touching me until I have known them for a long time. It’s ok that I have that boundary now. No, I didn’t have it when I was much younger and that’s ok too. I’m allowed to have it now even though I haven’t always had it in exactly the same way. People are allowed to change.
I’m finding the class to be incredibly empowering. I highly recommend it for men and women. Not only do you learn more about how to effectively use your body as a weapon when necessary, you get to beat the shit out of suited instructors for days and that is just ridiculously fun. Uhm, maybe not everyone has as much fun with beating the crap out of people as I do. I’m practically giddy.
One technique, what to do when you are grabbed from behind and lifted to the floor, was hard for me to master because when it starts happening I go into a blind panic. Then my sweet helpful classmates were yelling “Bite!” at me because the next step is saying “Bite!” Yeah well, when I’m scared and lots of people are screaming bite at me… guess what I do. Whoops. The suited instructors were universal in their response, “Never ever ever apologize for hurting someone who is trying to hurt you. Even in a demo. Never apologize to the bad guy. Never. If you hurt slightly more than you intended to, it is the instructors responsibility to know how to keep himself safe.”
I am pretty ridiculously grateful to those kind men who volunteer to let group after group after group of people beat on them. That is true service to your community. They help people feel more confident in their bodies. It is wonderful to watch.
Luckily my arms are already less sore than they were yesterday. I’m going to have to be conservative about how I use my arms this week. My elbows are very sore. I have rug burn on my knee. I think it is kind of funny that I ended up with rug burn and I didn’t even get laid. That seems… counter intuitive.
I’m looking forward to next weekend.