Mailvox: the day she figured it out

Kudos and all, but the frightening thing about this email is the fact that this women genuinely and legitimately believed, for decades, that she was physically capable of going toe-to-toe with men. Thanks, Hollywood!

The day I figured it out

Not a natural athlete, but I did devote 7 years to martial arts back in my 30s.  3 to 4 times a week, excellent conditioning, but to be frank, I was horrible at sparring.  Think Barney Fife, vibrating and completely ineffective.  I hung in there, spurred on by too many martial arts movies and the media myth that a 120 lb. trained woman could take on a man in a fight.  And it was light touch sparring because of Insurance Risk.

So, there was one last special class to make that dark-colored belt; Punching/Kicking Class.  An all-day seminar where you were paired off with someone your size, they would hold a 6-inch-thick pad and you full contact punched and kicked them …then you would hold the pad and they would punch and kick.  Heady stuff, my Gi was snapping, there was a satisfying “thwack” sound, I was quite proud and kinda hoping for some bloody knuckles and a need to “tape up”.  Then it came time for me to hold the bag.  Now mind you, I was paired off with a small man, a short skinny ex-navy grunt, just my size.  He pulled off one full force punch and I was on my butt and there were tears on my face.  I got back up, took a deeper stance, and once again was back on the floor.  I kept trying but it was obvious to me I wasn’t helping this guy practice his punching and kicking at all.  So, I asked the instructor if I could just do the punching kicking practice but not hold the bag.  He took me for a walk outside the studio.  I have since learned that is a Bad Sign.  He explained to me the point of the class was being able to take the punching and kicking, the point was to be able to hold the bag, to be able to take the punch.  And I suddenly understood, it was basic physics really.  In my head, it was a scene out of a Beautiful Mind, with Vectors, Force Lines, and Angles appearing in red.  But it was just me with my mouth open going, “Huh”

Men are stronger than women.  Go figure.  It is basic physics; the bones are denser and the muscles are heavier.  And I realized this whole time, I had been a minnow swimming with sharks.  That most men could take out most women with a punch or two.  Heck, most men can take out another man with a sucker punch, but I am talking a face front fight; guy wins most every time.  And especially bigger men.  The fact I was so shocked told me a bunch about how naive I was and how much the media lied about this.  I suddenly had this whole new respect for most men; most of them were walking around with the ability to take down smaller folks; and they don’t.  They just plain don’t.  They hold doors open and walk on the dangerous side of the sidewalk and go out to check night time noises.  Basically IMHO most of guys in America are heroes.

I firmly believe that everyone, male and female, would benefit greatly from being physically beaten down at least once in their lives before their 18th birthday. It is a salutary experience.

Back in my fighting days, a girl I was dating joined our dojo for a while. After doing a drill that involved getting kicked repeatedly in the stomach, she was a bit wide-eyed and excited, and exclaimed, “I’ve never been hit in the stomach before!”

“Have you ever been hit in the face?” I asked her.

“No,” she said. So, I hit her in the chin with a backfist hard enough to snap her head back, but not hard enough to knock her down.

“What did you do that for!” she demanded about 15 seconds later, once she stopped staggering around and got over the usual shock.

“Did you feel that disorientation, the way you couldn’t quite believe that someone actually hit you in the face?”

“Well, yeah!” A mere two syllables, but spoken with deep passion and accompanied by an intense and narrow-eyed glare.

“See, that’s normal. Everyone feels like that the first time they take a good shot to the head. Now you know what it feels like. Next time you get hit, you’ll be ready for it, and you can fight your way through it.”

She wasn’t quite as appreciative of the lesson as I expected. It was strange, but the way she used to tell the story made me sound kind of like a psycho.