I thought about my experience when I was driving the truck and how I was reflecting on my first Aiki-Jujitsu session on Monday and how I was half in reverie down a quiet road that runs parallel to the freeway and how there were no other cars in sight. I was visualizing the falls and tumbles that I learned on Monday and trying to do the right sequences and body positions in my mind as I drove down this vacant stretch of road. Then, I saw a car coming out of a drive right toward my small truck. I knew by how he was coming at me, he didn’t even see me. My instinct was to speed up and out of it and I pushed on the horn, which sounds more like a little hatchling. It’s not a loud thunderous horn, more like a squeak. Thank goodness he didn’t overreact, otherwise we may have collided. I would have run into the chain link fence on my right, but I don’t know how it would have turned out. I was upset. I yelled out loud. I wanted to say something to this driver who was acting like a maniac, pulling out at cars. How could he have not seen me? The part of the road I was on was just about to loop around to an intersection with a set of stoplights. I waited for him to pull behind me, so I could do something, give him a gesture to reinforce his stupidity. The light was red. I turned my head around and his hand was up as if in surrender to say he knew he did wrong. I then just put up one finger, but not the middle one, just the pointing one. I shot it up high, just to say, “you almost caused a really bad accident—watch yourself!” My hands were trembling on the steering wheel and my legs felt a little soft. I am a very defensive driver, but on this particular drive, there is usually no reason to be that defensive. I’m thankful that I was able to miss him hitting me, but the feeling of coming that close left me feeling shaken.
A few days after my Aiki-Jujitsu class, I was actually contemplating not going back. I signed up for a 5-week session. The draw was that the emphasis was on self-defense and building confidence. I’ve always wanted to take a martial arts class for these reasons and this seemed a manageable option through adult education. When I arrived, the class before mine was finishing up. It was a children’s class, and from what I could see as I peeked around a few times, it looked great. I wasn’t sure if anyone else had showed up for my class because I didn’t see anyone in the waiting room. I didn’t realize, however, that they were waiting behind the wall. It was time, one of the sensei’s called me forward. In bare feet I entered through the doorway onto the mat to see five tall men clad in traditional white uniforms with belts. My 5’1 petite frame, dressed in stretch pants, and a pullover was taken aback. It turns out these men were green and brown belts. I thought I was signing up for a beginners class.
After a brief introduction. We had two sensei’s that had been teaching for 20 plus years, the men broke out into their learning groups and the older sensei worked with me one-on-one. He asked me to lie on the mat as if I had fallen. He then demonstrated the proper way that my body should be when it hits the ground. Chin tucked in—very important—to lessen the impact on the neck and head upon hitting the ground. I once forgot to tuck my chin in and I felt it. He said it hurt him just watching me. It was interesting, for what physically felt to me, like pounding my body into the mat. I felt bad that Sensei had to demonstrate a few additional times how to fall because I simply wasn’t picking it up. It takes getting used to training the body to do anything.
We tried to find common physical ground for me to work with, so I told him the activities I had done when I was young. Gymnastics was our spring board.
“Do you remember how to do a summersault,” he asked.
“Yes, I think I can still do one.”
“Let me see.”
“I feel a little lightheaded.”
“You rolled on your head. Did you feel it? If you feel lightheaded, stamp it out with your feet.”
We then went on to work on the proper way to do a roll. He showed me hand placement and how to roll my whole body over, so that my arms are used instead of my head to roll over.
“How did that feel?,” he asked.
“That felt pretty good, and I didn’t feel lightheaded.”
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get a drink of water,” he said. “I want you to think about how you fear getting attacked the most.”
I must say the thought was eerie. Here I was openly trying to prepare myself for what could be. As much as I love the world, I know sometimes, one never knows. So I thought and came up with two.
“I fear a gun being pointed at me and being chocked from behind,” I said.
First we dealt with some moves that I would do to get out of a choke, both by someone latching onto my hair and then by someone wrapping their whole arm around my neck.
“I’ll be right back. I need to get something,” he said.
I waited and when he came back, he pointed a fake gun at me. I must say, it felt weird. First time I’ve had a gun pointed at me and I froze. It would be our prop. We worked on this scenario and I didn’t like the feeling of being so helpless.
Now in reflection, toying with the idea of not going back to class because I feel very out of my element with the black and greenbelts, I feel that I have a new fear. And I think it’s enough to go back to explore it with the sensei. The fear is of knowing just enough to get me into a more dangerous situation. If I am attacked, the moment happens so quickly, that I could cause more damage to myself by having only a little knowledge. Again, it comes back to knowing something so well that you breathe it in and out as thought it’s a part of you. Is it plausible for me to learn enough, for my body to kick in and remember in such a short period of time, or am I doing myself more harm? The gun situation feels out of control. The moves feel too complicated—the whole scenario is too much for me to handle. I do, however, feel that I would be able to get out of a rear choke. So with that being said, yes, I think that even learning the few things that I have so far has benefited me. Now, I’d like to work on the confidence part and not buckle under in the heat of a moment when my words fail me. I want to be able to think quicker on my feet. Often, I find that if confronted by someone I’m not familiar with—and here I’m speaking of normal situations—but I want to not be the mouse that sometimes comes out. I want to be that strong tree. I don’t want to back down. I’m not saying that I want to go butting heads with everyone, which I do quite well with those I know very well, and those that appreciate this about me—we get a long very well. But, I mean just normal situations. I want to exude confidence, not fear. And for the most part I think I do OK, but I want a little more internal development. I think that is half the battle.
So, back at the scene of what could have been a bad accident, when it was all over and I proceeded to drive on to work, I thought to myself, how ironic it was that I was visualizing and going through the moves of a prelude to self-defense, of getting out of precarious situations; at the same time imagining my new concerns and of wondering if I would go back and it felt that in that moment with the car coming at me, the time spent with the sensei seemed—help seemed to be present, if even in the strangest way.
The blog topic at Red Room this week was on help. It inspired the parallels of this set of events in the form of this blog.