Context is everything. What is perfectly acceptable in one venue can be humiliating in another. Kanye learned that when he “Imma let you finish”-ed Taylor Swift at the music awards. Dorothy learned that when she melted one witch and was saved by another. My 5-year-old learned that when he dropped trou in the middle of a playland and peed on a plastic tree (true story – my husband and I just walked away shaking our heads with everyone else and muttering “Where is his mother?!” Parents of the year, that’s us.) And the Gym Buddies and I learned that today as we took part in a mini Jiu-Jitsiu experiment. (Yes, this month we are officially doing a dance Experiment but someone offered to give us a lesson for free and we are never ones to turn down free.) I love the martial arts – kickboxing and karate have been two of the best workouts I’ve ever tried – so what could go wrong? When people ask me in interviews for my book what’s the number 1 thing I’ve learned from my Experiments, I usually answer “That there are 2,001 ways to publicly humiliate myself.” Today we accomplished at least half of those.
See, Jiu-Jitsiu is colloquially known as “submission grappling.” Yeah. A little history lesson: Jiu-Jitsiu is “is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. The art was derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan judo in the early 20th century.It teaches that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique—most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.” You see it used often in MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting. You know where you do not often see it? At my Y.
“First step is to mount your opponent.” I looked down at Gym Buddy Megan and cocked an eyebrow as I straddled her. Our instructor continued, “And then you’re going to roll them until they submit.” Megan and I held it in for a good ten seconds before erupting in gales of laughter. Frankly with as many kids as I’ve had, she’s lucky I didn’t pee on her.
“I’m sorry,” I gasped as I wiped the tears off my face. “I forgot to tell you that we have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.”
Megan suddenly turned to Allison, “Hey, I love your top! Is that new?” We’re also easily distracted. Our instructor rolled his eyes and told me to re-mount. (I can’t even type that without laughing.) I climbed back on top of her and thus began one of the strangest workouts I have ever tried.
It was all fun and games and amateur-porn jokes until all of a sudden it wasn’t anymore. “Now, I’m going to demonstrate how to roll you,” our instructor said as he grabbed a hold of one of my arms. There was a brief moment of panic. You will remember that I am a Girl With Issues and thanks to my prior sexual assault, I do really really badly in this kind of situation. Back when Sensei Don was teaching us in his self-defense class I had to curl up into a little ball on the floor – literally – to stop myself from shaking. And I know Don much better than this guy (now that I think of it I don’t even know our instructor’s last name*). But before I could work up a good irrational response, he grabbed me behind the neck and flipped me onto my back. None too gently either, I might add. Then he did it again. I was flipped and pinned on my back a good half-dozen times before the instruction was over. And you know what? Nothing bad happened! The world didn’t end. I didn’t run from the room. I didn’t even cry. In fact, we all laughed a lot. As I recounted the story to my sister later on, she pointed out to me that what I’d basically just done was immersion therapy – where you expose yourself to the thing you fear the most but in a safe situation so you can convince your body to stop freaking out. I believe this is what we call A Breakthrough. Martial arts again is awesome therapy for me!
Here’s one type of roll that we learned today. This is me making it look hard:
Charlotte rolling Allison
And here is Allison making it look easy:
Allison rolling Megan
I learned a lot today. I now know which Gym Buddy will bite if you get her cornered (seriously – she bit!) and which one will take one for the team when that means having some guy wrap his legs around her head. I also learned that I’m stronger than I think I am and doing things that you’re really afraid of can be very freeing. I also learned that a straight hour of non-stop laughter is the best core workout ever.
Have you tried a martial art? Have you ever confronted something you were really afraid of? Have you ever found yourself in a hilarious-yet-compromising position during a workout?
*Our instructor was great but he requested I not use his name or image in my post. No idea why. If he told us he’d probably have to kill us and after today I’m pretty sure he could!