January 29, 2019
I made a special stop Saturday evening to pick up some Arnica. I used to carry some in my training bag when I was going to martial arts classes multiple times a week, but I didn’t think to bring any with me to the 2-day training I went to last weekend.
Self-defense coach Tony Blauer says, “Training may hurt, but it should never injure”, and I’ve absorbed my fair share of bumps and bruises over the years. They don’t generally bother me, and often I am happy to see them as reminders of great training and learning experiences I’ve had.
This past weekend was different.
I partnered with a man who apparently didn’t understand or didn’t want to accept my repeated statements that he was “playing” too hard with me.
We were using all kinds of methods, everything from finger locks to takedowns to compliance techniques. But we were SUPPOSED to be playing with them, exploring what options were available in different situations, figuring out solutions to the positional problems we were presented with as we took turns applying different techniques to our partner. We were NOT supposed to be damaging our partners.
The first time he grabbed my wrist and twisted it into a very painful position, and then went even further with it after I said “That’s enough!” I just thought “Ok, that was a bit much!”.
When he stomped on my foot on the way to trying to get a takedown, and then stayed with all his weight on it after I said (more than once) “Too much! That hurts!” I started to get pissed.
We ended up with my leg between his (me behind him) and him applying pressure upwards on my foot (forcing my trapped knee to go in the direction it does not bend) while telling me to “get out of it” – I told him “The only way for me to get out of it is to really hurt you” (which I kind of wanted to do because he was not backing off at all). He didn’t back off until I finally said “OW. That hurts. Let go!”
Sitting in my hotel room later, after having had a nice hot shower and applying a good layer of Arnica to my multiple bruises and tender spots, I thought about how I handled the situation.
I didn’t get injured, although I easily could have been. My mistake was in continuing to work with him after the second “infraction”.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to work with the material we had been learning.
I didn’t fully grasp that my partner either didn’t realize he was being too forceful or didn’t care that what he was doing was causing pain far beyond what I wanted to endure.
I put myself in the position of getting hurt and potentially injured because –
• I wasn’t willing to disengage or walk away
• I wasn’t willing to set a VERY CLEAR boundary (“if you ignore my verbal request to ease up or stop again I won’t work with you any more”)
• I didn’t want to be seen as “wimpy” or weak (although not one of the people in the course would have seen me that way).
You would think I would know better. You would think that my self-awareness would be better than that. You would think that I wouldn’t have any trouble at all asserting myself and making a man knock it off.
Apparently I needed a reminder.
Perhaps there’s something coming up in my life where standing securely in my power and taking action to keep myself safe is going to be essential.
Or maybe I just needed a little taste of what many women experience on a regular basis – being in a situation with a bigger, stronger, powerful man who is supposed to be a good partner working with you towards a common goal, but who breaks the rules/agreement and instead of being sensitive, supportive and caring seeks only to get out of the situation what HE wants to get out of it, regardless of the negative (and painful) impact on you.
I don’t take what this man did during the class today personally, especially since other people (including men) experienced similar “over-the-top”, too-fast-too-hard interactions with him.
But I do appreciate the opportunity to introspect and learn from my experience.