Sparring Thoughts

One of my hobbies, besides writing (alas) is martial arts, specifically Krav Maga. A lot of what we learn at my gym is specific defenses you can use to remove yourself from a bad situation, defenses that have more to do with physics than strength.

My great cultural upheaval of choice would be to have everyone learn practical self-defense from a young age. It does a lot for you. It gives you a tool kit to deal with bad people wanting to hurt you, a tool kit that is both physical and mental (awareness, empowerment, etc.). It improves physical fitness. It also gives you a grounding in the physical, something I believe gets lost in our information-focused age.

The mind-body dichotomy is as old as language, I suspect, and the root of many a heresy. It is also a lie. Nothing teaches you that like getting punched in the face. Physical reality is very real and should mean a great deal to you. You may not believe in that punch to the face, you may deny its effect, but it believes in you even more than you disbelieve.

Yes, I do get punched in the face regularly. We have safety gear and most people spar softly.

Most. Even in training, our wiring is what it is. The standard fight responses trigger. It’s hard to teach yourself to hit lightly when you’ve decided to hit. I think this is even more true of men than women, which may be nature or nurture but I’m betting both.

Also, men and women are quite different. We’ve got a fairly diverse set of both sexes at the gym and even the smaller, skinner young guys hit harder than grown women. People make much of specific external differences between male and female, particularly on the chest and below the belt. Those are very important to be sure, but the not necessarily immediately apparent differences found in muscle and bone cannot be denied either and matter more in certain contexts. They also can’t be really changed, they’re structural, down to the way joints are built- we’ve got some old guys just coming back into physical training and years of idleness or sickness have not stripped them of much masculine strength or speed.

Men also get injured less based on my anecdotal observation. We ladies tear and move things wrong, knocking us down a few notches for a week or a few, more often. That structural joint difference again. Male joints are better reinforced.

They also pick up faster in the sense that they don’t hesitate to throw a punch (mostly, some have an admirable but unhelpful hesitation in playing the attacker when working with us girls). That one, I think, is nurture more than nature. Women don’t think of themselves as people who physically fight with fists. Newbies often hesitate to put weight behind strikes, especially younger girls. Confidence builds quickly, however, when encouraged.

However, when a girl doesn’t want to do martial arts, nothing will make her do it properly. She’ll just keep flailing her strikes. Guys, you can stir up their pride or competitive inclination. You can get them to want to do it. Ladies, nope. Especially teenagers, which I will inform you from my memory is not a generational trait. There’s your armchair psychology for the day.

For those who are not aware for one reason or another, one of the differences between 25 and 30 is that, at 30, recovery takes longer. I am sore nowadays for longer than a day and whatever odd thing I did to my hip over Thanksgiving lingers just a tad still. I really recommend a daily stretching regimen, which is a note to myself.

Paladin Book 2 is on a bit of a hold. We’re moving. This is a deeply displeasing hold; data indicates an author’s ideal release is three-month windows. I have a hopefully interesting post on the Holdings, the setting of said trilogy, drafted but I need to find the name of a particular place in my draft as I can’t remember what it is- you can blame either age or too many blows to the head, two things this post makes clear are a risk of mine.

Published by kathrynzurmehly

I am, among many other things, an Army vet and a freelance writer.

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