Yesterday was my second Women’s Grappling class. It began with the teacher running around the perimeter of the studio on the mat with 2 other women trailing after her. I discovered immediately that the pace was brisk and it was all I could do just to keep up.
Then there were twisting grapevine steps, while running. I had to choose to either do the steps or keep up, as I was already sweating and out of breath. Several variations on all that later, I was lagging, puffing, and resisting the urge to stop. I began to really regret leaving my water jar in the car, dashed to the water cooler and gulped down 4 little paper cups of water.
Rolls came next, ones I knew I’d better not do until I have really learned how. Then somersaults. I was shown how to do one, and it made me dizzy. At the beginning, my teacher had said to go at my own pace, “Be Safe”. I mentally printed that on my forehead, deliberately ignoring the inner clamor of fear and self-judgment. There was more of all sorts of movement forward and back, whacking the mat which I did feeling like Po of Kung Fu Panda: slowly and clumsily. I could really feel all 193 of my pounds.
Then came the “Samurai Walk”. You start with one knee up and one knee down. You roll the up knee down and swivel the other knee around up. Let’s just say that I could do it at all was a miracle, even at a retarded snail’s pace. There was more gorilla walk like stuff across the floor. Everyone else was zip zip zip across the mat. I was dum dee dum dee dum dee dum- getting half way across the mat to their full traverse, scrambling up and trying desperately to keep moving. I was afraid if I stopped I would seize up like a car with a cracked block.
But my favorite, besides the Samurai walk, was the “Military Crawl’. You start up on both knees, fall forward, and you slap the mat with both arms. You wriggle forward with your arms and legs like a manic salamander, keeping yourself as flat as possible. They could do this and travel across the mat in no time. I could barely get my knees up and move forward at all. This was all completely nuts, perfectly impossible. Just like drumming was when I started.
We proceeded into doing holds in pairs-with the guard thing again. We were taught a reverse of the “Kimura Sweep”, where you end up wrapped around your partner from their back with your arms and legs twined around them like a sticky jungle vine. From there we learned how to do a choke. I was in complete disbelief. I could not take it in I was actually learning how to choke someone.
Then the irony of it all washed over me in a cold flash: How better to stop someone without a weapon? Someone who is trying to beat, rape, rob, torture, and yes- Choke you. Just like Sister dearest did. And she wasn’t the only one who has grabbed me by the throat with intent to harm. A guy did once, and, unlike her, he squeezed. A memory best left to be used only as a reminder: I’m learning what I now believe I need to know. And this realization makes the soreness in my neck, shoulders, hips and left knee a lot more bearable.