Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Open letter to a guy at the dojang and other training news

Dear guy,

You're a sweet fella. I know your apology after class today was kindly meant. "I had just been sparring with three guys, and I kinda didn't dial it back enough." But honey, look around. 'Cause I was the only woman in class today. So I'd just been sparring with those three guys, too.

And what I'm not going to tell you, since I don't want to embarrass you, is that I hardly felt the one kick you got in under my armor. What I did feel was when the guy who was on the tournament sparring team punched the hell out of me about four times in a row. Or when another guy kicked me full in the head. I didn't so much as squeak either time. So why do you think I'm going to hold a grudge against you?

I didn't walk into a martial arts school thinking I wasn't going to get hit a few times. I know I'm weak and slow and have no technique, but that still doesn't mean I'm a total wimp.



Master Fuzzy has been somewhat edgy lately--as he himself admits--and has been a little hard on us. On Thursday night, I was so frustrated by my poor performance in class, so humiliated by continued inability to do real push-ups, and so demoralized about things in general that I ended up doing something I swore I never would do in the dojang: I cried.

Thank God, it was only a few tears, and it was during the closing speech while everyone was facing front and at attention, so none of the other students could see me. I think I hid it fairly well, but I know Master Fuzzy saw me, anyway. Of course, that only humiliated me more.

On Friday, Master Fuzzy apologized obliquely for being tough on me by telling people over the phone in my hearing that he had been in a foul mood the day before and by giving me a short private lesson on the techniques I couldn't manage in class on Thursday.

He says my mind-body connection is bad. I say it's terrible to the point of non-existence.

Instructor Bellona tells me I have to learn to let go of my fear and anxiety. I'd say that's an understatement, too.

I've started doing some yoga, using beginner DVDs and a start-up kit I ordered online. I'm hoping it will help me develop strength, control, and a better sense of calm. I'm trying not to snort through my nose when the DVD instructors tell me to do things like "realize the stillness of my soul," not only because that sort of thing sounds infinitely hokey to my cynical ears, but also because I'm pretty sure my soul has almost no stillness left in it.

I'm slipping all over the place on the "sticky" mat that came with my kit, even though I'm not sweating all that much in the light workouts I'm starting with. Those of you who do yoga, can you tell me whether I ought to invest in something like this, which is a bit pricey, or just expect that I'll be able to better hold poses without slipping as I get stronger and my mat gets more worn? Are there other beginner DVDs you'd recommend?

I've been generally annoyed by how little my body seems to be responding to training, but I think I might be beginning to spy a hint of muscle definition in my upper arms. Anyway, I sometimes seem to spot the faintest whisper of a tricep, particularly on the right side.