I Did It!! This Runt is a Self-Defense Bad Ass Today!!

My arms are sore, my voice is raw, and my heart is thumping.

I can’t stop smiling.

I GRADUATED my self-defense class tonight!!

And to think I almost didn’t go. I couldn’t find my book, I couldn’t find anyone to practice with, and I was worried that I wouldn’t remember what I’d learned. I was worried I was too weak. Happy to say, I WAS WRONG!

Reminds me of being in school, the anxiety I used to have over tests. I would study like crazy and not get any sleep, and sometimes miss class. In the past I would find all the worst-case scenarios about why I would fail.

But instead of worrying, I decided to believe. Since there was nothing for me to study with, I had no choice. I decided to have faith in my own muscle memory, my instincts, my adrenaline.

I realized I wanted to see my classmates. I wanted to be there for and with them. We were all being tested. It wasn’t just about me. And I wanted to prove to MYSELF that I can do it.

There was just one condition: Don’t quit.

I told myself, “You are going to do it!” I shut out fear and focused on being positive.

I didn’t do anything physical to prepare. I did get a good night’s rest. I asked for some prayers, and I prayed myself. And I met up with one of my best friends, Catt, for pie beforehand. We caught up, we laughed, we ate pie, we hugged. I went to our final class in a great mood.

I watched a few people go before me. We were all rooting for each other. It was hard to watch the other women struggle and I could see when they were losing strength and wanted to quit. But we all yelling, “You can do it!” and our instructor would be right there, encouraging us too. And they triumphed! I could see I wasn’t alone– it was just as hard for them as it was for me.

When he called me up, I was ready. It was nice, again, to be called, “Miss Amee.”

To be respected.

The test was designed to make us tired, to catch us by surprise, to test our endurance. It was scary, and real.

I got through the push-ups, punches, blocks, and surprise attacks.

But mainly, I USED MY VOICE. That’s what he taught us the first day. My VOICE is my biggest weapon!

I can say this for myself, I screamed the loudest! It felt good, too. I feel like A LION!

It’s amazing to know I’m capable of it.

Our instructor said afterwards that using your voice provides a burst of energy, and it’s true.

The adrenaline DOES work. I used some of the techniques, but I was good at blocking punches and getting out.

I learned that it’s not easy to knock me down. I have more energy and instinct than I realized.

He asked us all how we felt afterwards. I told him I felt PROUD.

He had us line up and receive our certificate of graduation, and he gave us our t-shirts in a traditional way, then shook our hands.

The last time I got an award for something was my sales, at work. And I was happy about that!

But this was so much MORE exciting.

In this class I learned that it does not MATTER that I’m small. I am still a FORCE! I had someone take a picture of me with it, and also my classmates and our teacher.

I feel happy, confident. Strong. Like a total bad ass.

I’m glad our instructor didn’t take it easy on us in that last test.

I had been worried I might fail– I had thought before, “Who is this guy to pass or fail me?!”

But he had our certificates waiting, printed up. AND MY NAME WAS SPELLED RIGHT! My whole name! So many times, it’s been bungled. That’s the price of having two unique names.

He believed in us all along. He knew we would graduate. It was just up to us to go forward and claim it!

He did his job, we did ours. Everybody won. It wasn’t a competition.

And I’ll tell ya one thing: I am FRAMING that certificate!! And I already put on the-shirt, it fits perfect.

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Sucker Punch: Keep Fighting and Walk it Off

Tonight we reviewed techniques we’ve learned in this class.

And I was calm, ready, and logical. A few times I blanked out, but my instructor was right there telling us what we were doing wrong and how to fix it. They were fleeting moments, and then I figured it out and got it right. We as classmates broke down each other’s reactions and moves as well, re-positioning, critiquing and praising. It’s been that way all along.

I’ve learned so much about myself in this class. I started off very meek, and would panic easily. I was also defiant, because I didn’t trust myself or the moves in the class. But repetition and a safe environment helped me overcome that.

Last week, I had a small meltdown when I felt afraid. I panicked and cried, just gave up entirely. I had been holding it in the whole class– but crying helped me get it out. I went off by myself and calmed down for a few minutes. Sometimes you just gotta feel what you feel and release it. It’s bottling it up and pretending you don’t have a problem that gets you into trouble. My classmates were supportive, as was my instructor. I think it reinforced to them that although the class is also fun and a great way to get in shape and meet people, we are all there because we need to protect ourselves– and each other– in an unsafe world. We’ve become allies, if not close friends. But I do like and trust all of these people.

I had some major trust issues when I began this class. I still don’t trust most people unless they prove safe– but that’s smart. But now because *I’m* more confident, I’m finding it’s getting easier for me.

Probably the best thing I’ve learned is to not put up with disrespect. Confront it right away, and most likely you’ll stop it in the future. People will test your boundaries to see how far they can push you. It’s up to us to let them know we’re paying attention and what we will not tolerate.

The problem with being Christian is we are conditioned to forgive at all costs. But I’ve learned now that if someone moves to strike or threaten you, the SAFEST thing you can do is to make a decision and take control. Waiting to react on them could leave you dead.

I have no obligation to forgive someone who has betrayed my confidences, lied to/about me, threatened me or attacked me openly in any way. If you do that at a job, you get fired. Why do we make exceptions for people in our lives just because we have a long history together, we’re related, or we’re dating? The only people who are truly innocent are children or individuals with disabilities, be it mental or physical. Everyone else needs to be held responsible for their words and their actions.

I’m letting go of guilt over people I cut out of my life because they were insufferable or untrustworthy. Condescending, hostile, passive-aggressive, disrespectful, constantly drunk/high and using that as an excuse to behave badly. I’m making peace with realizing I let go of toxic friendships and relationships to protect MYSELF– and I don’t need to apologize to anyone for that.

I’ve become more decisive in my personal life. Things roll off me easier. I’m not scrambling for approval. I’m taking more pride in my appearance. I’m more relaxed, but also more aware.

Tonight I had a few moments of having to pause and think before I could react, but I never quit or got afraid enough to be emotional. I wish the class was longer, because I’ve come to really respect and trust this group. I’d like to keep in touch with some of them, or maybe take another class if my schedule and finances allow.

It’s nice to be called, “Miss Amee,” for a change. To be treated with respect, rather than objectified. All the men were respectful, not creepy. Once you’re treated well, you just can’t accept anything else.

I’ve learned to rely on reason, structure and repetition in this class. I’ve learned that I CAN keep myself safe, and that I’m way ahead of the game in terms of just avoiding bad situations and being aware. That being small can be an asset– and how to use it to my advantage. That I have excellent instincts, and I should trust them.

While watching me and one of the men in the class work on an exercise tonight, our instructor reminded me that I can’t out-muscle him– to stop struggling and just stick with the techniques. After that, I was calmer, and I did it quickly and correctly.

I don’t need to out-muscle anyone. Just out-think them. And that, I’m already doing.

If I know what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It’s wonderful.

The best scenario we did by far was tonight’s: we had to spin around with our head on a pole in circles, then fight off one of three people who would charge us, with padded shields. Our instructor said this is the closest way we can simulate being sucker punched. I asked for a definition and he said that’s being hit when you’re not expecting it– it’s not any particular location. It’s just being whacked hard and getting dazed a bit. And I don’t drink or get high on anything, so right there, I have a huge advantage for my safety.

He told us when to wait, when to charge. I charged my hardest, and I fought my hardest.

Now I’m going to study what I’ve learned, and practice with a classmate or two before the test. I already made plans for that.

Wish me luck! Whatever happens, I feel good. I feel capable. I feel strong.