In a post about a month ago, I mentioned in passing that I was about to try out a new martial arts class that was starting up in my town. I’ve now been training there a month, and really enjoying myself. 🙂
It’s still a small class, split between some teenaged beginners and another woman returning to training after earning her black belt over ten years ago. (We have a bunch of other things in common, too, so we really clicked.) She and I have been working on more advanced forms and techniques, which has been fun and engaging; I’ve already relearned two old forms I used to know, and last week we learned one that was brand new to both of us. That form got me thinking about the most valuable aspect of training for me.
It’s a very Tiger type of form, so the energy is aggressive and strong. There’s very little defense in it — except in the sense that to Tiger, the best defense is a good offense that never lets up. And whether or not that’s a good overall fighting strategy for me personally, I think it’s valuable to cultivate, because of what it does to my energy. I mean, I realize that as a 45-year-old, bespectacled woman, I am not striking terror in the dojo, but I do love that feeling of ferocity. It creates and sustains a fighting mindset, and a fighting mindset goes a long way.
I don’t think there’s a martial artist out there who hasn’t been asked if they’ve ever “used” their martial art. When people ask me that, I usually say no, because I know what they mean — they want to know if I’ve used it in a physical, hand-to-hand confrontation. And I haven’t. But I do try to follow that up right away with a but…because I’ve used my training every day since I started as a teenager.
I’ve used it while facing down verbally aggressive coworkers who didn’t like a woman disagreeing with them. I’ve used it while speaking uncomfortable truths in workplace meetings when no one else was willing to. I’ve used it while pushing back against assumptions about what I “could” or “should” be able to do. I’ve used it to get through autistic burnout and restructure my life to better suit me, instead of just putting up with misery. Hell, I’ve used it in everyday social encounters when my anxiety was getting the better of me. And I keep using it as I move into new territory that scares me, because I know I can dig in my claws and climb.
“It” is that fighting mindset, the feeling of ferocity that powers action and keeps fear at bay. I can’t always conjure it, but practice helps. And right now I have Tiger to help me with that.