Tag Archives: martial arts

Seeing Is Understanding

This is about speaking up, creepers, and what good men don’t always see.  Names have been changed.

Some time ago, I was having lunch with a group of friends—four men, one woman, and me.  I’ve known most of the group for five or six years.  We were talking about shared past experiences when one of the men mentioned that he missed Larry.  “Gotta like a man who can make a good cup of coffee,” he said.

“No, I don’t,” I blurted out, and described how that man knew precisely where the lines of “inappropriate” behavior were drawn, and had spent the last couple of years nudging those lines whenever he came across a woman he considered “available.”  I mentioned he’d been called out for failing to heed polite turn-downs, that he got offended when the turn-down became less polite.  I mentioned how women who weren’t even the focus of his attention breathed a sigh of relief when he left the room.

None of the men discounted my experience or my descriptions.  But every one of them said they hadn’t seen or noticed anything like that.  I do want to be clear that their responses were not in the spirit, tone, or words of dismissal.  Instead, they were genuinely puzzled that their observations had missed something they assumed would be obvious.  One said he felt bad he hadn’t realized what was going on.

So I pushed the issue.

Without explaining what I was going to do, I got up and stood behind one of the men.  I put my hands on his shoulders, then stretched my fingers as far down his chest as possible while still seeming to give a platonic shoulder rub.*  I pulled him back against my chest, digging my fingers in when he resisted.  That action alone let him know I acknowledged he didn’t want me to be pulling on and touching him, and I didn’t care.

“You look so tense,” I said in a nice, soft voice.  Not sexy, not husky, but more intimate than standard conversation.  Not intimate enough to be “inappropriate,” though.  “You just let me give you a rub and I’ll make you feel better.  I can tell you need that.”

Then, while he sat immobile with surprise, I leaned past him to pick up his coffee cup, keeping my chest close to his face and my other hand firmly on his shoulder.  To the others, it likely looked as if I was just resting my hand there.  That man, though, could feel the pressure I exerted to keep him pressed close to me.  He would have had to make an obvious, rude-looking push to get away.  “I’ll get you some more coffee, too.  You just let me take care of that.”

I gave the man a sweet smile in answer to his shocked stare, then returned to my seat, put my napkin back on my lap, and said, “That’s what Larry does.”

The man I’d touched totally understood in that moment.  He’d experienced how it felt—even at the hands of a friend—to have your personal boundaries violated and your “polite” signals of resistance ignored.  The other men had that slack expression that comes when surprising facts suddenly jolt long-held assumptions.  “Creepy” was uttered, as was “awful” and “scary.”

Their words held a tone of… almost fear?  As if they were suddenly running through all sorts of past interactions in search of similar behaviors, and finding some.

Now they are able to see it.

*The “long-fingered” shoulder rub is a common tactic used by creepers who want to look like they’re being so tender and nurturing while actually making the woman fear he’s going to grab a breast at any moment.

See also:

Where the Boundaries Are Drawn

Five Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Self-Defense

It’s the Same Advice

Edited 08/09/2013 11:20 to correct word-choice mistake pointed out by a kind reader. 🙂

There Is No Such Thing As Typical

Today the 30-day blog challenge is to describe a typical day from my life.

I do not have typical days.

The best and the worst thing about being self-employed in three different fields–karate, wellness, writing–while also homeschooling a teenager is that no two consecutive days will be alike.  Toss in a sister who works as a flight attendant while parenting my little nephews, parents who love to spend time with extended family, and two crazy-sweet dogs, and it is guaranteed days will be interesting in the ancient proverb sense.

Let’s take today, for instance.

Up at eight in the morn (because I suck at early rising) to get laundry rolling and hoe the garden before it gets to muggy.  By nine, the garden has been weeded, laundry is well underway, breakfast has been eaten by human and canine residents, and I’ve settled in to answer wellness emails while the Son works through his assignments in algebra and economics.  We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there.  At a few minutes after eleven, the Son and I head out the door, with the Son driving.  (We’re trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

The Son sees his econ/algebra teacher for two hours.  In that time, I run to the printing shop to pick up karate-related stuff, then see a karate student at his own factory to provide a private lesson on kata and kicks.  We finish ten minutes late, which means I barely make it back to the teacher’s office in time.  But the teacher is also running late, so all’s good.  I return phone calls while I wait: a client looking for info on digestive enzymes, the mechanic trying to schedule what might be an all-day job for my car, someone seeking information on karate classes.

By the time we return home, it’s a little after two.  The dogs dance on their back legs as if we’ve been gone forever and threatened to never return.  Fortunately, the Lab didn’t find any unattended food items to devour, and the Bull-Boxer-Rotty didn’t tear up anything in his crate, so their greetings were well-received.  We indulge in many minutes of playing with the dogs because it makes the entire day better for all involved.

Then came the midday ninety minutes with the Son, when we make something quick and easy for lunch before sitting down to watch one of the nighttime shows we record to watch together.  Today was the most recent episode of Falling Skies.  I ate a Sloppy Joe and salad.  The Son had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before the Son had to start his government assignment and I had to be out the door.  I reached the dojo just five minutes ahead of both my instructor and my sparring partner.  Fifteen minutes of kata work and forty-five minutes of sparring followed.  Less than five minutes after the end of practice, I bowed beginning students on the mat for the first class of the evening.  Four hours later, around nine, I bowed my last students off the mat.  In between, I taught some students a new kata, others a new throw, then worked as both teacher and uki for an hour of multiple-attacker self-defense.

Upon arriving home, a shower–quick and cold–was the second order of business.  The first was to hug the Son.  Since the Son is working on a Minecraft something or other video and chatting with his international friends, I am left to my own devices: more answering of email, petting the crazy sweet dogs, and writing this post.  By eleven, I’ll be settled enough to get some fiction in before my eyes begin to cross.  By midnight, I’ll curl up in bed with my yet-nameless Kindle, and read until I fall asleep somewhere around one in the morn.

And that’s about as typical as it gets around here.  Tomorrow I’ll teach karate again in the evening, and the Son and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me.  Because the Son and I both often work evenings, we can’t have dinner together very often.  Instead, lunch is our time.

Five Fonts of Happiness

Mmm… Chinese food…

Ahem.

Five things that make me happy. Very well.

First, that mention of Chinese food does indeed make me happy. Mentioning Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, Indian and European food makes me happy, too. I love food. I adore food. I don’t consider myself a foodie, or a great cook, or even a discerning eater. But taste and scent and texture—and sharing that experience with others—is a great joy. I remember the immense pleasure of eating fresh cilantro atop carne asada for the first time. I can recall the sweet tang of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with feta and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. My mouth waters over what I was served at an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City, though I can’t tell you what it was called. The fried green tomatoes and chutney I ate in Charleston were a delight. Tarragon chicken. Burgers and onion rings. Cannelloni con asparagi. Moo shu. Noodles with butter, garlic and oregano. Sweet corn. Beef barley stew. Cheesecake. Naan. Fried mushrooms. Hummus. French fries. Marinara. Steaks. Oh, yes, steaks. Food makes me smile from the inside out.

Unless it involves fish, and then I really don’t want anything to do with it.

Continue reading Five Fonts of Happiness

More On That Self-Defense Stuff

I was sent a link to a women’s magazine article giving five tips for self-defense that were credited to a woman with an advanced rank in karate.

Look: I respect any woman who has trained so long—particularly a woman who began at a time when women weren’t much wanted or expected to be in a dojo. That’s a woman like one of my own primary instructors, whose courage and determination made the mat a safer and more welcoming place for me to be in more recent years. But I can’t help pointing out when advice can be not all the useful, or useful only to those who have a lifetime of good physical agility and ability.

Before I say more, I’ll share a couple points.

Continue reading More On That Self-Defense Stuff

Five Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Self-Defense

1.  People who haven’t fought at speed have no idea how fast a fight moves. In the time it takes to count one-Mississippi, you can be struck quite a few times.  You can be maimed.  You can be killed.  There is no moment to come up with a plan. The advantage goes to the one who doesn’t need to think about what should be done next. (Critical consideration, since the average 911 response time can be around seven to eight minutes.)

2.  The instinct to duck is incredibly hard to overcome, even though it results in losing sight of one’s attacker. The ancillary to ducking–closing one’s eyes–has the same result. Truth is, it hurts as much to get hit with your eyes closed as it does when they’re open. Alas, effective blocking is a difficult skill to acquire, and practice often involves accidentally blocking with one’s face at first.

3.  Folks learning to fight have a seemingly irresistible urge to explain at length why and how what they’re being told to do will never, ever work.  We’re so accustomed to processing everything through language that we assume an idea isn’t valid if we can’t.  It takes awhile for folks to trust the mind will follow the body’s lead.

4.  It’s easier to teach hunters of fast-moving game than it is to teach non-hunters.  It has nothing to do with the psychology of hunting, or gun-carrying, or aggression.  It has everything to do with experience.  Someone who hunts is used to judging, in an instant, things like speed, distance, and trajectory.  That’s an incredible asset in a fight–for both offense and defense.

5.  “I’m afraid I’ll be too aggressive” usually means, “I’m afraid of what the attacker will do if I’m aggressive.”  I hear this often from folks with violence in their past, where fighting back resulted in more severe abuse.  But it’s easier to say we fear our own power than our own weakness, and keeping a clamp on aggression keeps a lid on the fear, too.  In those cases, I’ll often be the person’s partner, or partner them with a student I trust to communicate openly about intensity, force, and such.