This is my first-ever attempt at a blog post, so bear with me. A couple of days ago, it was suggested that we add the voices of one or more Valkyrie WMAA students to Box Wrestle Fence. It occurred to me that my voice could provide an interesting counterpoint to David’s.
Before this past September, my martial arts experience consisted of 2 months of kickboxing lessons 15 years ago, and 2 introductory rapier classes 10 years ago (and several months apart). I have never set foot in a gym outside of public school. Beyond our society’s obsession with fitness and working out, I’d been told for years that making some moderate physical activity part of my routine would help greatly with my on-going struggle with depression. Every now and then, I would try to make a habit of going for a half-hour walk every day, or going to a couple of yoga classes every week. Every time, I’d hit a point around or before the 2-month mark when something would interrupt my developing routine, and I would never quite get it re-established. Part of me almost always resented losing that time for doing other, more enjoyable things. I accepted that while there were times that I enjoyed physical activity and/or its effects (dancing, going for a hike, the feeling in my body after a yoga class), it would never be a large part of my life.
Then I moved to Vancouver, where my sister’s husband happened to be running a small WMA school. My sister (known here as She-Hulk) had been his student for 10 years. With fantasy geekery being a family trait, it wasn’t hard for her to convince me to come try out a couple of classes. I remembered enjoying the introductory classes I’d gone to the first year that she started taking classes. My partner and I were new to the city, and we were both interested in meeting people. I was extremely intimidated going into the first class. And then I discovered something. With the right people and atmosphere, it was possible to do extremely intense workouts, feel incredibly inept the entire way through, and thoroughly enjoy the entire experience. I kept going. Each class I could find some small area where I had improved. Within a month, I was able to do a cartwheel — something I’d never been able to do in my life. Within 2 months, I was taking part in intense physical training (boxing, wrestling, fencing, and pure workouts) 4 times a week. When illness forced me to take a 2-week break, I couldn’t wait to get back to classes. Even while calling David a crazy person for suggesting this exercise, or telling him I hate him for asking for one more repetition of that one, I continue to thoroughly enjoy myself. Especially the sparring.
It may seem odd, but all of this continues to surprise and confuse me if I stop and think about it. It is forcing me to re-evaluate things that I thought I knew about myself and lessons that have been ingrained in my psyche for most of my life. For example, I was raised to believe that violence is always a bad thing and it was never, never ok to hit someone. Now I have discovered that I actually really like hitting people — at least in certain consenting situations. I’m still trying to sort that one out in my brain; it’s something I have to work out to get a sense of where I might want to go with all this martial arts stuff. It’s work that I will continue to do, though. I’m having way too much fun to stop.
So there you go. That’s the continuing journey I hope to share with you here. As I said, I think it could provide an interesting an counterpoint David’s perspective — the story of a habitually inactive adult woman new to martial arts, to balance the thoughts of a man who started practising martial arts as a child and has continued to learn and teach for decades. I hope you enjoy it.