So, I told you all I would keep you posted on the self-defense training I’m trying out these days, and I realized it’s been awhile. After taking a Krav Maga class, I started learning the basics of Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. Wing Chun was one of Bruce Lee’s favorite types of martial arts, and it just so happens that this style of combat was created by a woman who needed to defend herself against an abusive man. It is designed to be used against larger opponents and focuses alot on stability and relaxation. I have practiced yoga for several years and am 5’2″, so these things really appealed to me. In addition, I happen to have a friend who has been willing to teach this to me at his house once a week, in exchange for Graphic Design work. This option fits my budget and busy schedule very well, so I couldn’t pass it up.
I’ve had three or four sessions so far, and wanted to share some of my findings with you. One thing I like about Wing Chun (and the environment in which I am learning it) is that it’s very simple. The main focus is on maintaining balance, a strong foundation, and protecting the center-line of the body. If all of these things are in place and working together, it becomes much easier to remain calm in a bad situation, and if you are stable and aware, it becomes much easier to throw your opponent off balance. Though Wing Chun is considered to be a high martial art, it doesn’t focus on yelling, making funny noises, or breaking through bricks with your bare hands, none of which seem very practical to me. At this point, I have only learned the very basics, such as how to move my body in unison, with the power coming from the hips, how to throw a punch without hurting myself, and do this with maximum force, and some basic elbow strikes, blocks, and kicks. I must say, I am really enjoying these lessons and find this to be one of the more practical forms of martial arts as well as a relaxing and centering past-time. Plus, it looks really cool once you get these moves down and can do them really fast. Your friends will be totally impressed.
Another important lesson that I have learned is to keep my shoulders relaxed and learn how to use the elbows, hips, and knees to generate power. Being relaxed not only allows us to remain focused and not freak out, but also allows us to read our opponent. For example, say some scary bad guy grabs my arm. If I tense my arm, that arm is no longer serving me as a weapon and I am forgetting about all the other tools I have at hand. Also, he can feel that tension and respond by using MORE force. If I let that arm relax, then I can focus on the other parts of my body that ARE available to me. Also, if my attacker is tense, and I am relaxed, I am able to recognize the instant that he releases tension and respond by kicking his ass before he knows what hit him. This stuff is so simple and makes so much sense, some days it’s hard to believe I’m just learning it now. But, that’s kinda how it goes with self-defense, you don’t know how easy it is to be your own best protector until you find a good sparring buddy.
On that note, I want to talk a little about how this experience is affecting me. I don’t consider myself to be a very aggressive person and don’t particularly like the idea of physical confrontation, so when my friend told me a during our lesson a few weeks ago to punch him in the solerplexes, I had a rough time with that. I understand that it is necessary to put this stuff into practice and use proper form and know where to hit, but I think, like many women, the idea of fighting is just not natural to me and I don’t want to use violence. On the flip side, as a member of Girls Fight Back, I am constantly exposed to stories of violence and tragedy, so I know just how possible it is that I may be faced with a situation in which fighting could save my life. Maybe all the Kung Fu training in the world won’t protect me from all the scary bad guys out there, but maybe, just maybe, the skills I am learning now will allow me to take care of myself if the opportunity arises. I think it is better to have these tools in my toolbox in case I ever need them, than to be “stuck up shits creek without a paddle” as they say.