Thursday, January 14, 2010

how my life has changed since becoming a black belt

For starters, I'm getting comments typed in Chinese on my blog. I'm deleting them because for all I know they're ads for penile implants, which is something I don't need. But now that I'm a black belt, people probably ascribe all kinds of Knowledge of Things Eastern to me. Like how to make kung pao beef and organize rooms to maximize the flow of energy, chi and zen. But I don't understand Chinese, written or spoken, and I imagine my Chinese fans will soon abandon their efforts to reach out to me via the comment box. I do speak some French, Spanish and Pig Latin, though. O-say eave-lay our-yay omments-cay at-thay ay-way if-ay ou-yay ike-lay.

I haven't had to register my hands as lethal weapons, although I did call my state representative to ask about this. He assured me that even though I am a black belt, I can go about my usual business. I don't even need a special sticker on my drivers license.

In "Black Belt Class" (heretofore referred to as BBC, not to be confused with the storied news service sponsored by our friends across the pond) we work with all kinds of weapons, so I'm now the proud owner of a bo staff (silver--graphite--v. light and durable). We've just begun the bo staff unit in BBC. I've had lots of complements on my staff (a Christmas gift to myself) but not too many on my handling of it...yet. I love the bo staff compared to nunchuckas, though. Less wobbly, easier to control, and seems like a preferable weapon in a fight if you ask me. The length of it means you can keep your enemy further away and if all else failed, you could use it to poke their eye out. Plus, I twirled baton when I was young and a lot of the bo staff moves are exactly the same. (No, I do NOT like bo staff best just because Taylor Lautner studied it.)

Studying bo staff means learning a form to demonstrate knowledge of all the strikes and defenses and learning two coordinating forms--attacking and defending. The latter is tricky because you learn both but do one part while your partner does the other. Last night I was defending while my partner was attacking, but I kept wanting to do what she was doing. This doesn't work so well because every move I make is a counter move to what she does. I like the mental challenge of this and I'm optimistic that I'll master bo staff soon. Then I get to move on to sword, kamas and escrima sticks (which should be a breeze since I've watched Mr. T go over the escrima form a thousand times and can recite it in my sleep). From the little I know about these other weapons, I think I'll still like the bo staff best.

The awesomeness factor of owning new weapons aside, we study grappling in BBC. This is absolutely awful. I always end up pinned and I'm terribly self-conscious grappling teenaged boys, teenaged girls, the other women my age, and my instructors. I only know a couple of submission holds and can barely maneuver my way out of gar position. Grappling is sweaty and involves way too much contact for my taste. It's humbling to be so bad at something. My sole victory came Monday night during combat sparring. During combat sparring you try to take your opponent down to the ground--sparring and grappling combined. I actually pinned an instructor (and it wasn't a "pity pin" either). It happened in part because I was 100% focused on grappling, not on anything else. It didn't matter that his feet were in my face or that I had to lay across his chest or that I smelled like Old Locker Room Sweat. All that mattered was NOT getting pinned and I had the first taste of success in this area of study. Even so, I'd rather spar than grapple any day.

Another requirement of working on 2nd degree is mastering a form called "Velocity." As indicated by it's name, the form moves fast, with a lot of jumps. In my opinion it is wrong to ask anyone over 26 to perform this form. Mr. O just laughed when I shared my opinion. I've learned the form and don't look like a total sclub doing it. Nor do I look amazing.

BBC is demanding, physically and mentally, and aside from getting tossed on my back once or twice a week during grappling lessons, it's fun.

As I'm working on a query letter to accompany my (nearly finished!) manuscript Kicks Like a Girl, I can write "I'm a black belt in karate" which makes me sound cooler than I actually am in real life.

And I'm still getting my 3 miles in, but I'm skiing them sometimes because running indoors is NOT the same as running outside and xc-skiing is better exercise. I have to mainain my black belt physique--people expect you to look pretty fit when you claim to have a black belt in anything.

This pretty cool XMA bo staff demonstration gives you an idea of why this weapon cooler than swords or nunchuckas or escrima sticks:

23 comments:

  1. I'm pretending that guy in the video is you. Nice haircut, first off.

    So the whole BBC class sounds amazing, except for the fact that Colin Firth isn't there. For the grappling, I think I'd have to bind my breasts, or they'd get in on the grapple.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So we should expect a video of you performing that routine soon?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my holy heck! You're learning to do all those kick-A moves?

    I have no idea who Taylor Lautner is.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very cool. I agree with the whole sparring vs. grappling.... I much preferred sparring in muay thai. Good luck. Will be looking for the video of you sparring next. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  5. pure awesomeness. I have been thinking lately (since my son started karate a few months ago) that it is something I should do. I seems empowering. I haven't gotten the nerve up yet, though...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hint: To win in grappling, it is best not to bathe for several days beforehand.

    If I had to use that staff thing, I would totally thwack myself in the head with it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh.my.goodness. And Wow. Impressive.

    BTW, do you speak Ubbie Dubbie? From Zoom...or are you too young and you missed that on PBS?

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is so cool and you are too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the way your karate work feeds into your writing!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bo Staff weilding Launter - be still my old heart. As always - You totally rock. I think I'll peel my fat butt off the chair now and go for a waddle walk.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I beg to differ - you ARE totally cool in real life:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. And yet, you knew that Taylor Lautner studied bo staff. I'm just sayin'...

    I speak some French and less Spanish but cannot converse in Pig Latin. Apparently I can't read it, either, considering how long it took me to decipher that sentence.

    I stand in awe of your black-beltedness.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow! They should name a superhero after you!

    I'm impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kinda disappointed that you don't have to register your hands as lethal weapons -- I always thought that came with black beltedness. Can you still do it, even though it's not necessarily a "requirement" - cuz I still think it would be cool. ;) Then you could add that to your query letter too. hehe

    Seriously though, you rock...you're my hero.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I now have "Everybody was a Kung Foo fighting..." stuck in my head.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I give anyone credit that can work hard toward any goal and achieve it....the grappling thing....uh, wouldn't be for me either!

    ReplyDelete
  17. AND!!! You have a stick and live with 4 men AWESOME. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Interesting article you got here. It would be great to read something more about that theme. Thanx for posting that data.
    Joan Stepsen
    Home gadgets

    ReplyDelete
  19. You are too cool for school.
    (Boy, do I sound like an old lady for saying that.)
    But really, you are awesome. I want to see you in action. Make a video!

    Kicks Like a Girl is a terrific title! Can't wait to hear more about it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Can't see the demonstration, but by the description alone, I'm a little scared. I think I will wear cowbells around you so as not to spook. I'm extremely impressed though. I stop at kickboxing using the pictures of people that piss me off as targets.

    ReplyDelete
  21. "I'm a black belt in karate" - this IS cool. I am so totally impressed.

    When my son was taking karate, I was always careful where I sat during the lessons when they introduced new weapons. You know, flying weapons and stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I LOVED watching my son doing staff form, more than any other weapon. His are made out of bamboo.

    I would also like to see a video of you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Holy &^%$ that is some amazing stuff. I am so thoroughly impressed by your black belt I don't have words.

    Oh, and I'm feeling even guiltier than before about ogling a shirtless 17 year old Taylor Lautner at the movie theater now. He's a little kid in that video and that was taken the year I got married.

    ReplyDelete

Spill it, reader.