Capoeira Again

Long time readers of this blog know I love cross-training. Some of you might recall that last year I attended the one-off Capoeira workshop offered as part of my employer’s annual Professional Development Day. That workshop was so much fun I signed up again this year. What the heck is Capoeira? Here’s a very nice 5-minute video (start near the 1 minute 45 second mark). Obviously a one hour introduction to any martial art is only going to cover just so much ground. And if this year’s workshop was pretty much the same as last year’s workshop, what the heck did I learn?

I learned plenty.

There was one movement I learned which wasn’t covered in last year’s workshop. Someone I know who studied one of the Filipino Martial Arts described training with drums. The idea is to catch your opponent on the off-beats. I’d been wondering if Capoeira players do that. Yes, they do. We were taught one movement that is meant to throw the other player a bit off. I’d like to work out how to translate that movement into my jiyu kumite (karate free sparring).

One new movement… First-time reader, I hear you asking, “So why did Joelle say she learned plenty?” Long term readers know I learn way more than what’s on the surface.

As I said, this year’s workshop wasn’t much different in content and format than last year’s. Even my Hapkido buddy was in attendance again. But here’s the thing – I’m a different karateka than I was a year ago. And as a second-time attendee, I came with a different perspective. I paid attention to things I hadn’t noticed last year. I kept tabs on my internal world too. With any martial art, one learns about oneself through being pushed outside one’s comfort zone.

Ahhh yes, the comfort zone. Autopilot. Muscle memory. Folks, muscle memory can be downright annoying sometimes. I’d memorized Kanku Dai kata (one of our forms) last year, but obviously the lessons from that kata have sunk in deeper this year. I kept wanting to drop to the ground exactly like in that kata rather than execute a proper esquiva. Also, I’ve been practicing a drill in which I execute an inside crescent kick then place the foot down in such a way that the leg I’ve been kicking with becomes the back leg – i.e. that leg is behind me. What I needed to do for the Capoeira workshop is set the foot down to the side so as to transition into something else.

“You can put your leg behind,” the instructor admitted, “But…”

He trailed off, so I finished with a grin, “For the purpose of this drill, I need to step to the side.”

Sticking to the drill is even more important when one is working with a partner. My partner was a newbie to boot. Yeah, I know, pot calling the kettle black. Last year I was actually nervous about working with anyone other than a fellow martial artist (my Hapkido buddy) and the instructor. I’m totally fine with people who are new to the art of karate, have been for quite some time. But last year the idea of working with a newbie in Capoeira when I myself was unfamiliar with the material was a bit too much. This year I was a lot more confident about adjusting what I was doing to accommodate someone who hasn’t had any martial arts training whatsoever. I’ve not practiced any of the Capoeira movements I learned last year, so my ability to adjust obviously doesn’t come from long practice in Capoeira. Perhaps all those self defense workshops and other cross-training experiences have helped me become more confident about working on unfamiliar techniques with people who are entirely new to all martial arts in general.

What about confidence in working directly with an instructor who is from a completely different art? Last year I had a little anxiety about that. This year, no problem. I knew I could be myself – strengths, weaknesses, everything.

I even did something I didn’t do last year – I showed the instructor a little karate before class. I took the broom from him and swept the floor. I explained to him that this is the job of the lowest-ranked student. Which I was – I hold no rank in any system of Capoeira. Although one could use a broom as a makeshift weapon, there are no hidden techniques in sweeping the floor. This wasn’t the 1980’s movie “The Karate Kid,” this was me showing respect for the place where I train and for my instructor. That’s karate.

Perhaps some of you dear readers are wondering if I showed some “real” karate – in other words, did I bust out some cool karate stuff while I was in the roda? Why yes, I did. I started by respectfully entering the roda and following the instructor’s lead for the etiquette involved. Yes, that level of respect is “real” karate. Respect is the gateway to learning.

Instead of bowing to the instructor, I squatted down facing him, held my crossed arms out to his, and locked eyes with him for a moment. That moment told each of us what we needed to know about the other. We saw confidence, trust, respect, and curiosity. Last year I was a little too nervous to truly appreciate that formality. Right then it hit me that I’m a different karateka than the one who entered a roda for the first time last year. Last year I was just trying to function with the limited tools I had. This year’s play was different.

Of course I stumbled all over myself frequently. I’m a newbie, after all, and to top it all off I hadn’t been to a Capoeira class in a year. So what was different? This year I was even more keenly aware of the ways in which the instructor and I were keeping one another safe. I saw exactly how he was adjusting for me. I adjusted too, once. I tried something and ended up way too close to the instructor. I backed off because I didn’t know how a Capoeirista would interpret my intent if I did what I’d do on the tatami (karate mats). I wanted to keep the play light and fun.

A couple of times, my muscle memory took over at least twice. Instead of executing a proper Capoeira esquiva, I dropped as per Kanku Dai kata. Actually, that muscle memory did come in handy once. I misread the instructor’s intent and ended up dropping instinctively at the last instant to avoid his kick. It wasn’t pretty like in the kata, but I did it without even thinking. Yep, I’m coming along in Karate, but I’m a total rube when it comes to Capoeira. And that’s OK.

The point of me entering the roda was not to show off or to prove Karate superior (it isn’t – apples and oranges, folks). The point was to learn about myself, about the man in the roda with me, and about the art of Capoeira. While playing, I made different mistakes this year than last – and that is to be expected. I’ve barely learned a little bit of “baby talk.”

There is an element of “conversation” in Capoeira games, in karate jiyu kumite, and in point sparring (except a referee keeps interrupting the conversation during point sparring). I wrote about this underlying conversation in last year’s blog post. One year, one belt rank, and one gold medal in kumite later, I still need to improve my karate “conversational skills.” I strongly suspect I always will.

It might seem like going to essentially the same workshop as last year would be pointless. But the very nature of any martial art is you can always go deeper into the material. There’s always some new insight and/or refinement to discover. I’m seeing this more and more as I progress in my Karate. What I love about cross-training is I can compare and contrast, and in the process learn more about my base art. I wish I could do more cross training… Sigh… So many martial arts and so little time.

Butado – The Way of the Pig

A friend of mine posted on social media that she’d introduced her little girl to Jim Henson’s Muppets. Happy memories flooded my heart with joy. I know the thrill from both perspectives – that of the mother introducing her daughter to old friends, and that of the little girl reveling in the world of the Muppets’ vaudeville-style show. Because I am a “first generation” Sesame Street child, Henson’s creations have had a huge influence on me. For one thing, Henson taught me how to read before I set foot in Kindergarten. It’s quite possible that I was drawn to Karate because of Miss Piggy.

At the very least, Miss Piggy reinforced what was already there. Most two year olds, and I was no exception, cannot focus on anything for an hour. But I did once. My parents recently told me I was absolutely enthralled and delighted by a karate demonstration when I was two years old. Four or five years later I was always curious about the dojo across the street from the ice skating rink. What the heck did they do in there – chop boards and pummel one another all day long? Did they yell “hiiiiiiya” like Miss Piggy?

Miss Piggy was very much a product of her time. As a little girl, I saw her strength, both mental and physical. This was refreshing – by the time I was five years old I was heartily tired of heroines who were passive, weak, brainless, and easily frightened. Miss Piggy didn’t take any crap from anyone. For comic effect, Henson made Miss Piggy into a total and complete diva. I found her funny, and still laugh at her. But when I look at Miss Piggy through the filter of what’s going on in the world today, I realize maybe she isn’t quite the heroine I made her out to be when I was a child.

Jim Henson was always very much in tune with what was going on in society. He had a knack of distilling popular culture and social issues into something both children and adults could appreciate and laugh at. Children do have a sense of what’s going on in the world around them. And now that I’m an adult, I find “The Muppet Show” to be ten times funnier because I understand what was going on in the world during the 1970’s. Miss Piggy was a representation of what women of the time were striving to be. She was strong, independent, ambitious, and she was not about to mope around waiting for her love interest to take the initiative in the relationship. Nevertheless, “The Muppet Show” was a comedy variety show, and the humor of that time shaped Miss Piggy.

What we laughed at in the 1970’s is now widely considered to be inappropriate. Physical humor is becoming passé. Beating up one’s boyfriend is domestic violence. Many believe it’s no longer appropriate to laugh at someone who goes about sabotaging a rival’s work and bullying them. Aggressive flirting is often considered sexual harassment. To be honest, we’ve always known these things are wrong. What made us laugh is that Miss Piggy was completely over-the-top. Us women have always known divas are not the best role models. Laughing at Miss Piggy’s antics, though, was like releasing a pressure valve. Us girls and women felt the tension between what society said we were supposed to be and what we wanted to be. We laughed with glee because Miss Piggy got away with this stuff, whereas we constantly had to fight battles on so many fronts.

One of those fronts was the depiction of women as capable warriors in movies and TV shows. No doubt Henson watched Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris flicks, but I don’t think that’s why he gave Miss Piggy her signature karate chop. I strongly suspect Henson kept tabs on his prime time competition. “The Bionic Woman” and “Charlie’s Angels” were vying for viewers’ attention the same year that Miss Piggy made her debut. Adding karate to Miss Piggy’s character was Henson’s way of bringing in a whimsical element of physical humor that was in step with the times.

Miss Piggy’s karate was never meant to be taken seriously. Sometimes she does practice good bushido (the way of the warrior). We cheer her on when she sends the bad guys packing. But most of the time, she uses her karate inappropriately. Kermit, her boyfriend, is her favorite target. Miss Piggy hauling off and hitting people at whim has shaped many people’s perception of karate, whether they are aware of it or not. Every time us karateka hear, “don’t piss him/her off,” that’s Miss Piggy lurking in that person’s subconscious mind. I’m sure Henson didn’t intend for that to develop. Nor did he foresee a day when we’d have to explain butado (the way of the pig) to our children.

My friend’s little girl is growing up in a world that is totally and completely different than when I was her age. A lot of people no longer laugh at domestic abuse, bullying, acts of sabotage, sexual harassment, and random acts of violence. Probably a lot of younger parents, accordingly, don’t let their small children watch the Muppets. I can understand waiting until the child is old enough to understand fantasy versus real world. But what I don’t understand is forbidding the child from watching The Muppets altogether because of Miss Piggy’s butado. As their children mature, good parents will discuss age-appropriate topics that come up while watching Miss Piggy execute her famous karate chop.

My friend said her little girl was drawn to the way Miss Piggy fought off the bad guys in “The Muppet Movie.” Brava, little one. Keep talking to your mama about what you see Miss Piggy doing. If your mama needs me to help explain something to you, I’m here. When you are mature enough to handle a bit of hard work and sweat, and if you’re still interested in being a fighter, I should be a fully fledged sensei (instructor) by then. I’ll be there for you and I’ll teach you the difference between butado and bushido. Until then, keep laughing and keep learning those life lessons of joy and wonder that have always been at the core of Jim Henson’s work.

The Professionals – Part Two

Click here for The Professionals – Part One

As of this writing I’m four classes and one ride-along into my local police department’s Citizens Academy. I’m getting a little glimpse into what life is like for people who deal with violence as part of their profession. By comparing and contrasting and by looking through the eyes of my fellow Citizens Academy students, I’m learning some things about my own karate training as well.

I mentioned in my last post during my ride-along I learned that police officer training is extensive. The first part of our second class covered this training. I took notes – what’s covered, how many hours, etc. There’s even a probationary period, during which the new officer is constantly being evaluated while on the job. It’s all very impressive, but I was most pleased to hear is training is ongoing for our police officers. This isn’t just physical skills training, by the way. For example, laws change, procedures change, and sometimes there are new discoveries about human behavior. Most officers do more than the yearly 24 hours mandated by the state. I can relate to this constant refinement of skills and learning new things – or even different aspects of familiar skills.

What was surprising to me is that many (not all) of my classmates don’t seem to grasp just how powerful ongoing training really is and what the benefits are. Repetition, time, and being continually pushed outside one’s comfort zone might be utterly foreign territory for these students. How do I know this holds true for many of my classmates? I listened to their questions. I wish I’d written down the questions and the contexts for those questions, but perhaps something would be lost in the telling. Suffice it to say, the first question jolted me to the core. I realized that some of my fellow Citizens Academy students need a little help understanding things that I simply intuit. That’s not to say I can relate to all the material presented in the class – I can’t. But I do grasp some things at a very deep level.

The second half of our second class was about patrol procedures. This gave me a wider view of what I’d learned on my ride-along. A team of officers came to talk with us about this. There was a good bit of “show and tell” with the various tools of their trade. Using weapons to mete out violence is not something I grasp intuitively, as kobudo is not part of our curriculum and, of course, we don’t play with tasers, pepper spray, or projectile weapons in karate. I know for sure the two students grasped some things about these tools intuitively (a gun instructor and a veteran, respectively), while the rest of us needed a little help. In order to gain a better understanding of what the use of deadly weapons entails I started listening for the underlying themes woven throughout the “show and tell.”

Teamwork is not emphasized much in karate, but it’s vital to police work. The most I’ve ever done is I’ve taken my turn being one of two or three “attackers” in a sparring exercise. I have only the tiniest of inklings on how to help someone take a person down. Add weapons to the mix and I have absolutely no clue. But what I can wrap my head around is the value of training as a team. Ongoing, repetitive training with updates and innovations as needed – that I understand on the individual level. The police take this to the next level. Each person on a team knows their role and they’ve practiced different scenarios with all their weapons. No training is ever perfect, nor can anyone anticipate absolutely everything that might happen in any given encounter. But continuous training involving loads of time and buckets of sweat is powerful – it’s the foundation of any combat system or art. I know from competing in tournaments that it’s easier to adapt what you’re doing if you have a good, solid foundation. I’m convinced each team of our city’s police has a solid foundation.

Respect and trust are vital components of this foundation. In karate, we play with fire. We emphasize respect and trust so that our training partners are healthy and available to train with us next class. Police officers don’t just play with fire: they’re sometimes right inside an inferno with weapons that can kill at a distance. They have to trust that their teammates know their roles and have each other’s backs (so to speak). Respect for their leaders and for one another is crucial when the heat is on – there’s no time for arguing and petty sniping. Trust and respect are interwoven throughout the police’s extensive hiring process. The team that came in for “show and tell” didn’t explicitly talk about trust and respect, but I saw it was there. It was there in the non-verbal communication among team members. It was there in how they directly related to us students and with one another.

Us karate folks would say my city’s police practice good bushido (the way of the warrior). As one of my sensei(s) taught me just last week, you have to know the people you’re going into battle with. That’s what bushido is all about. You know your comrades’ training, you know their strengths, you know their weaknesses. You know you can rely on them. Not that anyone in my dojo is going to battle anytime soon – not like the police who, on any given day, could find themselves in a confrontation. That said, I know who will back me up if I’m ever jumped while stepping outside the dojo some dark night. And I know who to call after it’s all over.

The Professionals – Part One

Our city’s police hosts what they call a Citizen’s Academy a few times per year. The class meets for three hours once per week for a total of ten weeks. It’s a big commitment, and I let that be my excuse to pass up the opportunity for a few years. This time around was different. I already knew our community outreach officer because she co-taught the self defense classes last summer. Because of that positive experience, I was determined not to let the opportunity to take the Citizen’s Academy course pass me by again.

Why am I interested? What is the motivation behind my determination to finally make the commitment? I had to have an answer to type into the registration forms. I do have a good answer that is absolutely true. What I think I know about the police comes from novels, movies, and the news media. I want to learn firsthand what police work is all about. This is an easy thing for me to say when asked. But I have deeper reasons that are not so easy to articulate.

In Karate, I play with the concepts of violence. A quick Google search yielded a definition that fits what I’m trying to express: behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. At my level (currently i-kyu), when I’m sparring I’m trying to outwit my opponent and sneak a carefully controlled punch or kick past his or her guard. For kata (forms) I am expected to be able to physically and verbally express my interpretation of every single movement of every single kata I’ve memorized. This means that with every movement I visualize what my opponent is doing and exactly what I am doing to him. Even the most basic kata are to be performed with the proper mindset. I spend quite a bit of time “meditating” on violence by practicing kata, but this isn’t the same as putting myself in danger as part of my job.

By attending the Citizen’s Academy, I hope to get a glimpse of what it’s like to go to work knowing there’s a high probability one will find oneself in a bad situation. I play with concepts as a hobby. Violence is a reality for the police. Do I have a clear picture of what that’s like? Well, no. Of course not. I’m not a veteran police officer, and it’s not likely I ever will be. But after the ten weeks are over, I should have a little better understanding of those who deal with violence as part of their profession.

The first class we listened to a lecture on the job application process for those who want to join the force and then we took a tour of the station. I was stunned at the extensive process that every candidate has to go through. Folks, my toughest job interview was an absolute picnic in comparison. My biggest takeaway from touring the station is how much physical support police work requires – computers, tools, charging stations, a sally port for the detention area, rooms for cleaning equipment, secure lockers for evidence gathered at the scene of a crime, and even a small gym. Granted, police do more than just deal with violent situations – a LOT more, and yes, a good bit of the physical space and tangible stuff reflected that. But it was very hard to ignore the spaces and objects devoted to violence. This got quite “real” to me three days later when I signed waivers and put on a Kevlar vest.

I arrived at the police station early. The instructor of the Citizens Academy had advised me on how to dress. I had checked the weather forecast before I left and scrounged for something that I wouldn’t roast in and something loose enough to accommodate the bullet-proof vest I’d be wearing. I’d heard Kevlar doesn’t exactly breathe. I saw how bulky the vests are when we toured the station three days prior. The best I could do was a man’s undershirt to wear under the vest. Over the vest I wore an old, raggedy shirt (formerly my husband’s) that I wear for yard work. I looked like something the cat had dragged in.

While I waited, I sat on the lobby bench contemplating the glass case which contains mementos of an officer killed in the line of duty. The worst I’ve ever experienced in karate was – well, it’s a toss up between the broken foot when I was a teenager and the soft tissue damage to my intercostals that hurt for several months. I go home to my family after karate class.

My new officer friend took me back to fill out some paperwork while he found a bulletproof vest that more or less fit me. Less because, as the office assistant pointed out, I’m smaller than the average police officer – male or female. A bar of metal runs down the spine of the vest – that takes some getting used to when you’re sitting down. But the discomfort is better than a bullet to the spine. I don’t train for bullets in Karate. This is a whole realm of violence that I do not truly comprehend – I have a vague idea of its magnitude and gravity.

Something I do understand is how that vest would help or hinder me in a hand-to-hand fight. I resisted the urge to run into the gym to try some karate while wearing the vest. I didn’t even ask – I knew I was expected to stay in the cruiser no. matter. what. I didn’t want to give the impression that I was eager for action. Besides, my host had to get out on patrol.

The officer and I went out to the cruiser and he showed me the features of the vehicle. We hopped in and drove off.

Three days prior to this adventure, the instructor of the Citizens Academy asked, “You’re not likely to see much on a Saturday morning. Are you sure you want this time slot?” I was sure. For one thing, I’m super busy and that time slot was optimal. For another, I wanted to talk more than I wanted to see a cop catch a baddie. Sure I saw stuff. Routine traffic stops. A drunk taken away in an ambulance. But mostly we talked. Perfect. During the four hour patrol our conversation wandered, interrupted frequently by something the officer needed to do. The topic of conversation changed accordingly. The officer I rode with frequently had things he wanted me to learn and would often ask questions that made me think. And yes, I did ask questions related to violence. I know techniques, I know principles and concepts, but I don’t know reality.

In cop movies we see a lot of foot chases, vehicle chases, and shootouts. There’s more to police work than that. A lot more. Reality is that the police do a lot to try and prevent violence. The officer I rode with sometimes just says “Hi” and chats a bit with known troublemakers so that not every interaction is confrontational. Sure he knows where the hot spots for trouble are and where he’s likely to find stolen vehicles. But more importantly he knows human nature, including himself. Some of that is on-the-job experience and some of it is training.

I could relate just a little bit to a few aspects of this officer’s extensive and comprehensive training. I’ve been pushed to my limits mentally and physically. Frequently I have to master myself and my emotions. I can see where new officers would be prone to certain mistakes. But there’s more for an officer to master. Firearm proficiency, driving at high speed, fighting hand to hand, first aid, writing clear reports – that’s just the surface. There’s extensive training in how to handle a wide range of human behavior. In particular I envied the training my host received in de-escalation. The ultimate goal is to build the community.

It’s strange to think about violence (“behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something“) being a part of building a community. But it is and always will be.

Sitting alone in the cruiser, watching my new friend, praying for his safety – that was reality. I wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest just for fun. At any time, fertilizer could have hit the rotating cooling device. Unless the vehicle caught fire, I was to remain in the cruiser at all times. I came up with a strategy. I knew where the door lock button was. I knew I could duck down and the side panels of the vehicle would offer a good bit of protection. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t scared. But I do admit this was unfamiliar territory for me. I’m savvy enough to know that being pushed outside one’s comfort zone means learning and growth.

So what’s the bottom line here? I admit that one of the questions I asked myself on the way home was, “How do I stack up compared to a police officer – am I as badass as all that?” Uhhh… No. A friend of mine advises, “Don’t compare – someone will get hurt.” I admit that I kinda hurt myself just a little bit with feelings of inferiority as I was driving home. Training envy, maybe? But then I realized something. That police officer and I are an apple and an orange. We both invest heavily into our respective communities, but in different ways. I need to remember how many kohai (people who are lower in rank than oneself) have responded positively to my help in class. Karate is empowering and I take pride in building that into people’s lives.

Click Here for The Professionals – Part Two

Drive Away

My little dog loves it when I take him in the car to go walk someplace. One morning I pulled over at a public park. I stopped the engine, undid my seat belt and then saw a guy purposefully approaching my car. He was looking straight at me. Yeah, I know I’m more likely to be the victim of someone I know, but still, us women can’t afford to take chances. Maybe the guy was completely harmless, maybe he needed help. But I got a bad vibe from the way he was walking towards my car. I put my seat belt back on, started the engine, and drove on to another destination.

Some of you might have noticed I didn’t give a description of the guy. Maybe one or two of you are thinking that race was a factor in my decision to drive off. Well, it was. Let me just say this: after I graduated from high school, every single time I have felt like I might need to fight and every single time I’ve chosen to get outta Dodge it was because of a white man. Every. Single. Time. The one time when someone touched me inappropriately? He was a white man. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m white – even down to my surname. That’s not to say that I will never be touched, assaulted or verbally abused by anyone else. And no, I don’t hate white men. I’ve got plenty of ’em as friends and one of ’em for keeps (my husband), so there!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

YES, I “know Karate.” It’s not magic, folks. Even though my training gives me a better chance of survival, I could be disfigured, crippled, raped, and/or fatally wounded anyway. Karate doesn’t stop bullets and knife wounds are nasty. NO, I do NOT want to prove myself in the streets (that is to say the rational part of me doesn’t want to). Us karateka are not trained to pick fights. We are trained to respect others – and picking a fight is disrespectful. Driving away is the opposite of picking a fight. So… I guess in a twisted way I showed respect to the guy.

Wait… Whaaaat? I showed respect to some guy who gave me the heebie jeebies? Some jerk who’s up to no good isn’t worthy of respect, right? Well, so what if I showed him a bit of respect? It didn’t cost me anything but a bit more gas to drive to another park five minutes away. Frankly, it was the best I could do for him.

Let’s say I was wrong about that guy. I know myself. I would have entered that situation with adrenaline pumping, suspicious to the core. Sure, I’d have listened to whatever request he made. But no matter how reasonable the request or how easy it would have been to grant it, more than likely I would’ve snapped, “Nope, sorry. Can’t help you. Good luck.” I’d have been edging away from him the whole time. I would have let my silly little dog yap away (there are times when I do NOT tell my dog to shut the heck up). How would any of that have been respectful?

What about my right to receive respect? What about my right to walk my dog in a public park? Yes, I have those rights, but I choose my battles. If someone threatens my family member all bets are off. That’s worth fighting for. But let’s say that I put exactly that high value on my right to go to the park of my choice.

Let’s say I got out of my car. Let’s say that guy attacked me. Let’s say I sent him to the hospital or the morgue. There’s a good chance I’d have to explain my actions in court.

What would the judge ask?

“Why didn’t you just drive away? There are other parks within five minute’s drive of where you were.”

I’d be in trouble. Big time. You see, there’s such a thing as accountability. If you’re carrying a gun you can’t just discharge it anytime you want. Same goes for fighting skills. “Self defense” wouldn’t have held water in this case. Self defense was me avoiding the situation altogether. All anyone can truly say is I was rude. I’ll own that but I won’t feel guilty for it.

Maybe it was rude of me to spray a bit of dust and gravel over the guy’s trousers. That’s how close he was when I pulled out. But I’d have been pretty rude to him anyway even if I’d talked to him. Something I’ve heard in almost every self defense class I’ve attended is us women want to be polite and there are people who will take advantage of that. The part of me that wanted to be polite did yammer a bit as I drove to the next park. At the same time, the dark part of me, the part of me that would love to prove myself in battle, grumbled and growled. Folks, I’m human. This is why we have areas of our brains that are dedicated to being reasonable and rational. Karate is one way of training those reasonable and rational parts of our psyche. As a bonus, you get a good workout 🙂

Update: Two weeks after I wrote the draft for this post, I saw the guy again, two miles away from where I’d seen him last. He was shirtless (good thing the weather was nice) and waving his arms around, discussing something very animatedly with absolutely no one. I pity him and hope he gets the help he needs.

P. S. – if you think avoiding a totally unnecessary fight is cowardly, you need help. Seriously. Get counseling before you get thrown in jail.