I’ve recently decided to considered myself built like a female sumo wrestler and to use that to my advantage in my martial arts training and teaching women’s self-defense. Why not? My training helps me to control my body weight and use it to my advantage. I can do things now that I couldn’t do a year ago. I’ve accomplished so much in a year’s time. I’m on my way to healing for terrifying traumas, ready to test for black belt, and getting stronger every week. My heart rate is great, my moods are generally better, my abilities are better and lifting 155 lbs. off the floor seems like a miracle –but it isn’t; it’s payoff.
I think the toughest concept to understand is how coddling oneself isn’t self- care. It’s actually destructive. We think indulging ourselves means we love ourselves. Society even encourages this behavior. The general consensus is, “If it feels good, do it.” But with no limits, doing what feels good to you can destroy you. That’s how addictions are born. Anything we do, particularly coddling behaviors, can become unbalanced.
I’m a firm believer that in most cases anybody can learn to do anything given enough time, space, and creativity in both learning and teaching. When I encounter women who say “Oh, I could never do THAT,” what they are really saying is “I don’t have enough belief or confidence in myself to even try.” Getting people over that hump is my greatest task as teacher. I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of my partners as I’ve taken them through learning to grapple, hit each other (in sparring), taking throws, experiencing pain in techniques, and the falling techniques. I had to inspire belief in their own minds and hearts. I had to gain their trust and show them the way.
None of us wants to think about these questions — oh how I wish I had an invisible bubble I could shield myself in so I didn’t have to think about any of this! Even typing the questions I felt fear well and swell in my belly. But if we’re wise, we choose to go there, to actually strategize.
But isn’t that mindset the very essence of fear? And fear attracts attackers like little else. The strong prey on the weak, that’s just the way it goes. News reports are filled with victims crushed by cruel oppressors. And really, none of us was made to be a perpetual victim, in mind or body (or, in most cases, both). We were made to grow strong and to push the forces of evil back, not to get crushed by them.
I was disempowered, dispirited, and disheartened by the abuse my mother poured out. The bruises she gave me are a part of my story, but they don’t represent strength and resolve. My current bruises do.