Have I ever mentioned I’m a coward?

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The martial arts class wasn’t the sort of “We’ll teach you how to kick, you practice for five years, then we’ll show you how to use it,” kind of class – it was the “Let’s get you in a stranglehold and we’ll show you half a dozen different ways of getting out of it, now, today,” kind of class – It was fun – The getting out of it went from just breaking the grip with no harm done, to smacking the offender, to getting out of the stranglehold and putting the offender in an arm lock in the same move, all the way through to oh-go-ahead-and-break-the-offender’s-elbow (“You’ll hear a little click,”) – What’s not to like?

The class ran for ten weeks – we did strangle holds, front and back and lying down, all kinds of holds and body grips, shoving, fighting when down, dealing with punches and such things as three against one – with two villains (the bigger the better because you’re going to be using their strength, not yours) holding your arms while the third comes in with a punch or a knife (my fav).

Back then, believe it or not, I was as shy as they come. This was my first experience at getting hands-on training in order to write with knowledge and authority. This was a couple of years before I learned to drive a semi-trailer for the same reason, then got my motorbike license and went touring Australia on it, and it was way before we moved onto the wilderness and lived with no house for near-on five years. At this point in my life, I was still a puppy.

Sitting in that classroom, I was nervous. There were about fifteen women and no one really knew what to expect. I thought we might get some lessons on the law, some advice about not going out alone at night and most likely a sales pitch for “handy gadgets” like mace spray.

It was a staggering experience to be taught Atemi points (pressure points) on the body and how to get your fingers into them and shoot a guy through the ceiling with no effort at all.

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