“Just when I thought I was out . . . they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone, The Godfather part III
The quote pretty much sums up my feelings on our recent weather. Just a few days ago I was outside in short sleeves. The children were passing their weekends in treehouses and exploring creek beds. Flowers bloomed. I’d even seen a dusting of pollen. We thought spring was well on its way. Then, just as we thought we could pack away the cold weather gear, winter returned with a vengeance.
I suppose it could be worse. We only received a light dusting of snow when those living in states just a few hours away are once again under blizzard conditions, but they knew what they were getting into when they decided to remain in an area so used to this sort of weather they named an entire pattern system after it (Nor’easter), but I digress.
This weekend Lamont mentioned he’d found an intro to self-defense class geared for runners who happen to use Raleigh’s many greenway systems and hosted by a local Brazilian Jui Jitsu center. Now, even though I do occasionally guilt myself into going for a light jog, I do not in any shape or form consider myself a runner. (That is unless a bear or zombie – or worse a Zombie Bear – is chasing me, in which case, watch me go). I am even less skilled in martial arts. However, I do use the greenway system (at least, I do when it is warmer) and it happens my current project’s main character could benefit from similar skills, so off we went.
Class began. The task was simple. All we had to do was pretend to be resting on the side of the trail and hop up in the method and manner demonstrated resulting in a wide-legged stance, perpendicular to the threat. Lamont and I faced off. I would be the victim. He would play my attacker. He approached, entering my over-sized personal bubble of space. I forgot everything. Instead of getting up, I kicked and kicked, looking much like a roach flipped on its back.
I tried again with similar results. Now normally I don’t consider myself a slow learner, but in this case, instincts have a way of taking over, even if they aren’t always the most cooperative instincts.
We swapped places. Lamont hopped up in a ready stance as I rushed him. Lamont is over a foot taller than me and outweighs me. Suddenly I felt ridiculous and couldn’t stop giggling. If I’d really been out to do him harm, I would have had just as much luck running head first into a wall.
We switched roles again as we moved to the next exercise involving a block to the attacker’s neck followed by a slap to the ear. Now, this I took to so well, I wonder if I missed my calling as a soap opera star. My giggling reduced as I started taking what we were learning more seriously.
Then it was back to the floor exercises. The designated attacker (Lamont again) was to straddle the victim (me). Lock your hands on one arm and pin the attacker’s leg to your side, our instructors advised. Check. Now lift your hips. Here goes nothing. Lamont fell to the ground and I got away.
I sent Lamont back to the mats. Lamont, who I can wear three-inch heels around and still feel petite. Lamont, who is responsible for opening jars that just won’t budge for me or hauling heavy things away. I toppled that Lamont.
I was no longer giggling. No, instead of feeling ridiculous, I now felt something else entirely.
Now clearly, this wasn’t a real life situation. Lamont was sitting on me, but he wasn’t fighting me. He allowed me to get my grips and leg locks precisely where they’d be most effective – a courtesy I wouldn’t expect from a real attacker. I know, one class does not an expert make and much more practice is required. Even so, I left the class feeling more confident in my ability and myself than I had the hour prior.
It got me thinking about all the other areas in my life and career where I’ve underestimated my ability simply because I was smaller, too young, too old, too relatively unknown, or any other reasons that caused me to back down or give up without really ever trying.
Yes, I am rarely the largest presence in the room and I know I will hit the mat from time to time, but this experience proved I don’t have to stay there.
I might not be the Godfather, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have muscle. I can kick. I can slap. I can block and I can charge. I can use other’s strength against them and I will not go down without a fight. And I know, most of all, that as long as I can find the proper leverage, I have it within me to challenge giants or move mountains be they physical or more metaphorical kind.
Now if only I could find a way to shift this weather.