I Needn’t Have Worried

Before I met with Arete, I was very nervous.  Not so much yesterday, but the weeks leading up to it.  There are a lot of reasons why, but mostly it was that I had no frame of reference for what we were going to do and even though I know him, I don’t know him.  We are still getting to know each other and since I have done nothing like this, I was uneasy.

I was fairly certain he wasn’t going to just walk up and punch me, but I had tried to make it clear that I was not looking for some girly class where he taught me how to blow a whistle and knee someone in the groin.  Perhaps effective.  Perhaps a useful tool and skill, but I am looking for something different. 

I was as worried about being coddled and I was about being hurt.

When I got to the park he showed me some knives.  Just to show me and we chit chatted a bit.  Then we walked over to an area less populated.  The place was packed.  Yesterday was mostly him showing me some basic moves, talking to me and I think him getting an idea of where I am at, which is about zero.

He talked to me about stance and much like shooting it focuses on balance and not being easily pushed back or pulled forward.  He showed me what happens if I stand with my legs crossed which is how I always stand.

One of the first things he said was punch me.

I said, “punch you?” 

“Yeah, punch me.”  I stood there.  He said “do you know how to punch?”  I really didn’t.  I have taken some “Fight Like A Girl” classes, but they were focused on fitness not fighting.  I can punch a bag ok, but I wasn’t sure I knew how to punch a person.  That was his first glimpse at my level…not very high.  So we did a little punching on a pad.  Fine.  Then he showed me some other things and we chatted some more.  He asks a lot of questions…if I do this then what happens?  What’s the first thing that happens in a fight?  Have you ever eaten a sandwich? I didn’t know many of the answers. Most of our conversations went like this.

A- If I grab your arm like this what happens?

Me- Blank stare. I don’t know.

A- Yes, you do.

Me. Umm, uh, I fall.

A-Yeah. Uncross your legs.  You don’t have good balance with your legs crossed. Ok, hit me.

Me- Hit you?

A- Yes.

I just stand there.  He has no pads of any kind.  He wants me to hit him in the chest.

A- Hit me

Me- I throw a punch…hit

A- That’s not a hit.  Your going to have to hit me. You can’t hurt me. Hit me. Uncross your legs.

Me- hit, hit

A- Next time if you don’t hit me, I am going to hit you.

Me- HIT, HIT

A- Uncross your legs.

Yeah, I don’t think coddling is going to be a problem.

Now, I use caps to show that I hit harder the last time, but it was by no means a hard punch, however, apparently it was hard enough to keep me from getting hit.

It was extremely difficult on my mind to hit him.  I have never hit anyone in my life.  I don’t even spank my kids. I know I can’t hurt him.  That isn’t the issue.  It is the mental block of hitting.  This is why I need to train.  I literally forced myself not to freeze.  It was a conscious effort and it was a tough one.

When I first went to the shooting course with John and he would say shoot, many times I  just stood there.  Fortunately, John didn’t say if you don’t shoot next time, I am going to shoot you, but sometimes he would yell. My husband said that weekend one could visible see me fighting my mind. I struggled to get over my fear of shooting my gun.  John has a very good ability to know when to push and when not to.  There were times he would yell shoot and there were times he would get close in and talk me through it and there were times he and the whole class would stand back and let me work through it.  It is no exaggeration to say I would stand there with my gun pointed at the target for several minutes and not shoot.  Then take a shot and stand there again for 30 seconds or more.

My mind is all kinds of, I want say weak, but it’s not weak, it is, what is it..maybe, conditioned badly.

The difference between yesterday and my first Conceal Carry class was back then I was on the edge of quitting and crying the whole time.  Yesterday, I was not.  I never felt like crying and I never felt like quitting.

Arete explains everything he is doing and why.  He explains what vein is in that part of the leg, arm, hand.  He knows how many layers of skin or muscle lay on top of it.  He explains exactly what happens when said vein is punched, kicked, sliced.

We did a little walk through of my day in the parking lot.  He was the bad guy.  It was basic and it never got to the I am on the ground stage.  He asked me for my money and ironically, I wanted to say no, but the point was not what I would do now, but what I didn’t do then.  We had been doing a lot of grabbing of the wrist and how to get out of that and I wanted to know how I could have gotten out of it when the bad guy grabbed my wrist.

There are so many layers to that attack and so many ways I could have done things differently to have stopped it, from running back into the store(my car was far from the door, more isolated, but I saw him coming and I knew he was bad), to yelling(no one was there, but still), to saying NO, etc.  I know all that, but I want to deal with each part as it happened and know how to get out of that stage.  My goal would be to avoid it all together, but if someone gets their hand on my wrist again, I want to know how to get out.  If someone gets me to the ground, I want to have some idea of how to survive.  A more effective way than just squirming around.

I guess we were there a little over an hour and when we were done he gave me homework.  He told me the world is full of minors.  Meaning items in everyday life that show reflections.  Things I can use to see behind me like a car window or shadows. He talked about situational awareness and that when I go to, say the range I need to count the people in a room and find the exits.  I am suppose to be doing some knee striking exercise with a pillow.

Even though he threatened me with violence to get me to do what he wanted, he is very nice.  He asked me several times if I was ok, if I needed a break.  One time he made me take a break and drink water. He has a crawl, walk, run philosophy  We are currently at the crawl stage. I am not sure how quickly we move from crawl to run, but I am in no hurry.  There was a lot of information packed in that 65-70 minutes. A lot.  Even though I am still a little nervous I can’t wait to do it again.

32 thoughts on “I Needn’t Have Worried

  1. Google; Kill Or Be Killed. The book can be found at Amazon, I think. Paladin Press for sure. The training goes against your nature. Within a year your nature will still be good and kind but you will be able to defend those you love and yourself. I’m on your side….

  2. Sounds like a great path he’s taking you down! You obviously get the whole “train hard” idea, soon enough you will let go and your mind and body will embrace the training. It will be interesting listening to your insights!

  3. Awesome! I have 11 active years experience in self defense, varies forms of Marital Arts, and kick boxing. Wished I lived near and we could do this together. Not sure if I would handle a butt whoppin’ like I used to but still would love it never the less.

  4. I’ve worked security for about a decade and have (sadly) been in more fights than any two people I know combined. You are not alone in your hesitation and are doing well to get training. You don’t need to know much, but if you know it well, your ability to defend yourself goes up exponentially.

  5. [One of the first things he said was punch me.

    I said, "punch you?"]

    See this a lot in our training as well. Every new person. I had it, still do with new training partners I don’t know yet. Difficult to hit your friends. But necessary – partners need to work up to good hits. Good job!

    [There are so many layers to that attack and so many ways I could have done things differently to have stopped it,..]

    Some estimate that up to 80% of mugging-type attacks can be avoided by recognizing there is a threat, acting on that recognition (especially if it is your intuition/instinct), and taking simple steps to avoid and let the threat know you are on to him. Important stuff you are learning here.

    And the rest sounds very good as well. Excited for you! This is great stuff to read.

  6. Awesome! Sounds like you found a new aspect of self-defense to enjoy. I love training hand-to-hand stuff. Grabs and chokes are some of my favorites too.

  7. The whole “hit me!” “Wha???” Thing is something that I had to work hard to train out of female fighters when I was into that sort of thing.

    10 or fifteen years ago I read a great article written by a woman for women (and men who train with them). I couldn’t find it with a quick google, but I did run across a referenced/reprinted version of it here: http://forums.uechi-ryu.com/viewtopic.php?p=27215 . Might be worth a read.

  8. I was involved in martial arts for 30 years, boxed and placed twice in the police Olympics. Taught at a large police academy. The problem is disparity of force. No matter what you do unless you can get a advantage ( gun and a bit of distance vs knife or open hand) you will lose. My late wife was 5’4″ and 105. Do you really think she could fight a 200 lb in shape main with the element of surprise? I told my wife one think survive. She did this by her natural advantage. She was a runner, and I told her to run like Hell. Learn to fight and live another day. Too many instructors in Dojo’s etc have not spent any time “really doing it” in the Military or Police. Play the game with your rules not attackers

    • I will not argue the merits of Arete’s skills and training, mostly because I don’t think he would want me to. It is not my place to say what he did or did not do, so out of respect for a relationship I value I will leave it at that. However, I will say two things about it. One, I have great respect for anyone who served honorably in defense of this country whether it be at home or abroad. Secondly, I will grant you that simply being an MP or a service member does not automatically qualify one to teach self defense or knife training, but it also does not automatically exclude one either. And one more because I can’t help myself…he was not an MP.

      As for me, I train for a lot of reasons. The most important is for self defense. I have no idea what kind of situations I will find myself in and I most certainly will not leave it to odds to decide my fate for me. I have read story after story where the little “guy” who shouldn’t have won, won. I am not giving in and I train to gain any kind of advantage that I can, however remote.

      I also train for mindset. The more I train the more confidence I gain, and the more confidence I gain the better equipped I will be to handle any of those bad guy situations I might find myself in. If I go down and I might, I am going down with a fight and a bloody bruised attacker left behind.

      Lastly, I love to train. I would do it everyday if I could. The honeymoon period is gone, the fear is gone, the obligation is gone…I just flat out love it. If I knew 100% that I was safe and if God himself promised me I would never again be attacked, I would still pray that John and Arete would train with me.

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