Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Non Running: Martial Arts Class

Man does not live by running alone. Much like Jason at Jason's Running Diary , I engage in other sports besides running. In contrast Jason Scubas where I engage in Martial Arts practice. Tuesday nights I head out to class to learn a few new things (in addition I practice another two or three nights a week, sometimes I make note of this other times not -- I try to stick primarily with running on the blog). As a bigger guy (although I am getting smaller) I often get paired up with some of the other bigger guys at the school. But you know last night was a bit tough. The man I was paired with was nothing short of huge. We will call him the Wall that Walks, or Wall for short. Wall is about 6'6" and weighs in excess of 300 pounds, I believe he is a police officer, I think I heard someone mention this but I am not sure. This guy is really strong. Wall is not a guy I would want to make mad, thankfully he is a good natured and pleasant person to work with.

In Kenpo, the style of martial art I study, teaching generally runs in the following fashion. The class gathers in a circle and the Instructor picks a victim/ demonstrator and illustrates a technique, much to the chagrin of the victim/ demonstrator. Once said illustration is over you split into pairs and work on the technique until a new technique is selected. Usually 5 to 8 minutes is spent on each technique before switching. One of the techniques we worked on last night ended with a punch to the neck. Now you can't really go about punching your classmates in the neck, even in a martial arts school, as you won't have many classmates left after a while. But Wall is also a beginner so his control is not 100%. So lets just say I got punched in the neck a few times. Sometimes you take some unintentional hits in a class, so you let it slide with as much of a smile as you can muster in spite of the pain. So I spent part of my night getting punched in the neck by a 300 pound guy ... so if I told you that my neck is a bit sore today you probably wouldn't be surprised.

Why would I spend my nights doing such a thing? That is an excellent question. Martial Arts practice has a lot in common with running. Most of all it teaches us something about ourselves. Running is more objective, you either ran a 10:00 mile or you didn't. The question is what are we capable of achieving? Can I average 13:00 over 10 miles or can I run 1 mile in 8 minutes. Martial Arts is about making similar breakthroughs in flexibility, speed, power, endurance and discipline. Can I do splits (no not really), how high can I kick, how many punches can I throw in a minute, or simply can I make this technique work. In the end you feel the euphoria of accomplishment when you get it right and you can feel that its right. Also, it is more of a group activity where other people are actually necessary to do a lot of the practice, so it has some social aspects. For myself, I have been practicing off and on for 22 years, so it is in my blood. I enjoy it immensely even though my neck hurts today.


Jason said...

SCUBA is pretty fun, but you're actually learning something valuable. I mean if a guys tries to mug me, I can't really hit him with my fins :)

I tried Aikido once but I dropped out as the teachers were kinda weird (in fact, I think one was a drunk).

Anyway, I would love to take up a martial art. Some of my students are into the mixed martial art stuff, but I have no desire to be hit on purpose.

Rob said...

Yikes, mixed martial arts makes me nervous. Those guys are a bit too pumped up for my liking. A drunken Aikido instructor sounds entertaining if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Good luck man ! I am trying to get in to shape myself ! All the best from Texas !

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