Underneath my yellow skin

Sand slipping through my fingers

I’ve been thinking about the demo for the past week because I love weapons. There I’m just going to say it. I. Love. Weapons. I love them with a passion that is probably unseemly, but I don’t care. I don’t talk about it much because I recognize that it’s not interesting to many people. Fun fact: whenever I mention weapons on Twitter, I get women freaking out and men drooling. It’s an interesting dynamic, and a commentary on societal expectations. I’d read that female cops had a problem with men when they found out that the women were cops. There were usually two reactions. One was, “Oh, hey, now, that’s too intimidating for me.” The article I was reading said that was a disheartening response, but the other was even worse. The guys who found it hot and made assumptions about how the women would be in bed.

In my case, the women who tweeted me were appalled that I was into weapons. How could I be attracted to something so violent? There was an undercurrent of me being a bad feminist, and that’s something I strongly denounce. I started learning taiji as a matter of self-defense, and now, ten years later, I feel like I could actually use what I’ve learned to defend myself. I see weapons as an extension of that, even though I probably won’t be carrying them with me on the regular. I am currently learning the Cane Form, and a cane is something I could use in my daily life. Even better, a sword within a cane!

When my teacher taught me the 8 Palms of bagua and walking the circles, I had a flash of ‘that is my opponent, and I am going to kill them’ while doing it. I t shook me because I considered myself a pacifist at the time. The idea that I would even think something like that made me question myself, and I brought it up to my teacher afterwards. She assured me it was natural and that it didn’t mean I was going to become a homicidal maniac. In fact, she believed that having a safe place to express your anger and aggression was healthy, and I’ve come to agree with her.

At some point, I also had to examine what I meant by self-defense. or rather, how far I would go to defend myself. I realized that i would go all the way, meaning if it came down to someone else or me, I would choose me. This was a big breakthrough for me because I was so used to thinking my life didn’t matter and that everyone else’s life was worth more than mine. I don’t want to get into the whys and the wherefores, but needless to say, this was a heavy mindset to grow up with. When I first thought, “I will defend myself by any means necessary,” something shifted inside me. I could no longer claim that my life was worthless because my natural instinct was to do defend myself. It should be everyone’s natural instinct, but so many people get it beat out of them–especially women. We are taught to put ourselves last in every situation and to demur that we need more than what we are given.

A small example: My teacher told me that her teacher was really pleased to see me do the Sword Form during the demo and that I did a good job. My immediate response was to joke that he was probably thinking, “She actually showed up and did something for once!” My teacher said no that he knew I’d been sick and had to miss the last few demos, so it really was him just being pleased to see me. The thing is, I was uncomfortable with the compliment, so I deflected it. I didn’t even think twice about it. I didn’t feel I deserved it, even though truth to be told, I knew I did a good job. It feel weird for me to say that, as if I’m admitting a crime. It’s a part of both my cultures that I shouldn’t brag on myself, and it’s difficult to break. I really like Hercule Poirot (stay with me), and at some point, Hastings is embarrassed for the umpteenth time by Poirot bragging about himself. He mumbled something about it not being cricket and Poirot says (paraphrasing), “If I saw my ability in someone else, I would exclaim about how great he was. Why shouldn’t I say so about myself?”

I don’t think one needs to go to Poirot’s extent, but I do agree that acknowledging one’s strengths is a positive. So, yes, I did a good job with the Sword Form. I was freaking out before going up to the front of the room because I had forgotten every goddamn movement in the form. I was thinking about the Sabre Form, and I was telling myself it was not the right form. The second I stepped within the group, though–right in the middle so I had less pressure on me–it all came to me, and I felt calm. I made a few minor mistakes, and I almost hit the person next to me–because there were a million of us–but I did pretty damn good. The Sword Form is in my blood, and I’ve done it hundreds if not thousands of time. I just had to trust my body, and I could peek at my teacher or anyone around me if I made a misstep.

I want it all. I want to learn all the weapons. At the top of my list are the Sabre Form and the Cane Form. I am definitely going to finish the former this year and hopefully the latter. Also, the Fast Form, which is one of the Solo Forms. Then, I want to learn the Double Sabre Form, the 6-Staff Harmony Form, and relearn the 8 Palms Form. There’s the Deer-Horn Knives in Bagua, and the Karambit. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and I hate that I’ve wasted so much time not learning these weapons. It would take me the rest of my life to learn all the weapons–and there would still be hundreds left over. It’s the same with books. I cannot read all the books I want in my lifetime.

I’m trying to tell myself that I still have plenty of time to learn the weapons, but it’s hard not to castigate myself or wish I had been more diligent in the past. Part of the problem, however, is that I’m dealing with a few health issues and have been for the past few years. I mean, I’ve had thyroud issues all my life, and in the past two years or so, I’ve been dealing with sinus issues and digestive issues. I will say that doing the Fodmap has been amazing. I haven’t had a full-blown issue in two weeks, and 90% of the daily irritations have gone as well. In a week or two, I’m going to start the reintroduction phase, with garlic at the top of the list.

I went to class on Friday and Saturday for the first time in months–both classes, I mean. I’m sore and tired now, but I did sleep really well both nights. Because I overdid it. I feel shame if I need to rest or not do everything in class. I know it’s all in my mind because my teacher would want me to take care of myself and not overdo it. She teaches a weapons review class on Monday from 12:30 p.m., and they are doing the sword right now. In addition, her teacher has a sabre class on Saturday morning. I would love to go to both of these, but I’m already wrecked from the two classes a week. And there’s no way I could take two classes in one day. Otherwise, I could also take my teacher’s Monday morning taiji class.

I want to be able to do it all. My mind is willing, but my body is not. I’m aching and exhausted, but I’m glad I went to both classes. I really want to add a weapons-only class because that is my passion. And I’m considering taking weapons classes from my teacher’s teacher because he is fucking amazing with them. I hope my body will get with the program soon so I can do as much as I want in the way of the weapons.

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