Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: self-defense

Theory and practice

My brother was over yesterday, and we were talking about my weapons. I had mentioned that I wanted a nice new weapon because most of my weapons are practice ones. That means either wooden or dull steel. I love my sword, but the steel is dull. It’s better for practicing, of course. My brother said that was the weapon he grabbed when he was checking out my house the night after my medical crisis.

He said that he could have ran an intruder through with the sword. I said he could not have because it’s dull. He said the point is sharp and that was all that mattered because it was just physics. I disagreed vehemently, and I emailed my Taiji teacher to ask her about it. Obviously, we could not test the hypothesis because that would mean one of us being seriously hurt (my brother or me, I mean), but we had a voluminous debate.

My teacher emailed back saying it was possible at the soft bits–the throat, the eye, the abdomen. That made sense, but I was still dissatisfied with what my brother had said, though I couldn’t quite figure out why. Then, as I was practciting this morning, I realized why. I tested the point with my finger, and yes, it’s sharp. But I automatically pulled my finger back as the point dug into it, and I had no desire to push it into my finger any further.

I understand that it’s different to do it to yourself than it is to do it to someone else. The body is very protective of itself, so it’s really hard to self-harm. Not impossible, obviously, and I did it regularrly when I was in tmy twenties. But it takes a lot to override the stop button in the back of your mind when you deliberately try to hurt yourself.

It’s not the same with someone else, I’m assuming–hurting someone else, I mean. But there are a lot of social mores against hurting someone else, especially if you’re middle class. Tearing someone to shreds verbally? Not great, but the most you would get is probably a stern warning. Lay one single finger on someone else? Crime! I’m not even arguing this isn’t the right way to handle things because we really can’t have people hitting each other.

As a result, though, in the unlikely possibility that you actually need to fight someone off, the chances that you can immediately flip the switch in your brain from ‘do no harm’ to kill, especially with a sword, are small.

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Bagua is the best

In the last few months, I have been doing Bagua with my Taiji teacher in my private lessons. Why? Because. Is that a good enough reason? No? OK, then I will expand on it. I have talked about it before, but I really need to talk more about it.

Back when I first started Taiji, I had difficulty with the meditation. I would have flashbacks of bad memories, and it shook me. I told my teacher, and she had me walk the circle instead. That’s a Bagua thing, and it was much better than doing Taiji meditation. Honestly, it still is. I still don’t like the latter, even though I do it in class now.

I went into it thinking I was a pacifist. But that was just a social construct. I was a lay-deeeeee. No way I could ever even think about doing anything the slightest bit violent. I would rather die than lift a hand against another person. I actually thought to myself that if someone tried to kill me, I would let them.

Then Bagua happnede to me. I was walking the circle, which is the basic, uh, form as it were, of Bagua. The goal is to focus onthe opponent in the middle of the circle and direct your energy towards them. There was a time I was doing this when my whole body electrified. My brain said, “If it’s you or me–it’s gonna be you.” Meaning, if only one of us was going to survive, it was going to be me.

Up until that point, I had issues of low self-esteem. I didn’t think I deserved to live, so if someone wanted to kill me, well, then I would let him. And, yes, in my mind–it was a him. That was the logical conclusion of everything I’d been told all my life. I was not worth anything as a woman execpt how I could please any man around me. That was the basic message I got my whole life–the only worth a woman had was how she could serve the men around her.

Well, and be an emotional ballast for her mother, but that was a personal thing, not a cultural one. I mean, it was just my mother parentifying me well before that was a thing. She was ill-equipped to deal with the travails of being married to a raging narcissist. To be fair, that was not a situation in which many people would be comfortable.

When I realized that I would choose to live rather than let someone kill me, it was a seminal moment for me. My life was worth something, and I no longer was a pacifist. I was not looking to hurt someone, obviously. I did not want to be in a fight with anyone. But if someone wanted to start a fight, i wanted to be able to finish it.

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