Have a look at this video. I think it absolutely beautiful. There is self-defence learning there, and they are wicked dance moves. The class, which runs in the community centre round the corner from my home, is relaxed, informal and friendly. It is “non-contact”, meaning that they pull their punches: with my white belt after a few weeks I have not yet progressed to sparring. The video is of the first “kata”, or series of moves, on which the group grades. I have not yet memorised which foot goes where when, though with my dancing practise I have an advantage.
Punch with the back of the wrist straight, with the elbow close to the body. I enjoyed punching the thick heavy pad, I put myself into it. And then when in the third kata a move teaches pulling at my invisible opponent’s head, and twisting it to break the neck, I felt revolted. I do not want to break a neck. I will practise the move.
One man went to a very intense class as a boy. Lots of bowing, military discipline, that state of intense, spiritual concentration. This class is not like that, though I can approximate that state of concentration here. I find it beautiful.
Here is Tasha. She is twelve, and she loves it. Her proud Mum told me that when she came back from her first class she wanted to get her black belt, and watching her whirl through more advanced katas is delightful. Here is Sid. The children run across the room, and he comes last, with a constant smile on his face as if making it into a joke. He has his yellow belt, and has not mastered the first kata. I wonder if he is gay, and his parents send him here to make a man of him. If so, he is rebelling.
I find the thought upsetting, though I realise that this is all my stuff, I know nothing of the child and there are other possible explanations. The sensei says Sid may be dyspraxic. In any case, if he is rebelling, this practice is a good way to learn.
I am here. I am quite happy that I am female, and I do this manly thing to build my confidence, physical agility, strength and coordination.