Today’s article brought to you with barely a solution..... and that’s pushing it... so sorry in advance...
When I did my black belt test in karate a few years ago my literal only goal was not to cry. I wasn’t concerned about the, “I am in pain, cry,” it was more the, “I am super frustrated with myself and my performance,” cry. I barely managed.
Its not even the big things that set me off, it’s usually a small, off the wall issue. I have had these discussions with several women in martial arts, it truly is pretty common so I want to bring the realness forward to let other gals out there know if you suffer from this, you are not alone. I also want to tell you up front I pretty much don’t have a solution either. So… yeah…
A friend of mine that tested for her black belt in Krav Maga during the Unlisted training this last weekend had the same goal. We talked a couple days after and she told me of certain instances where she was doing her damndest trying to choke back the waterworks. It sucks because once that first initial tightening of the throat happens your brain goes into even more of an overdrive and now instead of thinking of the movement or the drill you are now driving all your energy trying to keep those tears from falling.
I wish I could say it was the cool scenarios that usually set me off, it’s not. It’s the small simple things that snap this camels back leaving me assessing whether I am gearing up to cry or having an asthma attack. This last weekend I had just been thrown into a couple walls, sported too many bruises to count, had rolled around and been crushed on the ground by three men twice my size who were astronomically stronger and more competent in groundwork than me, when we changed drills. I was put with another large behemoth of a man for a rather simple boxing drill. I was exhausted, beyond sweaty, and all this guy told me to do was to change the positions of my arms for better defense; I internally lost it. I looked at him not hearing any other words out of his mouth and felt the frustration tears rising up. To the outside it looked like I was doubting his expertise, I wasn’t, but my brain was short circuiting and screaming at me a thousand different things:
You are failing! This is beginner crap Christun! Wait, I was told by another person to put my hands here…. This has worked before. This is the third way I have been told to do it! Well then someone is doing it wrong…. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. You had better breathe or you WILL cry. No Christun, those gloves do not absorb tears well. Oh gosh, is my nose running now? The room is going to think you can’t hack it. Maybe you CAN’T hack it…. Oh gosh, what IF I can’t hack it? Throat is closing tighter, it could be asthma…. do I have my inhaler? Will I look weak going for it? Nope, not asthma. Oh gosh, I am so frustrated and angry with my lack of self control over the fact I can’t stop the tears. This will look bad for women everywhere if I lose it all over this guy in a blubbering mess because then it creates a kid glove mentality…..Now I will be judged by my lack of self control….. and so on forth, this list becomes an infinite reel. Its obvious at this point I am not even capable of doing the drill when my head is so full and still concentrating on drying up the tears.
Likely I wasn’t even defensively doing what I had hammered into me in training. Later when my head had a chance to catch up without being knocked around I found out he was actually telling me what I naturally do, but for some odd reason my freaking hands were clear off doing their own thing with my palms flat to the top of my head. This was probably because I decided, after seeing who I was paired with, I was just going to default to fetal position and piss myself….. he didn’t smile at all and I was too tired and the pace too fast to try and cajole it out of him. Literally all the guy told me to do was keep my hands near my face. That’s it. I had been beat down all morning and he made me cry by telling me to protect my face.
But that’s how it works, I have been in another class and was tired, working very simple stuff after doing a grueling workout and been told to do sprawls. My head made the decision for me of, nope, you are incapable of doing this basic burpee with your pelvis ground to the floor. That time I couldn’t suck them back up and did go to the bathroom hoping nobody knew. I am sure they did.
It’s not pain, very rarely does pain make me cry; I am more likely to drop the F-bomb a few times, unfortunately most likely when my two year old is present, while breathing heavily writhing on the floor. I am dramatic, I do know this.
But the tears? It’s against me, this is me fighting myself. If you struggle with this issue this is you fighting yourself, and guess what? I have no answer for you on how to handle it other than the solidarity that you are not alone. I can’t even tell you whether you should just let those tears fall right then in a full blown meltdown and keep fighting, or reign it in as hard as it is not concentrating on the task at hand. Hell sometimes I will have the best training day, a hard one, but the best. My head will be pleasantly full, my body just tired enough, I will get in my car and start weeping for no damn reason. It is humiliating. It sucks. Usually I then just turn on an emotional song and ride the wave with my sobs.
Some researchers claim that crying is how your body expels stress-related hormones. It has also been shown that tears may trigger the release of endorphins that can help reduce pain and make you feel better; much like saying a really good string of cuss words has been proven to help with the agony of stubbing your toe. Though honestly the last thing I want to be doing while sparring is glaring at my opponent with tears streaking down my face as I hiccup, not exactly promising for psychological warfare.
On Saturday I overheard one of the teachers for Unlisted, Aaron Jannetti speak of an idea I put to the test Sunday. He is a coach, trainer, and owner of Endeavor Defense and Fitness in Hilliard, Ohio. He also has some very resourceful and motivational videos you can check out on his Facebook page. Now I likely butchered this method because I was totally eavesdropping on the conversation, but I did find it helped me if I had a few extra seconds. He explained that when box breathing, in for 5, out for 5, it is not helping to lower the heart rate and anxiety faster. Not saying its bad, but when you are trying to calm your nerves you need to breathe in for 4 and out for 6. The exhale must be longer than the inhale to slow the panic. I tried this with the tears and it really did help. Did some leak over? Yes, but it helped with the throat constricting.
I am pushing optimistically that the tension makes it worth it. Goodness I hope it’s worth it. I don’t want to end up crying because I am crying and it never improves. The struggle to overcome both the tears and the conundrum will hopefully cause growth. Victor Frankl said, “What man actually needs is not a tension less state, but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” Problem solving creates strength to solve harder problems. I guess I can live with that. I will continue to look for solutions and knowing I am not the only one hysterical in her car sometimes is a comfort. But man, it is embarrassing
#imnotcryingyourecrying #selfdefense#waterworks #ugh #deepbreaths#maynotwork #ughagain #frustrationtears#angrytears #fightingmyself
A few days ago I woke up and thought, you know, I don’t know anything about room clearing, I should look into that….. I realize this is a rather bizarre line of thinking, but I am currently gearing up for Unlisted, a training weekend with Fit to Fight and whereas I have a rather vague idea of what I will be running into, lots of scenario work, long days, guns, knives, and mud now apparently; I still wanted to run through my mental list of what I am lacking in (which is plenty in and of itself). I thought well hell, why not try something else too, because adding on is exactly what you should do when you are gearing up mentally to get your butt handed to you. Insert eye roll here to myself….
So room clearing.. Who better to teach you this than from people who have actually done this countless times with their jobs and careers? I ended up at AR Tactics in Charlotte, NC. Note when looking into new training, especially anything involving tools meant to kill or maim, it is always good practice before signing up for anything to research the living crap out of a trainers background and credentials; then research their credentials because a Wombat Fighting Pistol Program Certification may not be a real thing. If I have trained under you, I have internet stalked you like a digital Richard Ramirez. I am not even ashamed a little bit by this.
I signed up for a private lesson with Rodney Thompson one of the three owners of this rather dazzling facility and proceeded to remind myself (because I was frustrated) yet again that I need to suck and give respect to the craft. I didn’t expect to move through rooms like I was on the SWAT team but I also knew enough that I didn’t want to shoot (see what I did there?) for looking like Riggs in Lethal Weapon.
I was greeted by name warmly in the parking lot by the first of the triad of owners Nicole. No she was not stalking me….that I know of…. She was just getting out of her car and assumed I was their 10:45. Nicole has a black belt in Krav Maga, quite the resume on all things incapacitating people, and then she is also an RN; so she can fix you and then break you again. She also has a personality to very easily put a client at ease. I feel that’s something a lot of training places miss and AR Tactics has it in spades. I didn’t meet one closed off person. I write and speak about this often, the intimidation of walking in a front door and to meet frowny intimidating people is not conducive for those that actually need this no matter what alpha dominance you feel you need to exude. In fact after meeting all three owners and a couple of others, the ease of chatting was so smooth that they were probably wanting me to shut up later on in the parking lot as I talked about knives.
I did not wear my High Strung shirt today, probably should have. I was learning something new, at the same time of this lesson I had a grandson getting an MRI for sudden seizures, a nephew seeing a plastic surgeon to sew up the gaping cut on his face where he met an unfriendly fireplace last night, and with the pressure of the weekend looming over me, high strung was an apt description. Also I hate looking like a fool. If I had to choose I am pretty sure I would take getting punched in the face over looking stupid or unsafe. I actually wish I was joking on that statement.
AR Tactics is a 5000 square foot, large, clean building that honestly is kind of hard to find so GPS it and good luck. However it was well laid out, safety was top notch, and offered a wide variety of different training spaces from a car to a multi room “shoot house.” I was asked a couple times if I had any weapons on me and then Rodney assessed what I knew (not much) what I wanted to learn (likely too much for that hour and a half) and we got to it (when I didn’t interrupt him with my questions on clarity).
Rodney has a soothing personality that uses humor. It’s almost disarming because his background is anything but. The laundry list of Special Forces Army everything he has done is extensive and actually thinking about it now, it is somewhat unnerving he was that approachable and he has likely killed people. Just saying. He was also clinical which I am sure people first starting out on a defense journey would appreciate. He always asked before approaching or adjusting any equipment and whereas I am used to basically being thrown around now, that approach makes a person, especially a woman feel safer. He was clear in instruction, I was clear with my RBF….. it was fun and frustrating at the same time.
Honestly room clearing is basically its own art. I know that now. There was so much to absorb that I am pretty sure my ears leaked. I gather I retained only like 1% of what was taught to me and that was not an instructor issue. From pieing doorways, to flipping light switches while still keeping firearm in a ready position, watching shadows, making sure you don’t make shadows, where are your kids, you don’t want to shoot prematurely because that COULD be your kid, you don’t want to shoot too late because bad guy is lurking in a dark corner already at an advantage. It was for lack of a better term a lot. This was literally something I didn’t even know I really needed and now all I can think about is that I need a plan. I was asked by Rodney what are my reactions to a bump in the night? I have seven kids that live in a large two level home, the amount of variables are infinite, what the hell is my plan?
I went in with the intention of getting a bit of experience so I wouldn’t bomb so badly this weekend and came away knowing I am going to bomb and now I have one more thing on my plate that bumped up to top five things I need to train and hone. It’s actually overwhelming, fun in a weird way, but super overwhelming. I got about a quarter into this lesson and was like sh*t, this is not a one, two, or hell even 20 lesson ordeal and trust me, I know that expression showed on my face. I went from lighthearted to the dawning of the gravity of what I was actually training for and it’s not for this weekend. It was for the seven babies at home. The weight was astounding.
Special shout out to Bud, he was an fantastic bad guy who’s specialty was to lurk in corners I failed miserably to see. I also managed to impress them both by spinning backwards into a room while at the same time knowing bad guy Bud was in the hallway; this was not textbook but just my body stupidly doing what it wanted while my brain assessed the ignorance simultaneously.
They use sim rounds when training so I was familiar with the sting. Do they make these marking rounds in any other color than green because that seems to be the universal one….. I just feel I would be a whole hell of a lot more smiley getting pegged and scarred by a pink one…..
After being completely demoralized yet again on the vast amount of everything I don’t know, I spent another 30 minutes fighting a goose in the parking lot who was blocking my truck and chatting up the third owner and Lead Instructor Altonio Rivers. And by chatting I mean he was probably trying to politely escape the conversation but I held him hostage. Altonio is a marine and currently a Meckleburg LEO. His expertise makes the AR Tactics triad very well rounded. You have the women’s aspect of self defense, medical, different branches of the military with both men, and Altonio pulling out expertise with Violent Crimes Task Force, The Gang Unit, and SWAT. All are NRA instructors and it makes for, “hey you got realistic questions? I have some realistic answers.”
Altonio had the same inviting personality as the other two making me have regrets that I didn’t know about this place at the beginning of the month because I definitely would have gone a few more times most likely because I am a glutton for punishment. I will for sure make time when I come back in August for the Armed Blade Tactics course with Fit to Fight.
AR Tactics offers several Pistol and Rifle classes as well as private lessons and I would totally recommend them to anyone looking to just expand their firearm and home safety knowledge. It was again definitely enough for me to put this type of protection plan at the top five, hell even top three if I am honest with myself. It is a new found gap in my training and one I plan to fix in the future. If you are in the Charlotte area or are passing through most assuredly check them out.
Also pray for me this weekend. Shooting for survival....
#selfdefense #roomclearing#homeprotection #keepthembabiessafe#2ndamendment #artactics #LethalWeapon#simrounds #badguyinacorner#theyhaveacoolknife
When my older girls were in their mid teens I taught them to knit. If you have learned this skill you should remember how frustrating, like most things, it is at the beginning. I would have them knit a line or two, just enough to visibly see their screw ups and sure enough the irritation with their work would set in. They would start to unravel literally and emotionally; I wouldn’t let them. We would work through the tears and I would make them stick with it till after several days they had a very ugly scarf. They would stare at it in disgust knowing they were never going to wear it, but that wasn’t the reason. It was then I would point out their incredibly obvious improvement. At the beginning of the scarf there were holes, missed loops, sometimes added loops where the scarf went bigger then smaller back on to their original casting of fifteen, but at the end they had got into a rhythm; not as many holes, less tangles, a much smoother finish. They had progressed, but they would not have seen it if they hadn’t given respect to the craft.
Funny how I can teach this very important lesson to my children but even as an almost 40 year old adult I still struggle with it myself. So many people want the ability to walk into something and be able to catch on within a few tries not fully grasping anything worth knowing is earned, worked on, and honed.
For the last year and a half my family has traveled and trained in several different places in the US under a plethora of incredibly knowledgeable and skilled instructors. I have been in classes on peer levels with some and then learning from them in a teacher student standpoint later. They have all varied in their approach and had different goals in the people they were trying to teach; as they should because how boring would that be if everyone had the same objective? We have dabbled (in reality, goofed off) in anything from judo to BJJ, Muay Thai to dirty boxing, synchronized swimming, grappling and striking, fighting with pistols to fighting with knives, ballroom dancing, etc and there is one takeaway from all of this. Check your ego at the door.
Get used to the fact that you are going to suck. That is why you are there. You don’t go pay good money to learn from someone that can’t teach you anything. That would be stupid, I would rather suck than be dumb, but hey, that’s just me.
This first week in Charlotte with Fit To Fight has been inspiring (side note, while writing this I asked my 12 year old what’s another word for awesome and she said tubular. I went with inspiring). I got beat down for three days in their Instructors Course and then again in the Multiple Attackers Seminar (that was the motivational video posted with the classical music…. THAT was inspiring in a totally different way). I found myself Monday getting the kids settled into what is going to be our next four weeks here and decided I would attend their Foundations class with them. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect, subconsciously I was likely thinking my body just needed a damn break, but either way I thought I would go in and just keep an eye on my kids. Trust me Charlotte, I am protecting you….. in either case I had no expectations other than hell you can’t take too many classes on building your foundations and I wasn’t wrong.
It seems there are two schools of thought in training. One is throw them in the deep end and see what happens and the other is build tiny skill on tiny skill. I honestly cannot answer which one is better because even as a parent I have used both with success, however if you have learned from the first school be okay with taking movement back. There is so much to be gleaned just by stepping into the simple, from footwork (likely because I whined all over social media how much I hated shadow boxing, FYI even if I do, I will never admit if I see the light….)to arm extension. .
It’s the small things that another trainer may be able to see and tweak. I understand it is sometimes demoralizing and frustrating to think you got something in the bag then to be called to a stop and told you are doing it wrong. Sometimes it may be that they just caught you at a weak time, tired form, not perfect because you aren’t all in it. But if we are honest with ourselves most of the time that is not the case. It’s even worse when there is a visual, you think you know what you are doing and then you see it on a video and you are like, damn where did those sloth like moves come from? I recently had an instructor say, “if you think I am not talking to you, I am probably talking to you, so pay attention.” That sucks. It sucks to suck so suck it up. I have been in classes learning the same things with peers from all walks of bad assery, I have seen some people well known in their art get their ass handed to them; I also watched them get up and adjust, fix it, become better. No one is above the basics.
I recently was reading a comment from a former Navy Seal speaking of a time he had the expectations of having the upper hand in a drill. “He was a BJJ purple belt and I was a black belt, (not Shivworks) car fighting. He proceeded to whoop my ass twice!! Crushing my head into the B pillar of the car both times to where I thought my head would explode……It changes you and humbles you.” Now this wasn’t a foundations situation, but it was something that he realized he was lacking in certain area by misjudging his opponent. He chose to recognize and become better not be frustrated and just chalk it up to a bad day. The key here is to see it. Sometimes it may not even be useful to you, that’s okay but at least give the craft respect enough to give whatever it is you are learning a fair chance. It may not be what you are used to, but it may be better. Or it may just not work for you and that is okay as long as you truly gave in a honest shot. I mean hell all of Martial Arts is basically a Heinz 57 of what works culturally for that time and purpose. I have several times had something taught to me that was broken down, I learned it, I also discerned that it would not work or be useful to me, but I made sure I understood it before disqualifying it.
Self defense in a training setting is not a competition between you and someone else, it is a battle between you and yourself. When faced with a person who has chosen violence in the streets or bar or your own home, that is when it becomes a fight. The mental aspect of it while in a safe setting is the battle in your head, what you choose to focus on when you drive home, or in the shower. Reflect and be okay with sucking, thats growth. You may have moved on to knitting a sweater or a even a prom dress, but it is definitely okay to go back and do another scarf. Hell this time you may be able to wear it.
#selfdefense #training #itsokaytosuck#buildstrongfoundations #deeproots#neverstoplearning#youmaynotbedoingitright#checkyouregoatthedoor #sunsoutgunsout#womensselfdefense #backtobasics
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal