Jiu Jitsu Fail

Ever since I watched The Karate Kid, I’ve always had the dream that I would be able to do kung-fu. My husband really wanted to do some martial arts this summer. I was interested in karate, but he started looking at Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Tae Kwon Do. I told him if he shopped around for a place I’d try it out with him.

Note to self: never let husband shop for a joint fitness place – you will die.

Hubby finds a good place near my office, so he decides we should go check it out since we can take advantage of the free trial. “It’s a self-defense class; it’s mostly women,” he assured me. So I proudly tell my whole office during a coworker’s birthday party, “Today I’m going to try out a martial arts class. Jew Jit-shoo or something like that.”

They all say, “What?! You? I’d like to see this.” That should have been my first tip. My second tip should have been the reaction of those at the martial arts establishment who asked us several times, “Are you BOTH going to try this class?” “Yea, sure!” was my non-committal reply.

They outfitted us with Gi’s, I felt pretty B.A., and then we waited until the class was ready to begin. I saw 20 or so people in our age group, all of whom looked super fit and intense. That should have been my third tip.

Never mind the fact that I had a horrible headache from work and just popped an Excedrin Migraine, a tiny miracle pill chock full of caffeine, acetaminophin, and Aspirin. A blood thinner, a blood quickener, and a pain reducer. Yes, this was a fantastic time for me to exert myself physically, I know.

We get on the mat, and the instructor barks at us to line up. Then we start running laps for our warm-up, and then doing side-to-side running lunges, then backwards…

…It took about 5 minutes for me to have an asthma attack.

I decided to wait out the rest of the class and instead watch my husband while I puffed on my inhaler. This was a wise choice. The class did not slow down in its pace; in fact, the next thing they all did was forward summersaults down the mat  several times, then summersault sideways down the mat. There was no really any “watch and learn” instruction going on. This instructor did not pull out a white board and explain the physics of how one’s body is even able to roll sideways, or why this is important. No, it was just do or DIE, because some 200 pound man would run or roll over me otherwise.

The class continued, and I noticed my hands were shaking a bit and my heart was still beating rather fiercely, and I wasn’t doing anything but sitting at this point. Excedrin migraine + asthma medicine is probably not a good combination, either. Mental note made.

My husband was now paired up with some truly B.A. woman who had been studying this art form for a long time. She wrapped her legs from behind around him to pin him down, and I wondered why I was still smiling. I started texting my married friend to tell her I wasn’t sure how I felt about another woman’s legs wrapped around my husband’s body. Especially if she was trying to kill him. My friend reacted appropriately and sent me an encouraging text to go “Protect what’s yours!!” I wasn’t quite sure how to achieve this. This woman could clearly pin me in a second and choke me out in 3. I know, because she was a small woman doing this to my large husband who regularly lifts over 300 pounds.

They all switched partners, and I breathed a little better (which was physically necessary). I noticed all of the students were attempting to choke each other out, or break out of the hold in a violent manner. The more I watched, the more prayers of thanks I sent up to God for rescuing me from this class.

Afterwards, my husband was glowing – half from sweat, and half from excitement. “I want to do this! I love it!” We went to talk to our vacant-eyed salesman, who gave us the spiel and tried to get us to commit right away, yadda yadda yadda. Basically, even if I can’t kung-fu a person physically, I can kung-fu your negotiation tactics and end up tricking you into giving me a really good deal. I can play games, just not the kind where people put me in choke holds.

I was still very amused that I did not last through the warm up. I gave my office a comedic email telling them as much. I found out one of my coworkers is in fact, a decorated martial arts warrior. He  encouraged me to keep at it, and that failing was a natural part of the martial arts. Then he recounted all of his impressive training:

“I have been physically training in martial arts since ’93. I have a black belt level in Aikido, Kung Fu, Tai Chi. I’ve also studied kenjutsu (samurai sword training), but only for 2 years, so I’m still a super newbie.”
“…I can play the cello?”
“That’s awesome.”

I might still try karate someday. It sounds like my discipline and years of training as a cello ninja could translate in life as a real life ninja if I applied myself. Perhaps next time I should watch a video first and not go in so blindly. But in the meantime, I’ll practice my ‘wax on, wax off’ moves and try to do the Matrix Neo bend in yoga class.


  1. Oh Nicole! You made me laugh so hard I thought I was going in to labor! I’ve always wanted to try karate too. To bad we don’t live closer we could go together. I bet Tai Chi is more your pace.

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