Monday, November 5, 2012

KM Smackdown

I love slapping people. 
It's fairly rare that the opportunity
 to do so presents itself.

I have a strict policy of no men being present in the room during the ladies-only class, but Miss Smurf has been after me for some time to put a guy in the fight suit and bring him in to let them practice striking a live human.  So last weekend we finally did it. 

Big J (not the same guy as Big Daddy J) put on the suit and choked our females then took his beating like a champ.  However, one lady didn't feel comfortable striking him, so I offered to let her hit me instead.  The price of admission, however, was that I was gonna slap the crap out of her.  Now it might appear that I was just trying to slap somebody, which was probably not the case.  Once one lady decided she was game, several others followed. 

The truth of the matter is that after a lifetime of being told to play nice, hitting another person, even when being attacked, can be extremely difficult for female students.  Learning how to hit an actual person instead of a pad is an important part of one's self defense education.  It just so happens, however, if you slap a woman in the face & drag her around by her hair she tends to override her hesitation to strike pretty quickly.  We weren't doing hair grabs that day, so I just made them close their eyes, gave them a good hard slap in the face & grabbed them by the throat.  You should have seen them come after me!  I was so proud.  My right shin is all swollen and black and blue because they all kept kicking me there for some reason.  That got old pretty quickly but, let's face it, I was not exactly in a position to complain.

Also, I'm happy to say that on a personal level it was an accomplishment to be the padded attacker.  I ended up taking the role on so suddenly that all I had time to put on was head protection & a mouthpiece (hence the bruises) but I felt great anyway.  I remember the first time I ever saw one of the padded suits in the first self defense seminar I ever attended.  "That guy is crazy!"  I thought.  "I'd never do that!"  Later I'd occasionally see instructors don them during training and even though I never expected to be that guy, I started to envy them a little for being willing to take some battering to help their students learn.  Even through the suit you still get banged up.  This year I decided I wanted to be that guy.  The only rules I gave them were don't punch me in the throat and don't strike me in the back of the skull  at the base (i.e., please don't kill me).  And they didn't! So last weekend made me really happy both for my students and for myself.


1 - If you have an emotional meltdown in class and start crying, I don't mind.  Neither does anybody else.  I've done it.  Loads of people have done it.  Lizard brains are strong and they do what they want, when they want.  In fact, watching people work through a post traumatic stress episode, come out of it, and then have the courage to come back to class to face the same situation again in an effort to master their fear is one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen.  It makes me proud to work with them and pushes me to work to be a better instructor to be worthy of training with them.

2 - I respect people who refuse to participate in class when they feel unsafe or overwhelmed by what we're doing on the mat.  Think about it: everyone else in the room is doing the technique, rooting each other on, etc.  And one person stands there and says "Nope.  I'm not doing that."  It takes a certain amount of backbone to be the only one who won't go along, and I like people with a backbone. 


  1. I couldn't find your email on the website, so I'll just wrap up what I was going to say into a short little comment to post on here.
    First, thank you for knowing exactly how to help me. You people are not just trainers, you are healers. That's real.
    Second, I wish someone had videotaped me from the moment I walked out of that classroom until I drove away in my car...with all the shaking, and hyperventilating, and fetal-position-getting-into included. I'd like to have that as a sort of "before" picture. Because there sure as hell will be an after.
    - KJ

    1. You are very welcome. It's a privilege to help you walk your path, and I'm grateful for the chance.

      It's not exactly a video, but you should consider writing down the event as you remember experiencing it. If you want, I'll write down what I saw, too. A friend of mine who was leaving an abusive relationship used to write me these very long detailed emails every week, and re-reading them a year later blew us away.

    2. I would love it if you wrote it down. I'll do the same.

  2. I want to add that this was one of the most significant seminars I have been to yet. It definitely “made a mark” on my healing journey. Actually, literally it did because Big J in the suit actually left a BIG bruise on my leg from blocking my kick to his groin several times. That mark was just more than physical evidence that I had taken some hits. I was able to look at that bruise and wear it loud and proud…that I had continued on in “the fight” & had hardly winced in pain. I used to see bruises as a sign of weakness, but now I think the opposite. It is proof that you have survived the fight and have come out stronger because of it. Another major turning point for me was being slapped by you. In my 2nd women’s seminar class, I accidentally got kicked in the face. After class, I got in my car and started driving when, out of nowhere, I had a full-blown panic attack…for the first ever. I had to literally pull over, stop my car, and let my body do what it needed and wanted to do after so many years…have a major emotional release. It was a frightening thing to experience…not being able to breathe, sobbing uncontrollably, and feeling paralyzed. You see, I have never wanted to have my face touched (not even by a massage therapist). That is why I felt that it was so important for me to allow you to slap me in the face for this seminar. I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready (& willing) to have another panic attack if needed because I believe that with every tear shed, you are just one more step closer to healing. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that all that slap did to me was make me react with aggression (NOT in my nature) and flinch a little. That was it. No tears, no anxiety, no panic. NADA. I was able to walk out of that building that day realizing that I did not freeze, but continued on in the fight. Isn’t that the sole purpose of KM?! This program has been more helpful & healing than any other therapy/modality I have been in. What so many people don’t realize is that getting true healing from the inside out is more than just being able to sit in a chair & talk to someone about what happened. That’s only scratching the surface and not getting to the root of the problem. Trauma is stored in our cells and that stagnant energy is just lying there, dormant. That needs to be released and what better way than to literally “kick it” and “punch it” in KM. That is why this program is so powerfully healing. For someone like me who has lived in a certain submissive mindset for over 30 years and who has never been able to even raise her voice, this program has been phenomenal! Because of it, I will never be the same!

  3. Andrea, these words mean more to me than I can ever say. Thank you so much.