Not Telling differently

I finally got the protective head gear so I can spar.

My martial arts needs to go to the next level. I have to engage with a real fight. A real fight with lots of padding.

I was excited to try, but when I put on the bulky headgear, I saw that my nose is completely unprotected. That was sobering, but I was eager to do this!

So I got on the mat. The class had us all rotate through sparring everyone. And by the end, I had bruised ribs and I’d been punched in the nose twice


It hurt a lot.
I was crying a little.
I had to think about this as I shuffled out to my car. Was this something I was willing to do again?

Why was I doing this?

Studying self-defense and martial arts was changing my world. I was learning that I was worth protecting—and how to do it.

I didn’t’ have to accept other people hurting, cornering or taking advantage of me. I could fight back and defend myself.

But this!

I was letting someone hurt me. Wasn’t that kinda the opposite of self-defense?

It felt a lot more real than the practice sessions. This was clearly a new level. I had to be willing to be hurt.

Which brings to mind a line from the Princess Bride

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something

Pain will come. And it is shocking.

What will I do with it? Avoiding it is a valid choice, but so is leaning into it.

Since the pain is coming, it would be good to have an awareness of what I could do with it.

As I held an icepack to my head, I realized I could learn to block those punches to my head.

But that meant I’d have to take a few more punches along the way.

But the difference was my sparring partner cared about me and we were practicing together.

That makes a lot of difference.

I can do a lot more when I push past what I thought my boundaries were.

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