Because I am busy gestating, there are no martial arts for me for the time being. This not only significantly affects my physique but also my search for inner peace. Turns out I am a calmer, happier person when I can go punch pads and/or people two to three times a week. (Is this twisted? I haven’t decided yet.) I had an inkling that I was really going to miss Krav Maga when I realized that I’d have to go back to a regular gym for the duration of the pregnancy and all I could think was, ugh, how boring and unproductive. That got me wondering why I am so drawn to Krav to begin with, because for me there are additional factors on top of the obvious benefits of knowing self-defense. In no particular order, they are the following.

  1. I get to work out in a former funeral home turned martial arts studio, which is pretty random and cool, right? Plus, I now know how to fall from standing without hurting any body parts and how to do a shoulder roll. For someone who couldn’t even do a cartwheel at the age of ten, when pretty much every other girl could do one, this is a Big Deal.
  2. Learning how to fight makes me feel less angry and helpless about the fact that, as a woman, I’m supposed to be afraid for my safety at all times. Guess what? Now I’m not! Now I feel like in some small but tangible way I’m yelling back at the universe, against the things that are terrible and unfair and awful. I realize that in some ways this makes no logical sense, but I’m totally comfortable with that. This brings me to my next point.
  3. Lately, every time I read the news out of Arizona, I really miss punching people. Honestly, I have rarely felt more of a deep desire to punch someone than recently upon hearing one after another of these absurd and insulting “women’s health care” laws get proposed and actually make it partway through the legislative process without numerous people laughing the proposers and their laws out of the political arena. A recent sampling of the more ludicrous happenings: a law stating your employers can go into your medical records to determine why you’re using birth control and thus deny you coverage if you’re only using it for birth control, a law whereby you can be forced by the state to get a transvaginal ultrasound before an abortion because clearly this will make you change your mind, and a debate during which a Georgia Republican named Terry England compared pregnant women to livestock. Gee, do I miss those carefree days when I was able to make my own health decisions without the government patting me on the head and telling me what I was going to do instead. I guess I forgot that my doctor and I are both too stupid to be trusted with such things. ARGH. Excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag since I can’t grab a drink or throw a hook at someone’s midsection.
  4. There is a real sense of camaraderie in my Krav class that I miss. Obviously, one can’t get this from simply working out in a roomful of people, even if they are sweating on you from the next treadmill over. There is a nice mix of men and women, and pretty much everyone is interested in helping everyone else fight their best. I have never felt at any sort of disadvantage for being a small female, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable when I’m the only girl in the class. Plus, there is something both sweet and inherently hilarious about some huge dude giving me tips on how to better beat him up. Maybe that’s how it feels to have an older brother (no offense to my wonderful younger brother, but I have a feeling the dynamic would be different if he were the older, as well as bigger, one).
  5. For me, there is a certain confidence that comes with knowing what my body can do, and (again) for me, this confidence cannot be gained with knowledge of any particular yoga posture or the ability to run many miles. I know this because I’ve tried. And my confidence level is more about knowing that I have some tricks up my sleeve should I ever need to defend myself. It’s about knowing that I could use these techniques because I’ve used them before and I have some idea of the results. It’s about having thought through these sorts of situations to the point where I can imagine a positive outcome. Bear with me while I get serious for a second and say that I have in the past five years known two people who did not make it through their violent encounters, and you’ll have an idea of why this is so very important to me.

So as soon as this kid is born, it’s back to all those bruises and the oversized sparring gear (seriously, my sparring helmet slides around so much that it basically exfoliates my face every time I get hit). It’s time to go back to experiencing the zen of sinking completely into a moment in order to win the fight. Because really, when it comes to my search for inner peace, there’s no place I’d rather be than blocking someone’s side kick to my head.