Any athletic endeavor comes with a risk of injury. If you do any type of martial art, that risk tends to be a bit higher. You could be participating in something as innocent as cardio kickboxing; there’s still a chance you’re going to walk away with some black and blues (or white-and-golds … are we sick of that stupid dress, yet?). But that’s what you’ve signed up for. No one wants to get injured, but — c’mon — even people who swim laps sometimes chip their teeth.
I make no small fuss about the fact that I love my own martial art endeavors. During the intense circuits or bag-training, I may or may not imagine myself as Ronda Rousey in a fight camp (let’s be real — I do. I always do. Especially when I throw my hair into a bun like hers). There is a type of confidence you get when you know you can throw a punch or deliver a kick — that you are a little more in control of how your body moves than you were yesterday — that I wouldn’t trade in for anything.
Lately, conversations have been gravitating more and more towards the idea of me taking that next step and actually competing. I can’t pretend that this isn’t something I have been playing with for a while now. I may or may not already have my walk-out music planned out (let be real — I have. Before I even started going to the gym, I had), but there’s a world of difference between imagining what you would do in the ring and … y’know, actually being in the ring. With someone who actually wants to kick your face off. Yesterday, my coach told me that, really, my next step towards competing is learning to be okay with pain and injuries — dislocated toes, nasty bone bruises, broken noses, etc, etc, and so on, and so forth.
A slightly taller order than learning how to do a proper roundhouse kick. And — if yesterday was any indication, I might have a long way to go before I would be okay with any of that.
So let me paint a picture for you: here I am, Saturday morning, before a boxing class, hanging out by the side of the boxing ring. In my lap is one of the two gym dogs — a tiny, white dog by the name of LeeLoo. I got my fluffy socks on (because life is too short not to wear fluffy socks, and also the floors get cold), I’m snuggling this 4-pound thing of cuteness … life is good.
I’m sitting on the side of the ring — my feet on the first step on the set of five or so wooden steps that bring you into the ring — and facing the back door, which happens to be locked that day. Every once in a while, someone attempts to open said back door from the outside, without any luck. Since all I’m doing at that point is sitting on my tucchus and giving an obscene number of forehead kisses to a dog I will probably steal someday, each time someone comes to the door, I pick up LeeLoo, stand up, walk down the stairs, and let them in.
Standing up, walking down four steps, opening a door. Not exactly climbing Mt Everest, right?
That is, until someone came to the back door, I stood up, took one false step, and my fluffy socks betrayed me.
It was something out of America’s Funniest Videos. My feet slipped out from under me, I went flying down two steps, landed on the edge of the last step, slid off the last step, and assplanted onto the ground. Sometime during this, poor LeeLoo popped out of my hands.
Now, I don’t mean she scrambled out of my hands, or that I accidentally threw her. I mean the force of my impact was enough to catapult her out of my arms.
Aside from a bruised ego (and a scraped elbow, and a bruised butt), I was okay. LeeLoo was miraculously unharmed. She even came trotting back up to me, apparently unaffected by the idea that she might be catapulted a second time.
I thought everything was a-okay until I started jumping rope and realized just how much it hurts to jump rope with a bruised butt.
Bruised ego? Watch me blast through this routine. Scraped elbow? Ain’t no thing. Bruised butt? Yeah … can I sit this one out?
And — as if to add (more) insult to injury — in between practice sessions, I got shot just under the eye at close range with a high-powered Nerf gun.
For those who have an idea in their minds as to what getting shot in the eye at close range with a Nerf dart is like: trust me on this one, it stings way more than you’d think.
I was hobbling out of the gym by the time training was done, injured from head to toe (or, technically, eye to butt) — and none of the injuries even remotely fighting-related. Unless my first fight is on a Slip-n-Slide against a Nerf gun factory’s stairwell, it’s safe to say I didn’t really prepare myself for anything. Except for the realization that I am seriously a long, long way away from having enough iron grit to properly handle injury in the ring.