Monday, July 26, 2004

wait until you see my nyquilized kung-fu

a note from the editrix (thanks Mike!): I wrote this in June, but got distracted and never put it up.

Just because I had to bail on Snufkina for an all-girl sex party night Friday because I wasn’t feeling well doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have a good time, as my exploits of yesterday will attest. Lemme see: I worked a seven-hour catering shift doped to the gills on Nyquil, and then I went to a going-away party for Aurora where I ended up sparring in the bedroom with this Brazilian chick who’s been irritating me for months. Then I split a cab home with an apprentice zoo keeper; how cool is that for a girl who breathlessly awaited each new installment of the Funk and Wagnall’s animal encyclopedia, which you could buy at the grocery store?

The problem is not that she cleaned my clock; honestly, she didn’t. Other than a few scratches, a broken nail, and what promises to be a major bruise on my left instep, I came away from the encounter more or less as I entered it. So what’s bothering me? The fact that I didn’t have a decisive victory over my opponent (and even thinking such a thing indicates that I don’t really have the spirit of the thing, hm?) The fact that I couldn’t subdue her? The possibility that I just spent ten years and who knows how many thousands of dollars to learn a form that can’t hold up against some bastard form of Wing Chun performed by a Brazilian space cadet who talks too damn much as she fights?

I find myself wondering if part of the reason we don’t compete, and part of the reason I’m not supposed to pick fights at parties to see what happens, is that everyone at a certain level understands that this really isn’t a form that works against other forms. I saw this when I sparred with Terrier (a capoeirista) and he had me on my ass with a wound on my tongue so meaningful that we quit right away so I could go apply nice cold healing beer to it. I saw it tonight sparring with talkybabe: I had to keep shifting my style just to keep up (although I suppose it’s good that I could, right?) What I was doing was not aikido as I understand it. Aikido as I understand it would have meant great sweeping motions where my playmates wondered why they were on the floor, or at the very least a nice pin or two.

Aikido as I understand it would have entailed my not agreeing to spar with these people in the first place, silly girl.

To my credit, she couldn’t get in close enough to do any real damage. Had she been going full force on some of those strikes, she might have hurt me--but then had I been going full force, I could have dropped her, or choked her out. We were both holding back, and aikido doesn’t really work if you don’t follow through. Which is an interesting thing to have revealed in this way; it’s like what I tell my kid students. If as uke (attacker) you pull your punch, you’re not giving nage (defender) what she needs to complete the technique.

Talkybabe’s form and mine are also shaped by entirely different intentions. Wing Chun is direct and to the point. You block, you strike, you try to destroy your partner’s kneecaps; the point is damage. Aikido is all throws, locks, pins; you spend a lot of time trying to get behind your partner, or off the line of attack. Really you’re trying to exert as little energy as possible; ideally you never actually end up making any contact with the other person if you can help it. You’re trying to hold the conflict down without anyone getting hurt.

I guess part of the deal is that I study a form that doesn’t handle surprises well! We don’t, for example, train against kicks because we ourselves don’t kick. There is a way to handle kicks, which I fortunately learned from a somewhat renegade sensei many years ago. You get an arm under the kicking leg and lift into a throw, but it’s brutal on someone who doesn’t know how to take the fall safely. You’re essentially dropping them right on their back, from a meaningful height. So you don’t--let’s all say it together--do it at parties. There were other things I wasn’t prepared for, like the hair-pulling (and don’t think the guys pressed against the wall watching us didn’t catch that and respond exactly the way you would expect) and the face-slapping (ditto), but neither of those were awful. Just annoying.

God, the more I think about it, the worse an idea this was. I am supposed to politely demur from such things. But for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, I really don’t like this woman, and I guess I was relishing the opportunity to rough her up--at her suggestion.

At least one of the other guests had a funny thing to say about it. It’s like we have our own Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Which I thought was kind of sweet.