Tomorrow night is my last RAD self-defense class, and I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss it. If there were an option to continue on every week, I would, even if it were all review. It’s been a heckuva lot of fun despite the fact that it’s probably the most unusual class I’ve ever taken.
I realized a week or so ago that self-defense is literally and significantly different from any other class you can take, and the reason is that most classes teach you something you’ll use right away. In fact, in this class, you hope that you’ll never have a chance to use what you’re learning. And there’s no way you can take this class without thinking the whole while, “That’s an awesome technique and I’m glad I know how to use it, but I sure hope I never have to.” I’ve never had that experience before.
I’ve also been confronted by the strange fact that there are things that we literally can’t practice in the class. It’s hard to know if you’ve mastered a move you can’t practice without seriously hurting the person you practice on. And of course, I’d prefer not to be that practice partner, or the one doing the damage, so I mostly don’t object to the limitation. Considering that one of the moves must be done very quickly to be effective, though, I can’t lie and say it’s not a little unnerving to know that, should I ever need to use it, I have a mostly theoretical understanding but little practical experience with a move I might really need.
I remember Robert Fulghum commenting on how he liked to wear buttons that disagreed with each other, like “Trust me, I’m a Teacher” along with “Question Authority Before Authorty Questions You.” The other pair he mentioned were “Look Before You Leap” and “He Who Hesitates is Lost,” and these two have come to mind in class recently. They seem to encapsulate the situation well.
The thing is, a move like that isn’t the only thing in life that works that way. We don’t always get the luxury of practice before we have to jump in and, as the Nike slogan says, “Just Do It.” For instance, when I started teaching, I had a faculty mentor and an orientation session, but a few days later I was in front of a room full of students—something I’d never done before. I taught at an independent school, where you’re pretty much tossed into the deep end. There are lifeguards on the side, but the hope is that you’ll learn to swim on your own. While that can be frustrating, I think there’s some merit to it, in that we do sometimes learn better when we’re on the hot seat. (Not always, but sometimes!)
Tomorrow night, I get to take that leap, sort of. It’ll be Simulation Night, with guys in padded suits for me to fend off. I’m excited and nervous, but I hear it should be fun. (Yet another word you don’t usually apply to self-defense!) And I can’t deny I’m looking forward to it, even as I sit here wondering what I’ve forgotten in the last week, and if I’m really ready.
So my question, for all of us, is this: Where are we avoiding taking a leap because we don’t feel ready? What parts of our lives really require more time and practice, and which ones will we only be ready for once we’re in the air? Once you’ve answered that question, if you still feel nervous, find a baby step you can take to move you closer. If not, dive in!
I’ll report in about Simulation Night in a few days. In the meantime, just a quick reminder that I’ll be teaching Soulful Decluttering starting on August 5—more details here!