From Student to Teacher – A Unique Class in Self – Defense For Girls

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I was asked to attend a self-defense class organized and entertained by a former co-worker and a friend, Chantelle, a 19 year old freshman. I have known Chantelle since I tutored her in high-school, for about five years now.

I really do not know how to explain this class. It is certainly the most innovative and interesting way to teach it. Chantelle has often described at length about how the most important part of any class is for the students to live vicariously through the teacher. She has always insisted that a boring lecture is only slightly better than no lecture, and an exciting lecture is certainly the goal.

To meet that goal, I think Chantelle has outdone herself. I have never seen a more captive and excitable audience than the girls watching her. I was invited on several occasions and found myself excited beyond what I thought possible.

The reason for my apprehension is the fact that the subject matter is grim. Girls and women are the currency of society on way too many levels. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed a period of time where I didn’t hear of an attack, a rape, or a murder. I am not, I repeat, I am not blaming this on men, but rather on the small, yet seemingly prolific, subset of criminals, of both genders, that perpetrate this. Chantelle, tall, blonde, pretty, curvaceous and high-spirited seems like an odd super-hero, but she portrays herself incredibly well. Her agility as a gymnast is unmatched, her body is malleable beyond belief and years of training have shaped muscles and confidence.

It is that confidence that is her greatest asset. Chantelle doesn’t fail. Even if she falls, she doesn’t fail. It is with no small degree of shock that, after I attended her class, Xena chose me to be her Gabrielle, if only for a single time.

She already had a Gabrielle, by the name of Elizabeth, or Elle as she is to be called. Elle is aloof and solemn, often bored. I have never really asked about her training or motivation, but it appears she has neither. That is not to say she isn’t talented, but Elle doesn’t have Chantelle’s grace or speed or youthful excitement. Elle is older than I am, but she is prematurely aged beyond her young years. I have only met her on a few occasions, and the hardest thing for her seems to be cracking a smile. I am by nature friendly and jolly, and love to spread that around. Elle is the anti-thesis of everything in my demeanor, and I suspect Chantelle’s as well. Elle is the anti-hero, almost evil herself in her own way, as cold and calculating as she is beautiful.

That being said, I suspect Elle and Chantelle absolutely adore each other, even though Chantelle is too excited to share and Elle is too stubborn to care. Coming between these two girls, a third wheel of sorts, was my main concern. I need not have bothered. Chantelle embraced me with her offer, and Elle was… well, she simply didn’t mind. I suspect that is as great a compliment as any stranger receives from the frigid brunette.

The one thing that sets Chantelle’s self-defense extravaganza apart is that she employs a coterie of men as targets. They are used for all sorts of incredible kata’s or exhibition skits, for lack of a better words, a set of moves designed by the girls to take them out. Each man, in every fight, would suffer several hits to his body, with protection covering their knees, crotches, torso, sides, chest a boxing style helm on their head, with a one inch slit for eyes, effectively masking them.

They seem sturdy enough, which is doubly amusing when they fall at her feet groaning. They do so in theatric style, but the hits are real and the pain is anything but imagined. When I first saw her brutal onslaught of the masked and minimally padded men, I thought that I was in a movie, it sounded so real. Little did I realize the crunching and snapping and smashing sounds were her hands and feet on mostly protected but still vulnerable targets. The male bravado is evident, as they stand up, and try to shake it off, but their beady eyes, slouched posture and slow movements betray it as false machismo.

If nothing else, it is empowering, if not enlightening. I spent hours with Chantelle (and no men) training and practicing for the next class, mostly on surprisingly warm December weather. It is astounding how simple she makes the most confusing techniques. She explained to me that the hardest part is reacting to a man’s attack, even though she instructed them to keep it simple. They attack, she blocks and hits back. I ask her if she ever got hit, given that she wears absolutely no protection, not even a mouth guard. She simply smiles and admits that she had gotten hurt when her acrobatics failed, and a few men did score glancing blows when they caught her unprepared. The worst was a virtual clothesline from a flailing attacker as she kicked him away but not before his swinging arm caught her in the jaw.

“Live and learn”. She got him back though, even though she admits everyone knows it was accidental. Chantelle doesn’t specify exactly what that meant. I ask her if the men mind her beating them up in most embarrassing fashions. She claims they do, but the relative anonymity, gym benefits, as well as her considerable charm supersede that. Nothing was ever broken, Chantelle tells me. I ask again about their mental status, and the massive humiliation they feel, and the pretty blonde shrugs.

“You see”, she starts off with a more serious tone, something I rarely hear her use, but then almost instantly falls into deep thought. “It is part lesson and part show,” she admits, “but the lesson is boring. The show is what brings people in. The show is what the girls will take away, and the show is what gives them confidence.”

It is all about confidence. Chantelle correctly points out something self-defense instructors twice her age and infinitely more experienced miss. If an average man attacks her, the man will quite possibly be ruined for life. She is trained and her beauty hides the venom and danger. However, a man will likely never attack her because she walks confidently, and with a purpose. Elle is an even less likely target, as she has the face of a killer. If a girl has internal strength, and shows it, a mugger or a rapist in search of an easy target will likely see that and move on. The last thing a coward like that wants is an actual fight.

“You cannot teach years of fighting in three hours”, she finally says. I am mostly paraphrasing everything she says, but that sentence is completely hers. This is true, for the first year of my training, I tried to build a repertoire to defend myself, and in theory it should have been enough. I asked my boyfriend to surprise and attack me, and he brought me down easily. He didn’t even have to hurt me (not that he would), he simply grabbed at me, bear hugged me just below the arms and pushed them up. I ask Chantelle what she would do.

“Is he facing you?” I shook my head, telling her he was behind me. “Can you breathe?” I tried to remember and then told her I could, yes, he didn’t impede that. At that point, I knew precisely what her next word would be before she even thought about it herself.

“Relax.”

You see, you cannot relax if you are scared, but if you have this mental iron curtain that Chantelle is a perfect example of, it comes naturally. After you relax, and let your skill and instincts take over, you can overcome anything. In that particular situation, the man would have a broken nose thanks to the back of my head, a slightly hemorrhaging diaphragm from multiple pointy elbows, and quite obviously unenviable aching testicles from several hard knees.

“So what about the humiliation of the men?” I ask, and Chantelle smiles. “The girls’ safety is more important.”

After the class I attended and watched, my confidence was through the roof, even though I had plenty because of my three years of martial arts. Chantelle reminds all her students, most older than her, to enroll in such classes.

In the second part of this article, which I haven’t even begun to write, I would talk about my experiences as a full-fledged butt-kicker. The entire evening was surreal, from the first step to the last strike. The work-out is absolutely superb and I do not think my heart-rate ever fell below twice what it should be at on a normal day. My entire body hurt, although it was a good pain, unlike those felt by those masked men.

I vainly tried and failed to put myself in their shoes… figuratively of course, everyone is barefoot. What do they feel when they were about to be handed pain on a platter by three amazons much smaller than them. I look them in the eyes sometimes, as they are going down clutching their aching parts, and see all sorts of emotions, ranging from fear to resignation to relief, since every hit brings them one closer to the end of their torment. Most often, they squint in pain and wheeze as if every breath is their last. I try to feel bad, but I cannot. They represent something every girl hates in this world, the supremacy of manhood and the hidden nature of the anonymous criminal, preying on the weak and defenseless. They aren’t men with dreams and hopes and thoughts, they are the face of evil.

I never saw them without their masks and helmets, and I am not sure I wish to. As Chantelle says, they are the expendable bodies in the grand scheme of the lives of all the girls that come see her, and that is that.

I will not go into detail in this half of the report, but one things stands out. Often, throughout the night, when the large combats were happening, I was tasked to take down one, or rarely at most two of them, and I found it shockingly fun. What scares me beyond belief, however, is my own little lust for blood. Often, Chantelle, and even more often, Elle, used to bring over a man that already took some punishment, and deposit him right in front of me. I am not sure how much of it was acting, and how much was genuine lack of awareness due to the pain, but they led a lamb to the slaughter, and I was supposed to deliver the killing blow to the dying creature.

He was unstable, groaning, and his knees were buckled. He looked so perfectly miserable that in any normal situation, he would have evoked sympathy and concern. However this creation, this brainchild of Chantelle, was anything but normal. My blood pressure rose to astronomical levels, my breathing became uneven. The men I had to take down were legitimate threats, trying pathetically to make fake hits look good while my real strikes went through. This man was no threat. He wanted nothing more than to kiss the soft canvas. If I saw this situation from afar, without even seeing what damage he already took, I would be satisfied by this presentation to let him fall to the floor.

Hell is the impossibility of reason, many a philosopher once said. There was no reason for me to hit him again, no gain to be had. He was done and gone. I thought that I had to justify my actions in the next few seconds. I briefly thought of the man and what he must have felt at that point, to have thirty or more pairs of rabid female eyes all on him, swaying to the non-existent wind. This was a man Elle brought over, so he must have been in a lot of pain just on that alone, and he must have been close to hell at that point.

So what did I do? I kicked him in the balls, of course. Hard. His head flew up, and his barely audible sigh was drowned in a sea of cheers. He fell to his knees, grabbed himself and dove face first into the blue canvas. Even if the protection dulled the pain somewhat, even if these men, helping Chantelle teach eager young girls, are not the enemy, it felt good. It was pure adrenaline.

One man’s hell is another woman’s vindication.

Gabriela


write by Alden

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