Fighting the Good Fight

I skipped boxing last night because there has been a lot of stress in my little family and I thought it would be nice to take a night off from obligations and just ride around the park in the woods at night with my husband. I’m glad I did it, but when I got caught behind a slow truck on my way to boxing this afternoon and knew I was about to be late, I had to fight myself from turning around. I forced myself to keep driving, and when I got to the gym four minutes late, I made myself walk in with my tail between my legs and wrap my hands. Coach Jeff is as kind (to his students anyway) as they come, while still being directive and authoritative. We talk band stuff, because he used to be in the popular PA band Simon Says who played the college circuit in the 90’s. I missed the jumprope warm-up but caught all the important lessons, and then finished with the jumprope at the end. To skip it is to only cheat myself. I deserve it to myself to put in the effort and make the most of my time. We all deserve it.

I came home, changed, and was working through the many emails and deadlines I’ve been pushing around like peas on a stubborn little kid’s plate, when there was a knock on my door from my neighbor. I’ve only waved to her in passing, and one she’s come to my door when her puppy ran away. She asked if I knew anyone who knew self defense, and I told her I didn’t have any training like those Women’s Self Defense classes (though I should really take one), but that I used to kickbox and I currently belong to a boxing gym and take classes there. She told me she wanted to learn how to get away from someone. I showed her a jab, cross, hook. We talked footwork and weight distribution, where power comes from, our arms and legs as mere vessels for the strength and force of our bodies.

She told me she was attacked at a party, how her friends blamed her, said, “When did it become rape?” “‘When I said no,’ I told them.” How it’s causing drama in her family now. How the men are getting more and more daring and all she wants is to be able to go somewhere at night and know she will be okay. It happened in a bathroom. She wants to be able to get someone to leave her alone. I told her the jab is the “get away from me” punch. She showed me a move her husband taught her, to catch someone’s advance and pull them in close, then knee them in the head. We went over kicks. She told me about a video she saw online, where a woman strangled a guy with her purse strap. “That’s what I want to learn how to do,” she said.

My heavy bag has been leaning on my porch with nowhere to hang since I moved in here. She has one hanging from a tree. She has sparring gloves.

“I have more support from you and my coworkers than I do from my friends. What’s that saying? The more you get to know yourself, the smaller your circle becomes? Well isn’t that some truth.”

My heart broke for her (for everyone) but we are both excited to have a training buddy to work out with and learn from. When I train, my head is clear, all I focus on is what my body is doing, what my opponent’s body is doing. I’m not good, I’m not disciplined, I’m still learning. But I’m really, really excited to have the chance to help a woman regain her agency.

That is what sisterhood is all about.