Friday, 6 May 2011

The Only Gay Eskimo

...or, rather, I'm the only girl in my regular Krav class, as I've mentioned before.

One thing I've noticed is that the men I train with tend to be more confident about their grasp of Krav than I do.  When I'm working with someone, and it's a technique I've done and they haven't, I find it difficult to correct them.  I say things like "I think", or "perhaps", or "maybe".  To try to spare people's feelings, I will ask the instructors questions that I know the answer to, so it looks more like a case of mutual confusion than "tell him I'm right".

I don't think this is necessarily because I'm a girl; it's because I know I'm a girl, if that makes sense.  In other words, I'm not saying every female who studies Krav will experience this, just that I do, and because I know I'm the only woman in my class, I worry that everything I experience that others don't seem to is due to my gender.  I also have this paranoid belief that, because I'm not as physically strong as the people I train with, that means I'm not as good.  All of which is ridiculous.  And this attitude means that people take my cue, and believe I need more explanation than I do, which makes me feel more inadequate.  I do really appreciate people explaining things to me, don't get me wrong; I'd rather feel patronised or embarrassed than not learn the technique properly.  I just wish more people would give me time to perform the technique first, and then see if I need further explanation.

Another thing I find is that people don't want to use their full force against me.  I don't think that's necessarily a gender thing, to be honest, more of a natural squeamishness to avoid harming another human being.  But, seriously people, if I say 'please choke me until I either do the technique right or tap you to let go', then please choke me.  Likewise, if I ask 'please use your full force to resist my technique, so I get an idea of what a real situation would feel like', please do so.  It's okay if I get bruised.  It's all about learning.  I'd rather know now, here, with a trusted training partner, that I need to work on a technique or build up my strength more, than find that out when I actually need to rely on the technique.

Of course, I'm being hypocritical, as I'm sure you caught.  I owe my partners the knowledge that they're performing a technique in an inefficient way, too.

There's a phrase I often use about sexuality, and contraception; the rights to my body come with the responsibility to protect it.

(I said that first, but feel free to quote me, I think it's a great line).

This applies to training, too.  If I lend you my body, to act as an attacker for you to practice a technique on, you need to perform the technique as safely as possible, while ensuring that you train as you intend to go on.  In other words, don't hurt me, but train properly, like you expect to face an attacker some day.  Likewise, please help me to protect my body in future, by telling me if I do it wrong, or by helping me to understand where my weaknesses are.

By the way; I know The Only Gay Eskimo is quite a melancholy, if silly, song, but don't think I sit around moping.  I just really wanted to use the song in this post, even if it's really not about me being the only Gay Eskimo.


  1. Alright, since I wholeheartedly agree with your entire entry and want to defintely add my own support for it, I'll just work my way down your list. ;)

    I don't find it difficult to correct my Krav partners when I spar with them - as long as I'm sure of the technique. I don't think 'my' guys mind being corrected either. I correct guys on their form when I recognise it, because it's important not to learn bad form during training. They, in turn, correct me back. We're all there with the same goal: to learn Krav Maga properly. And if I notice an error and don't correct it, it wouldn't really be fair to them to let them continue. I'd feel really bad about it!

    On that note: I DO often ask my instructor to explain something when I *know* the rest doesn't know it either, but are too GUY-PROUD to ask. Best example: how to form a proper fist. I really didn't know. Apparently I was making a karate-fist instead of a krav maga-fist. Some of the guys tried to explain it to me, but I failed so hard at it that I asked the instructor instead. He explained it, but then called in all of the others too. Turns out that the majority wasn't doing the correct fist. Score for us for having the guts to ask. And screw that stupid male pride!! >:D

    I'm actually never *really* confident, because there's so much errors in all the things I do. I can do the chokes just fine, but never good or fast enough. With fighting stances there's plenty of tiny things that aren't as good as I want them. I drop my guard too much, I can't kick/punch very hard. I think my main problem is that I keep on comparing myself to the instructor (who's awesome, of course) so that I keep on thinking I'm bad. When it comes to comparing myself to the rest of the guys: some of them are worse than me, some of them are obviously better, and then for quite a few we're on even ground. Technique is my strong point (while strength is their strong point), so I make sure that I know and execute proper technique. I figure that strength will come later. ;)

    I don't want guys to hold back on me, because I also worry I'm 'not as good as them', although recently (my arms were sooooooooooo messed up!!!) a friend made it clear to me that it's ok to show weakness and that it's ok to be weaker than the rest because - DUHHHHH - I am! I AM a woman and they are men, which automatically means that my physical strength is weaker than theirs. Denying that is just stupid.

    It also means that sometimes you have to take a step back and take sparring easy. I defintely go all-out most of the time and I encourage the guys to do the same - how else will we both learn? I can generally manage some pain and when it becomes too bad I speak up, and we all tone it down a bit. It doesn't happen that often, which is why I think they don't mind so much when I do.

    And if they'd mind, well - screw them. Seriously. ;)

  2. A nice (and somewhat heart-warming) example of how the guys don't mind that I'm 'weaker' than they are.

    Some time ago we practiced one of the defenses against someone sitting on top of you and choking you. (Which is P2 technique even though I was - at the time - training for P1). It just so happens that about five years ago, I had a bad experience with one of my fellow students, where he sat on top of me, pinned my arms and refused to let me go until I kissed him. Which I did, because I couldn't get away.

    What I hadn't known is that this particular experience had made such an impact on me, because the moment my instructor sat on top of me (TO DEMONSTRATE IT IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE FRICKING GROUPPPPPP) I didn't feel very comfortable. While normally a bit apprehensive, now my mind was just going crazy. And by that point he didn't even have his hands around my throat. It was just that feeling of being trapped and unable to free myself (because, you know, demonstration for the rest = not moving/being submissive = it felt the same, even though I could just tell him to get off). I was experiencing the whole thing all over again and I was trying to resist that. on top of that I was confused as to what was going on and why I was acting that way.

    Basically, I was an emotional mess. Later, in the dressing room and after training, they were all like: "Oh man, you had it tough there, huh. Are you ok. What happened to you - bad boyfriend?" Etc. etc.

    They were blunt. Like... REALLY BLUNT, but they meant well. Which I could really appreciate. And nobody made fun of me or called me out on it. That was my lesson that it's ok to not be strong all the time and that showing emotion doesn't equate weakness (esp. because, you know, it was sort of a traumatic incident for me). And that it's also ok to just be blunt with them back. Because they're guys. Who can appreciate that sort of thing, apparently. (Eye roll).

    --- But, seriously people, if I say 'please choke me until I either do the technique right or tap you to let go', then please choke me. Likewise, if I ask 'please use your full force to resist my technique, so I get an idea of what a real situation would feel like', please do so. It's okay if I get bruised. It's all about learning. I'd rather know now, here, with a trusted training partner, that I need to work on a technique or build up my strength more, than find that out when I actually need to rely on the technique. ---

    This! Seriously! THIS is EXACTLY what I tell the guys all the time. I NEED to know that the technique works. I NEED to know that I can defend myself with a choke from the front. You HAVE to choke me full force and let me do the release, otherwise I won't be able to defend myself if it really happens! I've asked so many times "Did you use full force?" And they'd be like... "Yeah..." only to fail at the technique with a different partner who used more force.

    I asked my instructor about that once, and he said that (in this instance) with the choke from the front defense, women just don't have the upper body strength to free themselves from the choke and that the accompanying knee to the groin is absolutely necessary for the technique to work for us. I was glad he said that, because that meant I hadn't being doing it wrong. It still irks me some time when the guys hold back, so I just go in full force with them. They'll wise up quickly enough. (Got a palmstrike to the face yesterday because of this. rofl).

  3. Funny story: I was injured for a while, during which I couldn't train, but only looked from the sidelines. I noticed the guys were definitely doing their best to impress me. Glancing at my reactions, etc. I thought that was hilarious. When I'm training with them, I'm one of them and they don't care that I'm watching. When I'm not, I'm back to being a chick again. ;-D

    I told you I had a lot to say. XD And the stupid comment thingy won't accept long comments. D:< I think my reply has turned into a blog post of its own. Rofl. ;) But I just wanted to say I really like reading your posts. You write very informally and I feel like getting some nice glances in your live. I can actually relate, hooray! :)


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