Sunday, December 28, 2014

Modern Zealot of Exercise?

Back in October, I read Why Are Americans So Fascinated with Extreme Fitness? It wonders why people do extreme sports and calls those involved in them “modern zealots of exercise,” claiming they feel that
 It’s not enough to look good and feel good if you’re not prepared to lift a Mini Cooper off an injured stranger.
It got me thinking: Am I a modern zealot of exercise? What the fuck am I doing, doing Brazilian jiu jitsu? Does a middle-aged Mom really need to know how to break someone’s arm and choke the breath out of them? Really? I mean, I understand it is a useful tool in case I were physically threatened. And it does give me confidence. But sometimes I wonder if this confidence is misplaced: What could I really do if a huge dude attacked me? Not much. 
Tauriel may rock as a fictional fighter, but in real life, her arms would have been broken so many times in this scene. Trust me.
Now, if Mr. Furley from Three’s Company tried something, I’m pretty sure I could do some damage.

Let’s face it, besides exercise, I basically use jiu jitsu to intimidate Husband when he tries to get frisky. Oh, really, are you sure you want to put one arm in, one out, Love? You know what that leads to, and it is NOT a smile on your face!
So, why the hell do I do it? Let’s see, when I did aerobics, I worked out two hours a day (back in the 80s, pre-kids, pre-job, and nothing else to do). As a runner, I started doing marathons and half marathons. Yep. That pretty much sounds like extremism. Of course I would be drawn to the martial art that pits me mano a mano against everyone in the world, no matter what their size, shape, or sex.
  The article goes on to imply that sated and safe humans are looking for ways to recreate the thrill of the wild. That’s kind of my take on amusement parks—why would anyone want to pretend they are free falling from a 20-story building? How is that fun?
It's not fun. She's terrified!
For Shark Girl, I am not recreating primal urges or satisfying an ancient calling for the exhilaration of the hunt. Dear Readers, it is about power. As someone who stands under 5 feet tall, who has always been the smallest everywhere, whom people, in their “charming” way, patronizingly measure their children against to check growth: “Oh, Six-Year Old, stand next to Shark Girl. Wow! You are almost as tall as she is!” (Yes, I, an adult woman, am constantly asked to measure myself against very young children to show that they have surpassed my stature. *sigh*)
For SG, running marathons and training jiu jitsu are about having the power that in the larger society I feel I lack because I am a small female. I may be tiny but I can run a marathon. I may be a full-grown adult who is smaller than your elementary school child but don’t mistake that for weakness.
And of course, the person I am trying to convince most is myself.

Everyone gets on the mat for different reasons. When I realized what mine were, it helped me lighten up about my training, become less hard on myself, and enjoy it more. It gave me the power I was looking for--power over myself and my choices.

Happy New Year, and Happy Training. May you all find what you are looking for in your extreme practice!

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