January 10, 2003

And I Do This Why?

And I Do This Why?

Today I'm sporting a slightly blackened right eye. Nothing major, just tiny shiner on the upper eye socket, the result of yet another enthusiastic night of hapkido.

There's really only one guy I work out with who is guaranteed to hurt me, and I'm guaranteed to hurt him back. He's my height and slightly heavier than me, and we both like to dish out the punishment against each other. We're not enemies or anything like that, we just know that the other guy can take the abuse so we try to work out as realistically as possible. Full speed, and with dangerous amounts of power. It's amazing we don't emerge far more wounded than we do.

When I work out with the girls in the class, dainty little high school seniors who weigh maybe 100 pounds, if that, I always have to be pretty careful. Granted, they're scrappy little vixens, and they can take loads upon loads of punishment, but only to a certain extent. They're technically superb, and chances are, if confronted by a novice on the street, they'd leave an attacker bruised and battered on the asphalt within a few seconds. They're quick, and they're mean, and they call me Puddles because I sweat so much. But, in class, they're small and they seem almost fragile at times. So, I don't get the best of workouts with them. The same goes for newbies and some of the older folks who wince before you even execute a move.

And then there's John. Any time I'm paired up with him, I'm both excited and terrified. I KNOW I'm going to get hurt, but at the same time I know the workout is going to be great. He's a flawless sparring partner, combining boxing, taekwondo and hapkido techniques into an arsenal that just tears me apart. When we grapple, however, he's in my world, and I exact as much revenge as I can.

Whereas sparring requires kicking and punching your opponent, grappling requires bringing your opponent to the ground, working them into a submission hold, and choking them unconscious. Usually they tap out before they go unconscious. It's a blast, but you're far more likely to be hurt grappling because the opponent will go to great lengths to avoid getting choked, including digging at pressure points and punching at any exposed body part, such as the eye. Which is how I earned my current shiner.

People ask why I do hapkido when I get hurt so often, and I usually fumble with the answer. It's hard to explain the appeal, but it really comes down to a love of one-on-one self-defense. Sparring with people, exploiting weaknesses in their defenses, grappling an opponent into a submission hold from which they can't escape, it's all so primitive but there's so much technique and skill involved. And you don't really realize you're learning anything until a friend jokingly throws a punch at you and you fold them over without even really thinking about it.

Beating up friends is so worth a black eye.

Posted by Ryan at January 10, 2003 12:15 PM
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