A New One for My Top 10 Most Embarrassing Experiences

Perhaps how I feel this morning is the reckoning I deserve for eating horse meat earlier in the week. I am sore from my shoulders to the arches of my feet (so not quite the full head to toes). I’m thinking I could go for an apple fritter, but alas, I’ve yet to find non-meat filled fried dough. At least my pride doesn’t hurt as much and I’m smirking as I remember the night before.

Having never taken any sort of martial art, I did not know what to expect from Jiu-Jitsu. I didn’t even Google it before I agreed to go to a class with a friend who really enjoys it. She invited me to a free class just for women at a Jiu-Jitsu club, and I thought, “Eh, why not.” I’ve heard it’s a good self-defense sport and I know martial arts, such as Judo, are very popular in Kazakhstan. In fact, there are a few sports where Kazakhs repeatedly do quite well in both the Olympic and World Games—boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, and Judo. I’m here, I have a friend to go with, why not give it a try.

I didn’t even make it past the warm up without embarrassing myself. We jogged in a circle a few times, but then it switched from jogging to a side shuffle, then to one where we clap, and oh my uncoordinated self was not having it. That was just the warm-up to my embarrassment. Who forgets how to somersault? This girl. I can remember doing somersaults until I was dizzy as a kid (only took about three to disorient me as an adult). I know I shouldn’t lead with my head, but my body wouldn’t listen. Then I attempted the single-shoulder type somersault, still terrible. I worked on falling correctly, which was at least better than the tumbling. I attempted the Shrimp Crawl, which is supposed to look like this:

But instead, looked more like a fish who accidentally flopped out of its bowl and is wondering what the heck it is doing there. I then had to hold on to my friend’s legs as she stepped forward and I pulled myself up to her feet, sort of like pull-ups on the ground. This wouldn’t have been terrible, but my shirt kept sticking to the mat—by the end my V-neck collar was almost to my belly button (or at least it felt like it). There were other crawling or shuffling type things as well, but I wouldn’t even know how to begin describing them. I just know I was the slow kid. I could still do a solid cartwheel, so that’s something. And the very young instructor was very encouraging and patient with me the entire class, which is also something and very much appreciated.

The drills themselves were not so bad. They required accuracy and strength and eventually speed. I’m sure over time one’s muscle memory kicks in and it becomes easier. I opted not to spar with anyone at the end of class since we didn’t really go over the rules or techniques. Observing the others, I noticed it is quite like wrestling, sometimes quite fast, other times a battle of the wills. You can grab your opponent’s robes or Gi, while engaged. I asked the instructor how it ends, and he said with a tap or time expires.

I figured I’d sleep on it and see how I felt about it all in the morning. I am sore; it was definitely a full body workout. My husband was quite proud of me for trying something new; that helped heal my embarrassment. I think if I was in better shape (I’m coming off six months of no exercise whatsoever), it would have been better. And I must be getting soft in my old age because the idea of fighting with someone, even in a controlled situation, does not seem appealing. If I could maybe just do the work-out portion and not actually fight, it might be ok, but I don’t think that’s how it works. I am certainly glad I tried it, but the jury is still out on if I will try it again…


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