“Why do you practice martial arts, don’t you think it is dangerous?” he asked innocently as I tried to fight off the urges to roll up my sleeves to brag about the bruises from my most recent sparring session.
I innocently smiled and responded, “It’s fun.” Then I added, “and it’s good for weight loss.”
At this point, I had learned from previous dates that they don’t really want to know the truth. And if I did tell them my real motivation for learning, they would somehow magically lose my phone number. Then stop responding to my flirty emoji-filled messages and before long, they would delete me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The sad reality I was just going to have to face is that most guys don’t like girls who would beat them in a fight. And no offense to this one but his appearance didn’t exactly scream “tough guy.”
I had picked up on some responses from a few of the girls who came for the introduction to self-defense class that started after my two hours intensive Eskrima Cacoy Doce Pares training sessions three times a week. And weight loss seemed to be the best response since I have never really been a super skinny girl.
I looked up at him, expecting the typical look of “aw-that’s-cute” but, I was surprised to find a very different response. He actually looked disappointed. I was instantly confused. Had I said something wrong, again? Maybe he didn’t believe me. Did he see my bruises? I reached down and touched my arms. Nope, my sleeves were still fully covering my arms. What have I don’t wrong?
“If you just want to lose weight, why not try running or yoga or something?” he asked. Still looking disappointed.
If I have already ruined this my chances with this one, I guess I can just be myself now. He won’t be asking for a second date. It’s written all over his face.
“Yoga?” I snorted. “Are you kidding me? That is just really boring. I tried it a few times, even that ‘hot yoga’ or whatever you call it but I always just feel like taking a nap afterward. Some of the classes even have you lay there on the floor and relax for the last ten minutes of class. No thank you.” I stopped and waited for him to respond. His expression changed from disappointment to something almost resembling curiosity.
“There are a lot of ‘fun’ exercises out there,” he said making air quotes with his fingers. “I have met girls who do belly dancing, rock climbing, and I even met a female triathlete a couple of months ago. So I am still curious why you would choose martial arts.”
Why is he pushing this subject? I thought to myself. Fine. He wants to know the truth, might as well.
“Truth?” I asked him.
“Yeah. I know this is a first date and all but I tend to prefer the truth, even from the start.”
“Alright, but you asked for it. Just remember that when you decide to ignore my cute emoji messages.”
He laughed a little, “I will remember. Why do you really study martial arts?”
Even with my words of warning, he didn’t have a clue what he was in for. I started in slow, “I really like martial arts. I’ve liked them as long as I can remember.”
“That’s cool. How did you get into them?” he continued to ask questions
“I wasn’t able to study them when I was younger but once I moved out on my own, one of my students introduced me to it actually. I started off with Tai Chi which is truly very interesting but it was really slow. Even when I studied Tai Chi weapons, it still wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. About six months into Tai Chi, I met a young Tae Kwon do instructor.” At that point, it was like someone lit a fire under me.
“I joined his classes twice a week with kids but then he started training me privately. At first, I thought he was just being nice. Then he introduced me to Eskrima Cacoy Doce Pares, which is a form of stick fighting from the Philippines. And by then I was totally hooked! I even went to a four-day intensive training with one of three living Grand Masters. It was amazing!”
At that point, I pulled out my phone and excitedly scrolled through my pictures and videos. I started off with just pictures of the classes with the teacher teaching. Then I showed him a few pictures of use doing simple drills. Eventually, I got to the pictures of my pinning a 6-foot-3 guy to the ground and of course, my plethora of bruises received throughout the four-day adventure.
“Wow! This is amazing!”
“What?” I said, not realized I had actually said it out loud.
“I think this is awesome. Why are you so surprised?”
“Well…” I hesitated. “Let’s just say, most guys don’t like when I tell them I want to learn to kick butt. And they certainly don’t like it when I tell them, I study martial arts because I want to be prepared for anything. The world is full of bad people, on the streets, in the supermarket, and sadly for many even in their own homes. I don’t want to be a victim, especially not of a man who thinks he can knock me around because I am a female. If my future husband ever hits me, I will be prepared to hit him back and make sure he wishes he had never even thought of laying a hand on me.”
I realized that I had kind of started ranting and when I looked noticed his expression, it was the reaction I typically got. “Yeah. This is about the time when most guys decide, ‘this girl is crazy’ and they start suggesting we get the check so they can get out of here as fast as possible.”
He laughed, again. “I think we are probably all a little crazy. Maybe not on the same level and probably not even the same kind of crazy but either way, I think you are amazing.”
“Umm…” I was speechless.
With a big grin, he continued. “I think the world is a dangerous place and I think everyone should learn to protect themselves, especially those who tend to be taken advantage of. Sadly, women are often targets because, like you said, they are females and they are viewed as the weaker sex.” He stopped for a minute but I still didn’t really know what to say because I had never received this response before. “Hey, if I ever have a daughter, I want her to learn martial arts too. She can be a ballerina too but I want to make sure she can protect herself.”
“Yeah?” I asked. “You think so?”
“I do,” he responded and that was that.
A month later, he started studying martial arts at the dojo I trained at. Six months later, he asked me to marry him when I was presented with my first black belt in Eskrima. And within a year, we were married. We even had little martial arts as our cake topper.
It’s still funny to me how the one thing that I always thought was a date killer actually became something that made me a keeper. I guess it just goes to show that you have to find someone who is willing to love you for who you are, even if the rest of the world thinks you are crazy.
Copyright December 2017