Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fighter (Kelly Clarkson)

My entire life I have been a fighter. As a kid it was because the mean spirited kids would pick on me for the way I talked or dressed. In middle school it was to fend off the mean girls and their male posse because my parents didn't allow me to date. In high school it was fending off haters-many who now work in fast food or pump my gas-in a way they still win because they could spit in my food and I depend on them-because I was myself. Then in college it was to fend off the dramaramas who were artistes with no substance when I knew who I was. In comedy it was to fend off the snobby Montreal bound clean cut men and the women who wrote clever acts whining about their womanhood that snickered behind my back trying to censor my expression. Sometimes this crossed over to club owners and bookers who believed that just because I was a woman comedian I automatically wanted to sleep with them-especially not minding when they attempted to slip their hands up my shirt unprompted. Or there was the ex-fiance who made my life a nightmare stalking me and had his ex girlfriends join in-not that he had anything going for him-and it is called stalking bi-proxy by the way. Then there was the death of my two friends, Joe and Chacho. In that mix there is the hustle I call the city.

As a kid I did martial arts. Our mother got us involved after our brother got into a brawl of sorts with some kids at his elementary school. A mean spirited kid and his goons were picking on another kid. My brother Wendell helped the kid who was being used as a punching bag by turning off the lights in the boys bathroom, because my mother taught us never to tolerate anyone being bullied or being left out for any reason. Well Wendell's kindess backfired, because they soon came for Wendell. He got a black eye and a few bruises. Needless to say my mother wanted blood. My father said he needs to know how to fight. Enter the dragon aka karate.

My mother took us every Saturday where she was all about the karate thing with all the gusto in the world. We did double classes which tired us out. I really didnt like it much, probably because not only was I doing double class but because my mother told the karate master to treat us as if we were his own children. It was intense, almost too much for me at that age. My sister started at four because my mother lied and said she was six, and Skipper would periodically fall asleep in the back of class. Our master took it in stride. He used to jump down my throat because I hated basics, detested forms, and most of all was horrible at one step. My master told me to try harder. I was like, "Hell no. I didnt come here for the forms. I didnt come here for the one step. I certainly am stomaching the basics. I came here for the free sparring."

I was good at the free sparring. It let me be a fighter. It let me get the aggression I needed to get out of my system on to the open air. Free sparring was what actually made karate worthwhile. I just couldn't deal with the other stuff.

I even quit karate for a time because I just felt stifled by the one step, the forms, the basics. They bored me to hell. I wanted to fight and everything else was just making me nuts. So my parents let me quit for a bit but they told me eventually after taking a break for a few months I would have to go back. They forced me back. I went. My folks said I could stop after black belt. So I was forced to tolerate the basics, forced to tolerate the one step, forced to tolerate the forms. But when sparring came, I was ready to go all Van Damme. My master, who knew I loved to fight to the point where I won trophies in tournaments for it, told me he would pair me up with guys. But he also made it clear not to cry if they hit too hard. I never did. Guys always put up a good fight. I liked it.

Time passed and I moved on to other things, partially because you have to wait two years to test for the next degree of black belt and I simply didnt have that patience. But the martial arts training was worth it. It altered my spirit. It made me able to stand up for myself. My first year of college I had an acting teacher-a bitch who has no career and will never have one-throw some shade in the worst kind of way. I was able to stand up to her and do what I needed to do to get away from that mentally unstable wannabe. It gave me confidence to deal with all the wannabes.

As for times I was in physical peril, it made me realize there was a difference between guts and cowardice. From the ex who stalked me and his gal posse, at the time they put fear into my system because they were so hateful and frequent. However, as time went on I began to realize my ex was not behaving like a man but rather a scared little boy. Not only was he being sneaky, but he would never meet me face to face for a real fight just like his gal pals. They were tough on the internet. However, they would never meet me in real time because that would involve real confrontation. And if they did I would be able to defend myself. I had the training after all.

As a matter of fact, there are people who believe that putting their kids in martial arts encouages fighting and bullying. No, the opposite. Martial arts teaches that a coward throws a punch to start with. A person with true courage takes every other route and uses fighting as a last resort, aka when they are truly in danger and have no other choice.

I really didn't get back into the whole martial arts thing until the winter of 2011. My friend Chacho had died as a result of his drug addiction. A colorful character, he made his choices and his choice was the drugs. As a result, we were not on speaking terms when he died. After he passed, I felt an overwhelming guilt and was just raging out all the time. Part of it stemmed from the guilt and sadness of closing a friend, and the other part of it stemmed from the fact I was not sleeping. After several days of wanting to walk down the street and working on accidentally running into someone so I could have an excuse to hit them, I decided this feeling of rage was not worth a potential felony charge. This was not what my karate master taught me to do. I went to my gym and saw that they had an early morning kickboxing and mixed martial arts class. I made it my business and went. I figured if I liked it I could keep going, and if not I gave it a shot. Plus I wasnt sleeping anyway, why not?

Well I ended up going and really liking it. Plus I love the instructor Jeanene who has several different blackbelts from several different places. Unlike childhood where my mother told the master to treat me as his own and forcing me to double classes and to clean the karate school, I wanted to go. Punching something brought me peace, focus, and most of all quelled the rage that built after my friend's death. It also gave me a new lease on life, making friends with people who were getting fit. Plus as a woman it never hurts to be up on self defense. I was quickly hooked and soon was going to morning and evening classes. Getting back into martial arts not only helped me balance my emotions, but also gave me an excuse to eat better because you need energy to do that exteme activity.

There have been several times martial arts has given me confidence in this past year, too. When I was dealing with a fan who began stalking me, I went to the cops. While it was scary, I was not afraid to stand up for myself. I talked to the friends who knew what was going on and got a strategy. Most of all, I was up on my self defense. Yes, I was a little fearful but I was able to go on with my life. Martial arts teaches you that someone can only bully you as much as you let them. And I wasn't going to let this person bully me.

On other occasions, because I am even spirited and have peace of mind, I am able to do things I only dreamed of as a kid like being on television, writing and publising a comedic memoir, but most of all being myself without the fear of redicule from others.

Recently I added another part of my martial arts practice as a child back into my regimen. That is meditation. We used to meditate before and after class when I was a kid and I used it as an excuse to sleep. I know, it was bad but hey. Now I am meditating again and doing it in conjunction with my kickboxing. It not only balances me out but gives me peace of mind, and when my mind is in shape my body can absorb my training.

As a part of my training I am making a living amends to my karate master. That is to pay more attention to form and technique as an adult and not to blow it off. There is a reason we do those things. Just as in Karate Kid, Daniel soon realized why he had to wax on and wax off after he stopped asking so many questions. Miawgi, you are a genius.

Today wasn't such a smooth day.My computer crashed out of no where.  I was swamped at work and just as I was running everywhere I was talking to my publisher and was nearly careened by a mac truck. Well I got to my first stop and they couldnt find the recipient and everyone was talking to me at once and I snapped at the client out of pure frustration that she was leaving at a certain time, and my next delivery was leaving at a certain time and no one would work with me. Yes, I got an opinion, the demon in me got out of control. I was mad as hell. It was all about me. But then I remembered that the karate training from my childhood would have never condoned such egoism, such arrogance. It taught me fighting was a last resort, not a first resort, and loss of temper was a kissing cousin to that.

 After being admonished by my boss, who like my childhood karate master is a Virgo, I ran uptown did the second delivery. Then after helping an old woman across the street it occurred to me that part of the training of karate was before fighting one of the other tactics was to try to appease and make right, as in if there is peace to be made do it. That is when I called my boss and apologized. I also offered to redeliver. The client was estatic. I called her later to make amends. It went well.

 Then my mom called me back to give me feedback on something and said, "I have a feeling you just jotted this down to get this done." I wanted to scream.

Then I remembered there was a kickboxing class tonight.

That's when I decided that despite the tired I felt I needed to get out the anger and aggression from my day. So I got on my boxing clothes and got my gym bag. Best decision ever. Sometimes you have to street fight some imaginary people without the worry of getting arrested.

I feel good now that martial arts is back in my life. I feel more centered and want to do more of it whenever I can and wherever I can. Also, I dont just want to learn the moves and to fight but also the technique. I want to appriciate the art form too.

In closing I would like to clarify what a fighter is and is not. A fighter is not a violent person. Adam Lanza and James Holmes were violent people with anger issues. One went into a school and opened fire on a room of unarmed children, the other went into a movie theatre and opened fire on unarmed people. Those were not acts of standing up for onesself but rather acts of extreme cowardice that are so dispicable that they cannot even be described in words.

A fighter is someone who is not afraid to stand up for themselves and to stand up to a bully at any time by not being afraid. They use physical violence as a last resort, and never would they ever go after anyone weaker or unarmed. A fighter would only fight an opponent worth the fight, and would defend someone that is weaker. As a martial artist I am in the second class, as is any martial artist who is serious about the practice that they have the privledge of studying.

That is just a clarification to those who dont know the difference

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

Come to my signing
12-27 @ 7pm
Bethel Park Public Library
5100 W. Library Ave
Bethel Park, PA 15102


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