No, Really, It's Not Personal

Last night in our krav maga class, I got a decent scratch on my face from a newer student. We were working on a drill where we were tasked with touching our partner's shoulder, knee, head, or a combination of the three while they blocked or deflected. I got into my guard stance and started the drill with her, and each time I landed a tap, I could see her become visually aggravated. She hadn't yet become accustomed and accepting of the fact that when you come to class, you're probably going to get hit.

This isn't unique to this new student. I remember one of my early krav maga classes, my future karate sensei grabbed my ponytail hard from behind me and pulled. I take that back -- he yanked it. Before I knew what was happening, I felt the rage well up in me, and I felt myself get angry. Letting that rage come over me probably stole a full second or two away from my reaction time.

Learning how to control that flash of anger is so key to training. As she got more and more upset by the taps I landed (and she landed plenty of her own on me), she not only got less control over blocking, but she couldn't complete the drill. Her stress level got her to a point where she had to step off the mat. I say anger, but I also know that when you're not used to getting hit, it's a mixture of anger and fear. Your brain isn't sure why this person is hitting you, or why they refuse to stop! You know it's a training drill in your logical mind, but your body's response is something that isn't in your control without training.

Eventually, when we moved to head taps as our target, she threw a wild slap my way that broke my block and nailed my face with her fingernail. At that point I had to slow the drill down, reminding her that we were just tapping each other. It wasn't personal, and I wasn't really trying to harm her or injure her. Her fear took over and made her want to harm or injure me, or at the least, made her unable to control whether or not she harmed or injured me.

I didn't take it personally, but it took me time to learn that mentality. It's kind of cool to leave class with a few bumps and bruises to show for it every once in a while.

Battle scars! #kravmaga

A photo posted by Melissa (@elissamay77) on