Learn A Martial Art (Bucket List #108)

Glasgow, Scotland, UK • March 2008 • Length of Read: 2 Minutes

In addition to spending three nights trekking and camping in the Scottish Highlands, part of the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award we did at school required us to show that we’d also been able to undertake and learn a new sport or skill. Always a bit of a weakling, and one to shy away from conflict (what can I say, girls, I’m a lover, not a fighter), I thought of this as the perfect opportunity to learn a bit of Bruce Lee-style self-defence. Therefore, with my friend Ollie as a sparring partner, I signed up for classes in the deadly art of Jeet Kun Do at the gym owned by a family friend’s dad.

Now, not to offend any martial art types, especially considering that they would more than likely be able to knock me out in a single sweeping movement, I’ll describe Jeet Kun Do as a sort of pussy-like form of Karate. As a teaser of things to come, in the first lesson, our instructor showed us his immense strength by breaking a bunch of wooden boards with a solitary clenched-fist jab. When it came to the actual learning of basic moves, however, the training sessions more resembled fights between two upper-bourgeois women swinging handbags at one another in a department store than the fluid ancient Eastern movements we’d been taught.

Things progressed slightly from there in the coming weeks, but in all honesty, I found it really hard to punch and kick strangers deliberately in the face, regardless of whether we were wearing protective headgear and gloves or not. At the end of the twelve-week block I was rewarded my yellow belt, one up from the starting white belt, but I felt no desire to continue my training. From that moment on, I just made it my mission to avoid physical confrontation at all costs and to break down my enemies mentally instead. And after serious study, I’m now a self-proclaimed black belt in the art of manipulation.