Love Handles: Chapter Two

1.30.2005

By Bob Merrick

There was no instruction. Even though it was a level one class, they just jumped in and assumed everyone would know what was going on or at least catch on and follow along. After a quick loud chant of some word, everyone broke into single file lines and went through the most hellish 15 minutes I had experienced since hearing Paris Hilton was recording an album.

We began doing this thing where we would jab and throw punches while moving forward in a jerky motion. It was like being in an early-'80s video game. There was nothing organic about these moves, and, of course, I was the only one in the room going in the wrong direction. As everyone lurched forward, I would go left, and as everyone moved backward, I lunged forward. The tiny woman to my left gave me a look of panic as if I were about to squash her like a bug.

Finally the instructor realized I was a newbie and pulled me to the side for some guidance. When I joked that 'this is some hell of a sport,' he immediately reprimanded me in a stern tone. 'This is not a sport. It is self-defense.' Great, now I was over-heated and embarrassed.

After the jabbing, we partnered up and each took turns holding a pad to our chest, while the other person alternated between kicking and punching it as hard as they could. Paddy, my partner for this experience, held nothing back, and my once serene and sweet friend suddenly released all of her anger and aggression by pummeling my chest. This is an excellent opportunity to clear up a common misconception. People often think that because someone is big, a slap or a punch hurts less. Not true. It just means there is more area to make contact.

The instructor finally put an end to this barbaric battery for a final exercise that can best be described as Duck Duck Goose meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When you're 'it,' you stand in the center of a circle of people. Those in the circle come at you with arms outstretched, and you need to fend them off. The concept was to see how easily a barrage of attackers could overwhelm you if you aren't thinking fast on your feet. I have a newfound confidence that if I'm ever attacked by zombies, I will be able to take them.

I was already feeling silly about the experience, when I looked up, waiting my turn to play a member of the undead, and noticed a poster of the founder of Krav Maga. He looked exactly like Jeffrey Tambor in one of his character's disguises on Arrested Development. It was the final ingredient I needed to have the church giggles. I was afraid I would have a Mary Tyler Moore/Chuckles the Clown moment and that the instructor would force me to drop and do pushups for making a mockery of this very important exercise'I mean, self-defense practice. I immediately pretended to tie my shoe so no one could see my face. Krav Maga isn't for me. Although I am strangely excited about the prospect of fending off the evil zombies that roam in the night.

Next week, my perky film producer friend, Wendy, has talked me into trying Extreme Dodgeball. Nope, I'm not kidding. In the meantime, it's back to the treadmill.

To read Part One Click Here

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