So today I'm at my yellow belt grading, with a hundred other kids who I hope are not cultivating violent psychopathologies, and I'm thinking about karate, about how patriarchal it is (nine senseis at the grading today, all men; we bow to them), about how it sanitises and normalises violence, about how I've never actually walked into my local alehouse and said anything outrageous about Hamlet, about how in my real life, outside the Dojo, noone - besides my kindergarten teacher, once, lightly, on the palm of my hand - has ever hit me.
My Belt and I (special thanks to previous owner of Harlot Heights, who left her full-length mirror hanging on the wall)
In the first flush of my karatage, about five months ago, I was walking the streets feeling strong and steely, willing miscreants to fall upon me, just so I could show off my snappy backfist and the clever thing I can do with my foot. I'm warier now, having done some sparring, knowing that I tire quickly and that even if I protect all the bits of me that matter, a fist in the flesh of my forearm still leaves a bruise. If miscreants came anywhere near me, I'd run.
I'm growing more familiar with the mechanics of my body, and movements that seemed impossibly complicated are becoming simpler. I watched the brownbelts sparring today. There were headlocks and kicks thrown high around the ears. Trippings and taps and swift secret jabs below the ribs. They wore mouthguards and genital boxes and padding all along their limbs. I found myself wanting it, that skilled exhausting combat. What evil thing is it in me that wants to fight?