Last night I repeatedly kicked a man in the groin. Later, I put my hands around the back of this man’s neck — a man who is not my husband, by the way — and drew his face close to my own neck while I kicked him some more. Then we high-fived and I petted his dog.

Let me back up.

So a couple weeks ago I somewhat impulsively signed up for a month of self-defense/combat classes. The gym uses the Haganah F.I.G.H.T. system which is “based on Israeli martial arts and Israeli military tactics used by Israeli Special Forces operatives in extremely hostile situations.” Because you know me, constantly being attacked by dangerous people wielding weapons! Why, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been folding laundry and HOLY FUCK REBEL ATTACK.

Ahhahahahaha. No, I don’t exactly know why it sounded so fascinating to me. Maybe because it doesn’t rely on fancy techniques with poetic-sounding names (instead of the Deadly Bird Nest Swaying In the Wind and Surrounded By Rushing Waters, you have, like, elbow strikes and kicks). Maybe because I turned 40 in February and I need a midlife crisis activity that’s cheaper than buying a sports car. Maybe because I like mixing up my workout routines and having different things to keep me engaged in physical activity. Maybe because it just flat-out sounds badass.

Also, there was a Groupon.

I went to my first class on Monday, and while I was super super super nervous the owners, a husband and wife team, were very cool and helped put me at ease about being the giant uncoordinated n00b. Each class starts out with combatives — punches, finger jabs, throat strikes, elbow strikes, knee strikes — then switches to partner work. As in, you’re partnered with another human being you have to pretend to be fighting. I don’t know why I was vaguely surprised by this, it’s not like it would be very effective training if you didn’t actually practice the moves on a person (“Excuse me mister attacker sir but could you sort of stand perfectly still for a few minutes while I … yes, just like that, great … I’ve only done this on a punching bag, so if you could just straighten up a little and not … great, and I’ll just wrap you in this soft rubbery surface so I don’t hurt my foot … say, is that Rapist Noir you’re wearing?”), but man oh man was it awkward. We weren’t grappling intimately on the floor or anything, but I had to practice stopping a guy and then getting one arm under his armpit and the other pressing down on his back so I could theoretically throw him on the ground.

Anyway, it was all very new and different and I came home feeling pretty jazzed that I’d done it, and then I went back to another class yesterday that was later in the evening and I was the only student there. I mean. The only one. Just me and the trainer. NO ONE ELSE. And I died. But I was already there and it would have been really weird if I’d just run away screaming and peeing, so I did the combatives with him — have I made it perfectly clear that it was JUST ME? — and then we did some kicking drills and then he told me to kick him in the groin.

You guys. Seriously. I was like, “I don’t think I can do that,” and he was like, “Yes you can. I’m wearing a cup,” and I was like, “No really I can’t because I can actually feel my cerebellum ripping loose from my spinal cord from acute embarrassment and I’ve lost all motor control,” and he was like, “Okay but you’ve got to get over that,” and I was like, “I FEEL LIKE I AM GOING TO BURST INTO LITERAL FLAMES,” and he was like “KICK ME IN THE GROIN” and I flailed a tiny terrified little superlight kick that barely brushed his crotch and I was like “OH JESUS GOD I AM SO SORRY” and —

Point is, this part was really hard. I had to mentally wrestle down at least 72921850650102395812434 panicked messages telling me that it was wrong to kick this nice man in the junk. Just thinking about it is making me cringe all over again. There’s the thing where you don’t want to hurt someone, of course, and there’s the … you know, the penis area thing. The thing where your foot is going between someone’s legs and touching their penis area. Yes there’s a cup but even the word cup sounds embarrassing all of a sudden. Cup. Cup. Gah.

Later we practiced this drill which I had a terrible time memorizing because each time he added another move to it I’d jettison the previous move — spit, kick, punch, box ears, headbutt, elbow strike, uhhhh, uhhhh, oh yeah grab neck, uhhhhhhhhhh — and then I had to practice it on him, which meant we were back to the groin kicking (Me: “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!”) and also the neck grabbing and pulling in close and oh my god.

His wife told me the awkwardness about physical contact goes away over time, and I believe her, but holy crap this has been a really unusual experience for me. Which is actually very awesome, because, you know, I pretty much never do unusual things. I think I’m really enjoying it — in a weird I-am-five-hundred-and-seventy-three-miles-outside-my-comfort-zone-and-my-internal-organs-are-shriveling-from-discomfort kind of way.

Fight Club


42 Responses to “Below the belt”

  1. Pete on March 6th, 2014 11:25 am

    Sounds like Krav Maga. My kids are going to that. My older son is a ‘level 3’, what ever that means. I really like their real world fighting style. I have more of a Henry Kissinger fighting style. Negotiate, and if that doesn’t work, call in someone bigger to fight for you.

  2. Jane K. on March 6th, 2014 11:34 am

    Yes I was going to say what Pete said it sounds like Krav Maga – – I am planning on signing myself and my 17 year old daughter up for a class this summer before she goes to college … thanks for the heads-up!!! But today is one of those days I definitely feel like I could kick someone in the groin area … many times.

  3. Janet in Miami on March 6th, 2014 11:41 am

    I can totally understand where you’re coming from. But really, when you think about it, if you ever are faced with someone who wants to physically harm you for any reason, you will have prepared yourself to be appropriately defensive. Maybe getting over the “hump” (sorry) of making actual physical contact with a live person is much better preparation than just practicing on inanimate objects.

  4. Katherine on March 6th, 2014 12:09 pm

    Many, MANY year ago I did a class called Model Mugging. We had to learn to defend ourselves in a real-world way, against an attacker who wore a helmet with mesh to protect his face and a metal groin protection thing, among other protective gear. We had to fill out questionnaires offering language and situations that scared us. And he used them on us randomly. And he attacked us as if he was on PCP and couldn’t feel pain. We had to learn to stop him regardless of whatever physical and emotional weapon he was using on us. The point was to learn it at a cellular level. To get over the fear of hurting someone. To protect ourselves first over every instinct to protect him instead, and to not stop until he was out cold and we were safe. It was one of the best things I ever did for my myself. They even videotaped our “graduation” attacks for us. It’s an awesome thing for you to learn to not fear making yourself (and your kids, if necessary) safe.

  5. Sarah on March 6th, 2014 1:22 pm

    Just signed up both my girls for karate and, unbeknownst to me, we now have the “family plan” which means that I HAVE to take the adult Krav Maga classes. (cause, you know, it would be a total waste of money if I didn’t take advantage of them… or something…) Anyway, I’m trying to convince my emotions that the logical step of learning to defend myself actually MAKES SENSE… I will be joining you in the 573 miles from my comfort zone area soon!

  6. H on March 6th, 2014 3:01 pm

    That sounds really cool but I completely understand your discomfort.

  7. LizScott on March 6th, 2014 3:47 pm

    Ahhhhhhh I”VE BEEN THERE. I started doing Tae Kwan Do in college and you always had to spar with other people and once I accidentally groin kicked this guy – this black belt who was being all friendly and helpful, until, you know, dick kick, and then he FUCKING DESTROYED ME, and afterwards smiled and was like “good work!”

    Also, I used to walk home from practice through the city – in D.C., at 11:30pm at night because WHY NOT GIVE YOUR MOTHER A HEART ATTACK COLLEGE AGED LIZ and I would think to myself “bring it, fuckers, I will KILL you!” if by “kill you” I meant “best you with my kicking skills as long as you only agree to fight with these five pre approved moves, and not too quickly, and also no hands”

  8. Jessica V. on March 6th, 2014 3:57 pm

    This post alternately made me laugh and cringe as I read it – so funny and descriptive. Please keep taking these classes, even if only for blog fodder! :)

  9. Angella on March 6th, 2014 8:10 pm

    You’ve always kicked ass and now you get to LITERALLY kick ass? Or, junk?

    I love it.

    (But I don’t think I’d have the balls — ha! — to do it myself.)

  10. Donna on March 6th, 2014 8:58 pm

    Dude I love you with all my heart because yes YES! It’s hard to just beat the shit out of someone that hasn’t done anything to you…..

  11. nine on March 6th, 2014 11:44 pm

    Reading this, I empathize so much. Physical contact with random strangers does the same thing to me, even if I don’t have to intentionally kick them in the junk. I’ve spent a lot of my life:

    1) Running away
    2) Running away screaming
    3) Running away peeing
    4) Running away screaming AND peeing

    PS: CUP

  12. jessica fantastica on March 7th, 2014 1:37 am

    I just kept imagining your trainer as this guy:

  13. Katharine on March 7th, 2014 7:58 am

    What Katherine said.

    I couldn’t help but think of this Key & Peele sketch.

  14. Shawna on March 7th, 2014 8:07 am

    I took a self-defence course in university and it was a grappling, no-holds-barred course. The guys who taught it even encouraged us to pull their hair (where the hair goes, the head goes; where the head goes, the body follows).

    In my high school gym they sometimes split classes along gender lines and the boys did wrestling and the girls did dance. I firmly believe that if they haven’t switched to girls doing self-defence they should. Every girl (and boy that wants it, for that matter) should take a course like this at the high-school level.

  15. Jess on March 7th, 2014 10:42 am

    LINDA. I am crying laughing picturing you and this dude in the kick him in the groin portion of this exercise. “running away screaming and peeing” sounds pretty accurate to me.

  16. ememby on March 7th, 2014 1:31 pm

    This all just makes me laugh… and shudder. Groupons are pretty badass. And kicking nice men in the penis area, also badass (and utterly squirm-inducing.

  17. JoAnna on March 8th, 2014 7:01 pm

    You can always crack me up !

  18. Amy on March 12th, 2014 7:33 am

    Internet High five!

  19. Jillian on March 14th, 2014 6:20 am

    Laughing at my desk, per usual.

    When I was in law school (like, last year) we had a very awesome professor who, in his spare time, taught self-defense classes to women, mostly for free, at the YMCA and women’s shelters and stuff. We had him teach a class to a group of my classmates, which involved, yes, kicking our Evidence prof in the balls. Before he’d submitted grades! That was difficult.

  20. Sarahviz on March 18th, 2014 6:20 am

    Laughed out loud reading this. It’s so me. I am you. Seriously.

  21. meslek kursu ankara on June 6th, 2014 5:02 am

    hugs from Turkey…

  22. Jayne on October 6th, 2014 6:16 am

    It’s a good job you weren’t taught some of the things I was taught at college in our self-defense class!

    If kicking a mans junk made you cringe then imagine being told what I was told:

    “When you get the opportunity, grab his testicles, squeeze, twist and pull as hard as you can while screaming and don’t let them go – if he doesn’t pass out from the pain within seconds then he will soon be in so much agony that he will wish he had!”

    Our instructor actually knew several other women who had successfully done this…

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  41. ellen on January 7th, 2018 5:43 pm

    Yes, the squeezing method is gross but very effective according to my class. If you really get one of the balls on your palm and surrounded so it cant escape we were told an average woman can squash it flat. apparently once a tear occurs in the outer wall of a testicle full on continued squeezing will push the guts of his ball thru the tear leaving an empty shell.

  42. Wendy on May 13th, 2019 11:43 am

    Years ago, I attended a self defense course led by an instructor with 20 years of experience in self-protection and rape prevention. Many techniques we learned were actually centered around man’s testicles. She explained us that if we are in a situation when we have a good access to his exposed genitals, we can use a move she called the ‘egg cracker’. To perform it you need to firmly grab a testicle by locking your thumb and forefinger and enclosing it inside your palm. Squeeze and pull it forward and at the same time form a fist with your second hand, knuckles pointing sharply forward and use them to hit the fixed testicle hard. Hit several times for the best effect. Resulting rupture should cause instant shock and the incapacitating pain goes through the roof so fast the assailant has no time to retaliate and while he is unconscious or at least writhing in pain on the ground and checking the content of his scrotum you can flee.

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