01 March 2011

Good, Old-fashioned Competition

"Timberland Wolves Fighting For Food" by Gilbert Laurin
As I’ve mentioned before, I have an interesting—and perhaps rather lenient—take on what I consider my “practice.” Since the deities whom I have chosen to follow more closely, and who seem to have chosen to accept me in such a role, are so tied to physically competitive activities, I consider such activities a form of deepening my relationship with my deities. For example, running outside always makes me feel closer to Diana, and I’ve felt her presence on my longer runs beneath the trees in summer. Similarly, my military exercises leave the Morrighan whispering in my ear.

The ultimate physical competition is, in my likely very biased opinion, the fight. The struggle for dominance is the root of the natural world: the competition between predator and prey, the competition for a mate, the competition for resources. Humanity is not unique in this constant competition, nor are we an exception to it. I can see the appeal of a utopian society in which resources are shared, and everyone gets along, holding hands while they plant and harvest and sing Kumbaya. However, it would be as much an unnatural society as an unrealistic one.

One of the graduation requirements here is to pass a course in combatives. The first half of the course was pretty fun, if also perpetually awkward (grappling tends to be that way, especially in coed environments), and now I just have on lesson left before I’m done. I’m looking forward to having that block of time free to be lazy and sleep, or more likely to read and write and draw and paint and, perhaps, go for a run when the weather gets nice. However, I’ve enjoyed the course as both an intellectual activity—fighting is a lot of head games and keeping the right mentality—and as a physical test. We finished grappling nine or so lessons ago, and we’ve been working on striking since. I have not enjoyed the striking portion as much as the grappling, mainly because when striking is involved, it becomes less about skill and more about who can hit harder. Considering I’m one of the smaller females in the section to begin with, and like I said, it’s a coed class, I’m usually not the one who hits harder. In fact, the striking portion has mostly been a test of how quickly I can block a punch to the face. So far I’ve only been hit twice with full force, so I consider that a success. Even when we were just grappling, my speed was one of my main advantages (and, now, it’s arguably my only advantage).

Thus, the course ending is bittersweet. There’s still a chance I could fail—if, say, I get knocked unconscious midway through my last fight tomorrow morning and can’t complete it—and have to take the entire course over again starting Friday. I’m fairly confident that will not be the case, but I’ll just go ahead and knock on my wooden desk anyway. It’s been fun, but I don’t want to do it again just yet. Kinda like when I went to survival school. I had a blast traipsing around the woods, evading capture and eating grasshoppers, sleeping in rock piles…but it’s something I hope I never have to do again, at least not without weapons. The school took place on a nature reserve, so we were prohibited from catching any animals or picking any plants. If I’m going to survive in the woods for real, I want to be able to eat something more substantial than creepy crawlies. I don’t care how much pound-for-pound protein they have. They’re still gross.

Happy hunting.


  1. Congrats on finishing the class - mostly. As much as I was not good at that class, there was definitely an adrenaline rush with fighting that was kind of addicting.

  2. Yeah there's a bruise under my eye & at my eyebrow from being a feeder yesterday and taking an elbow THROUGH the impact helmet. Fingers crossed the wrassler who gave it to me isn't a feeder for me...but who am I kidding? It'll happen.