I had krav maga this morning, 6:45 AM sharp. It hurt to wake up. I was having some weird dream about being carted away to an internment camp…I need to stop reading conspiracy books. The initial infatuation with krav has faded into a deep respect for getting up early and punching and kicking things, but I’m finding my energy level in class falters sometimes. This probably has to do with me needing to eat more salads and less breakfast tacos.

So I was trying to do this side punch thing where you whip around and just smack the pad, and our instructor (who is AWESOME) had already described it as holding up your arm like Dracula holds up his cape over his face. This visual helped a lot. As she came over to check out my punch, she noted I was kind of just keeping my fist in the pad instead of bringing it back out quickly. So she tells me, “When you pluck a guitar string, if you keep your finger there, the sound is dead. So you have to pluck it and remove your finger quickly to make the best sound.” This helped, and I appreciated that she talked to me with an example she knew I could relate to in the moment.

She could have just said, “You’re a wimpy musician who’s scared about hurting her hands, so do the best you can,” but that wouldn’t have helped me at all. She found a way to keep the principles of krav maga in place, show me something properly, and relate it to something I’m familiar with doing. That is called synergy, and it leads to inspiration.

Makes me think about how musicians approach an audience, a fan, their business. No musician should sell out to what they think a large group of people want, that doesn’t work for most indie artists and would be the equivalent of the above example…giving up and saying, “Here, this is my watered down art that I think you want.”

On the flip side, keeping yourself completely inaccessible to a larger audience doesn’t do any good either if you’re trying to get people on your side and make a living at it. Your art is special, yes…but it’s your job to market it in such a way that people feel invited to hear it, see it, experience it. The art and technique of krav maga is it’s own giant study, but walking into class I was not interested in that my first day. I was more concerned with not looking like a dork (ha!) and not breaking an arm. Our instructor is great about really practical applications and descriptions, and that’s what brought my story into the story of krav maga. What if I’m loading gear out of a bar in Fort Worth and something goes down? That’s practical application.

Practically applying your music to people’s lives is simultaneously tricky and easy. Do what you do…but the spirit of changing peoples lives comes through living your own and living it well. Susan’s new album project does just that, I think…she’s asking for stories from people so she can write songs from them. She’s making their stories hers, and in turn the people writing their stories down have a whole new story to tell. I’m excited about the impact of simply writing down a story someone has in their head and how it might change their day or month or life. We might never know the inspirations that happen, and I don’t think my instructor reads my blog so she might never know how her example helped me, but the effect is there…that’s what it’s about.

Krav Oh-Ma-Ga
This is me trying to look alive after class. Trying.

I haven’t had the guts to make a video at krav maga class, as it is only week 1, but I think I’ll be able to sneak some footage here soon. My roommate and Rubicon Year artist, Heather, is in the class, too….THANK GOODNESS. Since we are both new at it and I won’t speak for her but I’ve never thrown a roundhouse kick in my life, it’s good to learn with someone.

Tuesday was Day 1 and Dan warned us we might puke. Since I’m not a regular gym attendee these days, I figured he was right after the morning warm up with jogging and squats and pushups and whatnot. Then we went directly into some punching and kicking techniques. We actually practice on a partner, who is holding a pad, but maybe the first thing to get used to was using physical force on another human, no matter how padded up they are. I had a lot of fun learning that day because every technique is new to me. We even learned how to flip someone over onto their back if they have you pinned. Easier than you’d think if you know the technique. I did not puke and left with an air of elation.

Yesterday morning I was walking like a granny, and I am still pretty sore. This morning was Day 2 and it was even more fun. We learned the roundhouse kick, which takes quite a while to get the hang of, but it’ll happen. We also did an exercise where Heather would call out “Cross! Jab! Hook! Hook! Jab! Cross!” and I would have to do the correct punch at her, and then she would try to hit me in the head. She got me a couple of times. Thank you, pads.

I am surprised at how much I am enjoying it…I had some torturous PE experiences as a kid (meaning, I just didn’t enjoy it) and I have shied away from a lot of that since. This, however, combines a workout with actual practical skills for real life, which I think helps the appeal for me. This is our instructor…she is awesome. She told me I have a good hook. Yessssss.

Now I have the weekend to recover and get unsore so I can go get sore again! They tell me it’ll go away after a few weeks. In the meantime, Tylenol and Advil. Rawk.