MELINDA LAVINE: I met my ‘Mr. Miyagi’ at Wu ChiThe best way I know how to defend myself is the go-to “kick ’em in the you know where,” and when I heard there was a self-defense technique that mixed boxing and kung fu-type moves, I had to try it. I’m not a tiny woman by any means, but defending yourself from an attack is a skill that never loses its worth.
By: Melinda Lavine, Grand Forks Herald
The best way I know how to defend myself is the go-to “kick ’em in the you know where,” and when I heard there was a self-defense technique that mixed boxing and kung fu-type moves, I had to try it. I’m not a tiny woman by any means, but defending yourself from an attack is a skill that never loses its worth.
Walking into the Wu Chi School of Self-Defense, I was ready to learn how to kick some tail. Visions of Bruce Lee and Ralph Macchio danced in my head.
I was a bit late coming straight from work, and instructor Rod Huus and the other students were already warming up.
I creeped in, apologetically, and Rod and the others exceeded the “better late than never” attitude. They were extremely welcoming and happy to see a new student.
Rod continued with a warm-up that called for push-ups and sit-ups. (I giggled as neither were as easy as they used to be.) The cool thing about Rod is whatever he asks you to do, he does it, too. He’s working hard and sweating like the rest of us.
I was with a batch of students of different skill levels, and there were no other newbies in sight. So, Rod paired me with his wife, co-instructor Tia Huus, so she could show me the Wu Chi basics one-on-one.
We started with boxing, and all the moves from a youth spent playing Mortal Kombat 3 on Sega came back.
Tia told me to always keep my feet planted, shoulder-width apart. To stagger one foot forward to stay grounded. Then, she showed me how to jab, punch, block, and my favorite, upper cut, and all with the patience of Mother Teresa. The most impressive and effective part was she always applied what she was teaching to self-defense.
Showing me (sometimes over and over) how to left punch or block correctly, Tia reinforced the lessons with scenarios:
-- “Keep your arms tight to your body — so you’re ready to counter any move.”
-- “If your arm’s weak when you inside-block, someone could come at you this way.”
-- “If someone throws you a right jab, counter it like this.”
Going into it, you hope to learn something you’ll never have to use. But training with the “what ifs” in mind was a much more effective way of teaching and learning.
All was going well until Tia told me to jab at her.
I mean really jab at her.
I hit a mental block. My “North Dakota nice” was stifling.
Imagine the scene from “Rocky” as he’s attacking Mickey’s mitt-covered hands, but my blows looked more like something from a Nickelodeon TV show.
Tia was wearing focus mitts, which cushioned any meek blow I landed, but I still had trouble.
But Tia assured, encouraged and cheered me on, even, to make the hits count. To hit with power.
So, I did.
When I did it again, I felt my strength and confidence building.
Tia made me realize I could do something I never knew I could, something I’d never been challenged to do before.
When training came to an end, Tia said I could practice some of my boxing moves on a standing dummy. I jabbed, punched and upper-cutted until my knuckles turned pink.
I walked out of the Wu Chi School of Self-Defense, sweaty, smiling and walking a little taller. I went there to learn how to defend myself, and left realizing I could be capable of defending myself if that unfortunate time ever occurs.
I’m still a ways away from Bruce Lee-worthy flying kicks, but with more training, I’m not ruling it out.
Lavine is Accent editor at the Grand Forks Herald and can be reached at email@example.com or (701) 780-1265.