There comes a time in every post-grad’s life when she realizes that she no longer has the metabolism or athleticism of her twenty-year-old self, and that maybe she should change her lifestyle habits. This time came exactly once for me during the month of September 2010 and then was promptly forgotten about.
Until it wasn’t.
Fast-forward to last week where I’m standing awkwardly in the corner of Anderson Martial Arts gym. I’m pretending to type notes about this story so that I don’t have to participate in the group activity — one that requires partners to take turns straddling each other’s chests. No that’s okay, really. You go ahead, I’ll watch.
But this is all my doing, because at age 25 I decided that once again, my time has come: I need to cut the shit and get serious about my health. As if by kismet, I received a timely email for an upcoming film called Vampire Academy inviting me to a VAMPIRE THEMED self-defense class. It seemed like a hilarious idea initially, especially when combined with my slightly suicidal new mantra, “This will make a great story.”
But iced coffee and avocados have also proved themselves as fodder for great stories, and yet somehow my dumb ass is belly down, pulling forward like an inchworm with forearms to escape bloodthirsty yet disarmingly fit creatures on a Tuesday night.
“THEY WILL KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T CRAWL FASTER,” the instructor yells.
After cruising through a series of strange warm ups (like jumping up and down forever), we are taught how to defend ourselves against attack by both a vampire and human killers.
“Partner up,” we’re instructed.
As everyone runs to their spandexed BFF, I stand alone, experiencing the waves of middle school gym class shame and regress to such coping mechanisms as: staring at my sneakers with the intensity of an acid enthusiast, staring at my sneakers as if they were turning into ducks (perhaps also a symptom of being on acid), and staring at my sneakers as if my shoelaces are untied…while pretending I’m on acid.
Then a very kind girl named Kat takes pity on me and asks if I need a partner. I say yes, she ties my shoes for me, and then we begin the drills.
The first one I successfully master is unofficially called “Jabbing Your Attacker in the Eyes with Thumbs.” (See slide numero dos for a demonstration on Leandra Vampire Medine.) The instructor tells us that this will typically bring down anyone, any size.
Next I learn how to grab someone by the back of their head and jam my knee into his or her crotch. I think that this technique will work great not just in the event of an attack but also at a sample sale.
Finally, we are taught to elbow the shit out of our attacker’s face with a little one-two jab. Come at me and die, as I always say.
When asked about “the fun stuff,” like kicks, our instructor reminds us that since we are not Jackie Chan, kicking someone will most likely cause us to lose balance and fall. We will not hurt villains. “Stick to the basics,” he tells us.
Eyes, balls, elbow-to-the-face. Got it.
I used to have my black belt in Taekwondo which is to say that I kind of am Jackie Chan, therefore this type of thing used to come so naturally that I have actually, in the distant past, even won some awards. But getting winded after two consecutive minutes of jumping then hiding in corners to “take notes for my story” reminded me that A) you really can peak in 8th grade and B) I have a long road ahead of me on this quest for fitness.
At least I’ve got a head start on vampires.