When I got home on from sparring class a few weeks ago, I was talking with my roommate about the sparring thing, and she said, a little dubiously, that she wasn’t sure how’d she handle being hit, even in a controlled environment like the do-jang. She’s taught a lot of self-defense classes, and was down with the actual hitting of people, but had never actually had to take a hit.

I pointed out that I was really glad I’d learned how to do both when I was invincible- there isn’t much for me to think about, except “Oh… it’s a good thing I don’t bruise easily.”

There are many things that women have to confront when learning self-defense or a martial art. First and formost, we’re not supposed to hurt people. We’re just not. When starting out, it’s very common for women to not put all thier power into a strike, and apologize after. Most instructors recognize this, and are able to work with it. (Even if sometimes that is by looking at the female student and say “You’re being too nice!” True fax!)

However, there’s something else- I think you need to know how to take a hit. Not in terms of adjusting your body to minimize damage (that can come later), but in terms of not getting frozen by the fact that the hit happened at all.

The first time (assuming of course that you’re doing this voluntarily and there’s no injury), your brain goes on overload. Simultanious “OMG HE HIT ME” and “OMG I DIDN’T DIE” and maybe a little “OMG THAT’S IT?” and “OMG WHAT DO I DO NOW?” And I think that having that overload in a controlled space is good, and if you can get through that, if you’re attacked, you can at least deal with the “OMG HE HIT ME” part with the “I KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT COME HERE FUCKER” part.

Maybe I’m not making a lot of sense. But I think there’s value in teaching people how to take a hit and be able to not really shrug it off but be able to set it aside to deal with later.