Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Yes, I pay to do this.


It’s not every day that I get to slap someone fifty times in the face. Or that I get slapped fifty times in the face myself. Welcome to my first “body conditioning” session in kung fu class.

Body conditioning is that part of the martial arts that, when described, evokes an almost universal reaction from non-martial artists: “And you pay to do that?!?” It’s the part where we toughen our bodies and get our minds used to the idea of getting hit.

The first time you get punched in the face or kicked in the gut or otherwise clocked good and hard, it’s a bit surprising. I remember the first time I took an elbow to my temple. The pain wasn’t bad, but I was disoriented. I kept shaking my head, trying to clear it. Everyone sounded distant, and I could see my opponent doing pushups but I couldn’t figure out why. (A typical punishment for lack of control at my old kempo school.) If I’d been in a cartoon, there would have been little stars or birds circling my head.

That’s the part you want to avoid in a fight. That “Huh?” moment that incapacitates you, even for a second, and gives your opponent all the time she needs in order to finish you off. If you can get your body used to being hit, and if you can get your brain to skip the “Holy crap, we’re under attack!” panic button, you’ll be a lot better off.

Tonight, we started by bashing our forearms against each other in a nice little three-strike pattern that proved incredibly painful. Then we kicked each other in the thighs, punched each other in the stomach, slapped each other in the face, and kicked each other in the legs again. After each exercise, we rubbed out the area that had been hit so that the blood wouldn’t get stuck and form bruises. (I suspect my cheeks will be especially rosy for the next few days anyway.)  The future holds throat strikes, stomach kicks, chest pounding, and all sorts of exciting body conditioning fun.

So, what do you think? Did you say, “She pays to do that?!?”  If you didn’t, maybe you should think about trying a martial art. :)

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Well, it sounds like a typical day in the New York subway system…

    I kid. I kid. It awesome that you're getting this training. Now, if only Frisco had a real dojo.

  • LOL! I think you’re right about the subway — that’s probably the best body conditioning you can get, and it’s not too expensive.

    Dojos come and go — Keep looking, you might actually get one! Jade will be old enough to start in a few years, too… :-D

    • …in that case, I'm in the BEST PHYSICIAL SHAPE evah! XD

      Actually, I almost knocked someone down the stairs the other day. I'm not proud about that. Typically, you walk on the right side of the stairs when getting off a train; folks getting on the train go down *their* right sides, so the two opposite directions flow evenly. Except my train pulled in and everyone was coming up the entire staircase, so I just started running down the right side…and someone didn't get out of my way.


      Rob's always proud of his bruises. :) I'm the lucky SO who oohs and ouches over them. XD

      • Rob is lucky to have a sympathetic and encouraging S.O.!

        And maybe subway riding should become an Olympic sport…

  • I have questioned my own sanity on many a return from the dojo. The other night, after being tossed around for twenty minutes by a national champ, I found myself unable to straighten my left arm without experiencing the most charming twinge of pain in my elbow …

    It’s about building will and strength of mind, I suppose. The body is just a reflection of the spirit, and we toughen one by strengthening the other.

    Gotta’ go ice the elbow. We’re back at it again tomorrow night.

    • Hey, Jamie! I hope your elbow is feeling better. I love your attitude. It's hard to explain to other people why it's so much fun to get tossed around. :)

      I love when I find huge bruises and I have no idea how they got there. In the old days, before I started martial arts, I would have whined about the tiniest scratch. It's definitely a change for the better in me.

  • Jenn:

    In case you haven't already seen this, I found it while chuffing around YouTube. I would subtitle it, "The Girl Nobody Wants to Piss Off." :-)

    It's an example of some lovely artistry. It amply demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of kung-fu – not *my* art, but one for which I have enormous respect.




    • Oh, *awesome*!!! I hadn’t seen that before — very cool! I can only imagine such balance and flexibility.

      When I was testing for my 2nd degree in kempo, I tested with an 11-year-old girl going for her 1st degree. Everyone said she was way too young. And you know what? In my opinion, she was the best of all of us. Totally focused, every move perfect. I can’t even imagine how good she’ll be at 14, 16, or 20. Just thinking about it makes me love the world a little more. :)

  • Jenn! So that’s what I have to look forward to in a few years…I had NO idea!!! Well, at least it’ll give Tim and I a legitimate reason to hit each other, lol!

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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