"Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future."--Cloud Atlas
I used to shy away from confrontation. Bullied throughout my school life, I'd trained myself to bite my tongue, freeze, and turn away. It was best to be invisible. I knew that didn't work for me. I was a geek girl who wanted to be a Jedi knight or a member of the Round Table. It took my college D&D group to allow me to see the potential in myself. Terrified, I changed via baby steps. The first one being: it's okay to be afraid. Fear doesn't make you a coward. It makes you smart. Being afraid and facing the confrontation anyway makes you courageous. Without the fear, there can be no courage. That was important because I lived in a near constant state of panic.
From role-playing knights, I went to fencing. My first attempts were awful experiences. I quit. Bookish, I've never been much of an athlete. Plus...men. Aggressive men. When I hit the inevitable wall while working my way through college the first time, I turned back to gaming for my self-esteem. Then my life took a turn for the worse. The PTSD became unmanageable. My therapist said I needed structure in my life, discipline. I took Kendo. It was miraculous. From the moment the shinai hit my hands the panic stopped. That was when I learned another important distinction. I learned that self-discipline isn't self-punishment. The root word for discipline is disciple, and a disciple is someone who follows a belief system. That was a mind-bender. I became a Feminist and a Humanist. As a result, I started learning how to debate. It was during that time I learned another important distinction about confrontation: pick your battles because if you don't, you can get yourself into trouble. I went back to college. I needed a PT credit. I took Fencing. The Fencing line was well-defined. It was a safe place. And that was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin--the first time I felt comfortable with confrontation. I bloomed. I even placed fourth in the Men's tournament. To this day, it's the only sports trophy I own.
I graduated and never found a Fencing club. The epee sat in a corner and rusted. It wasn't long before a serial rapist terrorized the neighborhood in which my husband and I live. The panic returned. I decided it was time to go back to my training. This time it had to be something different. While it's perfectly legal in Texas to carry a freaking gun, a sword? Not so much. (Oh, Texas.) I decided on Wing Chun Kung Fu. However, Kung Fu wasn't quite the right fit. And so I ended up with Hakkoryu. I'm so happy to be there because the philosophy around confrontation is a perfect fit. I've been enhancing my education about confrontations in wonderful ways--even the verbal ones--ever since.
And, because my brain is my brain, all of this brings us to a point where several things converge. First, there was the The Egalitarian Fairy is Well and Truly Dead post. Part of that is about an article on SF Signal. Let me be clear. I love the SF Signal crew. They're a great bunch of good people, but everyone is human. For myself, I have this thing about friends. Real friends don't let friends walk around with spinach in their teeth. Thus, real friends are honest with one another. At the same time, don't be an asshole. The whole point is in saving your friend some embarrassment or offering to shorten their learning process. It's not about scoring points. So, that's been in my head for a while...which brings us to yesterday's lesson about confrontation.
I've said this before but a big part of Hakkoryu as it is practiced in my dojo is about maintaining a supportive connection with the opposing force. The key word there is supportive. It's not about wiping out your opponent and hurting them. It's about protecting yourself, yes, but it's also about protecting the opponent. My instructor, James, had some profound things to say about this. He said one must be responsible for the connection because, in a sense, one is building up/gathering the tension/energy received via that connection. You are responsible for where that energy ends. This is why it is highly important to be mindful of where your opponent lands. Ultimately, one should throw them and catch them at the same time.
Now, me being me, I couldn't help thinking about confrontations on the internet. A confrontation is a confrontation, after all. How can one do this same thing but verbally? It's a concept I'm working on.
 It'd slacked off by the time I'd reached my Junior year and had transformed into sexual harassment--not really much of a change since that's mainly about power as bullying is about power. Sexual harassment is often just another form of bullying.
 You may laugh, but I'm an ex-Catholic. I'll just leave that there. :)
 My exBF's new GF decided it'd be a great idea to attack me during a party. I didn't return the attack although I'd been trained to. She lied and told everyone I'd punched her in the face. In spite of the fact that the incident had occurred in front of a room full of witnesses, everyone believed her except one acquaintance from DFW and Dane. Even my BFF at the time believed her. I'd been training in martial arts, after all. The Ex's crazy GF threatened to have me arrested. Nothing happened of it. She clearly wasn't hurt. Still, the whole thing was insane. At the same time, I very much appreciate that lesson about confrontation.
 You can't take away their lesson or learn it for them, but sharing information is perfectly fine. Sometimes people learn from other people's mistakes. It's more efficient.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.