2007-09-17: Chain Of Hand


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Sharon trains Cass in self defense. Or at least starts to.

September 17th, 2007:

Chain of Hand

Power House Gym

Power House Gym. It's a fairly nice gym, with all the machines, free weights, and cardio equipment that one can need. It's also got a couple private rooms for sport-specific lessons that can be set up with enough time, depending on what needs to be put in (and, of course, an outlay of money). Sharon is meeting her new client this morning. The forms she got said the woman's name as Cassandra Aldric, and gave whatever details the woman had with regards to weight, height, goals, and other usual information. Sharon is dressed in a pair of blue workout shorts and a red sport tank. She must be feeling patriotic today or something. She's got a bandage on part of her left forearm, but doesn't seem to be paying it much mind at the current moment. Right now she's waiting at the desk for Cass to arrive, making sure the papers are all in order.

Not exactly nervous, but wary, Cass steps into Power House Gym and gives it a look around. She's never really been in a professional gym before other than to have a quick look see and then to fill out paperwork. Nor has she even taken a self defense class. The Pacifist she is doesn't like the idea of fighting. However, with the recent shake up she's had, plus the fact that the last time she tried 'home lessons' she kicked her fiancee in a very unpleasant place to be kicked, it's time to call in the professionals. So, up to the front desk she strides, outfitted in gym-like clothes: sweats, a tank top, hair hairbanded back from her face. Smiling at Sharon, she greets, "Hi, um, I'm here to check in? I guess? I'm not really sure how the protocol works for this sort of thing. I have an appointment?"

Sharon smiles and offers a hand. "I'm Sharon Hawkers, one of the trainers here. Are you Cassandra Aldric?" Sharon asks the woman. Lots of people are nervous the first time through. That's completely normal. "If you are, then I'll be your trainer," the tall woman tells her. There isn't much else to ask, so the woman waits for a response from Cass.

Taking the hand in a firm handshake, Cass just smiles back - just a tad sheepish. "Yes! Hi. That would be me." All her paperwork has been filled out and the like, so she's not even sure what to do now. "Great. I've never actually taken classes or training at a gym before. I tried yoga once awhile ago, but I over balanced and fell doing the lotus stand or whatever it was called. Landed right on the guy next to me. Luckily he was flexible."

"Well, we'll work within what you've got," Sharon tells Cass, releasing the handshake. "Lets head on upstairs and see where you are. Today we'll mostly get a sense of where you are, and develop the routine from there," Sharon explains to the woman, coming out from behind the desk. "Did you want to do just self-defense, or did you also want to do gym work training as well? I'd recommend making use of the gym if you take personal self-defense training or not though. It'll help with your overall ability to handle self-defense," she explains as she starts leading the woman upstairs.

Following right behind Sharon, Cass listens, but her eyes are roving around the place. She can't help the fact that she's just curious of new surroundings. "I'm um, the beginner side of beginner," she tells her new trainer. "I don't really have a lot of free time, so I'm probably just going to be working on self defense. Though, I'll probably take advantage of the tread mills and bike things when I can." No good being stuck in a lab all day, she'll get fat or something. Climbing the steps, she focuses forward again. "I'm sorry, I don't believe I have your name yet. I was told who'd be my trainer when I finished all my paperwork and stuff, but there was so much information I kind of spaced."

The place has your usual collection of gym going people. There are people doing heavy, serious lifting, some doing lighter work, people on the cardio machines, teenage guys trying to show off for their girlfriends, and every other type. "Alright," Sharon tells Cass. "I see you're changed already, so we'll head on into the room I've got reserved for us. And I'm Sharon Hawkers. Sorry about that. Must have slipped my mind," the woman says. Once they're up to the room, Cass will see that it's set up with a mat to train on. "Now, you wanted to learn self defense. What we're going to use is called the Kadena De Mano style. It's a style of Eskrima fighting and means chain of hand. It's mostly meant to put your attacker on the ground. Being on your back is the worst place you can be in a fight," Sharon explains.

Though the people working and training interest her, Cass is certainly more interested in what she's being told by Sharon. Mostly because she's going into history and explaining things. That's something Cass can relate to a lot more than learning to punch or throw people. "It's fine. Things tend to slip my mind, too. Nice to meet you, Sharon." Stepping into the room, she smiles and closes the door behind her. "Okay. Back worst place to be. Got it. Chain of hand." These are all things that Cass will almost certainly be looking up when she has a few free moments. Mostly because she likes reading about the history of things she learns. Also, because she's a geek. "I don't really want to hurt anyone. I just want to make sure that if someone comes after me, I can get myself out of it."

"Most of what I'll be showing you is non-lethal, provided you don't have a knife in your hand at the time. They'll sting for awhile, but getting them away from you is important. Making sure they're down on the ground and a little slow coming up will give you time to get away and call the police. Stunning is the main goal here," Sharon explains to the woman. "I'm not actually going to perform the strikes, but show you how they operate. First though, we need to stretch," she says, closing the door behind them once they're inside. She'll start leading Cass through a good ten minutes of basic stretching for the whole body, just to get loosened up.

With a nod, Cass moves more toward the center of the room and the padding and mat. She doubts it's the police she'll be calling with the people that she has to deal with, but the keeping them stunned so she can get away is an important factor. "That sounds exactly like what I was looking for," she smiles. It's a relief to know. Something that she can mostly rectify with her pacifist-like views. Sort of. When Sharon leads her through the stretches, the book store owner follows and stretches - something she's actually not too bad about. Though she wobbles slightly when she has to do anything like balance on one foot.

Well, yes. And Sharon knows those type of people are out there, but you generally talk about the police as the people you call. She does notice the wobbling, but is glad that the goals of this are takedowns and not fancy one-legged crane martial arts stuff. It's easier. Once they finish, she grabs a fake knife out of a little equipment chest and hands it towards her. "Now, a knife is a common weapon most of our criminal element in New York City are familiar with, so it's a good place to start. This technique is usable even without a knife in their hand, but I'd rather you get used to dealing with someone attacking with a weapon from the get-go. About the only difference is you don't disarm them at the end," she explains. "My goal for you is that after each session, you have something useful to use when you leave," she tells Cass. "What I want you to do is come at me slowly with that knife in a sort of uppercut style stab for my stomach. I'm going to demonstrate the manuever piece by piece for you, but you just have to start with the slow knife attack".

Anything fancy and one legged would most likely leave Cass the one on the floor and her attacker unable to keep himself from laughing. She doesn't really need anyone's help in finding ways to drop herself. Clumsily, she takes the knife from Sharon and just holds onto it. She knows the difference between a fake knife and a real one, but coming after someone even with a fake knife pulls Cass' lips into a kind of frown. Then, though, she smirks a little, almost grinning. "Does that mean I get to keep the knife after we're done?" Hesitantly, both for fear of somehow falling and hurting Sharon and also because she has no idea what Sharon is going to do once she goes after her, she follows the other woman's instructions. Slowly and deliberately, she moves to 'stab' Sharon in the stomach.

"Well, that'll depend on a few things," Sharon responds with a laugh to Cass' question. Sharon then will, provided Cass is letting her as this is a demonstration, catch Cass' knife wrist with her left arm and bring her right fist down slowly and tap Cass' inner elbow, the area right where it bends between bicep and forearm. "This weakens their primary attack arm, and will help to slow them down. It also serves to bring them closer to you, which is helpful for what the next part will be. You would, of course, be doing this faster and harder than I'm doing," she tells the woman.

Trying to just go with the flow, Cass allows Sharon to show her the move she's demonstrating. "Closer?" The woman is a little surprised to hear that. She thought the whole point was to get the other guy as far away from her as possible. Gives her more time to flee. Weakening the primary attack arm, though, that's something she's a fan of. "Right. If only muggers paused and allowed you to go through the motions slowly."
"We'll get to going through it quickly," Sharon assures the woman. "And yes, closer," she adds. She takes the woman's upper arm with that right arm now and brings her knee up to lightly tap Cass' stomach. "This will knock the wind out of them. Then comes the actual takedown," Sharon says. And, if Cass lets her, she's going to turn 90 degrees and push down with both arms to lead Cass lightly to the floor, guiding her so she doesn't get hurt. She'll keep the attacking arm outstretched and pull the knife out of Cass' hand and step back, knife up and ready in case attacked again.

Guided through the whole slow-mo demonstration, Cass finds herself on her back on the floor. And for once it wasn't through her own klutziness. "Huh." She's intrigued and interested in this whole development. She may need a few more walk throughs, but that certainly seems to get the point across. "Neat." She can certainly tell the difference between being informally taught by Lachlan and formally taught by Sharon. So far, no one has had their private parts kicked in. "My fiancee was trying to teach me this stuff," she says as she picks herself up. "Well, not so much this but in how to defend myself. It didn't really work the way he planned it."

"It takes some practice to get used to it. Does your fiance train?" Sharon says. "There's a lot of room for changing things where needed, but to begin with, it's good to start with things that are simple, but practical". She moves back to position. "Now, I want you to try it on me. We'll go through it slowly at first, and pick the pace up as you get more comfortable with it," Sharon explains. Once Cass is ready, and if she's agreeable, she'll make the same knife motion at Cass that Cass made at Sharon to start things out with. "I'll correct you if you need correcting as we go along".

"Um, not really." Cass gives a bit of a shrug. "He kind of grew up in a rough part of town." Sort of. "Plus, he's Scottish and I think they're just born knowing how to brawl." A bit of a grin, there, to show that she's joking. Then, it's back to serious training time. When prompted, she tries to recreate what Sharon showed her how to do. But, she'll certainly need those corrections. She gets as far as tapping Sharon's inside arm, but she taps it much too high up and then sort of forgets what she's supposed to do after that. Something about pulling closer? Tapping the stomach? Hm.

A laugh is given at the comment about the Scottish brawling. "That will do it then," she agrees. Informal training isn't so each to teach. Then it's to training. "Not the bicep, though that can be useful too. You want to get them in the inner elbow with the fist, then go for the upper arm and knee my stomach," Sharon corrects, not unkindly, but patiently. "Then the pushing me down". The hitting of the inner elbow tends to make them close their arm up, making the foe come a tad bit closer and off-balance.

Truth be told, Cass is a quick learner. It takes her slightly longer to learn things she has absolutely no frame of reference for, however, as it is with most people. She doesn't take the corrections the wrong way, she only nods to show that she heard, her face turning to one more serious and concentrating. She'll get this! She will. "Okay." Stepping backward a bit, she goes through the motions again, making sure that she gets the inner elbow and knees at the stomach. Of course, she's trying to be careful to not hurt Sharon as they do this. That's the one bad part of learning self defense - someone could still get hurt! Something that she has intimate knowledge of. When it comes to pushing her down to the ground, she hesitates. "I don't want to hurt you," she says, slightly concerned.

"I've been training in this style of martial arts since I was seven or eight years old, so don't worry about hurting me. I'm pretty durable, and I've done training specifically to train myself to be able to take hits well. Don't worry about me," she assures the woman. "I can take whatever you dish out at me. I promise". Sharon then waits for the woman to push her down and take away the knife. "You're doing quite well so far," she adds.

Though Cass knows that Sharon's a professional and that she should be able to take hits and all, it's still just one of those things that worries her. It would just be her luck to somehow maim the person trying to help her learn self defense. "No, I know, well, actually I didn't know that specifically, but I knew the general gist. I just…you know. Ow." But, well, she did pay for the class and she's not sure what else she was expecting. Dummies, really. Though that may not really be as helpful as learning against actual people. "Okay." Again, she goes for the attack and then moves to gently push Sharon to the ground. The woman still just can't get past that boundary for the moment. There's some fumbling and she manages to drop the fake knife when she's really meaning to take it from her. "Ack! Whups!"

Sharon pops back up once she is put to the ground and reaches out to grab the knife. "That happens sometimes, you slip and drop the knife. I've done it myself. If you do drop the knife, it is perfectly fine to kick it away," she tells Cass. "The main goal is putting them on the ground and disarming them. Taking the knife is best, but if you drop it, getting it out of play is perfectly acceptable," she assures the woman. "Now, I want you to try it again. We'll try it slow a few more times for you to get used to the motions, then I'm going to want you to speed up with the attack, and we'll work on that pace, and we'll build it up from there. These are basic defensive manuevers that are adaptable, and it'll help your reflexes in the process". Sharon isn't in the habit of letting her clients linger too long on a mistake. It tends to hurt their confidence if you let them dwell. Once Cass is ready, she'll start them off again with the knife attack.

There's not much lingering on Cass' part. She's used to her klutziness and her ability to drop things by now. It would be nice if she didn't have to deal with it when trying to learn how to defend herself, but it's not like it's something she can turn off. Back in her defense stance, she waits for Sharon to come at her again, slowly going through the motions of stopping and putting her on the floor. She's getting it, at least when they're running through it slowly.

Sharon will go through the process a few times until Sharon is satisfied Cass has the basics down. "Good. Now we're going to go a bit faster, but nothing you can't handle," she tells the woman. "Make your hits about half as strong as you're capable of doing to me, and about half as fast as you feel comfortable. We're going about fifty percent speed here now". Though when Sharon leads off, it'll only be at twenty-five percent of a normal attack speed, give Cass a chance to get used to striking faster and harder.

Oh geez. Slower she could handle, because Cass knew she wasn't actually going to hurt anyone. Also, faster means she has to have better reaction time. Since Sharon is still going somewhat slow in her pretend attack, Cass doesn't have too hard of a time going through the motions, but it's still a bit slow and definitely not as strong as half. Or it is were the store owner a total weakling. However, she still manages to come up with the knife. "Sorry. I'm not used to this whole fighting thing. My mother would wash my mouth out with soap if she saw me fighting with the other kids."

"Don't apologize," Sharon tells the woman as she stands and prepares herself. "You did all the motions right. That's key. We're now developing the speed and necessary power, though you don't need to be a bodybuilder to pull this off," she tells Cass. "You did it at that speed just fine. Just click the speed up a notch or two. We'll progressively build you up here. My mother would have done the same if it was out of the training area too. Hopefully, you don't have to use this in a real scenario, but there are times it happens". And, once Cass is ready, Sharon will start them off again.

"Hopefully if I'm in a real scenario I'll be hiding around a corner somewhere." At least that's Cass' plan in a crisis. Not that she'd actually do that if someone was in danger, but she can pretend that she'll hide out. "Alright." However, she's still kind of nervous about it. "Thanks." She gives Sharon a smile. Normally she's a lot quicker at getting things. Fighting is just not one of them. Hunkering down, she starts to action again, moving quicker, the motions mostly down by now.

Sharon will go through this for some time with Cass, Sharon pushing the speed up a bit more each time until she finds where Cass' limit is in terms of how fast she can handle Sharon moving and how quickly she can strike back at Sharon. By the end of the session, Sharon will have made great friends with the mat, but that's normal in a scenario like this. "Good," Sharon says after the last time through. "You're coming along well. Now, what I'd suggest, if you're not going to use the gym's weights, is to do some basic strength work at home before bed and when you get up. Push-ups, crunches, and those types of exercises. Pull-ups if you have somewhere to hang from and do them, but not everyone has a set up like that," Sharon says. "How are you feeling?" she adds.

At least she and the mat are somewhat acquainted. It makes getting to know it easier. Sweating and breathing a little heavier than before, Cass holds out a hand to help Sharon up from the last time she knocked her down. It's the least she can do. Especially now that she's starting to feel a little more comfortable with everything. Nodding, she thinks this over. "I'm sure I can manage." Maybe she could do some push ups or crunches while waiting for lab results or something. "At the very least I'll make Lachlan hold out his arm and I'll try doing that." With happy endorphins starting to pump their way through her system, she smiles. "I'm feeling pretty good! Thanks! How about you? Not too bruised or anything?"

"Not too bruised up; I know how to fall pretty well by now," Sharon assures the woman as she's helped up. "Next time, we'll go over this a little more to make sure you remember it, and then we'll try a couple more techniques," she explains to Cass. "I should get cleaned up here myself; I actually don't have any more appointments for a couple hours, so I should go and take care of some errands". It's a bit of a flexible schedule, and Sharon is all for that.

"I do too, though mostly because I trip over myself." Cass grins and kind of shakes out her hair, pulling the hair-band off of her head. "That sounds great. Thank you so much, Sharon." Because teaching Cass how to help defend herself is not going to be an easy task, that's for sure.

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