Thursday, May 01, 2008


I found my future this week in a little room off the beaten path. I have one word for you....SAVATE. Mention to the French you want to learn savate here and chances are, you will get a quizzical look if you are a girl. I think it is just not that common to train, much less for women. But being the ninja from NY that I am, I have been interested in finding a martial arts school here since I moved to Paris. I just really like to punch and kick things. Beating the crap out of a punching bag fulfills so many unspoken desires. I think everyone can benefit from having a safe target to beat on when the going gets rough. So when a friend recommended a school she knew of, I decided to wait until my French was somewhat passable before trying it out. She agreed to come with me and therefore I would have a translator. One of my black belt ninja friends from NY was in town this week as well so we all decided to try out the class.

My NY friend and I found the school down a little narrow street and after having to ask for directions from the cute yoga guy downstairs who seemed surprised and intrigued that we were not actually looking for yoga but instead SAVATE, we made it past a little courtyard and up a hidden flight of stairs. I purposely came a little late so my French friend would be there already to translate. But something in me knew I was gonna have to fly solo.....

ENTER two giggling American girls. We open the door loudly and walk straight into a class which has already begun. Twelve French men (ranging from 9 to 70 years) abruptly stop what they are doing. They stare at us as though as though martians have invaded their school and then proceed to burst into laughter. I frantically look around and see that my French friend has not arrived.
Looks like it's French solo time pour moi.
"Um, hello, um, my French is so bad and we look for savate class" I manage to say. The teacher is an old school French man in his 60s whose father is a world renowned savate champion. This is a real deal school for locals. He looks at us for a moment and then motions towards the back where there is a changing room. We make our way back there amidst stares and I flub my question to him about my shoes which came out as "my shoes, ok, my SHOES, OK???". I quickly realized there was no English to be had here and it was time to just roll with it. He put us down front and center in the sea of boys and men who took every opportunity to smile at us. Two hot NY ninjas walk in to a bar......

Throughout the warm up, the teacher kept insisting that we "take it easy", stop if we got tired, rest some more. We kept laughing because the school we both came from in NY would push you past what you thought you could humanly do and if you did not leave class drenched in 20 gallons of sweat, you just didn't work hard enough. And now this teacher is telling us to put our heads down while doing leg lifts.


We were then told to watch for the rest of class while the other students practiced their fighting moves. We both sat on the edge of class, tortured, because all we wanted to do was kick some shit. I quickly sized up whose asses I could easily kick and who might prove a bit of a challenge. It is an interesting sport and I am going to have to unlearn some of what I already know but the students in the school seemed warm, friendly and happy to have some female blood there. Especially Martian NY badass chick blood. We were told there are two women in the whole school. Um, can we say BFF??? I have decided that I will learn WAY more French at this school than any formal French class could ever teach me. And it's harder to be intimidated when you have already sized up how you could take down the person with one blow. Conquer the fear and the language will follow.

Total immersion while kicking some ass.

That's my new system.

No comments: