One thing in beekeeping we tend to forget and tend to overlook is it can be quite physical. Not all my apiaries are in easy to reach locations, if I have to feed in the winter it can be quite an exertion walking up a snow covered hill with all my gear. During a honey flow, even those medium supers can be quite heavy.

So as I’m looking ahead to my 50’s, 60’s and  70’s, I still want to keep beekeeping and I want to keep bees on a large scale! I can’t imagine a life without bees and I think being physically fit is how I’ll be able to continue in my older age. Well guess what? I am not physically fit. There’s a little beverage known as beer which I dearly love with all of my heart and soul and Bud Light is not an option for me.  Combine that with a sedentary day job and I have a very large hole to dig myself out of, but that didn’t become obvious to me until recently. Recently I’ve decided to take Krav Maga.

Until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t even know what Krav Maga was. I’ve never been into sports. I quite frankly don’t understand them. The whole idea of a group of people backing another group of people just because they are wearing a certain colored jersey makes no sense to me. I tried just walking and even running on a treadmill. Boring!  But Krav Maga was something that I could train for. You see it’s a form of self-defense taught by the Israeli Army that incorporates all sorts of martial arts. The goal is to damage your attacker as quickly as possible and get the heck out of there. Seemed to me like a handy tool for a woman who works bees sometimes with perfect strangers to have. This realization actually occurred to me when I was the apiary inspector several years ago. Sometimes you are alone with another beekeeper you just met and if you didn’t tell anyone where you were going anything could happen. Fortunately I never had an incident, but it did occur to me to take some care because it only takes once.

So Krav Maga appealed to me because it has a potential practical application and I have a goal.

My first class was last week. Mike, my ever supportive partner said to me as I was leaving “Hey do you want me to come along?” and I promptly said “No it’s ok. I got this, don’t you know I’m a bad ass?” kissed him goodbye and drove my bad ass self to the Asian Sun in Green.

Since I arrived early I was able to watch the karate class that was going on. Boy were they cute! Kids anywhere from 5 to in their teens kicking the crap out of things. At 8:00 it was time to begin. After taking off my shoes I was invited to the mat and I was pleased to see at least it wasn’t a bunch of kids in this class. My worst fear was being the only adult in a sea of children. There were several men, a mother and daughter and a few teenage boys. It’s all good. The instructor who had an enviable physique looked at me and said, “Is this your second class?” I said “No it’s my first” to which he said “Ok, you’ll catch on. We’re going to start with suicides”. I looked at the kid next to me and asked “We’re committing suicide?” and he snickered and said “Just about”. It wasn’t a lie.  Heavy metal music started blaring and then everyone was running, halfway down the mat, touch the floor, run back then run all the way down the mat, touch the floor and then back and then so on and so forth. After staring for a few rounds I started to run and yes, it felt like suicide.

I survived, though just barely, and we moved on to sparring. I learned how to hold my position so as to not be pushed over so easily, how to hit (jab with your less dominant arm, strike with your dominant arm). Kind of fun stuff for someone who hasn’t truly hit anything in her life and really intense. My partner for the evening was Jarod, a very tall lean (strong!) guy with a foreign accent which I assumed to be some country in Africa. It occurred to me this poor guy paid good money for the class and probably wanted to be challenged, and here he was paired with the middle aged girl. I think that was what made me try even harder and possibly overdo it because he was gracious and encouraging and I tried to be the same. Poor guy was probably taught all his life to not hit girls and here I was saying “hit me!”

Regardless, punching each other, trying to not be punched all the while trying to keep the correct stance was really challenging. And then the class ended with more suicides, push-ups and sit-ups. Exhausted and pretty sure I pulled something I just sat on the mat, listened to the heavy metal, and tried to do the basic function of breathing while everyone finished. The instructor looked at me with amusement and said it gets easier and I promised myself I’d finish next time. Getting into my Jeep was a challenge and I suddenly wished I didn’t have a manual transmission driving my not so bad ass self home .

It’s five days later as I write this. My knee has started to work again and I can now go up and down stairs. My groin muscle feels better and I can lift my arms again. Not only did I learn I can’t defend myself against an attacker, it is likely I can’t even run away. There’s a Toby Keith song that says “I'm not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was”. I can relate. I want to be good at least once again, but I have a lot of work to do. Tomorrow is my next class. I'm going to give it my all, or at least my most, so I don't pull a groin.

I'm pretty sure this is what a mid life crisis feels like...