Have I ever told you about the time I cracked a rib in Jujutsu?

I’m not sure how I did it. But something happened and for the next few weeks, my rib was very sore. And it really didn’t help me at all when I got a bad cough.

So what is Jujutsu and why did I do it? Well, I would put a youtube link for you, but it will probably make you will think, “WHAT IS THIS GIRL DOING!!!” Basically, its wrestling based on judo. There were a few funny things: it was all in Finnish (there was a kind Scottish man who I am sure is a DIRECT descendant of Rob Roy who managed to translate for me); I was the smallest person in the class (well, other than some teenage break dancers who came every now and then); I found out that I am not an “omniroller” so, I can’t roll over (or bolamakissy) over my shoulder alternatively. Shamepies.

So why did I do it? For a few reasons:

1. I come from a dangerous place where it is helpful for a woman to know how to protect herself from attack, especially in an attack in close quarters.

2. A friend of mine at home has been doing it for a while and always talks about it

3. It was cheaper because I am a student (and where there’s a sale, I will buy)

4. I felt like I wanted to do a completely new type of sport. It seemed like it was not enough for me to have moved across the earth, started studying at a new university, make new friends, get used to living in a new town, shop at new shops, wear new clothes, skate, cross country ski… no no, I also decided that I needed a new sport.

5. I was hoping to get abs of steel.

Unfortunately I still have abs of custard but I did learn some interesting things in my 10 week beginner course.

I know how to get out of some tough situations, how to count in Finnish and got a little bit less intimidated by a room full of guys. Mostly though, I learnt that when you are wrestling with someone, you learn a lot about yourself, you learn about the person you are wrestling and you learn how you and the person you wrestle. It’s not just about winning the points. And as I was ruminating on these things I thought… that’s a lot like academic thought. I know I haven’t written much about the academic things I’ve been up to but at times it has often felt like wrestling. New thoughts and ways of doing things have been wrestling with old thoughts and old ways of doing things. Newer does not always mean better. It just means that those newer thoughts have had to wrestle for my attention. Some thoughts have been thrown out, chaff in the wind, but other thoughts have made an imprint and a change has happened. Either way, whether they were thrown out or kept, the process of wrestling with these thoughts, turning them over in my mind for days has been important for my thought life. To be honest, some thoughts around postcolonialism, postdevelopment and language have felt like punches in my ribs and there’s a resultant pain there that unlike when I really did get a cracked rib, will not heal with time. Solutions have to be found to the questions of North-South relations, South Africa’s education system and all sorts of other dilemmas and I’m not really sure where to even begin.


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