Headspaces and Pee

Pay­back­’s a bitch, and that bitch looks an awful lot like two Ceno­bites I know and love.

Recent­ly I taught a self-defense class for a wom­en’s group.

Now I absolute­ly love teach­ing self-defense to peo­ple fac­ing the same fear I did for so long, espe­cial­ly to women and kids. Love it. I love the look that comes into some­one’s eyes when they get it — when they real­ize they don’t have to live in fear; they don’t have to tol­er­ate being bul­lied or harassed.

When I teach these class­es, I do a practicum for the sec­ond half: A part­ner and I demon­strate some com­mon attacks and how to respond, then have atten­dees part­ner up and try them.

To that end, I like to work with a train­ing part­ner who is younger and small­er than me. It boosts atten­dees’ con­fi­dence when they see some­one half my size suc­cess­ful­ly ward­ing off the chi­canery they all face; it empha­sizes the point when I tell them size and strength are far less impor­tant than know­ing some good sim­ple techniques.

Headspace 1: The Animal

We talk about “find­ing your ani­mal” in my style of mar­tial arts. It’s not about look­ing for a spir­it guide or some­thing like that; it’s about tap­ping into that pri­mal strength that lets you fight like, well, like an ani­mal. It’s the force that dri­ves a soc­cer mom to lift a car off of one of her kids, or lets a creaky old fart open an enor­mous can of Acute Fail­ure of the Vic­tim Selec­tion Process on a bunch of stu­pid punks.1

I don’t go “full ani­mal” when I’m teach­ing; that’s reserved for train­ing with some­one of equal or high­er rank (or if I’m actu­al­ly defend­ing myself, but that’s anoth­er sto­ry). But I do need to get focused and at least stick one foot into that ani­mal headspace.

For me, part of that is see­ing my oppo­nents or train­ing part­ners as noth­ing more than a set of tar­gets, pres­sure points and joints to exploit and manip­u­late — to dehu­man­ize them. It’s a fine line and one of the places where mar­tial arts takes con­trol and focus. I don’t want to real­ly injure my part­ner, but if I don’t demon­strate tech­niques for real it does no one any good.

What does that mean? It means that even though I’m sub­mis­sive and a nice guy, when I’m teach­ing mar­tial arts I’m the mean­est, nas­ti­est son of a bitch you’ll ever meet (most of the black belts I’ve ever met are like that — the nicest, most vicious sadists imaginable).

One of the oth­er things I like to do is demon­strate a take­down and sub­mis­sion in which the vic­tim’s wrist, elbow and shoul­der are all held in an extreme­ly painful joint lock, using only two fin­gers. My demo part­ner for this class was Heather_Daisy, so I put her flat on her back in this wrist lock.

I sat down next to Heather and, in my best imi­ta­tion of Count Rugen from The Princess Bride, said, “Now this is for pos­ter­i­ty, so please be hon­est: Can you get out of this?”

Heather pulled against my grip, then gasped and imme­di­ate­ly stopped. Try­ing to mus­cle out of this hold just makes it hurt more. “No!” she said.

And how does this make you feel?”

It makes me feel like I hate you!” she cried.

I let her up and we con­tin­ued with the practicum.

Headspace 2: The Sicko

It does­n’t both­er me to inflict pain on my demo part­ners. They’re grownups and they know what they’re get­ting into. But the last part of the practicum has always been dif­fi­cult for me: I show the class how to defend against attempt­ed rape. This requires pin­ning my part­ner on her back and pre­tend­ing I’m try­ing to pull her pants down.

This real­ly should­n’t be any dif­fer­ent from the rest of the demo: We’re all grownups, and I’m always care­ful to explain this to my part­ner and make sure it does­n’t trig­ger any­thing. But when I’m in that dehu­man­iz­ing head­space AND I’m sim­u­lat­ing an attempt­ed rape, for some rea­son it just makes me lit­er­al­ly sick — I feel hor­ri­ble, guilty, nau­se­at­ed. I have to resist the urge to apol­o­gize over and over for what I’m doing.

This is not a trig­ger — I’ve nev­er been sex­u­al­ly assault­ed2 and I’ve nev­er assault­ed any­one. But I feel the way I imag­ine I’d feel if I was com­ing to my sens­es after los­ing con­trol of myself and com­mit­ting a rape.

I’ve done this often enough to have learned how to deal with it — what I’m teach­ing is, IMHO, impor­tant enough that I should­n’t avoid this part of the class. I know I’m going to feel hor­ri­ble for a while, but also that it will pass. So suck it up, but­ter­cup — you’re going to have a rapist in your head for a cou­ple hours, and that’s that.

Headspace 3: The Submissive

I invit­ed every­one to ask me ques­tions lat­er if they had any — the class was over and it was time to start the play par­ty. “I’ll be free for a lit­tle bit but I think I have an appoint­ment soon,” I said, wink­ing at Black­But­ter­fly.

She said, “Nah. I’m going to give you to Heather for the night.”

Gulp. Heather’s face lit up. She likes tor­tur­ing me any­way, but now pay­back was on the menu.

I was strapped down tight to one of the cross­es in a jiffy and the fun began.

Headspace 4: The (Partial) Lizard Brain

Heather can be real­ly scary to play with. And Black­But­ter­fly is pure, unadul­ter­at­ed night­mare fuel. But instead of watch­ing, this time she decid­ed to tag-team with Heather and they both turned into full-on eff­ing Ceno­bites.

Heather and Black­But­ter­fly have both dri­ven me almost — almost! — over the edge in pan­ic more than once. And last year I did a breath play ses­sion with MsSas­k­ia that pushed me pret­ty far that way.

But that tag-team play­time with Heather and Black­But­ter­fly got me clos­er to total lizard-brain, out-of-con­trol pan­ic than I’ve ever been before:

At one point Heather had a knife in my belly­but­ton, say­ing, “Yum­my inter­nal organs!”

No!” I gasped. “I’m stuffed with cot­ton! Like Win­nie the Pooh!”

Every­one laughed, but I was­n’t try­ing to make a joke — I was drop-dead scared and try­ing to talk her out of slic­ing me open.

When we switched from knives to beat­ings, Heather made me say “Thank you, Mis­tress Fire and Ice Cream!” every time she hit me. Then she asked me what Black­But­ter­fly­’s favorite ice cream was. Black­But­ter­fly arched her eye­brows and waited.

Vanil­la!” I blurted.

They stared. “Real­ly?” Black­But­ter­fly said. “We’re at a kink par­ty and you’re guess­ing vanil­la? Tell her my favorite ice cream!”

I don’t know what it is!” I cried. “Well,” Black­But­ter­fly said, “you’d bet­ter keep guessing.”

Rocky Road!”



Peanut but­ter and chocolate!”



This went on for a mil­lion years or so until I yelled, “Cook­ies and cream!”

Yep. About time,” she said.


That’s one of them. What’s the oth­er one?”


After I final­ly got the sec­ond one (straw­ber­ry), I was reward­ed with an extend­ed whip­ping, dur­ing which I was sup­posed to say, “I promise to take my Mis­tress out for ice cream!” after each hit, but of course that took too long to suit Heather, and besides, I was get­ting more than a lit­tle incoherent.

Then fol­lowed a recital of Black­But­ter­fly­’s favorite col­or, movie, and bunch of oth­er things, cul­mi­nat­ing with her favorite song. I knew this one right away:

Lit­tle Wing!” I blubbered.

Very good!” Black­But­ter­fly beamed.

Now sing it for us!” Heather said, rais­ing what­ev­er she was hit­ting me with by that time (I can’t remember).

Well, dog­gone if I could­n’t. I’m a hor­ri­ble singer, but it was­n’t embar­rass­ment; I was only vague­ly aware by that time that a lot of peo­ple were watch­ing (and enjoy­ing) my tor­ture. No, the prob­lem was I was tee­ter­ing on the edge of com­plete­ly, utter­ly los­ing it. What­ev­er “it” is. A lit­tle tiny piece of my brain was remind­ing me that

  1. Heather and Black­But­ter­fly weren’t real­ly going to kill me, and
  2. I was strapped down very tight­ly and was­n’t going anywhere.

But that lit­tle part of my brain was locked out­side and qui­et­ly, timid­ly scratch­ing at the door. The rest of my brain was yam­mer­ing and gib­ber­ing in pan­ic — I was hyper­ven­ti­lat­ing, my eyes rolling, thrash­ing around wild­ly in the restraints and try­ing des­per­ate­ly to get away.

I’ve always won­dered what will hap­pen when I get pushed far enough that that lit­tle tiny piece of my brain shuts up and I go com­plete­ly over the edge. I am, in fact, intense­ly curi­ous and can hard­ly wait to find out.

But I did­n’t get to that night. Heather looked at me a minute and said “Can’t do it, huh?” I shook my head or blath­ered some­thing and she smiled.

Well, I’m gonna spank you five more times and you get to count them. Think you can do that?” She picked up a spanker made out of the sole of a hik­ing boot. I nod­ded or twitched or blinked or some­thing. She raised the spanker.

In Span­ish.”

Sweet eruc­tat­ing Cthul­hu on a pimped-out pogo stick!

I some­how accessed enough brain cells to stut­ter a few syl­la­bles that Heather char­i­ta­bly decid­ed sound­ed sort of like Span­ish, and we were final­ly done.

Heather and Black­But­ter­fly, prob­a­bly wise­ly, did not untie me until I at least start­ed to calm down. Dang. Came THAT close to find­ing out what’s over that edge. But I trust Black­But­ter­fly implic­it­ly — I think she’ll know when I’m ready for that final push.

Headspace 5: Exit the Sicko

Let me tell you just how intense this whole thing was: When Black­But­ter­fly lets some­one else play with me, I am required to keep my under­wear on — the naughty bits are off limits.

When they untied me and I sat (fell, actu­al­ly) down, my under­wear was drenched. And I hon­est­ly did­n’t know if it was sweat or if I’d pissed myself.

Turned out it was sweat, but I had to go home lat­er com­man­do. But if you aren’t sure if you peed your­self and real­ize it very well could have hap­pened, you’ve had a good ses­sion. I’m so lucky to have such an awe­some Mis­tress and such awe­some friends!

But some­thing else hap­pened: The Sicko Head­space, which was just begin­ning when we start­ed play­ing, was gone. And it did­n’t come back. I nev­er went through the self-inflict­ed guilt trip I have always tak­en after the rape sec­tion of the practicum. Not this time.

This is one of those epipha­nies that fas­ci­nates and frus­trates me at the same time: Was it just the inten­si­ty of the ses­sion and ensu­ing endor­phin bath that swept away the Sicko Head­space? Or was it because Heather — the sub­ject of the sim­u­lat­ed rape and inter­rupt­ed guilt trip — was the one doing the beating?

And why did a beat­ing make the Psy­cho Head­space go away? I’ve tried med­i­tat­ing, exer­cise and a bunch of oth­er things to try to fore­stall it or dis­tract myself out of it, but this is the first time it did­n’t put the ham­mer down.

I have SO much learn.


  1. If you want to see some­one real­ly fight like a wild ani­mal, check out the infa­mous “Oh God! Mad Dog!” fight between Tony Jaa and David Ismalone from Ong Bak: The Thai War­rior.
  2. Not with­out my con­sent, at least.