At the SF seminar I got this sudden wave of...something. I don't know if nostalgia has a separate feel for you. It does for me. Missing something or just reminiscing has an entirely different feel to the thing I equate with nostalgia. This feeling in San Francisco was not quite nostalgia. It seemed like every few minutes I was bringing up a connection to what we were doing that few people could connect with:
"When you skin a deer, right, and you see where the white tendon goes kind of filmy before it blends into muscle..." to describe a way to find pressure points.
"Humans are direct register animals, like cats..." a tracking reference to show how to disguise a certain type of irimi.
"It's like free-solo climbing, you bet your very existence on being able to bring mind and body together..." but with an extra, social component and social resistances in combat.
Okay, I should have expected an audience from SF not to get the skinning reference, but about the sixth timeI brought up a connection, something that had really informed my combative practice and almost no one got it, I felt that nostalgia-like wave. It's not a bad thing, and everyone in that room has experiences of their own and can make their own connections. Many of those connections will be better than mine (if they look to themselves. They've already heard what I had to say.)
When I was eleven, we moved to a town so small that I was salutatorian when I graduated but wasn't in the top ten percent of the class. Bill was the top sixteen percent all by himself.
I was a bookworm, shy, practically a stereotype. Didn't make friends easily and didn't know why I should. I was also the smallest boy in the school. Not in my grade, in the school, and I was until my senior year. I turned seventeen the summer after I graduated. I broke five foot tall and 100 pounds as a senior. I was tiny. (For that matter, I was 5'8" and 154 pounds when I started corrections.
My junior year, the school was in a special place. We could, for the first time in years, have a football team. We had enough possible players to make the state-required nine players to play B-league eight-man football. If I played. Only if I played.
I wasn't a jock. Won't go so far as to say I hated sports, but I hated team sports. As a sixth grader in my old school I'd already been assured a slot on the high school varsity gymnastics team. This new school was way too small for gymnastics. Or wrestling. Or... but we could have a football team for the first time in a long while. If I played.
I was tiny. Couldn't catch or throw and at first I was afraid of getting hurt. Couldn't keep my head in a scrimmage, too much going on and I'd never even watched football so I didn't know what was supposed to be going on. But we had a good coach in Bob Nelson and he set the bar.
I found out I could take a hit and get up and keep going. Found out that if I deliberately picked the biggest guy and slammed him with everything I had I'd get knocked in the dirt but if I did it again...and again...and again eventually he would flinch. And if I could get him to think I was crazy, that I wouldn't give up and find that flinch moment I could knock him down and keep going. Found out that on defense, even guys too big to stop could be misdirected by an elbow upside the helmet. Found out a lot of things hurt and most of the time the pain meant nothing. That the person who was willing to get back up was the toughest. That there was a limit to size and strength but there was no limit to your willingness to pick yourself up and hit the bastard one more time.
Several of the guys we played with and against outweighed me by 250%. I was eighty pounds the first year I played and 220 wasn't big for some of our farm boy seniors. I never got good. Not really good. But in two years with a good coach I could hang in a crowd I had no business being in.
There was other stuff going on, lots of things were miserable at school and at home; playing patty-cake with a rattlesnake; solo climbing and vision questing and long runs through the desert at night (I don't think I was running from or to anything, just running) but two seasons playing football was probably, at least martially, the biggest impact on who I became.
And no where else but such a dinky little school could an eighty-pound, four-foot-eight junior have ever gotten a chance to play varsity football.