Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I karate chop you. HI-YA!

I think we should rethink gift giving.

I've been hanging out in people's homes of late, especially since I gave up my own, and I noticed one thing: these homes are full of stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff.

My friends aren't even pack rats and their homes are pretty neat and tidy. Still, life's little trinkets have managed to pile up. Many of these items that are haphazardly arranged on shelves and in corners of rooms are gifts they received. Birthday gifts. Christmas gifts. Gifts for this. Gifts for that. Gifts that are either used or not used, but definitely have to be dealt with.

I dealt with my collection gifts when I reduced my life to one suitcase (and one box that sits under the spare bed at my sister's house) in order to travel the world and to find, frig, I'm not sure what, but I don't need to schlep my stuff around to go look for it. My gifts were re-gifted, tossed or donated.

I don't mean to be unappreciative of my gifts. They were lovely. But now that everything I own has to be weighed in every airport, gifts have taken on a whole new meaning.

I raise this issue of gift giving because I just received an amazing gift.

Self-defense classes

Seriously. My friend Michael Lake from Toronto (who has a great new CD) gave me the gift of a private 2-hour self-defense class at DeSantos Martial Arts in Toronto. At first I was hesitant. I'm a lover, not a fighter. I'm not really the karate chop kinda girl.... which is exactly why I should be taking this class.

Tony, the super amazing instructor, had me do a few kicks to get started. They were quiet, polite little kicks. Then I did a few punches with the palm of my hand. They were slightly stronger. Then came the sneaky moves I can make to maneuver out of a sticky situation with a perpetrator. That included learning how to get out of a grab situation or strangle situation.

Let me remind you that this type of thing isn't me. At all.

But by the end, I was able to get out of various combat situations and was even confident using loud karate sounds like real karate kids. I even felt a little Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. And I felt like I could totally pull off wearing a cape around town. (Clearly, it doesn't take much for me to feel over-confident.)

I must have kicked my opponents in the groin 50 times, but they didn't seem to mind. Now we're all Facebook friends.

And now I have a gift that I can take with me on my travels. I don't need to find a place to pack it in my suitcase. No one will weigh it at the airport. But I'll have it with me if I happen to find myself down a dodgy street in Paris/Rome/London/Wherever.

And that, my friend, is a gift worth giving.

My instructor Tony was one tough cookie. 


  1. Michael Lake rules!!!

  2. Groin kicking = Facebook friendship. I love it.

  3. "Facebook - turning kicks in the groin into friendships." Nice. Living out of a suitcase this past year has taken a bit of the joy out of receiving gifts. I'm totally with you. This was a brilliant gift for a vagrant such as yourself (or myself). Good one Michael - and good luck with your album.

  4. Thanks Joshua Jones. Btw, I hope to have the album up on iTunes very soon (just have to sort out some legal details for the Springsteen cover). In the meantime, if you or other folks reading this would to check out the packaged CD, it is pretty nifty and a lot of work went into it. So I'd love to get some copies of that farther out into the world than my little circle. Please email if so! michaellakeband at

    Also, for the blog record: Janice was way tougher than I expected! Paris bag-snatchers beware!



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