Aikido · rugby

Cyclocross, Aikido, and other athletic bruises


I think my family doctor must have a note in my file about the violent, contact sports in my life. I often arrive there with bruises and I’m nervous about reassuring her that I’m not a victim of domestic violence. It’s the Aikido bruises that are the worst in this respect because they look like signs of resisting struggle, thumb and finger grip marks on my hands, wrists, and forearms. But she’s good at remembering how active I am and we often chat a bit about martial arts.

Indeed, I can identify which pin or which control caused with bruise.

Today's Aikido bruise

In Aikido there’s no kicking and even the striking is primarily a distraction. It goes like this: I strike. You put up your arms to block my strike and I say thank you for the gift of your wrist and elbow. I now have an elbow to lock and a wrist to which I can do very mean things.

Aikido strikes aren’t actually meant to hurt. They are really all shock and awe designed to take your attention away from your joints. There are lots of  locks and pins, and often they leave marks.

Lately there are new sporty bruises from riding my cyclocross bike. I’ve come off on the grass a few times but it’s the running mounts and dismounts that are the worst for bruises.

When I was playing soccer it was my shins that were pretty much permanently bruised, despite shin pads.

I think about bruises as part of my identity as an active person, involved in contact sports. See my post on aikido and non sexual physical intimacy. But certainly the contrast between bruises and the norms of ladylike behavior are part of what put some women off sports, especially those that involve contact. Clearly not me, since I list rugby and roller derby as the two sports I would have played if I’d discovered them earlier.

How about you? Do play a sport that involves lots of bruises? Love it, hate it, or just live with it? 


3 thoughts on “Cyclocross, Aikido, and other athletic bruises

  1. I train krav maga and I’ve always bruised easily. Other people are sometimes shocked but I’m actually proud of my “war” marks. Being able to defend yourself is priceless. Better have some bruises rather than a knife between your ribs.

  2. This is a new point of view for me, yours is the first blog of this type I’ve read. I’m generally so focused on mental health even though I know physical health is a big part of coping with my mental illness. As a domestic violence survivor, I automatically assume that’s what bruises are from when I see them on a woman. You’ve given me a new perspective, thank you.

  3. I train in aerial hoop which always has me covered in strangely placed bruises depending on what fun new trick I’m learning that week. Backs of my knees, the small of my back or even the tops of my feet. I’m as proud of the bruises as I am of my calloused hands.

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