Archive | October, 2011

Epilogue

23 Oct

Epilogue

Well guys, I had a fun time writing this. Thanks to everyone who read it and liked it.

I hope it gave you a glimpse into how the other side lives; and that goes for everyone. If you’re the BJJ guy who never trained in a McDojo, perhaps it makes McDojoites a little more understandable and less hateworthy. As for the drunken boxers, self teachers, and everyone over there, maybe you’ll see that real is always better than fake, and that there is no comparison between the two. Once I sampled real, I just couldn’t go back to the fake.

Speaking of real…if you’re wondering whether or not this is real or fake, whether or not I made this up or experienced it, well, that’s up to you. I can tell you I lived through every painful moment of it, but I can’t prove anything other than that I trained at all these places. On top of that, I don’t know how many instructors are going to admit to masturbating to farm porn, getting beat up by a student, doing pink fan forms, or any of this mess.

Either way, should you deem it to be fact or fiction, I hope you enjoyed it.

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Chapter 30

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part Six: The end, Boxing: The beginning

For about two weeks, I’m bogged down with school, and have no chance to check out the boxing gym. Instead, I read Jack Dempsey’s book, and study it hard. I must say, it is an excellent manual. I performed the techniques exactly as he explained (with the exception of punching vertically; I didn’t understand that, and I still don’t). Eventually mid terms die out. This chance had finally appeared, and I grab hold of it like it is the last chopper out of ‘nam.

After I get the go ahead to investigate the boxing gym, I call the head coach. I ask him the basics: how much is it per month, family discounts, and what is the minimum age. He tells me everything I want to hear. The boxing place is roughly 1/3rd the cost of the karate place and I get to train 6 days a week; M-F 5 pm to 9pm, Saturday 10-12. I’m ecstatic, really. I ask him what type of boxing they do; this is where I prepare for heart break. Above all, I made the mistake of googling “boxercise”, which I viewed as some kind of girly punch fest where you hit on bags for a bit, then you braid each other’s hair, trade gossip, knit sweaters, pleasure your husbands, and jump rope. What I want is actual factual boxing training.

He gives me a mixed message. “We have a few competitive guys, some have even been on pay per views, but most of our people are casual. It’s a really good work out if that’s what you’re looking for.”

I don’t really know what the hell that means. If there are guys training to fight, then it must be right up my alley, but the last sentence scares me a little. If this is boxercise and I got my hopes up for nothing, well, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Ultimately, you can’t find anything out without actually going there. I can sit around all day long and think of what it could be, but I needed to see for myself what it actually was. I go the following monday, during class time.

It was, to put it simply, heaven.

I follow the address to a series of warehouses, and inside one of them lies the facility. I open the door, my stomach knotting up. Rows of heavy bags, end to end bags, and speed bags line every wall. In the middle, a giant boxing ring. The room smells of sweat and heat, and the sounds of mitts and people being hit fills the air. It was everything I expected a boxing gym would be like. It was, for the first time in my life, exactly what I wanted. I report this to mom, who lets me sign up immediately. I start the very next wednesday.

I arrive to class, and I’m shown how to wrap your hands. I use my dad’s Muay Thai boxing gloves, and I bought my brother his own gloves. He evaluates our basic punches: Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut. He asks me if I’ve boxed before, and I say I used to do some stuff back in the day. Kind of ambiguous, I know; I didn’t want to admit that the crappy Mcdojo BJJ instructor’s on the fly kickboxing was my previous experience. Besides, I was starting fresh. I wanted everything to be new, and most of all, I didn’t want him to assume I knew anything. I wanted to be taught everything from scratch, the right way.

After we demonstrate combos he calls out, he seems generally impressed with our skill level. I thank Jack Dempsey’s explanation of performing these punches personally, but that is a matter of debate. He moves us to each of the bags, and shows us how to operate them. He has us do 3 3 minute rounds on the end to end bag, 3 3 minute rounds on the speed bag, 3 3 minute rounds on the heavy bag, 3 rounds of jump rope, then ab work. By the time we got to ab work I was a deep violet sweaty mass of indescribable pain. Ab work consisted of doing crunches in various positions until you felt like razor blade babies were trying to escape from deep within you, then he throws a medicine ball into your stomach from various angles. It was a thorough work out.

It felt almost holistic. There was no describing how pleased I was. Maybe it was the dehydration, but I felt greater than I ever had before. I loved boxing, I loved that place, I loved saying I did boxing, I love showing my friends the boxing gym I went to, I loved everything. My demeanor went from pissed off to jolly over night.

The boxing classes, however, only made the Karate classes seem worse. Every time I went I just hated Karate more. I got to blue belt with a month left, and told sensei that I had to focus more on school and take a break from Karate. He says, “Well, that’s fine. I had great hopes for you, but do as you wish. You have my blessing.” I was shocked at his audacity. His blessing? I’m not getting married, for christ sake. Usually I would turn into a mountain of rage, but boxing had turned me into a creature of bliss and happiness.

That was in December of 07.

Since then, I’ve been reborn. I’m down to 188 pounds (I lost a staggering 42 pounds). I haven’t weighed that much since I was 13 years old. On top of that, I recently completed running my first mile without resting, something I haven’t done before in my entire life.

I’m still boxing to this day, and can’t get enough of it. It changed my work ethic as well; before I had relied on going to class to keep me in shape, but boxing taught me to do it on my own. I run my own roadwork regardless of what happens class wise, every day. On top of that, I’ve taken up weight lifting, and am in the greatest shape of my life.

Mr. Bad Guy lived happily ever after.

The end.

Chapter 29

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part 5: Neck Locks

After the great sparring debacle, I’d like to say things returned to normal. They never really did; everything between sensei and I felt awkward. It might have been me feeling winner’s remorse, or it might’ve been sensei’s crushed pride. About a week after the incident, black belt guy goes back to his own dojo, never to be seen again.

Two more months pass, and my brother and I rise another belt to reach orange. Sensei informs us that next class, we’ll start learning something “new”. I’ll admit, I was a little excited. Even though I suspected it would be total worthless bullshit, I was excited.

My brother and I arrive early, warm up, and stretch. Sensei comes in his usual 20 minutes late, but there’s something different about him. A gleam in his eye, a spring in his step; he has a special air about him.

We go through some basic punches, and instead of the usual kata, he tells us to line up. He asks me to step forward so he can demonstrate whatever it is he’s going to teach us.

He tells me to do a stepping punch, which I do. He side steps, then he places two fingers on the bottom of my chin. Then he tells everyone to watch. I get slightly nervous wondering what will happen; there aren’t any ground pads, so if he throws me, it will hurt like the maddest bastard of Bastardtown.

Using the fingers under my chin, he starts pressing up. Then he quickly places them on the side of my chin and goes sideways. He is making me look sideways, and I don’t really know what’s going on, so I apply gentle resistance to try and figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

“Relax your neck, [Brother’s Name]!”

I relax it as much as I can, and he just keeps swirling it around and around. He’ll change his finger positions, and swirl me some more. He swirls me, then places his fingers under my chin, pushes up, steps behind me, puts his fingers on my forehead, then gently presses down. He has his hand under my back to catch me just in case.

“This is neck lock! It is best way to handle your opponent.”

He then has us pair off to train this. I go through the moves, but god damn, this is stupid. This would never work. Never, ever, ever, ever. I mean, I can understand controlling someone’s head as a means to control their body. Sure. But the things he was demonstrating, and the manner in which we were supposed to practice them, it was just impossible.

After that, sensei shows us another technique. He asks me to stand up there again, in a forward stance. He grabs my lapel and the cloth around my elbow, and I grimace in my mind. This is the classic hold for a throw of some nature, and the lack of pads means it’s going to hurt. He shows the class to step behind. He leans his chest back, plants his front foot, and pulls me across it. I awkwardly fall down.

We practice, and sensei chastises me for many, many things. I thought I remembered this takedown from BJJ, but aparently I didn’t.

Sensei Sayz:

You don’t lean forward, because you can’t watch your opponent to see what they do

You don’t kick the leg through. There wasn’t a reason given for this bad boy.

You don’t step past your opponent, because there’s other throws you can do if they resist you. I cringe thinking about what these other throws are.

I kind of zone out after that, and just do it like sensei did it, no matter how much it hurts inside. After that sensei shows us another throw, should the first one fail. After we plant the front stepping leg, if they won’t let us trip them, we first jump in the air and switch feet.

For example, if you had your right leg stepping across to trip your opponents right leg, you would now jump in the leg and put your left leg behind their right leg. Now, you let go of your grips, and put your left arm across their neck, and sweep them down.

I go through it like sensei said. This class feels long; no wonder. It’s already been 10 minutes since class was supposed to end.

Sensei then stops us to ask me to the front. He then asks me to show them a “jiu jitsu technique”. I decide to go with old faithful, and show them a standing rear naked choke thing I learned once.

Basically, when facing your opponent, you push one shoulder, while pulling the other. Then you slip behind, and slap on the RNC. I perform this on sensei, and land it twice; once when I was showing it to him, and once when he was resisting it thinking it wouldn’t work. I demonstrate the proper technique for the class, they practice.

“That is good, but do the neck lock technique first, then if that doesn’t work, do this.”

I almost laugh at this point. This has become so ludicrous, so stupid, I can’t even believe it. I’ve still got four months to go at this god forsaken place. On top of this, I made the mistake of buying a new scale. I’m up to 230. TWO FUCKING THIRTY. I’ve gained weight at this shitty place. This isn’t even worth the exercise. This place isn’t fun, it doesn’t help me exercise, it doesn’t teach me to defend myself, it is the worst fucking fit ever made.

I need something better. I think about things that I’ve always known to be bad ass. What is known for it’s extreme conditioning, functionality, and practice?

Well, there’s boxing. To be honest, I always liked boxing. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea. Me. A boxer. That would be really, really awesome. That would be even more cool than being a shaolin monk.

I consult the internet, and find that there aren’t…any…….boxing gyms. But it’s too late. Once I set my mind to something, I become obsessive. I google day and night for a week, and I finally find a place that teaches boxing. On top of that, it’s relatively close. I talk to my mom about it, and she says depending on how much it costs, I might be able to do it.

This does not satiate my obsession. I google around for what the best boxing manual is; I find that it is written by Jack Dempsey. On top of that, I found it for download at this one website. It’s a website about fighting for real, and considering this metamorphosis I was undergoing, it was a perfect fit. I could talk about techniques, training, or do whatever. I lurked around for a little bit, and it was hilarious. All manner of people posted there, and most of them were amusing. I liked this site, I liked the people on it, I liked the idea behind it.

So I joined Bullshido.

Chapter 28

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part 4: How sweet it is

Two months had passed since the last belt test. The yellow belt days were, as per usual, filled with kata. My brother and I aced the test to orange (it was the exact same as yellow, but with a different kata at the end), as did all of the other below 7 children. Sensei was bringing a friend of his in from another school; he was a black belt.

He showed up as early as I did, and let us in. I liked this man’s punctuality. We get to chatting, and our conversation ineveitably ends on MMA. “You know, nothing against the MMA guys, but they’re just too….you know, aggressive. They don’t really know that martial arts aren’t just for developing your body, but also your mind.” I nod along. I don’t really believe this, because since joining this dojo the only development I’ve had mentally is getting progressively more homicidal.

He was a short little black belt, and he definately look more fit than Sensei. He actually leads a small warm up of jogging, some jumping, and some stretches. Nothing that great, but it was something new. I was beginning to like the guy, despite his stance on MMA and its practitioners.

He leads us in punching drills, and big sensei comes in. They both stand at the front, and we do the bow in ceremony. We did the warm up and punching drills in the time it took sensei to arrive and get dressed.

Sensei and his black belt converse, and ask us what we want to do. I’ve been waiting two months for this chance. Two months to exact my reve-

“KATA!” Yells one of the dumb little girls.

Bitch!

“Sparring?” I ask. Surely they won’t pick kata. Surely they won’t just do today WHAT WE DO EVERY OTHER GOD DAMN DAY.

Sensei looks partial to kata, but his black belt looks partial to sparring. I hit my little brother, and he says, “I’d like to do sparring too!” All the boys chime in, and the black belt eventually convinces sensei.

He gets out the protective gear. Now, normally the standard point sparring protective gear is a helmet, gloves, booties, and a chest protector. Sensei spared every expense, and only had the gloves. The children were instructed, “little to no contact”, but he didn’t say anything to me.

My brother is first up against a kid a little bigger than he is. They adopt the normal karate stances, and black belt says, “Start!”.

They circle, and the bigger kid throws some half assed kicks. My brother is more competitive than I could ever be, so he quickly sinks in for the kill. He grabs the leg with one hand, and punches the kid in the stomach with the other. Contact is light, but the bigger kid makes a big deal out of it. Wuss.

“Hey, good job!” black belt says to both of them. He then pits my brother against an even bigger kid while the original kid sits down and pouts. Apparently it’s first point wins.

My brother has thrown away the Zenkutsudachi for a more bouncy kickboxing stance. Sensei goes “Good, good! Do his stance!” pointing at my brother. I’m guessing that there is some kind of sparring stance, just sensei neglected to teach it to us.

My brother dances around, and does the classic front kick to lunge punch. The other kid spazzes out, and forgets to counter attack. My brother rushes him with a flurry of punches while the other kid tries to apply karate blocks to each one, and eventually trips over his own feet. He gets back up and hits my brother hard in the arm after black belt said stop. Black belt gets very angry, but not nearly as angry as my brother. Normally I would be pissed off, but I’m 1000% sure my brother could kick his ass, so I just laugh it off. My brother’s anger soon turns to joy at having defeated all of the boys in his class.

Now the girls fight, and no one really pays attention. It’s boring, they dance around, and they’re afraid of getting hit. Sure they’re a higher belt than I am (!??!?), but sparring isn’t a prerequisite for belts. Or maybe they were hiding secret techniques from us lowly peons; I will never know.

I sit through the excruciatingly long girl match to finally have my turn. I’m the biggest dude in the class, and they don’t want JMILF to go against me. I don’t know for whose protection this decision was made. Eventually black belt decides just to go at it with me.

I adopt a more kickboxing esque stance, keeping my chin low, rounding my shoulders and-

“Wrong wrong wrong!”

Sensei comes over and slaps my shoulders down. He informs me that during sparring you sould not turtle in, but keep your back straight, with your head up. Also, he tells me keeping my hands in close to my face will get me “binded”. I don’t know what that means, and the grammar of the sentence didn’t make sense either, but whatever. I just wanted to spar. I adopt the retarded sparring stance he puts me in (Imagine when fighters taunt other fighters by sticking their chin out. Now put your hands, palms facing the ceiling, almost side by side in front of your chest), and get to dancing.

Black belt throws a kick, I dodge, and do a jab. Sensei chastizes me again for not making a definitive punch.

Black belt dances around, and I keep him at bay with what are now lingering jabs. Eventually I lingerjab, and roundhouse kick him in the leg. Contact is pretty light. “Ooh, [Brother’s Name] got a point!” Sensei exlaims. Black belt comments that “this kid knows what he’s doing”, and that maybe doing harder contact would be fine. Sensei accepts.

I commence bouncing, and black belt comes in with a fake-front-kick-roundhouse kick. I block it with a classic Gedan Barai (However it is spelled), and reverse punch his stomach. Not hard, but just enough to throw him off balance. His arms wildly swing as he tries to catch his balance, and he accidentally hits a kid who was standing too close. I must suppress every urge I have to laugh right now.

“Let me try!” Big sensei steps in, and takes off his jacket. I see his glistening gray chest hairs protrude from his flabby man bosoms and gigantic pregnant woman stomach. Why this was neccesary, I do not know. Maybe it was meant to keep body blows at bay, because I didn’t really want to touch his gut.

We bounce, and sensei rushes me with a series of chambered punches. I dance away from it, and sensei yells at me for not counter attacking. Fine. He does it again, and I side step linger jab his right man breast. It is disgusting, because it’s already covered in sweat. I wipe the sweat from my hand when sensei isn’t looking. “Good!”, sensei says. Now, he tells me, he is going to go for real.

He does some more lunge punches, reverse punches, and kicks that I dance around. Eventually after one of his “hold the bottom of my leg” kicks I do a non contact 1-2 to his face. “Good, good!” Sensei starts again with another kick, and I tap him on the belly this time. Every time he kicks it’s a guaranteed punch. “You can hit me as hard as you want, I won’t break!” Thank you sensei.

He goes, punches, and I dodge again. “Are you afraid of me or something!? Why dun you fight instead of running away!” sensei exclaims while laughing. He’s getting pretty tired and frustrated. He keeps chasing me and punching with punches that are well out of range to hit me. One of his random punches happens to extend as I mis time my dance, and he catches me in the chest. Not too bad, but sensei laughs and laughs now. “Beginner mistake! You should’ve dodged.”

Well, that’s pretty much it now.

I’m ready. He starts with a front kick from far away, then front punch, then a reverse punch. Then he round house kicks, reverse punch, forward punch, and now he’s in actual hitting range. He goes for another reverse punch, I go to the outside, and tap him on the tum tum. Not hard, but as hard as he caught me in the chest.

Sensei dramatically falls to the ground, clutching his gut. Black belt rushes over, and I kneel down feeling immense guilt. I’d just punched an old dumb fat man in the gut. He says I hit a stomach pressure point, that I learned in jiu jitsu, and that it was cheating. I’m assuming by stomach pressure point he meant solar plexus, but I was feeling too guilty to comment.

Sensei gets up, and we close class with some kata while sensei sits in the back room. We bow out, and sensei calls me back in there.

“I know that was an accident, but if you hit a pressure point like that on me again, we’ll take it into the parking lot, ok? No hard feelings buddy, but don’t do it again.”

I just bow out speechless. The entire class was almost too much to handle. My revenge felt tainted. I don’t know how I expected to feel, but this was most certainly not it. I did not feel satisfied; I felt dirty, I felt like a bad man (not in the good way, either).

Chapter 27

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part 3: Promotion time

The days slowly (and painfully) pass by. I go to each class, practice the kata, maybe do a few techniques, then go home. There’s no sparring, no partner drills, no application of anything. To make things worse, I’m the oldest person under 40, so it’s a very boring class. The hottest chick in there is an AARP card carrying japanese woman, and the 2nd hottest chick is 12 years old (she wins by default, there aren’t any other women there). As for people who I could spar with…the closest thing is a morbidly obese 13 year old boy, or a morbidly obese 12 year old boy. My options are unlimited.

After about two months, the first test hits us. The test for yellowbelt; sensei get’s us prepared by handing us testing sheets. He tells us to know everything on the sheet for the test; I remember back to my Kuk Sool Won days and felt a little disappointed. I thought tests were supposed to be surprising in what you were tested over; I guess I was wrong.

He tells us to line up, and I smile at my little brother. Unlike myself, he is completely freaked out about not making the test. Sensei immediately yells a kiah of disapproval.

“No smilling in my dojo! I hate smilling in my dojo, it meand yuh are not serrus! It meand yuh are weak! No smilling!”

Rage boils within me.

He lets us study the sheets before the test and practice some.

My brother and I study the sheet, and get ready. The test is the sheet and only the sheet. At the end of stand alone techniques (blocks and kicks), we get graded on forms. It goes downward in belt rank, so the black belts go first. I don’t know what they’re being tested on, but they’re testing for something.

First up is 12 year old black belt girl. She does some kind of…questionable form, where I don’t exactly see what the point of it is (Jyon, or Jion, however the hell it’s spelled). It involves lots of hopping about, making almost snake style kung fu hand strikes, going up on one leg, and more retardedness. On top of the pure sillyness, her technique is unimpressive. She punches, but she doesn’t punch hard. Just kind of like she’s going through the motion; her punches don’t look like they could hurt a hemopheliac baby that had just suffered from falling off of its motorcycle. In fact, all of her strikes just look like she’s regularly moving through some molasses.

Next up is bowl cut. Sensei nods to us and says “He hazh gud techinickie”.

His form at least defines the punches, but it looks like no one is punching as if they were trying to punch someone. Another unimpressive performance.

One by one, everyone in the known universe performs until it’s my brother’s and I turn. We rock the hell out of that joint; we punch to kill, we block to stop, we kick to abort children. Sensei lines us all up, and asks some of the random people in the audience (i.e., parents) to judge who they thought did the best.

Some of the parents start to point to me, when sensei says, “I tot she did the best.” and points at the 12 year old. All the parents reluctantly agree. She steps out of the line.

What the hell? If anything, she did the worst. Normally I’d fly into a furious rage, but I feel unattached. I want to just get the year over with, and I don’t really care.

Sensei asks the parents who did second best. The parents actually point at me this time, but then sensei says “I tot he did the best.” and points at his other black belt. He steps out of the line.

God damn it, this is bull crap. I’m better than all the bastards in here, probably including sensei, at their own game. I know for a fact I could beat up sensei, and as for children, I could probably fight all the kids at once. I had heard the tireless mantra of “Not all good fighters are good teacher, and not all good teachers are good fighters”, but that would not save sensei. Even factoring that into things, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted sparring. I wanted my retribution for this kata bullshit.

The more and more I went to this school, the more I wanted to beat the crap out of everyone in it. Why are 7 year olds correcting my punching form, when they have their thumb pointing straight out and their wrist bent backwards, AND SENSEI AGREES?!

The true boiling point comes when the “correction” part of the test comes. This is when the black belts and sensei give you tips on your forms. Sensei tells me that I need more hip action in his garbled english. The 12 year old girl tells me I need more power. More power?! I nearly lose it at this point. For her, the Queen of silly putty arms, to tell me to punch harder, it just snaps something in my brain. Bowl cut says something, but I’m not paying attention. This school is stupid. Everything is stupid. I’m stuck here for a year. I’ll show them during sparring. I’ll bide my time, take their bullshit advice, and then I’ll molest them.

How sweet it will be.

Chapter 26

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part Two: How bad it can be

My brother and I dress up in our uniforms and tie our belts as we prepare for class. I show up my standard 15 minutes early as I do for any appointment, only to find no one has shown up yet. Wonderful.

I wait, and right at the time class is supposed to start Sensei finally arrives. His vehicle of choice is a shiny black BMW SUV. I don’t know what Sensei’s other job is, but he must be raking it in.

He lets us in, and we get to talking. He asks about my previous martial art experiences, and I tell him. He was interested in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He says, “Oh good, I won’t haf to show yuh prezhure points!” I think he misunderstood, so I try to explain what BJJ is, and that it is different. Sensei replies “I know whut Ji Jitsu iz.” Ouch. Sensei walks off to the back room for whatever reason, and I take a closer look at the dojo. I figure if I’m going to be spending the next year of my life here, I should be well oriented with my surroundings.

Along the wall are flags for America, Japan, and Costa rica (Or, what I assumed to be the Costa Rican flag). I recognized it to be standard fare, and continue my visual appraisal. Adjacent to the flags are pictures of some of his former black belts. One is a very beefy, muscley looking fellow, and another one is a scrawnier glasses man (considering who he was standing next to, he could’ve been normal for all I know). There is a clock surrounded by Japanese wood paintings. Along the glass which faces the parking lot, there are palm trees along the wall. I assume them to be for ambiance. Finally, resting next to the plants, is the CD player. He plays some smooth jazz, and my brother and I begin stretching.

About 5 minutes after class was supposed to start, more students began to pour in. I didn’t recognize any of them; maybe I came in after they had already left. They range in the ages from 4 to 10. Perhaps I didn’t see them last time because it was past their bed times.

At about 10 minutes after class was supposed to start old Japanese lady showed up. I will refer to her as Ginsu from now on. She walks in with her daughter, who is about 12/13, and is also a black belt. I sigh in my mind. Even I know that a kid black belt is a bad, horrible, crappy sign.

My sigh finds itself in the company of more sighs as two more blackbelt children walk in; one is short and portly, with a Beatle’s style haircut, while the other is tall and pimply, with neon blue braces. They look 10 and 11 respectively.

We bow in, and there is no warm up. Sensei is not wearing a shirt underneath his uniform, so I can see his grey chest hair and man cleavage. Lovely.

We begin by practicing our punches from Zenkutsudachi, then reverse punches from Zenkutsudachi. I do fairly well, or atleast I assume so, because the class is deathly silent. Sensei ninjas behind me and screams “Werr are te kiahs!?”. Sufficiently bewildered, I throw one crappy punch. This manages to be during the only time Sensei pays attention to me.

He looks at me, addresses me by my brothers name, and tells me to punch better. Wonderful.

After that we move on to kicks. I still have some manner of skill from the old kickboxing classes, so I feel confident my kicks will be impressive. We are told to throw Maegiri’s. I have no idea what the hell that is, so I watch the other kids to see what they do.

“[Brother’s name]! Maegiri!”

My little brother had been behind him, so he didn’t see his hesitation. I’m a little pissed off because he’s never told me what a maegiri is, but I realize now that maegiri means front kick. I throw my best front kick, and land in Zenkutsudachi, feeling proud.

“No! Wrong!”

Well god damn it. I should’ve expected that the style difference would be evident, but this man is getting on my ass without having shown me anything. Maybe he expects a certain level of understanding from a jiu jitsu man. Sensei shows me his kick, which, to be frank, isn’t that hot. He can’t kick above thigh high, and when he kicks, he grabs the bottom of his thigh for some reason. I assume he has some kind of injury or something, because he looks silly. Anyway, it’s more of a snap than a push like I was used to, and it hit with the balls of the feet.

After that, we do a combo of Punch, reverse punch, front kick. I throw a 1-2 front kick, and am immediately told I’m doing it wrong. Sensei shows me his exaggerated version, where he makes dramatic pauses between each punch and kick. I realize it’s less of a combination than just movements that happen to be next to each other. Sensei then gets angry that there aren’t enough kiai’s.

After all this, it’s kata time. My brother and I are just told to follow along. I consider myself a professional kata learner by this point, and I catch on quickly. By the 2nd go through, I have mastered the first form. I believe it was called Taikyoku Shodan.

After the kata is over, we bow, and class is finished. Except sensei asks me to see him back in the office. I’m guessing maybe dad forgot to give him the check last time, or something like that.

It turned out to be quite the opposite. Sensei sat me down for a serious discussion. He felt that his dojo didn’t have enough black belts teaching. He told me he saw I had skill, and that he wanted to promote me as fast as possible to black belt so I could teach. He sums this up with wanting me to sign some kind of contract saying that as long as I live and practice, I’ll teach in his dojo. I tell him that I need to talk to my parents first before I sign anything. “Ok, juss mack shurr it get done!”

I leave, and my brother and I both sigh. One down, 364 to go.

Chapter 25

23 Oct

Shotokan Karate Part One: Enter the Sensei

The “Kickboxing Karate” school was right down the street, nestled gently inbetween a pawn shop and a sports bar. Finding parking was difficult, but we finally did. We make it inside, and the instructor gives my brother and I uniforms to put on. He gives us a little wisdom about what our uniforms and belts mean. This was my first time meeting the man; he looked to be in his sixties, had the typical karate master gut, and was balding up top. He tells me that he is from Costa Rica originally, and that english is his third language (after Spanish, and then Japanese). Suffice to say, I can barely understand a single word this man is saying. After his brief introduction, we introduce ourselves. He has much difficulty pronouncing our names.

After the touchy feely fest, he decides to enlighten us on what the uniforms and belts really mean.

I’m pointing out right now that none of his speech contains typos. Any extra letters or mis spells are how he pronounced the word.

“Do yuh know why your uhneeform is respresenting?”

“No.”

“It is respresenting how your are on the inside. Yuh uhneeform is white to respresent purrity wittin yuhr hurt.”

He shakes the belts he gaves and laughs.

“Tis, tis isn’t just to holt up yuhr pants! It symbolizes [how the hell he pronounced this word correctly I’ll never know] what yuh know as a perton.”

My brother and I nervously chuckle, acknowledging what he said to be true, whatever exactly that was.

We get dressed, and find that he started class without us. He tells us that this orange belt lady is going to be teaching us the basics. She’s actually factually japanese, I’d say as old as sensei, and rail thin. Her accent is more japanese than sensei’s unrecognizable gibberish, so we have an easier time picking things up.

She shows us punch, reverse punch, upper block, lower block, inside block, outside block, meanwhile I am wondering, where is the kickboxing portion?

Finally, sensei brings the class to a close with a long bowing ritual; You stand, heels together, feet pointing out. Then you bend your right knee to the outside, and put your left kene on the ground. Then you meet your left knee with your right knee, and sit on your heels. As he was teaching us this, where was the kickboxing portion? My dad arrives halfway through the ritual, and sensei leaves closing the class to the japanese lady. I think to myself, good lord, I can’t wait to get out of here. There is no physically demanding exercise, no cardio work, no kickboxing, no bag hitting, no mit hitting, no pad hitting, no punching-blocking drills, no application, nothing. The entire class was kata. I want to get out of there. Dad walks out laughing and shaking hands with sensei.

I get nervous.

After class, my dad informs me he signed us up. I sigh.

Oh, and he signed a year long contract.

FUCKING WHAT?!

Yes, to my dismay, I was signed up for a full year. I expressed my disinterest, but my dad says,

“Look, exercise is exercise. It’s japanese karate, right? And kickboxing is just full contact karate, right? I mean, he’s a nice enough guy. Just give it a chance.

Besides, how bad can it be?”