Monday, July 21, 2008

Wax On... Why Are You Crying?

Recently I discovered the certificate I was issued when I obtained a yellow belt in some flim flammy karate class. When I was 10, the year 1979. YIKES!

I can totally remember when my Dad and two older brothers decided to take karate classes for the exact same reason that everyone else at the time wanted them. They all wanted to be Bruce Lee. And I wanted to be and do whatever my brothers were doing - the fact that I was a girl and they were boys didn't mean a thing to me. I should have known from the lack of hesitation [upon my joining the class] on their part that it was an incredibly bad idea. For me.

We were 3 latch key kids. When my brothers weren't spending time locking me out of the house, they were using me as a target for home made darts or just beating me up in the way that only brothers can do. Enrolling all of us in a class where they were not only allowed, but encouraged to beat on their sister was the ultimate get out of jail free card.

When the teacher informed us that karate was only to be used to protect oneself, and that it was downright improper to use it solely to show off or whack your sister in the head, I had hope. Hope that my brothers wouldn't roundhouse my ass just for fun. It is one of the clearest memories I have of complete and utter dismay at the difference of life "on paper" and "in reality". It was the down payment on my helmet for life. Because what do 12 and 14 year old boys care about improper? Only that the forbidden nature of it was the exact fuel they needed to put operation pummel-your-sister into action.

My Dad was in the class with us. That slightly cut down on the number of "sparring" sessions I had to endure. That - and the fact that I learned to cry sooner rather than later, which I believe got on their nerves more than anything.

Memories of those individual lessons are lost to me at this point. A blurry image here and there, mostly of my trying to remember my Forms. Or Form. Or whatever that maniacal dance routine was that they assigned to us at each level and that we were expected to memorize and perform on demand. One particular lesson I remember the class being introduced to a room - not unlike one of those super bounce things at kid parties - but it was an actual room in the building where the lights were turned out, we were placed inside, and the idea was for us to use our spidey senses to spar with our classmates. That might have been considered a great teaching technique if I didn't immediately curl up in a ball in the corner and just hope that nobody tripped over me. Much more turtle than spider.

I remember testing for the yellow belt, and quitting the classes the very night I got it. I was NOT going to stick around for nunchucks and throwing stars. Those items might not have been on the teacher's agenda, but that wouldn't have mattered to my brothers. There was already a pond in our courtyard filled with plastic army men who had been tied to bottle rockets and shot into the pond from the roof of our two story home - and cleaned out again before our parents got home. I didn't need much encouragement to believe that I would soon be forced to "hold this for a second, I want to see if I can make a throwing star stick in the wood while I run through the yard like a ninja."

I'll tell you what though. I was the best crier in the class.

No comments: