Please welcome back Jodi Rath. Always a fun post!
I’m thrilled to be back on Fearless Fridays with Brenda Whiteside. It’s one of my favorite blogs to read! I’ve been on once before, and this time I had to rack my brains (lots of rattling around in there) to think of all the ways I’m valiant. You have to understand, this is coming from a high school English teacher of over twenty years. So, yep, super exciting lifestyle! So much so that the kids in one of my honors English classes used to move my stapler every morning and then take bets on how long it would take me to move it back to its spot on my desk. Which was usually not long, and always without me even realizing I was doing it. What can I say? I like my desk and my life orderly and predictable.
But I digress . . . I’m an only child, and I’ve always been more introverted than your average Jodi. I enjoy my “me time” and have always been able to find ways to stay busy and happy on my own. I like to unwind and enjoy myself with writing, research, art projects, and … kickboxing? That’s right. It’s something called Kenpo, which is a Japanese term meaning ‘all types of martial arts.’ My Kenpo style was a blend of street fighting, martial arts, and straight kickboxing.
I worked my way right up to the brown belt—one away from the coveted black belt. Then, I began to spar, and that proved to be my downfall. Did I mention I’m also somewhat of a klutz? Yeah, I am. It went something like this:
Hank (my Kenpo instructor): Mandy wants to get a sparring partner. I think you’re ready.
Hank: To spar. Meet here this Saturday at 10 a.m.
A brief pause for a summary of what sparring is—maybe you know, I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from blindly signing up for it. “Sparring” can mean different things, depending on the discipline. Boxers spar with contact, but there are lots of rules to protect them from injuring themselves. In Kenpo, we spar to make ourselves and our sparring partner better. It’s training, and we do it with no contact, just practicing the moves that our trainers call out from the floor. The point is not to touch or hurt each other, but have the feeling of the other person there. Back to the story.
Saturday at 10 a.m., I walk into the gym with my holey old purple sweats hiked up to just below my knees—you know the super-old elastic-around-the-ankle sweats from the eighties, plus an old Rolling Stones T-shirt and my flip-flops because I know I’ll be barefoot in the ring anyway.
Mandy is already in the ring, bouncing, jabbing, and kicking the air. She has tattoos all over her body, one being a skull on her leg that says something that isn’t appropriate for this blog but has to do with death. She is decked out in a sleeveless, breathable black Kenpo shirt with matching short shorts and muscles bulging.
Nope! I turn on my heels. No joke. My heart escapes and goes right up to my throat, where I come close to spewing it up.
Poor Hank–he runs after his wimp of a student (I know, I KNOW—so much for Fearless, right?) and says, “There is NO contact. This is practice for you both!”
I try to imagine myself through Mandy’s eyes at that moment. She is probably thinking if my fighting skills are anything like my wardrobe, I will be easy to demolish. She is probably right.
I take a deep breath, then say to Hank, “You promise? No contact. She’s not allowed to kill me, right?”
Hank is trying really hard not to laugh. He shakes his head.
So, ladies and gents, I get into that ring, shake the hand of the beast, Mandy, and spar. And I mean, I SPAR. Mandy and I amp up our game as we continue, and I become more and more confident holding my own (meaning knowing Mandy isn’t going to annihilate me.) Then Hank yells, “REVERSING CIRCLES!”
Time out for explanation: Reversing circles means I do a front left roundhouse kick followed by a left punch. Back to the story.
So, I’m all in it now, and I hear, “REVERSING CIRCLES!” and I’m bouncing, and I’ve got my mouthpiece in and my pads on my hands. I bounce and flip around, taking my left leg toward Mandy and kicking her right in her face. Then I throw that punch–which might have landed if she had not already gone down from the kick. CONTACT! WHOOPS!
Crap. That isn’t supposed to happen. Mandy and her trainer are not happy, to say the least. I bend over her to check on her, although I am pretty terrified she’ll reach up and grab me by my neck and take me out then and there.
In the end, she walks away with a bruise and a swollen eye, while I have a torn ligament in my ankle and have to have surgery—which keeps me from getting my black belt.
I blame Hank.
Anyway, completely fearless? Maaaayyyyybeeeeee NOT! LOL! But, here I thought Mandy would end up hurting me and instead, look at me, all bad-to-the-bone. Mandy and I are still friendly today. Kind of, sort of.
If any of you are fans of my series The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, then my absurd antics may remind you of Jolie Tucker, the protagonist. She and I both get ourselves into some ridiculous scrapes. Book five of the series, Deep Dish Pizza Disaster, just came out last Friday 9/4/20. Purchase at Amazon or another e-retailer.
How’s that for Fearless Friday? BAM! Mic drop!