Shifting Gears

 

I know I left things in a precarious place, but there is an important detail, at least to me, that still stays with me today. It really does have significance later on. It happened in the sixth grade. I saw a boy. Not just any boy though. More like an angel. I still think of him that way. My angel.

The sad part is that we never got to know each other. We’d see each other on the playground. Our eyes would meet. And that was it. I could see what was in his eyes, and I’m sure he could see right through mine as well. He was absolutely stunning to behold.

The next year I got a really lucky break. We went to the same middle school and he was in my gym class! I didn’t get to see him in the showers nearly as much as I wanted. But when I did… oh my god! Not a flaw anywhere. I was still young enough, and definitely scared enough, to not really understand why he stood out among everyone else. But his name and beauty still haunt me. I still, to this very day, kick myself for never speaking more than a few words to him.

Looking back, I suppose it was a good thing. Because the person I turned into was not pretty, good nor light. I was taught from a young age to be a machine. Love and infatuations had no place in my life. I didn’t even really know what love was back then anyway. I’ll leave this one alone for now, but I’ll circle back later.

So… this friend of my father – he was to start teaching me Karate. And he did. But what I didn’t know was how harsh the training would be. Every mistake I made was met with pain. And lots of it. I had to learn, for the sake of my physical well-being if nothing else, to get it right and get it right quickly. This man, who will remain anonymous, was about as mean as my father. My plans of learning how to beat the living hell out of my father were quickly fading. But I was not allowed to quit. My father wouldn’t allow it. No matter how many bones got broken.

But I soon figured it out and was climbing ‘the ranks’ at a pretty good pace. My black belt test, however, was an entirely different matter. Twenty-four hours of demonstrations, sparring, kata’s, and to top it all off, I was to fight my teacher at the end. The rules were simple. No holds barred, full contact, no gear and I had to beat him two out of three times. It seemed impossible. I was so tired. My entire being was on fire. Every muscle, joint, even organs, ached.

By this time, I had learned to focus my anger, pain, and everything else upon a single goal. Yes, I passed the test. But it would be nearly five months before I could fight again. Dad was fine with that. Because his ‘friend’ had another instructor lined up for me. Just what I needed. Five months of thinking and dwelling on what living hell might await me.

As it turned out, this new teacher was a little different. It was still Karate, simply a different form. And when I finally received that black belt, they all had plans for me. Plans that I didn’t even know existed. Such things were foreign to me. I had no concept of fighting for money. But there I was, going into my first cage at the ripe old age of eighteen. I had long since dropped out of school and this is how Dad thought I should ‘earn my keep’. Too bad neither my family, aside from Dad, nor myself, ever saw any of the money I made. The only money I was able to use was spent on hospital bills.

So, how did my father slip all this past my mother? We’ll cover that next time.

Published October 1, 2012

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