I got kicked in the face on Tuesday.
I can still feel the bruising on the side of my right eye and across the bridge of my nose, where I took the worst of the impact. The perpetrator is one of my best friends at Chon Ji Martial Arts, and I’m fairly sure that I have kicked him in the face a few times myself, so it isn’t as though I blame the guy for it. In his defense, we were sparring; one of the goals of that activity is to hit the other person.
Somehow I also managed to break at least one toe on this guy’s shin. It wasn’t the greatest offensive move I have ever thrown.
Most people, when they find out that I spar, seem a bit surprised. I get it; I don’t look like a UFC fighter. I’m scrawny, bespectacled, and terrified of people. I read a lot of books. I play a lot of videogames. I write in my spare time. I don’t fit the bill for someone that enjoys gearing up and throwing down.
And what usually follows the reaction to learning that I am a black belt is the idea that my school has a steel cage in it and that I try to choke people out until they are unconscious. I instantly go from an introverted bookworm to a bloodthirsty street fighter hidden in a sweater vest. It is a bizarre shift in perception that I imagine comes from the limited experience that most people have with violence.
I still find it strange. No one bats an eye when they find out that you play a bit of tackle football, or hockey, or even some rec soccer. But people get hurt in those sports all the time. I mean, in eight months of teachers college, our class of 40 had three trips to the emergency room due to injuries sustained in intramural games, all while aggressively pursuing a goal against another group of people. How is that any different than me throwing on some boxing gloves and head gear and trying to tag a similarly outfitted opponent?
I’ll admit that it is a weird addiction. I look forward to Tuesday nights, to limping in to school on Wednesday morning with shins that are bruised from ankle to knee, blackened elbows and swollen knuckles. It reminds me that once, long ago, learning to fight was part of a proper education.
Along with composing poetry and general horsemanship.
I’m still working on the horsemanship part.