The Righteous Punch

bullyingI’m not supposed to write about this but I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Yesterday before school a bigger boy in my son’s class shoved him face first against a wall and he banged his head pretty hard. Instinctively, my son spun around and punched the kid in the face, hard.  The boy went down and cried. But Sandor helped him up and apologized and they shook hands.

Sandor called me to let me know what had happened. He was upset because he know if a teacher saw him he’d get in big big trouble, probably suspended.  He was also upset because he made the boy cry.  When I pressed him he explained he was kind of a big slow kid who did stuff like this all the time other people. He also told me he wanted to keep punching him but the yellow belt tenant in Taekwondo is Self Control.  He did the right thing and stopped.

I was totally stressed all day waiting for a call from the school. Right after lunch Sandor texted me “I feel so guilty”.  When we got home I asked him why and it was because the boy cried and that always makes him feel really bad.

Good news, this morning Sandor texted me again, the kid told him his face still hurt and they shook hands again.

Then my son told me about another fight which took place in the football lockerroom.  There’s a young man, I’ll call him Joe, who’s mother died a couple of years ago.  A seventh grade boy started making fun of Joe’s dead mother. (It doesn’t get any worse that that.) One of the star football players slugged the kid several time to shut him up. (Obviously, in my mind the right thing to do.) I believe this situation was handled appropriately by one of the coaches and was never reported.

The truth is some kids are just wretched human beings right now but they aren’t any worse than they used to be. I remember getting pushed around in first grade because I liked Davey Jones in the Monkeys.  And in 5th grade when I had to go to a new school for a little while in Florida all the kids and bus driver called me “Pig Farmer” because of my accent. Kids are really mean.

My son has been in Taekwondo, and messed around with boxing since he was three. He’s a second degree black belt and he’s been trained to do exactly what he did. Defend himself.  He’s also been taught to always always stick up for a kid being bullied. that’s one of the founding principals of our Taekwondo school and house hold.  That’s his job. There are sheep and there are coyotes in life and especially in school. Somebody has to be brave enough to protect the sheep. that’s the natural order of things. Walking away when you can help someone is a disgrace.

Hopefully our school administrators will come to understand (and many of ours do now, thankfully) we’re not helping anyone, especially the sheep, if we tell kids not to defend themselves and weaker students from punk ass coyotes. Teachers, administrators and the police can’t be everywhere all the time. So when we tell our strong and righteous students to step back we are only emboldening the bullies, we are giving them even more power.

It’s a fine line, but again, this is a situation where “zero tolerance” just doesn’t work.  If I defended an old person who was being pushed around at Walgreens by a big tough guy I’m pretty sure the police would take the circumstances into consideration.

There will always be bullies, there will always be kids who get bullied and there will always be heroes unless they all get suspended.

Get Off The Couch and Be Brave

ladyI teach a kickboxing boot camp class every week and I always walk away astonished.  I have three to seven folks, mostly women ages 30-45 show up smiling and ready to sweat.

When I googled pictures of women kickboxing they were ALL SUPER HOT BABES IN SPORTS BRAS. Not my kick boxers.

Several are in really, really good shape, better than me, and others are working on it. Most of my kick boxers are teachers at Lake Hamilton School and they inspire me ….because they don’t quit. They don’t complain, they don’t make excuses. They keep on going and getting better.

I have a friend whomy age and started Taekwondo. She always said her  goal was “to suck a little less every day.”

Instead of being intimidated and sitting on the couch watching tv,  these women put on boxing or MMA gloves (that’s really fun to watch)  and they jab-cross,  jab-cross tick tock jab-cross, they upper cut hook bob and weave.  They round kick the heavy bag until they are sweating and gasping and exhausted….but they keep on going. And they are getting better every single week.

One of the ladies is a substitute teacher, totally dedicated to her family and she punches like a monster. She said her husband didn’t really believe she could punch…hard. She can.  So I gave her a couple of focus mitts  and told her to let her husband and hold for her while she punched.  She came back  this week all smiles and said her husband backed up while she was punching.

Here’s the reality, most of us stop learning anything new once we turn thirty. We just repeat our actions because it’s safe, it’s what we know. We won’t look like idiots.

Adults who start any martial arts program, from taekwondo to kickboxing, are heroes to me. They are brave and smart and strong. And they aren’t afraid…of anything….at any age.

When we stop learning new things, we stop growing, when we are more afraid of looking like an idiot than growing… we have officially gotten old and broken down.

Don’t let that happen. Find something new, learn something new, Russian, how to play the piano, learn to  rock climb or kickbox.

Stand up and be brave. Do something new and you’ll be honoring my middle age kickboxing class and this beautiful life God has given you.

Dead Guys Can’t Kick

Two weeks ago I was sparing at a black belt camp in Louisiana and was kicked by a very handsome 6th degree. When I tried to get up my right knee laughed at me and said, “put your butt back down, woman.” I couldn’t walk.

Getting hurt at this kind of cam is rotten because I had to miss the following 48 hours of training and I had to lie around in a fairly primitive room, no tv, no Internet connection, no telephone for the next day and a half. just me, my goofy brain and a bag of ice.

When I got home two things became apparent.

 1.My knee wasnt’ getting any better.
2. It’s impossible to look hot wearing  a big ugly knee brace doing the zombie walk. (I’m waiting for the What Not To Wear people to jump out of my closet)

My orthopedic made an ugly face and sent me for an MRI.
Yuck! For twenty minutes I had to lie in a big shaking, quivering, humming and banging machine. I’m sure an MRI costs millions and millions of dollars, so why is it so noisey and aggressive? They gave me head phones with music but the MRI was so loud I couldn’t hear.

As I left, the MRI lady took my $300 dollars (and I have big insurance) and told me to help myself to a bowl of pens and emory boards. I looked at her with  “an emory board, seriously?” kind of expression. But she didn’t get it. Why does an MRI place give away emory boards.

The next day I hobbled into the doctor’s. office. I smiled. “Ok, give me some good news, it’s stretched, strained, twisted?”
He smiled right back, “ACL and Mencius are both torn.”
I was crushed and kind of wanted to cry, but I didn’t. (I waited till I got to the parking lot)  I handed him a list I’d made earlier. “Diana’s summer Fun List”

Chasing and annoying kids, taekwondo, tennis, running, rock climbing, swimming, skiing, hiking, water parks.  “Can I do any of this stuff?”

He read the list then shook his head. “Well, you can still annoy your kids just not chase them.”

“Surgery?” I asked.

“Well, at your age you need to really think about that.”

Did he say “‘at your age?” Oh my lord talk about adding insult to injury, like I’m Granny Maw Maw. Didn’t he read my list? Those are the worst three words any man can say to a woman…every. What a dummy. I feel sorry for his wife.

 I really- really wanted to cry, or kick his ass, which would be tough with one leg. “I want to fix it. Soon, today.”

He shrugged, “Ok, I understand. It’s an outpatient surgery but the recovery will be a few months, 4-6.”

“Let’s go, the sooner the better.”

“We’ll have to do a  graft.”

“Excellent, from somebody else?  Can I have  a 24 year old Asian girl graft?”

He just stared at me so I tried to explain. “If I get a young Asian graft maybe I’ll kick better and who knows my math might improve.”

Fine, I’m a reverse racist. I want the qualities middle age white women just don’t posses. He wouldn’t laugh, but I thought I was pretty funny.

“It will be a cadaver graft,” he state flatly.

“A dead guy? I get dead guy parts?  That’s not gonna help my kicking.”

He shrugged and smiled, obviously thinking I was marginally insane. Then his nurse came in to schedule the surgery.

So, I’m out of the game for 4-6 months. It sucks. Sometimes I  whine but the Martial Arts world is filled with guys who have had the same surgery or accident and injuries far more hideous. Maybe tearing my ACL it’s like my innationa into a super duper special fraternity of steler kickers. Who knows, maybe my cadaver could kick through the roof…maybe I’ll get a little piece of Bruce Lee.  

Then…in six month…it’s on, baby!