Half of it is in the Attitude

During the week of the holidays (and a little extra thanks to some holiday flu), I’ve been taking a break from writing. The craziness of the whole family and Christmas thing tends to stopper the flow of any story in my mind in most cases. In the all others, I simply need the rest. This does bring on the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) instance of my mind wandering. When my mind starts wandering and runs into a really wonderful fever flavored with no real food for two days, this creates the perfect storm for a fever dream. At least it seems to in my case. What you will find below was the unlikely source of my fever dream during the holiday period of 2011.

For those of you who have known me for a while, you are likely aware of the gaping hole in my memory. I apologize for repeating this (again) but you never know when someone new stops by. Short answer for people new to the blog, due to a concussion of most epic proportions I remember some stories from high school, but have no recollection of being there. Ironically most of the tales I remember being there for involve me getting punched in the head. True story. This is one of these tales.

Back when I was 16 I went to my first major Tae Kwon Do tournament. Which is to say that the first tournament I remember going to was L.A.M.A. Nationals in Chicago. This involved a van ride down to Chicago and a hotel stay for the night before. I remember on the way down, even though I was the lowest rank (it was my first tournament) I was made requisitions officer. What that really meant was my mother had sent us with cookies and I was sitting next to the cooler. It’s really strange the things that will make a 16 year old martial artist feel good about himself and the weekend as a whole.

Now the reason I say the lowest rank and not the youngest, is that the youngest fighter travelling with our Combat Team was Noah. His was around 10 years old, but was a blue belt. In our ranking system that only left brown and black to go for him. We didn’t bother with stripes, it just made for more testing and more cost – one of the things I loved about our school. He was younger than me, but there was no doubt he was a better fighter. Remember that, it will come into play later in this story.

We did various things to pass the time that night. There was practice out in the parking lot, geared down to our fighting pants… in November. Bare feet and bare chests on blacktop in the middle of November is a bit chilly. Honestly I can’t remember why we decided to do that, but determined it would play mind games with the other competitors. Reality is it probably just made them think we were nuts. We went from that to sparring in the hallway near our rooms. I forget what hotel this was, but the hallways were tight. I mean you could touch both walls walking down the middle without much strain. Tight.

Preface to the sparring, back then we had two sets of rules – Point Fighting and Chicago Rules. Point Fighting involved no head contact, no crotch kicking and if your opponent falls to the ground you go to your corner while he stands. Chicago Rules allowed head contact, crotch kicking was legal and if your opponent fell you had three seconds to get in a point. I never did manage to see anyone do a crotch stomp on a downed opponent – that was our idea of the penultimate point. With these rules in mind… as we were sparring before our Chicago debut…

Noah and I are sparring in the hallway. During the course of the fight I became increasingly aware of the fact the tight conditions were to my benefit. Longer legs, no fancy spinning and such – working to my strengths at that point. That doesn’t stop Noah from placing a snapping front kick (not really making contact because the kid was good) right under one of my kicks and straight for “the boys.” And no, I’m not talking about “The Boys” who are the tattoo characters from the Marjorie Liu urban fantasy series. The guy watching us calls “Point!” Once this happens we square off to start again – then I taught Noah a lesson in the element of surprise.

Bouncing off the “line,” he snaps forward with a kick. Instead of just blocking it, I capture the leg and scoop him up in a grapple and run him into the room howling a battle cry. I threw him down on the unoccupied bed, put a knee across his chest and proceeded to tickle him until he cried uncle. Sensei heard the loud battle cry and came over to our room. After I took my knee up he just laughed and said, “Noah, what the hell happened?” Gasping for breath the kid said something to the affect of, “He pulled a sneak maneuver, sir. He tickled me,” and fell off the bed and onto the floor.

The other part of the evening that is relevant to this current fever dream inspired tale involves what happened after that. The short answer is we went down to the lounge and threw darts with some people in the rooms around us. Apparently after the unorthodox fighting techniques, they decided we must be fun people to hang out with. There the other group’s Sensei taught me to throw darts like throwing stars. It looks unorthodox as hell, but it you get good at it, the end result is pretty cool. And yes, I did win some dart games whipping out the shuriken method in the late game. Also in talking with some of their lower ranking fighters, we discussed the benefits of keeping your white belt for a full year.

The dart throwing is most important for the story at hand. The full year of white belt… the most important to my martial arts career. That remains a story for another day though.

My fever dream in as few of words as possible (at least until I can process it all and recheck my bedside notes) was this:

I (as the POV of the fever dream) was involved in a fight. The fight was over land rights between packs of shifters and vamps. Which I was part of was undetermined. The fight was fairly evenly matched, which lead me to doing something off-center to throw their balance off. This led to me calling my opponent a “wise guy” and slapping him around like we were the Three Stooges. When his companions came out to help him I started throwing darts at him using the backwards shuriken method as opposed to the way 99.9% of the human population would throw darts.

While that was really around 30 seconds of the whole dream, it was the one that stuck with me the most. It brought back the memory from that chunk of my history that is pretty hazy with a razor sharp clarity. Unfortunately the splitting headache that usually accompanies these striking lucid moments was hot on the heels of the fever dream. Nothing says awesome like intestinal distress, fever ridden hallucinations and a migraine. Or, as I like to call them, Tuesday.

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