Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I studied Karate once, for almost four years. It was Okinawan karate, which means all hands, little foot action.
One of things I loved to do was spar. We had sparring Tuesday and Thursday nights, and on Saturdays, and I rarely missed a session. Sparring isn’t as dangerous as it sounds because we would wear teeth guards and shin pads (a must!) and boxing gloves, of course. I also had sports glasses since I wear glasses.
I particularly loved sparring with the Sensei because aside from being a great teacher, he was also drop dead gorgeous. Better looking even than Hugh Jackman and Johnny Depp, and that says a lot.
With Sensei, we could always try out dangerous moves because he was so good you couldn’t hurt him. Once I decided to practice a punch whereby I swung all the way around, arm extended, hand in a fist aimed at his head. He blocked. And then since he felt I needed to learn control, he arm locked me around the neck, picked me off the ground, and threw me against the wall.
Unfortunately, his wife saw this. Now you have to realize that the only person in the world Sensei was afraid of was his wife, this drop dead beautiful woman who came up to his chest if that. She lit into him something awful, getting all over his case for roughing me up. I tried to interrupt, tried to say, “Sensei didn’t hurt me, he knew what he was doing”, but nothing could stop this really breathtaking scold.
(Followed by hugs all around, of course.)
Sensei would never hurt me because he had a real thing about people getting hurt and did everything in his power to prevent this. Sometimes when we sparred, though, a tap in the right place on my glasses would cause a cut on the bridge of my nose and I would start bleeding.
(I was used to it, didn’t even really bother me as long as the blood didn’t start dripping down on my uniform. I always thought that the blood on my face gave me a sort of cachet with the guys.)
Anyway, when I would get one of these cuts, my Sensei would start to slow down, his face getting more and more puzzled until he would finally stop and say, “Your face is bleeding. I can’t believe you don’t know that your face is bleeding.” And off I would have to go to get the cut taken care of. Pain in the butt.
Now, I’m taller than the average woman. In fact, I’m taller than the average man. As so happens my best friend, who was two belts higher than me, was about five foot tall, 90 pounds if that. In spite of our height differences, though, we loved to spar together. We knew each other so well, we knew how far we could go and we looked very impressive when we fought — with much whirling of feet and arms and lots of cries of “Heya!” People would stop and look, we were that hot.
Unfortunately, Sensei didn’t know that we knew how far we could go with each other and was always getting on my case about me beating on my friend. What impressed others alarmed him. Even when my friend would say, “Sensei, she knows what she’s doing! She’s not hurting me”, he would scold me for using my height against my friend. What was I thinking of.
Well, gee, Sensei. Uh. We were having…fun?
It was frustrating sparring with my friend and the other women. I was always having to hold back because I didn’t want to look like I was beating on them, even though half the time I would be the one of the floor because they felt they didn’t have to hold back with me (me being so much bigger and all).
Finally, one day I said, no more sparring with the women, I was sparring with the men only from that point on.
What a difference this made. I could now spar to my fullest potential without having to worry about being seen as a bully. And what was better is that I earned my ‘stripes’ with the guys, and they enjoyed sparring with me just as much and we treated each other equally. I would sometimes land a punch too hard and put someone on the ground, but that was okay, because they would do the same.
One time I was sparring with Jim, who was about 250 pounds and had a bit of a control problem at times. When He’d landed one punch too many too hard, I hauled off and hit him in the side beneath the ribs in a punch sweet as it could be. It was about perfect. Put that man on the floor groaning in pain, but without any lasting damage. When Sensei came over, I just smiled at him sweetly. Sensei understood, and so did Jim.
I loved sparring with the guys. I ended up with a broken nose and cracked ribs, but I had a lot of fun.