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Archive for November 18th, 2008

Soldier 101

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Lots of people have asked me what’s the craziest thing I’ve had to deal with since TKFF opened its doors. The following is probably it…except for the time I spoke with a ninja, but that’s another story.

It was the perfect Friday afternoon. Not too hot with a great spring breeze. I had an hour before instructing the next class and I thought I would enjoy my lunch outside. I had no idea that danger was lurking outside the door. I grabbed my sandwich and headed out back. The air was thick with fresh honeysuckle. One bite later, Elizabeth, our office manager walked out. She looked very disturbed.

“I really think you need to get up front and see what this guy wants,” she said. Her body language told me not to argue, so I sighed, took another quick bite, and went to meet our visitor.

“Hey, you the main instructor?” The visitor stood next to the front desk. He wore a faded camouflage shirt, baggy commando pants, and scuffed brown boots. His black greasy hair covered his eyes. With his arms folded across his chest and his head tilted to the left, he was trying to look intimidating. I thought he might fall over if he leaned any more. He also had a friend with him, a bean-pole of a guy wearing a purple shirt with the word “nasty” on the front. He was standing glued to the wall.

“Yes.” I said, still thinking of my sandwich.

“Yeah, I train with X (I can’t remember the name) and I did a tour for the U.S. Army. I’ve also trained with Chuck Norris’ boys.”

“Great, how can I help you today?”

“Say, look, I’ve been all over town and I’ve put down all the instructors.” He moved away from the counter and turned toward me. “That’s what I do, man. I go from school to school, challenge instructors, see if they got anything for me.” He started poking his thumb into his chest and began to strut. He looked like a drunken rooster. “So far nobody’s touched me.” Now he was doing a horrible version of an Ali dance. “I know 101 ways to kill, man. Got my skills from Uncle Sam, in the jungles.”

Again I said, “Great, how can I help you?” I was hoping this wasn’t going where I thought it was.

“I don’t see how that mantis bug stuff you do deals with real combat.”

OK, now I’m really upset. My lunch hour is slipping away, my sandwich is getting soggy, and my empty stomach is groaning at me while I am listening to this lunatic!

I grabbed a brochure off the counter. “Why don’t you come back Monday evening at 6:30 for our open class. That will give you an idea how mantis kung fu works.” I walked over, handed Soldier the brochure, and was on my way to the front door.

“See, all I gotta do is send my elbow into the throat.” Now he was shadow boxing. “So, I mean there’s no way you can handle me. I exterminate bugs.”

Before I reached the door, Soldier rushed me. I stepped to the side. His fist sailed passed me. I shot my left leg out and swept him off his feet. Soldier hit the floor hard. His partner, Mr. “Nasty”, just stood frozen to the wall with his jaw gaping open.

I looked down at Solder, “What are you doing?”

“Oh, man, just testing you. How’d you do that?” he asked, getting up.

“It’s time for you guys to leave.” I held the door open and Mr. Nasty quickly exited.

“No hard feelings, man. Just messin around.” Soldier regained his balance and charged again! I couldn’t believe it!

I ducked his punch, grabbed his shirt, twisted my waist, and threw him again, only this time out into the parking lot. I closed the door and stood in front of it. My heart pounded my ribcage and the rush of adrenaline burned my stomach. “If you come again, you will be hurt. Then I’m calling the police.”

“It’s cool, I’m gone. Some moves you got, man.” As Soldier and Mr. Nasty were walking off, he shouted, “You the man!”

Watching them walk away, I recalled some stories my Sifu told me that happened to him in the late 60’s and 70’s. In those years, lots of crazy people challenged instructors. I had thought those days were gone but Soldier proved me wrong. So, all martial arts instructors beware. The Soldier still lurks about and he knows 101 ways to kill.

* Side note. Since Soldier’s visit, I’ve replayed that day in my mind repeatedly and thought of several ways I should have handled it. I hate that it got physical, but I learned from it. As a result, we implemented new policies into our curriculum as to how to deal with whackos. We call our deterrent program Soldier 101.