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Who’s Yo Daddy? A Chuck Norris Tale

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

In past blogs I’ve portrayed Sifu Fogg as a hard-nosed, no-nonsense task master. At times it felt like he was, but truth is, Mr. Fogg is very laid back and has a great sense of humor.

While sweating blood to earn my bachelors at Stephen F. in Nacogdoches, Sifu Fogg was there as well completing his masters. Perfect timing. During those two years, I was able to absorb lots of kung fu from The Man himself.

On Friday evening before summer finals, I dropped by Sifu’s apartment on North Street. We were going to train then grab a bite to eat. Entering the apartment complex, I was welcomed by a group of girls dancing in the parking lot. Welcome to college life.

The entire complex was one big party. A sea of happy people, all with drinks in hand, moved in rhythmic waves across the parking lot and walk ways to a grotesque mixture of country, head-banger, and rap that boomed from car stereos and open apartment doors. I eventually found a parking spot, locked down the car, then headed to Sifu’s apartment.

To my left, the pool overflowed with bikinied beauties, while in front of me, empty pizza boxes blocked my view of the stairway.

Declining lots of beer and party invites along the way, I finally located the stairs, pushed my way up to Room 227, and stepped inside. Cigarette smoke was thick and the music even louder. People were elbow-to-elbow. I asked the girl closest to me if she had seen Sifu. (It’s crazy. Everyone calls Mr. Fogg, “Sifu”, even if they’re not his students). The young woman took a sip of whatever was in her 64oz Coke cup and just stared at me, along with her two other friends. Figuring she didn’t hear me over the music, I asked the question again.

No response, just more staring. I soon noticed that everyone else standing close by was staring as well. What’s the deal?

I suddenly felt nervous, wondering if a piece of spinach or a raisin was stuck in my teeth.

Finally, the girl asked, “Who’s yo daddy?”

“What?” I asked. Surely I heard wrong.

At that moment, if a tribe of Amazonian cannibals had suddenly burst through the windows, stuck a sharp spear to my throat, and said they’d eat me unless I told them what I thought the young woman had just asked me, ‘Who’s yo daddy’ certainly would not have been it.

“Who’s yo daddy?” she asked again then slurped from her cup.

Before I could respond, Sifu suddenly appeared out of nowhere. (He did that quite often).

“I already told them Chuck Norris was your daddy,” Sifu said, “and that he sent you here to learn kung fu from me. It’s okay, you can admit it.”

Another girl wearing a tight sleeveless shirt and short-shorts stepped really close to me. Her alcohol breath burned my nose, “He sure looks like Chuck Norris.”

“Well, I-” I felt my face turning red.

“Chuck Norris knows kung fu.” The 64oz girl said to Sifu. “Why he gonna send his son to learn from you?”

Without a beat, Sifu said, “Chuck knows karate, not kung fu. He’s embarrassed about that. He knows kung fu is better and he knows that I’m the best. He secretly sent his son to train with me.”

By now, a large crowd had encircled us.

Short-shorts girl cocked her head at me and said, “So show us something then.” The crowed stepped back, every eye on me.

You need to know that I was a Chuck fanatic and I did mimic many of his moves, particularly his kicks.

I made a show of warming up then jumped and did a spinning back outside crescent kick, the kick that Chuck made famous in his tournament days. My baggy KF pants popped and my leather shoe slapped against my hand. I landed in the splits.

“Damn,” a guy behind me said.

“See, I told you.” Sifu shrugged and vanished back into the crowd.

Before we left, I actually signed a few autographs as “Chuck Norris’ son”. It was crazy.

The Seven Coolest Things Sifu Fogg Has Ever Done:

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

7.   Kung Fu Phony: Back before cell phones, Sifu carried around a big white cordless phone while he taught class at the old Marshall school. It seemed to always ring during Horse Stance time and it was always some student from another country whom he hadn’t talked to in years. I hated those students. One evening, when Sifu was fighting the whole class, the phone rang. He told us to keep attacking. As we did, he mantis hopped over to the phone, answered it, and kept talking while he beat us down with one hand. Two times, he even asked the caller to hold on while he smacked us on the forehead with the phone. He told the caller he had to squash a bug. Oh yeah, he was smoking too.

6.   Bar Hopping: One winter morning at 5 AM, John Cheng and I ganged up on Sifu inside a nightclub. We were fighting on top of the bar. We fell off, repeatedly. He didn’t. (Don’t ask)

5.   The Grim Grappler: A loud-mouthed grappler visited our school once and commented that once he got hold of anyone, it was over. They couldn’t do anything about it; said he’d been studying for years and he was unstoppable. Normally, Sifu just let this kind of foolish talk go, but this guy just kept on and on. Finally, with Sifu’s permission, he let this guy wrap him up in some crazy hold. While lying there in a tight ball of arms and legs, Sifu asked the guy three times if he was ready. I heard the dude say yes, and then I heard him scream. He sprang to his feet and ran out of the school still screaming. He never returned.

4.   Butterfly Stance: In Sifu’s early days of being in Texas, he only had Karate people to fight with. One evening, he fought an entire Karate school while sitting in butterfly stance. (How do you explain being beaten up by a man never stood up?)

3.   Immovable Horse Stance: Following an afternoon training session at his house, Sifu sat in horse stance with his back to the bumper of his Ford Falcon and had a student put the car in reverse and ease down on the gas pedal. Sifu held the car in place for at least 60 seconds while the driver steadily increased pressure on the gas.

2.   Falling Ashes: Often times when fighting with me, Sifu would be smoking. On many occasions, the ashes would grow really long. It was amazing. As fragile as cigarette ashes are, these somehow remained intact. Despite Sifu kicking, jumping, hopping, and beating me to a pulp, these ashes seemed to defy gravity. They simply dangled from the end of his cigarette while my life dangled from the end of his fists. I concentrated on not watching the ashes, but I couldn’t help it. I kept waiting for them to fall. Finally, they did, and without missing a beat, Sifu would hit me, catch the falling ashes with the same hand, and then hit me again. While I tumbled across the hard wood floor, Sifu would just smile and light another cigarette.

1.   Sorry, I’ve been sworn to secrecy on this one.

Quit?

Friday, August 6th, 2010

As some of you may be aware, last weekend was our yearly national titling in Austin, Tx where many of the schools associated with The United States Kung Fu Exchange gather to test our upper level students.   This year, we had two students ready to title, Philip Anthony (Level 2) and Tina Knight (Level  1).   Both did very well and helped uphold the excellent reputation that our school has earned.  So be sure to congratulate them when you see them!!

Now on to my topic; Following the Titling on Friday night, we had Sigung Fogg’s workshop on Saturday.  We started around 8:30 with a warm up, followed by two seminars from Sifu Leverett and Sifu Medley, Lunch, a seminar by Sifu Jones, and then Sigung Fogg’s, ending around 4:30.  Since 7+ hours of Kung Fu is not enough, we moved outside (in the Austin summer heat) to play some hands.

After playing with several of my Kung Fu cousins, I had the pleasure of touching hands with Sifu Medley.    At this point, I was tired, very tired.  I fought myself to keep moving almost as much as I fought Sifu Medley.  My hands felt like they were filled with lead, and my feet felt like they had begun melting into the concrete on which we stood (not even having started yet).  I felt like I was moving in slow motion, barely able to move to attempt to deal with the incoming attacks.  Then something amazing happened, which has happened many times before, and I was hoping would occur, It got FUN.   The weariness drained away, clearing my mind, pulling energy from where my body stored it, using it to keep me alive (and loving it).   Time outside of the hands ceased to matter and passed without my knowledge (estimated at around 20 min or so). I was keenly aware of my surroundings, but my focus was wholly upon the Kung Fu master in front of me.  When we finally stopped, around 6:40pm, Sifu Medley said “You Tyler guys don’t know how to quit.” “No Sir.” was my response.

Quit.  To Give Up.  To Admit Defeat.  – “No Sir” I will have none of that.  And neither will Sifu.   I’m told that the inability to give up is a character flaw.  I do not accept that.

At Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness, we do not quit.  Not when so tired we want to fall down.  Not when our family is in danger.  Not when everything seems hopeless.  Not Ever.   It is the same attitude that produces survivors in otherwise fatal instances (Read ‘Deep Survival’ by Laurence Gonzalas ).  It’s the same attitude that makes the Navy SEALS and Army Rangers the best in the world.

There is nothing in this universe that will make me give up on my beliefs, my family, or my friends.

Quit?  Not a chance.

For Real

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Last Tuesday I learned real kung fu.

A new student who recently moved to the U.S. approached me after the morning class and asked me to watch him practice with the walking stick (short staff). He swung the staff with such intensity and focus that I remember thinking, Wow, he’s doing this as if his life depends on it.

Well, I found out that it did.

With little income, my student lives in a rough apartment complex inside an even rougher neighborhood. In very broken English, he told me that in just the last three days, he’d had to fight his way into his home, and then had to throw people out of his home. He said fighting is never one-on-one. Always three or four. And they are big, with big hands and big arms. They want my money, my food. They no work for nothing, he said, they only want to take. He also told me he had to use a broom as his weapon and that’s why he needed more practice with the short staff.

I stood there, not only dumbfounded, but totally humbled and even ashamed.

For the last fourteen years, I’ve been teaching martial arts professionally. And though the lethalness of the arts is always in the back of my mind whenever I teach a technique, I admit I’ve taken KF for granted. I mean, thank God we live in a society where kung fu is not a necessary skill to have in order to live from one day to the next. But in that, how many punches and kicks—entire forms filled with hundreds of techniques— have I taught just going through the motions on autopilot with little thought of how the student may really need this in order to survive the evening at home.

Weeks prior, I’d shown him a few techniques with the staff. Good stuff, effective, but I showed him the movements more as an exercise, with little focus on the combat uses. The humbling part is that he told me those moves saved his life. He shook my hand and thanked me for it. I felt an inch tall. See, in my mind, from the get-go, I should’ve taught him those techniques with the seriousness of what they’re really used for, not just exercises.

You guys know the definition of martial arts but it lets reexamine it.

The word martial literally means warfare or combat. Placing the word arts behind it implies pooling all aspects of combat, studying them and then seamlessly imbedding the techniques into your being so that it (combative moves) flows out naturally. People who train in the martial arts are students of both science and art. Think of all the physics and biology you learn just from practicing kung fu. And of course it’s the repetitive practice that forms the art.

Spending thirty years with a Sifu who relied on his KF to survive the dangerous streets of DC and New York, and then the perilous jungles of Viet Nam, I can’t help but intimately understand the combat side of martial arts. I just allowed my focus to become lazy. Not again.

Become the Principles: Part I in the series

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The young monk slowly picked himself up off the hard brick floor. He tried to ignore his kung fu brothers’ whispers but Grandmaster’s disapproving stare hit him harder than his opponent’s tiger claw just did. He stifled a groan when he stood straight. Every joint in his body ached, even among his toes. The puffy knot above his left eye throbbed as a hundred of tiny beads of sweat, mixed with rivulets of blood, rolled off his bruised, bald head.

Ashamed, the young monk stared at the floor. “Grandmaster, I’ve studied and memorized the combat principles, yet I can never defeat my brothers.”

From the raised platform, Grandmaster rose from his seat. His traditional orange robe rippled in the afternoon breeze as he walked to the edge of the stage and looked at the wounded young man slumped beneath him. He smiled, stroking his long white beard as he remembered saying those exact words to his grandmaster so long ago. He nodded, agreeing with his thoughts. Time is the answer. He spoke to the monk.

“Memorized the principles, yes, but you have not become them.” The wise master bowed and left training hall.

I remember memorizing the twelve soft principles of 7-Star Mantis years ago. I was so proud of myself. I could speak of the principles as if I were a kung fu scholar. But like the young monk learned, knowledge of something (mental) and becoming something (physical) is two different worlds. I can read and go to school for years to learn how to play the piano—and I bet I could even pass a written test on the subject—but if I never once sat down and played, then I would fail my final recital miserably. Totally the same with kung fu. To learn any art you must first understand the principles that make that art what it is, and then become it.

Sifu Fogg always says, “Believe, conceive, achieve.”

First, believe in your art, believe it WILL work, only then can you move on to the conceive part. Once you begin to understand (conceive) how it works then you can achieve it—in this case, achieving the ability to fight like the most feared predator in the insect community!

So, here is the HOW. (Let’s cover one each visit)

Principle #1: Evade full force. In Fu Slang, Don’t get hit!

Let nothing make contact with your body, a punch, palm, elbow, knee, kick, head-butt, a tackle or takedown, a baseball bat, nothing.

  1. Face-off with your partner. One of you will throw only straight punches (painstakingly slow at first) while the other simply moves away, whether this means to duck, step back, spin, fall, flip, whatever, don’t get hit and DON’T touch your partner. This is all about evading. No contact. Do this for 60 seconds then next person punches. Do 3 sets, increasing speed each time. Then go to avoiding hooks, uppercuts, elbows—make your way down the punch list.
  2. Move on to evading all manner of kicks. Talk with each other; ask “what ifs” as you kick this way or that. Be real. Help each other. Later you can strike with long padded weapons, fast and hard, while the unarmed student evades.
  3. Evade tackles. Have partner charge you and tackle you if you don’t move.

Do these everyday, if able. Maybe pick punches one day, kicks the next. Remember, your goal is to become the, evade full force principle, not just memorize it. This is how you do it.

Begin with these drills. Next time we’ll discuss Redirecting with a dil sao.

Oh, please let me know about your own evasion drills. We all can learn.

Hell’s Angel

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Growing up in the kung fu world of Sifu Fogg was always adventurous. One lesson he taught me early on was that you have to stand on your own kung fu. Meaning the art must become your own; your skills; your talents. You must have confidence in your own ability.

Well, Sifu Fogg has a knack for drawing this confidence out of you, even when you’d rather he didn’t.

The spring of my senior year in high school, I was training with Master Fogg on the basketball court of an apartment complex. The worn-out ball court was a mixture of crumbling asphalt, grass, dirt, and potholes. The goal posts leaned and rusted chains served as the nets. The backside of the three-story apartment complex completely circled the ball court. Every tenant’s patio or balcony faced the court.

I’d trained with Sifu here on many occasions, so the fact that it seemed everyone in the complex was watching us on that beautiful sunny day didn’t bother me. <em>(Actually training anywhere didn’t bother me. We’ve trained in some crazy places before…but that’s another blog). </em>

Sifu was pushing me to the max, which I’m sure it was great fun for our audience. Me, in the sun, sweating, bleeding, on the brink of death, begging for a cup of water just to dip my finger into as Sifu laughed, and said, “Play your form again!” all while he sat under a crooked oak tree and sipped lemonade.

We’d trained an hour when this guy started heckling us from his third floor patio. He shouted, “That stuff’s not real. Bet it can’t stop a bullet (he’s never seen Sifu Fogg move) and “I can still kick your ____.” We ignored him. He continued for about ten minutes then went inside.

Five minutes later, Mr. Heckler was on the ball court.

Imagine the biggest, ugliest, motorcycle gang member you can think of and that would be Mr. Heckler, who now towered over me. He looked as if he walked straight off the set of a 1970’s biker-movie starring him as the lead bad-dude. He kicked at a chunk of asphalt and stepped closer to me. I could smell him.

His hair was a black tangled grease pit that tumbled off his fat head. He wore a sleeveless leather vest with a tattered sleeveless Harley Davidson T-shirt underneath. His arms were white hairy tree trunks. A nude woman named Lola, tattooed on his left bicep, danced with each flex. Fingerless riding gloves covered his huge hands and his fingernails had at least an inch of dirt caked underneath. His hairy gut spilled over the top of his grease-stained jeans concealing the origins of three chains that hung from his belt loops and slithered into his back pockets. His cycle boots were worn and scuffed.

He glanced at Sifu then at me and smiled with tobacco-yellowed teeth. He pointed at me, raised his fists, and said, “You wanna go?”

<em>Heck yeah, I wanted to go! </em>Go running like a scared rabbit and hide behind Sifu Fogg, who was still just sitting calmly drinking lemonade.

Biker Monster asked Sifu, “You the teacher?”

Sifu grinned, said yes, and then told him I was his top student and would be happy to fight with him.

<em>Wait, I’m not the top student. John Cheng is! I can call him. He can be here in thirty minutes.</em> I looked at my feet expecting to see all the blood that had just drained from my body to be pooling around my kung fu shoes.

Biker Monster said, “Right on,” and began to circle me, shadow boxing as he stumbled around.

I looked at Fogg. My mouth hung open and my knees were shaking. He waved at me, opened a package of cookies, and crammed a double-stuffed Oreo in his mouth. What is this! I’m about to die and he’s eating.

“Let’s do it, kid,” Biker Monster said.

My arms felt like hundred pound dumbbells and my legs were tubes filled with concrete. My heartbeats were off the charts.

We faced off, two warriors in a Roman coliseum. A million scenarios flashed through my mind like a DVD stuck on fast-forward. One thought was that if he If he connects a punch, I will have no face. I couldn’t believe Sifu was letting this happen.

He moved in, and without thought, I adjusted my stance to defend from the outside gate. That <em>one</em> movement did it for me. I realized my training was overriding the fear. I thought of Bourne. (A sly advertisement to read my blog “Just Like Bourne”)

Monster Biker grunted, shuffled forward, then suddenly stopped. “Hey, man, just joking around.” He dropped his hands and laughed. “I don’t wanna fight with you.” He looked at Sifu. “I’m outta shape, man. I can’t do it like I used to.”

He and Sifu talked while I sat down and encouraged my bodily functions to return to normal. After he left, I asked Sifu Fogg if he would’ve really let the fight happen. He said yes and that of course he had my back, but he knew I’d be alright.

Sifu’s confidence in me at that moment forever changed the way I viewed my own kung fu abilities. No way am I saying I’m great. I agonizingly strive to improve my kung fu everyday. It’s just from that day forward, I was confident enough to put myself out there, via tournaments, demos, etc. And twenty years later, that same confidence was a weapon of encouragement when I was struggling to open a kung fu school.

My goal is to pass that confidence on to my students in whatever they do. I hope during trying times in life, they will look back and say, “If I can pass my kung fu test, or learn a particular form, I can get through this.”

Committed or Interested?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

There’s a difference between interests and commitment. When you’re interested in something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. – Art Turock

Think about that quote for a moment. It reveals the secret to success.

Commitment.

That’s the answer. Whether for the practice of kung fu, piano, writing, saving money, and even in marriage, consistent, committed practice is the absolute must for triumph.

I found that quote inside Reader’s Digest when I was in college. I guarded it like a cherished proverb and kept it crumpled inside my wallet for years. In ’96 when TKFF opened its doors, I drove a thumbtack through it and it has since yellowed on my office wall. Over the years, Turock’s quote has both inspired me and haunted me. In times of waning endurance, the words fueled my stamina. Other times, I wish I’d never read the beast.

One rainy December day I was to meet Sifu Fogg at the park for a training session to prepare me for my Sifu test coming up that summer. The high was 25, the wind chill 18, and the freezing sleet sliced through your coat and skin. I was so relieved when he canceled due to the weather but he reminded me that I could still train, “because I was young and the cold was good for me.”

Great. Just what I wanted to hear. I pulled the blanket over my head with no intentions of going outside when Turock’s words stung my psyche more than the sleet outside would sting my exposed skin.

Committed or Interested? I asked myself. I threw back the wool blanket, got dressed, and ran to the park.
Consider this bit of info shared by Karen Eden in Ma SUCCESS magazine, December 2009 issue. She states:

• For every 10,000 who sign up for martial arts, fifty-percent quit the first month.
• The remaining 5,000, half will drop in the second month.
• 1,000 will go six months / 500 will go a year.
• 100 students will go two years.
• 3 will receive 1st degree-black level.
• ONLY ONE of 10,000 will become a master instructor.

That’s amazing stuff! Does everyone want to be a master instructor? Of course not, but you understand the pattern. Commitment equals success. What are your goals? Will you achieve them? Will I?

Committed or Interested. Which are you?

And He Could Show Up Any Day Now…

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

We hovered around the door, watching the young man testing play his staff form for a minute or so before the baritone voice of Sigung Fogg asked;

“Would you guys like to come in?”

Everyone stopped what they were doing to find some extra chairs as we tried to quickly (and subtly?) make our way from the door to the other side of the room, crossing in front of at least 3 Sifus, the tester and a couple of other students. Once we got our seats there were three things I noticed right away:

  1. The test was taking place in a school weight room which was probably the size of our big room, except that about 1/3 of it was filled with weight equipment – and that the whole thing was carpeted.
  2. An odd sticky thwap-thwap sound, and
  3. That there was no air conditioning.

As he moved through his weapons sets I realized that the thwapping sounds were the guy’s shirt – which looked like he’d literally been hosed off in the parking lot – thwapping and sticking against his chest.

After the staff he went into his straight-sword form which was interesting as I’d never seen that.  From the straight-sword he moved to the spear form.  The emotions I felt as I watched him try and try. and try. to pop that spear up off the carpet with his toe at the beginning and then flip it around his back and catch it with the other hand ran from pure heartache to relief, to “Yes!” when he finally got it.  He finished his weapons with Yin Ching broadsword which was the same but with totally different emphases than what we learn at our school.  It was interesting though, after he played his weapons sets he touched hands with a couple of people and eventually got what they called a boxer’s cut which bled quite a bit, but it was watching him struggle so determinedly with that spear form that was more disturbing to me.

While he was fighting, Sifu Perry and his student arrived with the benches and everyone was called into the office where we relinquished our funds and were told to grab a bench and head outside.

It was standing in that parking lot, in the bright sun that made it feel like at least 107°, that caused me to briefly question both my sanity and the black kung fu pants and dark shirts we had all decided to wear.  We’d all lined up and had done a couple of drills when Sifu Curtis came out and just started doing the form.  There was no warning, no “let’s get started”, just straight into the form.

With a jumping inside crescent kick.

Over.  The.  Bench. 

Needless to say, he had everyone’s attention then.  Sifu Curtis didn’t speak much; he would occasionally say something like “now, on your own,” or “ok, from the beginning” but he really didn’t need to, all eyes were on him.

“And then you set the bench down, do a front flip over it and bow.”

We finished the form after that final tidbit of information and then took a break to get some water, find some shade and catch our breath.  As I sat there Sigung Fogg came out from the school and as he walked over to where we had gathered asked

Everyone’s got it? Wintor you got that flip no problem right?”

and instinctually, before my brain could even engage I grinned and answered

Well yeah, frontwards and backwards!”

And just as my brain fired up and realized that maybe, just maybe that wasn’t the most appropriate response, he laughed.  Sigung Fogg has a pretty good laugh.

Sifu Jones asked me to write about my experience that weekend and it’s taken me a while to gather all of my impressions and try to get them compact enough for a blog post.  But there are definitely certain moments that stand out in my memory:

~  The thwap-thwap-stick of Dustin’s shirt;
~  Dustin’s determination to persevere through that dang spear form;
~  The searing heat out in that parking lot;
~  Uh? The jumping inside crescent kick. Over! The! Bench!;
~  Not getting a grunt of disapproval for joking with Sigung (whew!);
~  The smile that completely took over Sigung’s face when I mentioned that it was probably time for another trip to Jucy’s, and
~  Everyone’s enthusiasm, to both learn and help in the heat of the day, in a parking lot in Richardson, Texas in the summer.

Black Rings – Dying but Determined

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
This is the final post in the Black Rings series. Thank you for stopping by.

Finally! I collapsed to my knees and was ready to crawl out the door when I realized that if I left, Sifu would see me as a quitter. I struggled back to my feet and began again, but Sifu said I would have to finish outside because he had to leave. I followed him outside, each step sending my legs into crippling cramps. He told me again I could go home, the words taunting me like a cup of cool water to a desert wandering man. Every quaking cell in my body wanted to say OK but I shook my head “no” and continued. It took another thirty minutes to get to 350 and to redo the twenty Sifu told me were terrible. My dad was a great support and agreed to wait for me. He took a nap inside the car while I was out on the hot asphalt under a streetlight with June bugs dive-bombing my face, feeling like I was slowly killing myself.

Finished, I dragged my body to the car. I removed my jacket and squeezed it out like a wet rag. My white t-shirt was practically transparent and my pants clung to my quivering legs. I slid into the passenger seat and reached to close the door when something caught my eye. At first, I thought it was a shadow cast by the car’s interior dome light, but upon further study, I realized I was looking at the same black rings around my socks that I had noticed earlier around the other students. I smiled, though I couldn’t believe I actually had the muscle capacity to do so.

The black rings were from sweat dripping off the bottom of the black Kung Fu pants and staining my white socks. I closed the door and melted into the seat. I glanced at my socks again. How cool was this. I was one of them. It was awesome. I too had earned the black rings.

So, what’d I do? The natural action any twelve-year old boy would do. I hid those socks under my bed until the next night and wore them again. That went on for about three days until I was afraid the socks would disintegrate from compounded funk. Now that I think about it, that explains why at the end of the week no one in Kung Fu class wanted to be my partner.

Black Rings – Muchacha…

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
This is the third post in the Black Rings series. Check back tomorrow to continue the story.

     By bow one hundred, my right leg was on fire and I thought any more pressure would cause the knee to buckle. By one-fifty, every muscle in my back was in spasms. By two hundred, both legs were numb and I could barely lift my shoulders. My throat begged for moisture and my tongue felt like someone had wrapped a thick towel around it. Sweat stung my eyes. I didn’t think I could do one more, and the thought of cheating was extremely tempting. Why was I doing this?

     Gaining strength from watching the other students, who had presumably gone through this same torture before me, I continued, but by number two-seventy-five, everyone was leaving. As much as my broken body could, I pushed it to go faster, but on number three-hundred, the lights went out and Sifu said he had to lock up. With my voice box parched and barely functional, I told him I was on three-o-five in hopes of receiving his admiration and the OK to quit. Instead, he told me the last twenty bows looked terrible. Those words hit me worse than a kick to the stomach. Sifu watched me do maybe ten more then said he’d seen enough. He said I could leave.

***