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January 30, 2006


My forehead came down into his nose producing a loud crunching sound.

It was a ball night and we were on the grass in the middle of the quad of our hall-of-residence. It was evening, the sun was setting, and we were wearing tuxedos. We were ready for a night of drinking and dancing. He walked up to me and didn't say anything. He just looked at me and walked straight into me, pushing me backwards with his chest. I said, "I don't have a problem with you. Why are you doing this?" He didn't answer. I walked away.

I let go of his shoulders, and grabbed the hair on the back of his head.

She said, "I haven't been seeing him for two weeks. It's okay for us to see each other." We started to kiss.

I pulled his head down and lifted my right knee. There was another crunch as it struck his face. I walked forward, away from the desk that I had been pressed against. We started moving toward the door.

We were both in the gym. I was lifting weights and so was he. He was clearly much stronger than I. I looked up to find him scowling at me.

The walls of my room were bare brick, and painted very light yellow; it was like a prison cell. We had taken a pace in the direction of the door and I brought my left knee up to greet his face.

I stood in the large hall wearing my new, white dobok. The small instructor made me stand on one leg with my foot high in the air for three minutes. The pain was excruciating. I was learning discipline.

After my third step, I was standing with my left foot back. I twisted my whole upper-body into a left upper-cut punch, driving deep into his chest. We had almost reached the narrow opening to my room.

I sat in the bar, my third Guinness of the evening in my hand. While I studied, I was getting an income from my Dad's pension. I had more money than most of the others. I drank and slept and missed my lectures. I'd been at university for three months and I had no self-discipline. I had got there by staying up all night chain-smoking and always revising the night before an exam. At nineteen, I was smoking forty a day.

I was sitting on the floor of the dojang. I had my legs straight and spread to the sides. I reached my body forward as far as I could. I held the stretch as long as I could and I felt the pain in my muscles. I was learning self-discipline.

He stood there at my doorway wearing only a pair of shorts. He was holding a baseball bat. The doorway was narrower than the bat was long. I was thinking: how are you going to hit me with that? Are you planning to poke me with it? I tried not to grin.

The older kids put me in the big dumpster at junior high school. I arrived one morning and they picked me up and threw me in there.

I said, "Do you really need that bat to fight me?" I said, "I don't have a bat. Do you need that to make it even with me?"

Some older kid dragged me into the cloak room, lifted me up, and hung me from my jacket on a coat-peg.

He returned the bat to the guy in the room next to me. It's weird because that guy next-door was my friend, and he still is.

There were many rows of people in the school assembly hall. There wasn't enough air in that room. We'd have to stand in rows for fifteen minutes every morning with no oxygen. A loud thud came from somewhere to the right of me: another kid had passed out.

He came back and started to walk into my room. I said, "Don't enter my room." I knew that there was no other way out; I was on the second floor. I saw his feet cross the line. I put one hand on each shoulder and tried to push him back.

I was in the front row of assembly. It was the first week of junior high school. The prefect came up to me, grabbed hold of my tie, and lifted me off the ground while grimacing at me. Then he dropped me back onto my feet.

He was much stronger than me. I pushed as hard as I could but he just kept driving me back toward the desk which was set into the window alcove. I had only been training for about four months, and I certainly hadn't learned how fight in tight spaces.

"Set it up." I said. My friend slipped the break-board together and placed it on the tall wooden stand. He braced himself against it. Crack! Left reverse-turning-kick: the back of my heel gliding through the chest-high, sternum-strength plate like I was snapping a match-stick.

We had reached the desk. I looked into his eyes. Where could I go from here? My hands were on his shoulders. There was nowhere else to go. I shut my eyes and slammed my head into his face.

"Set it up." Right reverse-turning-kick; left and right turning-kick; left and right side-kick; left and right punch; left and right knife-hand-strike; left and right reverse-knife-hand-strike; left and right elbow. Crack! Crack! Crack! Fourteen consecutive breaks with different techniques. I had been training for two years. Self-discipline was becomming my friend.

Taking my fourth step, my left foot forward, I pressed him outward and to the left of the doorway as I moved to the right, into the corridor. I pivoted back on my left foot into a ready stance with my right foot behind me. As my feet settled, I swung my fists into a blocking position.

I didn't say anything. I just looked at him. I wanted him to attack me. I wanted to keep hitting him. He stood with his hands hanging limply by his sides, his eyes rolling. Blood and snot were running from his nose and mouth. His chest and stomach were smeared with blood. He was rocking from side to side. He was facing forty-five degrees away from me, looking straight ahead. I waited.

He turned his head toward me and said, "I'm very sorry." And then, after a pause, "I didn't know that you had it in you."

He left me alone after that. They all left me alone after that.

I stopped smoking and graduated top of my class.

"Shite! [exclamation, not derision]" — Charley


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