I ran into an old student of mine who reminded me of a story I told him when he was a young lad learning the ancient art of “moving out of the way” at my Dojo here in Berlin. I remember saying something like, “It’s always better not to be there when the punch comes.” Here’s the story.
When I was young there was this fella that really didn’t like me much. He would torment me at any turn making threats and comments that led me to believe that he had some sort of social disorder. I tried to avoid this angry creature at all times, unfortunately I would run into him at the most inconvenient moments. Usually when there where girls within earshot. I was sort of a dorky kid and caught the brunt of his evilness.
What this fella and other’s didn’t know was that I started practicing my family style of martial arts when I was about five years old, however in order to keep me out of trouble my dad would tell me things like, “It’s impossible for a person to defend themselves effectively for nine years after training” or, and this is my favorite, “You have to learn the secrets first.” What those secrets where or are I’m still not sure, and that was over forty years ago. Maybe I’ll figure them out someday.
On a real nice day in the spring during school the evildoer was doing his threaten John act. I don’t know what came over me, but instead of ignoring him I started tormenting him back. At first this sort of caught the nasty kid off guard and he got quiet for a short, and I mean very short, period of time. Then he continued to make his usually threats to my future man hood etc. Then it happened, the sarcasm. I’m not sure when or where I learned such a skill, but the things that came out of me aimed at him where akin to nails scratching across a chalkboard. He got real red in the face and ran away. I shrugged and walked back to the classroom.
After school I started walking home on my usual path. I had the habit of singing to myself on the way home and usually didn’t hear a sound other than my own voice. This day however I was walking quietly listening to the sounds of the birds and other things on the way home. I really can’t explain why I was listening other than my dad said something to me about being snuck up on earlier in the morning that made me think of listening as I walked.
There was this path that went through the city park, a short cut to my house, so I decided to take it. I had the feeling I was being followed, but hey that’s what my dad said so I decided I was just paranoid. Half way through the park in a spot no one would see me I heard the unmistakable sound of running footsteps coming up behind me. Just before the sound over ran we I swayed out of the way of the running sound and rolled my left heal up and slapped down hard with my left palm. I struck the runner square behind the shoulder blades. He became airborne and hung there motionless for what seem like an eternity. Then he hit the ground hard, not just your ordinary hard, but hard enough that I could hear his body groan and sort of crunch. He climbed to his feet and stared at me with the look of anger. He began making his usual threats when I put a palm up to silence him. When he stopped talking I told him the secret I had been keeping for most of my life, that I have been practicing the ancient art of Move Out of The Way and would very likely kick his sorry ass If he didn’t stop his silliness. He just sort of stared at me, then walked away crying, he hit the ground really hard.
When I got home I told my dad what happened. My dad said, “I guess your nine years are up.” Must be because I could defend myself. Then my dad called his dad to make sure the not so evil kids was ok, he was and never spoke to me about my dorkiness again. He became a friend after that and I was his protector.
The ancient art of Moving Out of The Way will always prevail over the bullies in our lives, then and now.