Posts Tagged ‘Aikido’

Yesterday, Uncle Joey sent me to visit one of his ’employees.’ The guy was behind on his payments and Uncle Joey wanted to know why. Because of my special ability to read minds, I’d pick up the truth no matter what lies he was likely to tell to explain his delinquency.

I used to complain about those kinds of errands, since I didn’t like ‘leaning’ on the poor people Uncle Joey had under his thumb. But since Ramos was going with me, and we were taking his motorcycle, I jumped at the chance. I guess Uncle Joey knows how to make me an offer I can’t refuse.

We arrived at Gino’s Antique Shop, where “one man’s loss is another man’s gain”… or at least that’s what the sign said. Inside, Gino stood behind the counter going over his books. As we entered, his eyes widened and his whole body jerked with alarm. Then he backed away before Ramos even had a chance to get close.

“Hey Gino,” Ramos said. “The boss wants to know why you haven’t paid him for the last couple of months.” Ramos stepped right up to Gino. The man cowered, and his eyes darted back and forth as if looking for an escape route.

“Uh… things have been real slow around here, and I haven’t been able to pay all the bills, let alone your boss, but I’ve got a big sale arranged for this afternoon. If you’ll come back tomorrow, I should have it covered.”

Ramos glanced my way, lifting his brow to question if Gino was lying. Since he was, I nodded. I would have told Ramos what was going on, but I didn’t want to take away all his fun.

“You’re lying,” Ramos said, pinning Gino against the wall. “So what’s really going on.”

“What? No I’m not. It’s the truth, man. I know better than to lie to you.”

“That’s not true,” I said, stepping forward. I knew Ramos didn’t mind roughing him up. Mostly because he had to protect his image, but he didn’t like doing it in front of me. “He’s got a stash of cash upstairs under his mattress. I think it’s enough to pay what he owes.”

Gino’s mouth dropped open. How did I know that? As Ramos tightened his hold, he gave in. “Okay, okay. It’s upstairs.” He was thinking that it was a good thing he had more than one hiding place for his money, since he didn’t want to give all of it to Ramos.

As they left, I didn’t mention that little tidbit to Ramos, since I felt a sorry for Gino. While they headed upstairs for the money, I roamed around the shop in case there was something of value I might want.

Hearing the chime of the door opening, I hurried toward the counter, and turned to find two men stepping inside. With their scruffy faces, graphic t-shirts, and ripped jeans, they didn’t seem the type to be looking for any antique treasures.

“Can I help you?” I asked, planting my feet firmly in front of the cash register.

With surprise on their faces, they sized me up, wondering when I’d started working for Gino. As their gazes roamed over my body, they thought a few other things that aren’t appropriate for this blog, but let me tell you, my heart rate spiked with alarm.

“Hey sweetheart, where’s Gino?”

“Uh… he’s in the back. But he’ll be right out.” As they stalked closer to me, I backed up, just like Gino had earlier with Ramos. When my back hit the counter, they continued toward me, invading my personal space.

I swallowed. “What do you want Gino for?”

They both smiled, then one of them spoke. “We’re just here to collect the money he owes us.”

“He owes you money? What for?” Pushing away my fear, I planted my feet and straightened, ready to send my fist into the guy’s throat if he got any closer.

The other guy flanked me, ready to grab my arm, and spoke. “Gino has a bad gambling habit. He bets more than he can lose, and then he thinks he won’t have to pay up. Not too smart of him is it?”

“Uh… no.”

“So we’re here to collect. Our boss doesn’t take kindly to losers who don’t honor their debts.”

My brows rose with surprise. “Your boss? Who’s that?” I knew what they were thinking, but I needed to hear it out loud.

“Joey “The Knife” Manetto. Ever heard of him?”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed… in their faces. They didn’t like that much, and one of them stepped even closer. “What’s so funny?”

That made me laugh even harder, and I doubled over in uncontrolled mirth. The guy closest to me grabbed my arm and told me to shut up. I used an Aikido move to get out of his grasp. It worked just like it was supposed to, but the other guy grabbed me around the waist before I could step out of his reach. I slammed my elbow into his jaw, but he held on tight and started cursing me… loudly.

“What the hell’s going on?” Ramos roared. “Let go of her. Now!” He rushed around the counter and grabbed the guy holding me by his neck. The guy released me and tried to pull Ramos’s arm from around his neck. He kicked and yelled, but he was unable to get Ramos’s arm to budge.

The other guy took a step forward to aid his friend, but wisely held back and spoke instead. “He didn’t do nothin’ wrong. Let him go.”

“Ramos. Don’t kill him. I’m fine. Really. They didn’t hurt me.” I’d never seen Ramos so upset. He was usually cool and calculated. But right now, he was contemplating snapping the guy’s neck.

He slowly released his hold on the man, and the guy coughed and rubbed his neck. That’s when it dawned on the guy that I’d called his attacker Ramos. What the hell? Was it really him? Damn! He was so…  I won’t repeat what he was thinking, but you get the idea.

The guy knelt on one knee and began to beg for mercy. The other guy went down on both knees to do his begging. Whoa. Who would have thought? They couldn’t tell Ramos they were sorry enough, and kept mumbling apologies until Ramos finally told them to shut up.

“Uh… Ramos… do you know these guys? Because they said they work for Uncle Joey.”

His brows rose, and he turned to them. “Is that right?”

If they weren’t groveling before, they were now. Shocked that “The Knife” was actually my uncle sent them both into quaking masses of blubber.

“They said Gino has a gambling habit, and he owes them money.” I glanced behind me, but Gino was nowhere in sight. Go figure.

Ramos heaved a sigh. “Get up.” After they stood, he continued. “I don’t know who you two think you are, but Manetto doesn’t like liars, grovelers, or cheats. I don’t recall ever seeing your ugly faces before, so, if you want to live, I’d suggest you stop using his name for your own purposes.”

He stepped closer to them, and they both backed up. “In fact, I think you’d better take your lying, cheating, skum-sucking selves somewhere else, because if I ever hear of you again, you’ll both be wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the lake. Now get out of here.”

They ran out of the shop faster than I thought two men could move.

I caught Ramos’s gaze and grinned. “Wow. You are so bad-ass.” That earned a chuckle from him. “So did you get the money from Gino?”

“Yeah.”

“You have to admit that was pretty funny.”

Ramos shook his head. “I don’t know.” He didn’t like finding me being manhandled by those two thugs.

“I get it. But you missed the best part.”

“What part’s that?”

“When they were threatening me because they worked for Joey “The Knife” Manetto.” I started laughing again, but Ramos just shook his head.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here,” he said, turning to leave.

I followed behind, chuckling all the way out to his Harley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the tricky situations I always seem to get into, I began training in Aikido. Aikido is a martial art that includes techniques from Jujitsu and Kenjutsu and is based in self-defense, where one uses an opponent’s energy to gain control of them, or throw them, or even escape a hold.

I began these classes only a few months ago, and just passed my fifth kyu test, which is cool, but not anywhere close to a black belt or anything. Getting a black belt would probably take me three or four years, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Anyway, my barely teenage daughter and I (yikes is she really a teenager now?) went to the Saturday class. It was a lot of fun, mostly because it’s totally satisfying to throw a few big guys around.

Sensei, our teacher, decided to show us how to do atemi, which is a technique used to disrupt an opponent’s attack of a grab or a strike. It throws them off and helps you gain the upper hand. Atemi is done by kicking, or throwing a punch at just the right time. It can’t be too early, or they’ll see it coming, and if it’s late, it won’t do you any good.

After demonstrating the technique a few times, we partnered up and went through the technique in slow-motion before picking up the pace. By the time we changed partners, I was starting to get pretty good at the timing part which was a good thing since my next partner was a big dude.

That meant my kick would have to be pretty hard, and maybe a little higher than I’d practiced, but I could aim my punch for the stomach, so that would work. We slowed our moves down to start with, and then traded attacks. Sensei told us not to use atemi all the time, so that when we did, it wouldn’t be expected.

Sticking to his advise, I waited until after several attacks to throw in a high kick. The only problem was my attacker was a little slow… and… YUP… you guessed it… I kicked him real good right where it counts. The poor guy fell to the ground on his hands and knees, and groaned, barely able to breathe.

My face turned red and guilt burned a hole in my stomach. This was terrible. Everyone stopped what they were doing and glanced at me thinking I’d gone too far. Poor Daniel, I’d really gotten him good. He’d probably never partner with me again. Why was I kicking so hard?

Savannah gasped and covered her mouth. She glanced at me in wide-eyed horror, embarrassed at what I’d done. But underneath her hands, her mouth twitched with laughter, which she wisely held back.

By now, Daniel was showing signs of recovering, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. After my horrified apologies, he grunted a few times, and waved me off. I glanced at Sensei and he just shook his head, but he was thinking that it wasn’t all my fault. Daniel was a little slow with his reaction time, or I wouldn’t have been able to get him so good. It was also a given in the dojo that if you got hurt, it was most likely your own fault.

That helped me feel a little better, but not until Daniel was able to stand up. Guilt keep me immobile until he finally walked over to the drinking fountain and took a few swallows of water.

Everyone else went back to practice, leaving me the odd person out until Daniel came back. I was hoping that Sensei would make everyone change partners, but he was thinking that Daniel and I needed to work together again, so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

After a few minutes we got back into the routine and took turns between being the attacker and the attacked. When it was his turn to attack, I waited for the right moment to do a ‘fake’ kick again, making sure I didn’t go overboard this time.

As Daniel lunged at me, I timed my kick at the perfect moment to thwart him, hoping he’d see it in time to avoid it. Just in case he didn’t, I didn’t kick quite as hard. Still, somehow I managed to connect… again!

He fell to the floor, hardly believing that it had happened again. At least it wasn’t as bad this time, but still… what the hell? Did I have it in for him or something? Was his timing really that off?

Everyone felt bad for Daniel, but most of us were trying not to laugh out loud. I mean… sometimes when something untoward happens, your first impulse is to laugh, right? I had a hard time keeping the chuckle inside, especially as I asked him if he was okay.

This time Sensei clapped his hands for everyone to stop, deciding that for Daniel’s sake, and maybe mine, it was time to move on to something else. I wasn’t sure who was more relieved, me or Daniel. But still, twice in one day? Sheesh!

After that, Sensei decided to have us practice with the jo so we wouldn’t need partners. The jo is a wooden staff that’s about four feet long. He had us hold it close to the center and practice doing circle eights so we could get a feel for it. Then he told us to try going a little faster.

I concentrated hard and sped things up a bit, thinking it was just like twirling a baton like they do in the marching bands. All at once, a big thwack sounded, and Daniel’s jo fell to the mat. He held his hand to his jaw where he’d hit himself with the jo!

I burst out laughing. I knew it wasn’t nice of me, but I couldn’t help it. I tried to hold it in and turned my face away so Daniel wouldn’t see, but my shoulders shook so bad I could hardly breathe, which just made me laugh even harder.

It was one of those times I had the giggles so bad nothing was going to keep me from laughing. Then I noticed everyone else was laughing a little too. Even Daniel. With a shrug, he said something about it not being his day, and the tension left the room.

Still, it wasn’t until Savannah and I were driving home that we could finally let loose and have a good laugh. We both agreed that Aikido was a blast, and even if embarrassing things happened, we wouldn’t want to stop going.

I thought that would be the end of it, but at dinner Savannah spilled the beans. “Dad… guess what Mom did to a poor guy in Aikido…”

 

What was I thinking???

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Advice
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been going to Aikido for about a month now and I’m loving it! The first few times I went were spent learning how to fall – not too exciting but a necessary skill, believe me. I’m learning what to do when someone grabs my arm, or grabs me from behind, or basically grabs me anywhere, and how to get away…which in my line of work is essential. It’s also given me a feeling of empowerment which I have to say is pretty awesome…only I think I may have overdone it. The other day I made the mistake of telling my friend, Ramos, that I could take him. I know…not very smart of me, but I was looking forward to throwing him over my shoulder like I’d imagined so many times. Naturally, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show me how wrong I was. I didn’t know at the time that he was a martial arts expert. Why didn’t he tell me this before I made a fool of myself? Needless to say, I couldn’t get the drop on him to save my life, and I guess it would have been funny if you think getting thrown to the ground and having your @ kicked is fun. Luckily, we were in his apartment which connects to Thrasher Development, and the carpet was nice and soft or it may have hurt. But the worse part wasn’t getting plastered to the floor in the grip of a 200 pound macho man (who was enjoying it way too much, I might add). Nope, it was the fact that Uncle Joey showed up and snapped a picture of that moment. The flash startled me enough, but the smile on his face…like he’d just won the lottery, still makes my stomach hurt. I think he’s putting it in a file…with my name on it. Yikes!! Why does this always happen to me? He says I can earn the photo back from him. All I have to do is help him win his next poker match. I can do that…but seriously?? What was I thinking???

I am not a ‘new year’s resolution’ type person. Mostly because I usually fail, but this year, I’m going to make a goal I can keep. I hope. Not too long ago I got shot in the arm. Not a shot like you get at the Dr.’s office. I really got shot by a bullet! It went right through my arm! It hurt like hell! If you’ve ever been shot, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I hope that you never do. Although my arm still twinges now and then, it’s mostly better, so I feel pretty lucky. Still, it could have been much worse. So this year, I’m going to make a resolution not to get shot again. I’m also going to start training in a martial art called Aikido. I’m kind of excited about that. My friend, Billie Payne is meeting me at her dojo tonight for my first lesson. I’m eager to learn how to defend myself, and I think it will help me feel more in control of my life. I could turn into one of those cool ninja’s that no one wants to mess with. So now I actually have two new year’s resolutions. One, not to get shot, and the other, learn how to kick ass! This should be fun!