Posts Tagged ‘family’

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…”

 

I recently attended a bridal shower for my cousin’s daughter. I don’t normally like showers where they play silly games and all that stuff. I prefer the drop-in, open the gift, give a hug, eat the goodies, and get the heck-out-of-dodge-kind. Not very sociable, but there it is. I would have skipped this shower all together if it hadn’t been for my mom. According to her, this was one shower I couldn’t miss, or I would get blacklisted on that side of the family. So, of course, I sucked it up and went.

Interestingly enough, there was some tension between the mother of the bride and mother of the groom. Turns out, they knew each other in high school, and the mother of the groom blamed the bride’s mom, my cousin, for something bad, but I couldn’t pick up what. On the outside they were acting all happy and nice, with big smiles that showed lots of pearly white teeth. But inside neither of them wanted this marriage to take place. Especially considering their thoughts that sharing grandchildren was making them both sick. YIKES!

I checked out the bride and groom and, after listening in on their thoughts, there was no question they were in love, so I just had to hope things would work out. But it really bothered me that these two women held so much animosity toward each other. Maybe I could help? Who knew? Maybe it was just a misunderstanding?

“That’s really something that you two knew each other in high school,” I said. “Weren’t you guys like best friends or something?”

Their surprised gazes turned to me, and the whole room got quiet. Then my cousin narrowed her eyes and took a breath to ask me how the hell I knew that. Oops. Before she could utter a word her daughter gasped with surprise.

“You guys knew each other? You went to high school together?” she asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

My cousin’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. As she took in the curious glances of everyone there, she turned toward the groom’s mother with a tentative smile curling her lips. “We had a falling out,” she admitted. “It involved a boy, as I recall.”

The other woman raised her brows, and was thinking that if my cousin was going to spill the beans, she’d better make sure her side of the story got told first. “He was my boyfriend,” she stated. “You knew how much I liked him, but you got him to go out with you while I was away on a trip. He broke up with me because of you. That was pretty low for someone I considered one of my best friends.”

“Is that what you thought?” my cousin asked. “I didn’t go after him. He asked me out. I admit I shouldn’t have gone, but he was really persistent, and I didn’t think you’d ever find out. It was just supposed to be one date.”

The other woman huffed out a breath. “Yeah, right. As if that makes a difference.”

My cousin dropped her gaze. “I know. I was a bad friend, and I felt horrible about it. I really did. I wanted to explain, but you wouldn’t talk to me after that. If it helps, he dumped me pretty quick and moved on to someone else.”

“But we were friends. You shouldn’t have done that.”

“I know, and I’ve regretted it ever since. Dating him wasn’t worth losing your friendship. But you never gave me a chance to tell you I was sorry. I tried hundreds of times, but you always blew me off.”

The groom’s mother licked her lips, realizing that for the sake of their children, and with everyone looking on, it was time to get over it. “You’re right. It was a long time ago, and really…it doesn’t even matter anymore.”

My cousin smiled, then asked. “Whatever happened to him anyway?”

After that it was hard to pry those two apart. Not only did they have a lot to catch up on, but their children were getting married and now they could finally be excited about it.

I left that shower with a grin on my face, knowing I’d done something good. It was one of the few times my mind-reading skills had really paid off, and was just what I needed. Especially since right after the shower, I had to stop by Uncle Joey’s office. It was after eight-thirty at night and I really didn’t want to go, but he was meeting with someone from his past, and after this experience, I knew it could get tricky. But on the bright side, since I’d helped my cousin resolve a sticky issue, I was sure I could help Uncle Joey. I’d just have to make sure I stood out of the way in case they pulled their guns.