It was not all sweetness and light at the dojo. There was a little bit of contention from a couple of the guys, Carl and Dwayne. They were not really very happy that Sensei had taken on a couple of girls. They didn’t want to say anything to Sensei, that would not be a very respectful thing to do, but they didn’t want them here. This was a dojo, not a beauty parlor! It didn’t help that they were pretty good. Not great, but still, for girls they did a decent job. But it was the principle of the thing. They really should have said something when Sensei was first talking to that one girl, Jennie? Yeah, they should have, but…and now it was too late. At first they didn’t think they had to say anything at all, because they knew that they wouldn’t be able to handle it. But they were wrong. So they were working on ways to ‘convince’ the ladies not to come in any more. They were not overtly nasty, but things kept happening. Little things, like one sparring glove coming up missing, or a stain showing up on a gi that was left at the dojo. Nothing that could be traced back to them. Just little things. And they were expecially careful not to let Sensei see them do anything. When those things didn’t get the girls to quit, they started following them. One of them would stay back a ways from one of the girls, but not so far back that they couldn’t be seen. They WANTED them to know they were being followed. They didn’t do anything, just followed them.
Amy was having a little problem with someone following her. She hadn’t said anything to anyone about it because she thought they would see her as just being paranoid. But she knew someone was back there, and it was scaring her. At first she thought she was a bit crazy, why in the world would anyone follow her? She wasn’t the type of person that something like that would happen to, she wasn’t a celebrity or anything. She tried to forget about it, to make the idea vanish. When she kept seeing a shadowy form behind her at odd times, she couldn’t ignore it any longer. Still, she didn’t want to go crying wolf to her friends, so she did the next best thing. She asked Brad to show her some moves specific to an attacker from behind. If this guy came after her she wanted to be ready. She reasoned that the person that was following her must want her to know he was there, and she wanted to make sure that she was prepared if he did anything at all. Brad didn’t ask any questions, he showed her a couple of moves for getting out of choke holds from behind, and some really cool ways to hit someone who was holding you up in the air. She had never known that an elbow could make such a versatile weapon! One of the things they worked on was actually doing these moves. Not sparring exactly, but more like acting out the scenes. He would come up behind her and she would have to get away. She was very careful not to actually hit him or anything like that, but it did help to have a sense of what it would be like to use a move she had learned. She filed that feeling away for future reference. After they had them worked out, they asked Jennie to come over and showed them to her. She was starting cold and the reasoning was that if she could pick them up easily then so could any of their, soon to be, students.
Jennie was aware that there was someone following her, and it did make her a little nervous, but unlike Amy, she wasn’t too worried about him or her. She was pretty sure it was a guy, and she was pretty sure that this person was just trying to scare her. She couldn’t have told anyone exactly Why she felt like this, but it was a very strong feeling. In the end she would most likely talk to Brad and Amy about it, just because it was an oddity, but for now, she was going to keep an eye on this ‘shadow’ but not do anything about him.
This plan of theirs wasn’t moving very fast. They hadn’t really gotten the logistics down yet. Jennie had a talk with Amy and Brad. “We need to get a move on with this FEDUP effort of ours. We seem to have run into a bit of a wall.” They couldn’t argue with that assessment. “How bout if we meet over at Jennie’s house tomorrow night? Bring Jon and see if we can get both sets of parents to join us too, they might have some good ideas.” Amy said. And so it was a date. Amy and Jennie spoke with their parents and as luck would have it they were free. Jon was busy, but said they could bring him up to date later.
Jennie and Amy sat at Jennie’s kitchen table, and both of their moms were sitting with them. None of the guys had made it yet, so they started without them. The discussion centered around when and how they would be spreading the word about FEDUP. “You know,” Edna said, “If you set it up so that the women are learning some moves that are not common, and you are careful not to spread those moves around, then using them would be a bigger surprise to an attacker. And maybe the focus of this program should be more along the lines of getting away, instead of fighting.” “What do you mean?” asked Amy. “well, I was just thinking that no matter what the moves are, a woman is just not as strong as a man. And when it comes to a fight, unless she is really lucky, she is not going to win a knock down drag out with a man.” The others considered this statement for a moment. Then Wanda said “You know, I think that you may be onto something here. I know you girls are getting really good at fighting, but Edna has a point. So, if we concentrate on moves that startle the attacker, or cause him to hesitate, then you would have time to either run or use one of those excellent strikes on him while he is still trying to recover.” “Let’s run it by the guys when they get here and see what they think” Amy said, “In the mean time, let’s see if we can come up with a way to get women to learn the things that we are learning.” “I would really like to see younger women, like high school age. They are more athletic and usually more reckless.” Said Edna “And learning something like this would help them settle down a little? Is that what you are saying mom?” Jennie teased. Smiling Edna continued “Young people are so sure that they are invincible that sometimes they don’t think before they act. And that can land them in hot water.” “This is true” agreed Amy “but it is not always something that they did that gets them hurt, sometimes they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” “Oh Amy!” exclaimed Edna “I am SO sorry! I did NOT mean that to come out as if I thought you had done something wrong! I have NEVER believed that ANY of that was your fault. NEVER!” She got up from her chair and hurried around the table to Amy, leaned over and gave her a great big hug. “Honey, you know how much you mean to us, I would never do anything to hurt you.” Amy let her hug her for a minute, then shrugged her shoulders and said “I didn’t really think you meant that I had asked to be attacked, but I think it will be super important to keep it in mind when we are talking to these ‘imaginary’ students of ours. We in no way want to make them think that they are responsible in that sort of situation.” “Of course we will” said Jennie.
There was an awkward pause and then the front door opened and Rich came in followed closely by Brad and Bob. “Look who I found skulking in the front yard” joked Rich “so I brought them in for you girls to pummel! That would teach them to skulk” Everyone laughed and the moment was gone. The women all breathed a little sigh of relief for the timely entrance of the men.
“Ok, so let’s get this meeting started” Rich said “It’s already started silly” quipped Jennie “when you guys didn’t show up we figured we needed to work without you. And mom came up with a really good point.” “What’s that? Edna? You’ve been holding out on me woman!” Rich couldn’t help teasing his wife as he dropped a light kiss on the top of her head. She shook her head and looking at the other women said “Someday I’m gonna Whomp that man!”
“All joking aside, what was your idea?” Brad asked. Edna quickly brought them up to speed on what they had been discussing, and the men agreed with that assessment. “I have worried about that part of this for a while now” admitted Brad “but I didn’t want to stop what we were doing, I was hoping that something would come along to help with it, and it did. Thanks Edna, I think you have come up with an extremely important point and have provided a viable solution.” “The girls were telling us about how you pretend to be an attacker Brad and they have to fight you off, I think that is a really great idea too.” Said Wanda enthusiastically. “I think that this will make it easier for them to believe that, in the unlikely event, someone tries to harm them, they will be able to do something.” “I really think that it is a great idea too” said Amy “I feel much more confident that I won’t freeze up is anything were to happen. I worry about hitting you though” she said looking at Brad “I wish there was some way we could put a football helmet or something on your head to protect you.” “And elbow pads too” piped up Jennie “I think it would really hurt to hit that face mask with my elbow!” Amy had to agree with that one, but she was more concerned with Brad getting hurt.
Amy had not said anything to her parents yet about what had happened between her and Brad, and she didn’t intend to anytime soon. She wanted to work on their friendship and that silly trust issue that she was having before she said anything to them. But her feeling for him made it even more important the he not get hurt. Especially by HER!
“Ok, so what I am hearing here is that we should make this more of an escape type of program as opposed to a fight situation. And we should try to find a way to train in a more realistic manner. Is that more or less the gist?” Asked Bob. “That about sums it up” said Amy looking at the others, who were nodding their heads in agreement.
The meeting continued for several hours, with all seven of them throwing out ideas and suggestions for ways to promote the new program. What they finally decided on as a start, was their church. “The way I see it” said Bob “is we should decide who is or are going to be the main person or persons to do the promoting, kinda like an advertising client.” He said “I think that the three of you” pointing at Amy, Brad and Jennie “need to spend as much time as possible perfecting your techniques and cementing your ideas so that once you start teaching you can act as a team.” Rich nodded yes to that and Bob continued “The rest of us need to start a campaign to inform the community that this service has become available. I think that starting at the church is a great idea. Who should be the ‘front man’?” They all looked at each other and then started laughing. “We make a fine bunch of executives, don’t we? Can’t even decide who is in charge!” laughed Wanda. Then she said thoughtfully “We really should be the ones to do this Edna. We will be promoting a self defense program for women, taught by women and it would seem pretty odd to have a man be the first contact.” “That makes sense” agreed Edna. “I think that we should talk to the minister first.” Said Edna “tell him why we are doing what we are doing and get his cooperation in ‘recruiting’ his parishioners.” They all agreed that this made sense to them too. “Great, then it’s agreed on, the ladies will go talk to Reverend Spears and the ‘fighters’ will keep on keeping on.” Rich said turning to the three youngest members of the meeting “I want to tell you three just how proud I am of you and of what you are doing. I don’t think I have ever had the occasion to see just how dedicated you could be to a project Jennie, and the three of you are putting so much time and effort into this that it is astonishing to me. I am honored to be able to assist you with this great project of yours.” The three of them were happy to hear the praise but it embarrassed them too, so they just mumbled a ‘thank you’ and looked down at the table.
Amy said that she thought they needed to write out some kind of lesson plan, something that they could refer to in order to ensure that they didn’t forget anything during a training session. “We also have to determine how long each session should be and how much we should teach in one session” agreed Brad. Jennie contributed the thought that they didn’t have any idea how long it would take to give someone the basics of what they had been working on. “One lesson? 10? How do we know?” asked Amy. “I don’t know” admitted Jennie turning to her mother. “Mom, would you be willing to be a kind of guinea pig for us?” Edna blinked in astonishment “ME?” “yes YOU” said Jennie. “Why should this training be reserved for teen agers? You have as much right to learn as anyone else and I think you would be great!” Amy vigorously nodded her agreement and said “I think that both of you should come down to the dojo and we can train you. You can be our first students and we can gauge how long it will take for these lessons and the best way to approach them. That was a great idea Jennie” Slowly Edna and Wanda wrapped their minds around this idea and it began to seem like a really good idea. “Ok I’ll do it!” said Wanda. “So will I” said Edna “I’m not sure how good I will be at this but if you are patient with me I’ll do my best.” The husbands were sitting there with slightly bemused expressions, this was an unexpected development. “Well, I guess that should be a warning to us old man” joked Rich to Bob “these two are really going to be able to put a whippin on us pretty soon!” Every one laughed with him and agreed that it was a great idea. As it was starting to get late they agreed to another meeting in a couple of days and called it a night.
As Amy was leaving with her folks, Jennie quipped “Watch out for that stalker, he might decide to follow you home tonight” Amy whipped around and stared open mouthed at her friend. “What do you mean?!” she exclaimed “how did you know? I mean, what are you talking about” she made herself calm down. How did Jennie know about her imagined follower? “I didn’t mean to scare you Amy. I was just joking about the guy that has been following me around lately.” There was a wild babble of voices at that statement.
“What do you mean someone is following you?”
“There is someone following you too?”
“Oh my gosh, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t believe this, neither of you thought this was important enough to mention to any of us?”
“I thought I was being paranoid”
“I didn’t think he was a threat, just some kid with a crush or something”
“I’ve been trying to put him out of my mind?
“HOLD IT!!!” Brad yelled “Everyone hush for a minute and let’s get this sorted out. Jennie, you first How long has this been going on?” “Well, I’m not exactly sure, it seems to have been going on for a while now, a couple weeks I think. He isn’t really doing anything, just hanging in the background, like he is afraid to come too close.” She replied. “Amy? What about you?” “Pretty much the same thing, although I wasn’t sure at first that he was actually following me, I thought I was just being paranoid and so I didn’t want you of you to think I was losing it.” Brad was upset and didn’t try to hide it. “Is that why you were asking me to teach you those new moves? Didn’t you trust me enough to tell me why you wanted to learn them?” He asked a little heatedly. “It wasn’t a matter of me trusting you Brad, but of me trusting ME. I seriously didn’t think he was following me, I thought that I was just a little crazy, but just in case I wanted to be better prepared, and THAT is why I asked you to help me out” She told him, just a little bit defensively. Brad stood there looking at the two women with a puzzled expression on his face. “Didn’t either of you stop to think about the danger you were in? That these guys might actually be up to no good? And now we find out that you are BOTH being followed? Have you noticed whether you are being followed at the same time?” They couldn’t answer that one as they had not confided in each other and had no way of correlating the times. “Ok, this is what we are going to do” said Brad definitively “neither one of you is to go ANYWHERE by yourselves. You will either go together or call me and I will go with you.” Amy just stood looking at him like she had never seen him before. “What do you mean not go anywhere alone? Are you trying to tell us that we are not able to take care of ourselves? After all the training you have given us you want us to meekly hide behind your ‘Big muscles and brawn’?” The growing anger was quite evident in her voice and her stance “I don’t think that we are going to take orders from you Brad. If you want to help us find out what is going on that would be great, but you have no right to tell either of us what to do.” Jennie was nodding her head, but had a thoughtful look on her face. “Hey guys” she said “How bout if we set a trap for these two? Turn the tables on them.” Brad and Amy were still too upset to settle down, but Edna and Wanda did their best to calm Amy while the men walked Brad away a few steps and spoke quietly for a couple of minutes. “Here’s what I think we should do” said Jennie conspiratorially. “And it’s going to take ALL of us to accomplish it.”