Monday, November 22, 2010

Installment number 17 36,323

The following day Edna and Wanda presented themselves at the dojo, dressed in loose clothing, since neither owned a gi. They were very nervous and who could blame them, this was totally foreign to them both, neither had ever taken any kind of fighting or self defense classes in their lives. But they had both agreed that this would be the perfect test for FEDUP. The first thing that Brad did was explain the equipment to them. He wanted them to be familiar with the terms they were going to be using and the reasons behind each of the moves he was going to teach them. This took longer than any of them had anticipated, so they only had time to run thru some basic stretching exercises after all of that. They agreed to come back the following night. All in all Brad felt that the lesson had gone pretty well. They would have to rethink their plans of having a one night class tho. There was just too much material to go over in a couple of hours.
When the two women returned the following night they were no where near as scared as they had been the day before. There was a familiarity to the dojo now, it wasn’t just a huge unknown. They could concentrate easier on what Brad was teaching them. And that was a good thing, since there was so much to go over. “Tonight I want to show you some very basic moves. These are the moves that you will want to know the most. The ones that are the most versatile and are really pretty easy.” Brad told them and then proceeded to start the lesson with a stance. “This is where you are the strongest” he told them “You have the advantage over anyone coming at you in that you will have a very solid base from which to work and they will have a much harder time knocking you off balance.” Then he showed them some simple punches. Nothing fancy, just something that would stun or disconcert an attacker so that they could get away. He then taught them some blocks. “I know that these seem very overwhelming right now, but believe me, with just a little bit of practice you will be amazed at how you will feel” he told them. “I sure hope so” said Edna in an aside to Wanda “I feel pretty silly standing here like George Foreman fighting Muhammad Ali” Brad had to laugh at that remark “you do not LOOK silly, you Look dangerous, which is exactly how we WANT you to look” he told her. “Now, lets see you use those moves on the girls here in a sparring match.” Wanda and Edna looked at each other apprehensively. “What do you mean?” asked Wanda. “You never said anything about us having to fight anyone” “No, I didn’t did I?” he chuckled “but you ladies were the ones who suggested that having to use the moves in training might be a good idea, so we thought that we would test That notion too.” He then led them to the back of the dojo where he had some equipment laying out waiting for them. Jennie and Amy were already there, they had been lounging around watching their moms get educated, and they were really enjoying it too. “Mom” said Jennie “You are amazing” “Yeah, mom, you are doing SO good” piped in Amy. Their mom’s looked at them like they were crazy but decided not to argue right now, they had other things on their minds at the moment. “Ok ladies, here are the gloves and the helmets” Brad said handing them the equipment. Sparring gloves and helmets were standard in most dojos to protect the students while they were perfecting their moves. They were not super padded or any great shakes, but they were much better then nothing at all. They were made out of leather and the helmet fitted over the head to include the ears, but did not cover the face at all. The gloves were simple thin leather that was meant to fit snuggly to protect the hands. Again, to protect the aggressor not their sparring partner. Brad, Amy and Jennie had wanted to make this trial a little bit safer, so they had rigged a sort of mask to the front of the helmet, they had taken the faceplate from a football helmet and attached it to the leather of the helmet. It looked totally weird, but it should do the job. There wasn’t really all that much they could do to the gloves except put cotton or something in the fingers and that would make them too awkward, so they opted to go with just the helmet modifications.

“Now, ladies, what I want you to do is run thru the moves slowly, using the girls as your attackers. I don’t want you to do anything fast or hard, just move slowly and smoothly to get the feel of the moves with an opponent present, ok?” They both nodded. “Alright the, assume the stance” he instructed. Wanda and Edna positioned their feet as they had been taught, turned slightly so that their sides were to their daughters and raised their hands into the protective, yet ready position, as instructed. “Very well done” complimented Brad, “now, Amy, Jennie I want you to come a little closer and give them the targets for their moves. Remember, slow and smooth, I do not want to see anyone getting hurt here.”
At first it was a comedy of errors. Neither of the ladies could remember where to hit or which direction a parry was and the stance felt pretty unnatural and forced. But as the evening wore on they started to get the hang of it and started to move better and with more confidence. Finally after about a half an hour Brad called a halt to the action and asked “So how do you feel? Any better?” Breathing heavily, all four women nodded yes, as they were removing their gear. Edna stated firmly that she believe that this training should be required for all females over the age of 2! They all laughed at that, but they also knew that in a way she was right. The earlier the child learned to defend herself, the more time she had to get it right and stay safe. “Now the next question I have is, are two nights going to be enough? Did you feel good after the first night? Good enough to come back the second night for the practical training? And do you think that you have had enough training at this point? Or do you believe that we need to add more nights?” Brad asked all these questions one right after the other. Amy snorted “the ‘next’ question? That sounds like an inquisition to me” she teased, but then she got serious and looked at her mom, “What do you think? Was this enough?” Wanda looked at her daughter thoughtfully. “No, I don’t think that this is enough. I think that this is a beginning, but not an end.” She turned to Edna and asked “do you agree?” Edna nodded, and Wanda went on “I think that we need to make the classes available to new students, but also allow girls who have taken the course to come in as often as they would like to practice, that way they can become more comfortable with the moves as well as, most likely, bring more girls in with them. What do you guys think?” The assent was unanimous. “so it will be written, so it will be done” intoned Brad, right before Amy took a swipe at his head for his irreverence.
“I feel confident in talking to people now about learning this new method of yours” Wanda said “Ours” said Jennie “We are all working on this and it is going to all of us who make it come out great” “Ok, OUR program. But the point is that I feel comfortable enough with what is being taught to go out and talk to people and try to get them to come in here and take this course.” She paused for a moment and then said “Brad, how much should we charge people for this? I have no idea about the pricing for self defense courses.” Brad stood looking at her for a moment, then he said, I don’t think I could charge for this. I could accept donations for our time, but I think that this is too important to allow money to come between a girl learning to protect herself and sure disaster if they cannot afford to pay me.” All four women crowded around him hugging him and telling him just how wonderful they thought he was. He was most certainly enjoying all this attention. “Wow, if I had known that not getting paid could get me four beautiful women, I would have gone broke Years ago” he quipped and the ladies went from hugs to punches and playfully pummeled him down to the mat. Laughing they all sat down and looked at each and then, spontaneously sent up a crow of delight at what they had accomplished so far. “We are going to make an appointment to go see the Reverend tomorrow” said Edna “I’m sure that we can get his support.” “So am I” agreed Wanda “he is a good man and cares about his congregation, he would want them to be safe.”

“Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to” Edna said “And when that happens we really need to have a plan, a contingency plan, if you will.” She took a deep breath and continued. “I know that most of us will hope and pray that nothing ever happens to us or our friends or family, but as Wanda can tell you, it happens anyway.” Wanda looked sadly at her and nodded her head gravely. “We believe that there are ways to minimize the trauma of incidents like that one, if there is some preparation done ahead of time. I really don’t know what the statistics are for women being attacked, but I do know that if even ONE is harmed that is one too many. We are hoping that we can help prepare young women to better take care of themselves in the event of an unforeseen event.” Reverend Spears waited patiently for the women to speak. Patience was something he had learned in his years in the clergy. People would eventually tell you just about anything if were patient enough to wait. In this case he was pretty interested in what they were telling him today. He knew Amy, and he had seen what that attack had done to her, and to her family, and he was astonished at what she had accomplished in the last six months or so. In that time she had lifted herself up from the muck of depression and self loathing and was making an excellent effort to help prevent that type of disaster from happening to anyone else. He was well aware that she was not making this recovery totally on her own, that she had a few really good friends as well as her parents backing her up, but she had to make these changes, nothing anyone else did was going to heal her, but it seemed that she was going to do that for herself. He had not yet met Brad, but he had heard about him from a number of people in his congregation, he had made some discrete inquiries in an effort to keep an eye on this one wayward sheep, and all the folks who knew him had nothing but good things to say about him. Rev. Spears found that encouraging. He almost shook his head to dispel all those thoughts, he needed to pay attention here. Wanda took up the pitch then “Amy and Jennie and Brad thought up this wonderful self defense program for women, and we need some women to take the course.” She said, then she laughed “that didn’t come out right, did it?” “Yes, as a matter of fact it did” he replied “It was short, sweet and to the point. All things I like in a sales pitch” he laughed then “Ladies, I think that what you are trying to do is admirable. I don’t know if you can get any of the young women in the congregation to come to the, what did you call it? Dojo? Ok, to come to the dojo for this course, but I give you my consent to try to recruit as many as you can” Edna beamed and Wanda stood up and hugged him. “Thank you so much Brother Spears, I’m sure you know how much this means to Amy and the others.” He nodded. He did believe he knew, it meant the world to Amy, if this failed he wasn’t sure she would recover a second time.

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