Sunday, April 24, 2005

Devenomed Snake Versus Physically Incapacitated Crane Style

Spent most of this morning going through the testing procedure necessary to move up a rank in Tae Kwon Do, a discipline I began studying a few months ago in a moment of inexplicability. Inexplicable because, it must be confessed, I am hardly a natural martial artist. However, the Tae Kwon Do school is located immediately below my apartment, and I have to walk past its door every morning to get coffee. It is unpleasant to be confronted, when hungover, with a large number of seven-year-olds equipped with the physical skills to kick your ass while shouting things in Korean. Eventually I realized that I had to do something to keep up with the neighborhood's seven-year-olds.

Progress has been slow. My coordination is lacking in several areas: hand-eye, hand-foot, and hand-other-hand, to name but a few. During spin moves, I occasionally become disoriented and attack imaginary foes to one side or another of the sparring area. My knife-hand strike would leave an imprint on most cakes, but probably not cleave them entirely in twain. (This in contrast to a friend of mine, who ably dissected a cake of many layers last July using this technique, but was for months thereafter unable to shake hands without agonizing pain, on account of the unexpectedly solid material that lay beneath.) In short, if I am ever picked to represent my country in the Olympics, you can be confident that someone is trying to throw the event.

All the same, there's something very soothing about working through the forms while shouting things in Korean. My reflexes are honed, my spirit is revived, and I consider myself more than up to this afternoon's challenge: drink beer, listen to Solomon Burke, and gamble next month's rent on the NBA playoffs. Should I be faced with physical violence in my passage through the city's gambling dens and seedy clip joints, I will no longer merely turn tail and flee; now I will be able to distract my assailant first by shouting something at them in Korean. If this buys me an extra couple of steps, it will all have been worthwhile.