One day at the dojang…

As previously mentioned, I’ve been involved in the martial arts for over half of my life now. Along the way there have been more than a few causes for levity.

This will be the first time that one of my blog entries comes with a warning, but here it is: If you are easily irritated or horrified by the description of violence, you might as well stop here. On the other hand, if you see one of those home videos were dad is smacked by the two year old with the baseball bat and find yourself chuckling, well then this post just might be for you.

Most of the years I’ve spent in the study of the martial arts have been centered around the Korean arts of Tang Soo Do and Hapkido (or Hap Ki Do if you prefer), but I started my quest in the study of Okinawan Kempo. This style of Kempo focuses on a more balanced attack of kicks and hand strikes than many arts, in my opinion. Since this is considered a Japanese style, this first recollection happened at the dojo rather than the dojang.

The dojo that I was studying with at the time was being instructed by a 4th degree female black belt. She was very good and truthfully one of the better teachers I’ve had.

One night, a test was scheduled for the lower belts (a group of which I was a member). As a special treat we were going to be allowed to break a board. (For those of you not familiar with the martial arts, board breaking isn’t a part of all schools or styles and mainly is included in the Korean styles.) On this particular night, my sensei’s husband (also a black belt) had come to class to help with the testing. Since he had more experience in board breaking than she had, he was going to demonstrate the technique. Our sensei assumed a deep horse stance and held the board in front of her, one hand on top, and one on bottom. Her husband braced himself in front of her in a deep front stance and talked us through the procedure for striking the board with a reverse punch (in non jargon, the left leg is in front and you hit with your right hand).

I guess he was paying more attention to us than he was to his spacing and distance because when he looked forward and did the full speed strike, he broke the board, continued on hit his wife square her left hand side floating rib. The test was cancelled and sensei ended up with a broken rib. Now, maybe you needed to know our sensei to have this be funny, but I hope not. You see, she didn’t start yelling or lay down on the floor and roll around or anything like that. She just got VERY quiet, and it was difficult to tell whether her pain or her indignation was greater. Her poor husband though, LOL, he REALLY knew he had messed up. He looked so sheepish and guilty. The way he scurried, yes scurried, around closing up the school and getting her home was reminiscent of a hamster in a wheel. I’m sure this story still is told in that household.

Many years later, I’m the assistant instructor at the dojang and helping with a hapkido test. If you’re unfamiliar with hapkido, just think of Steven Segal. Yes, for those of you who follow Steven Segal, I KNOW he studied aikido, but aikido is defensive and much of what Segal does is anything but. Hapkido, on the other hand, has all the defensive elements and plenty of offensive.

Anyway, as I was saying, we were conducting a test. A large portion of the test was conducted in a large group. At the end of that portion of the test, the class was sat in the back of the class and called up one by one for individual testing. The lower students were tested first and the upper belts were tested last. Well one student, a really nice guy, starting later in life then most, had been sitting a little longer than his circulation would have preferred. When his name was called he jumped to his feet, or rather he tried to. You see, as his legs had fallen asleep, his right foot became entangled in the left leg of his dobak (uniform) and as he attempted the rapid change of position, he naturally lost his balance and went for what looked like would be a face plant. However instead of messing up the floor or his face, his training came in and he performed a perfect shoulder roll and came up in a back stance. The look on his face showed he was even more surprised then the rest of us.

It was my opinion he should have been awarded his belt on the spot. LOL.

Not soon after that, a group from our school went over for a friendly sparring session with a Japanese style shotokan school across town. When it was my turn to spar with the opposing schools sensei, I was having fun and holding my own. Shotokan is a very direct style, and this particular school wasn’t known for holding anything back. Over aggressive might be another way to state it. And they followed in the path of their sensei.

As we were sparring, I saw him set up for a spinning technique, so I moved in to counter. Unfortunately, the technique he was committed to was a spinning elbow strike. He did the technique blindly (meaning he didn’t have his head turned to see where the strike would or would not land, a big no-no btw). I had a double forearm block in  place, but unfortunately he was perfectly placed for the elbow to go right between and slam directly into my right eye ridge.

I was upset that I had been tagged like that, and more upset that he, as the sensei, had thrown a blind technique. I didn’t get angry, but I did get very focused. My opponent, however, stopped dead and with sincere concern asked me, “Hey man, are you okay?”

I shrugged it off with, “Yeah, no problem,” eager to get back to the match and hopefully get in a good shot or two (not angry, hurtful shots, just good sparring) in order to vindicate myself. We started up again, but soon I was having trouble with the sweat running into my eyes not letting me see well. I kept brushing at it, but it really didn’t do any good.

Soon, my opponent held up his hands and said, “Hey, we need to stop.” I was a little confused, because are match had lasted conspicuously shorter than previous ones. That is when I saw my reflection in one of the many mirrors surrounding the floor. It seems that the elbow strike had opened up a large gash above my right eye. As soon as I saw it I realized it would need some stitches. The sweat I couldn’t get out of my vision was blood. Copious amounts of blood. All over my dobak and sparring gear. I was surprised because I hadn’t felt any pain other than that of getting hit in the head to begin with. I still didn’t feel any pain.

As I left the dojo, I remembered I was on my motorcycle. So here I am, changed into street clothes, on my bike, helmet on but with the visor up so that the wind would help keep the blood out of my eyes.

I decided to drive straight to the emergency room to get it over with. When I got there, I parked my bike and took of my helmet. That little inch long gash was pumping blood like Old Faithful on the top of the hour. Looking in my bikes mirror, I realized that the wind from the ride had feathered the blood all over the right side of my face from my throat to my temple and back into my hair. I was a mess. Since I didn’t have anyway to clean myself off, I trooped into the ER and walked up to the front desk. It was kind of amusing the way gasps and muffled shrieks I heard on the way. I did feel badly about scaring the little kids, but there wasn’t much I could do.

When I got to the desk, the receptionist didn’t even bother to look up and just handed me a clipboard with a admittance form. I quickly filled it out, and where it asked for the nature of the injury, I penciled in “Gash in eyelid” and returned the form.

I went and had a seat in the very busy waiting room. Even with the obvious business of the day, there were quickly empty chairs all around me.

All of a sudden the double doors flew open and several staff came rushing out. “Mr. Allfather? Mr. Allfather?” I stood and walked toward them wondering how I had rated such preferential treatment. I was rushed into the and sat on an exam table and a doctor immediately rushed over. The following conversation is as close to as exact as I can remember.

“Have you washed your eye out?”

“Um, yes. I washed the whole area.”

“Good. Now how did this happen.”

“Well, it was a martial arts accident.”

“Martial arts? Like karate?”


“What were you doing with gas?”

“What? Huh? Gas? There wasn’t any gas.”

“But on your form you put you had gas in your eye!”

“Um, no, I wrote I had a gash in my eyelid. You know, the one that is currently pumping blood down my face.”

“Oh.”   pregnant pause    “Could you go out and wait in the waiting room please.”

At this point I was definitely hoping that when it WAS my turn to be worked on that they had been paying more attention during suturing class than they had during elementary reading.

Eventually I was asked back in. Two doctors were assigned to my case which I thought was rather odd, until I realized one was an intern. Argh. They washed my face, again, and asked me to lie down. They covered me with that little suture napkin thing and cut a whole to get at that gash in my eyelid.

Of course, the napkin thing covered my other eye, so I was now effectively blind. But I wasn’t deaf.

“Okay, so go ahead and apply the anesthetic. No! Use the topical spray. The needle might penetrate the lid and cause further damage.”

Uhhh… that doesn’t sound good. Maybe I should ask for the real doctor to do the procedure.

“All right. We should be able to start now. For a situation like this we need a small diameter needle. No smaller. No that’s larger, I said smaller. Yes, that one should work. Now get your needle holder. NO! That one is for the larger needles. If you try to use it, the needle could come loose and you could cause a large scar or other damage.”

“Ummm… stop. Could I have the real doctor do this please?”

Well, the real doctor did do it, and the scar has long since faded. In fact more people noticed the black eye than noticed the stitches.

I have many scars and lots of crazy stories to go with. If you want to, we can compare, but I get to be Mel Gibson.

Keep your guard up, and remember, it’s hard to attack when your only defending! .^D

~ by odin1eye on 7 May, 2009.

2 Responses to “One day at the dojang…”

  1. very interesting Odinsan, you are a very amusing man. must come over and relive adventures with guineaguy soon. i enjoy your wit and miss it when not exposed. Is this ok to communicate this way. want to explore different mediums.

    • Of course. Any communication is good. I appreciate your camaraderie, and I love the sobriquet!

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