Tony Woodlief | Author

If Only the Pride Would Goeth for Goodeth

At the gym I passed a room where a little pony-tailed lady was teaching women how to throw a ridiculously ineffective roundhouse kick. I haven’t kept up with the fusion of martial arts, aerobics, and conga line dancing that infests late-night advertising, but apparently it has spread to at least one gym in Kansas.

I suppose it’s all fine, this pseudo-judo playacting, if it helps folks improve their cardiovascular health. But listening to the lady yap at them as she attacked a free-standing bag in much the way I imagine a chihuahua might go after a giant slow-walking burrito, it occurred to me that at least some of the folks in there might be deceived into thinking they are learning how to defend themselves. Which might get them hurt.

There probably wasn’t much risk of anyone getting out of the gym in good enough shape to pick a fight, however, because she soon had all of them slapping away at body bags with those oversized boxing gloves that offer absolutely no protection. You have to guard against snapped wrists in that kind of workout, not bruised knuckles.

Oh, how pride goeth before a fall.

I grabbed my wraps and bag gloves and headed to a different part of the gym. Soon I had the bag jumping. That silly woman and her useless techniques, I thought. If she’s ever in a real fight she’ll figure out mighty quick how worthless a head-high kick really is.

You can tell where this is headed, can’t you? A five year-old can predict what’s coming next. So why couldn’t I see it coming?

Because I was too busy admiring how I was beating the bejesus out of that bag, is why. I was too caught up in the wonder of Tony, who studied real Karate all those years, instead of that sissy Tae Bo Egg Foo Young Ho Chi Minh stuff that people send their kids to learn these days. And so, within seconds of mentally congratulating myself for not thinking a bunch of fancy show techniques amount to real fighting skill, I jumped into the air to hit the bag with a spinning hammer fist.

I have no idea why. I am no Jackie Chan. I’m not even Jack Black. But there I was, in the air, spinning around with my arm and fist extending, ready to deal a deadly blow to that bag.

The bag, on the other hand, apparently had tolerated just about all the beating he was going to take that day. And so he ducked, or sidestepped me, or maybe — just maybe — I misjudged things a bit. Instead of whacking the bag my arm kept on traveling, and the rest of me went with it, and then I landed square on my rear end.

Of course there were people watching.

There really is just no way to redeem yourself after pulling a move like that, is there? But, being a guy, I had to try nonetheless. So I just lay there for a moment, trying to project the vibe that this is just what happens to kung-fu fighters, but instead probably making people wonder why I didn’t get myself some lessons from the little lady downstairs.

And here’s the key question, ladies and gentlemen: Do you think the next time I get a gift-wrapped opportunity to make a colossal fool out of myself, that I will remember this experience, and abstain from tugging on the shiny ribbon?

Absolutely not. Because I like shiny ribbons.

On Key

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