There comes a time in every adolescent boy’s life where he must realize that his years of suburban martial-arts training are all for naught and that were he to get into a fight, he would lose poorly. He must also learn that women are his equals and that underestimating them is silly and dumb.
That moment of reckoning for me was getting kicked in the face three times by one of said women.
Let me rewind…
It is mere weeks after my fourteenth birthday. I am fat, the one-hundred-ninety-five-pound product of a diet that consisted of a no-holds barred beatdown against three “double-quarter-pounders” a week. Paradoxically, I am also fairly in shape given my weight, having grown up playing (and quitting) nearly every sport possible and being absolutely terrible at all of them. I stick with Taekwondo, however, because I show some marginal talent and because my dad would take me to McDonald’s after every practice. I actually become quite decent at it, make a solid run at the Junior Olympics, and receive modest attention from girls whom I think are cute. I am living the life.
But on that fateful day, I am at a Taekwondo tournament in Kansas, where the world’s most seasoned gather for a chance at a shining moment of martial glory. I win my first two rounds handily, my opponents unable to overcome my surprisingly agile fat-kid onslaught. It is like watching Jell-O at play.
One of the referees walks over to me, mentions that there is a girl who doesn’t have anybody to spar with in her weight division, and asks if I would be OK going against her. I accept, expecting a breather round before the finals. I foolishly think that no girl would be a match for my all-powerful fat-kid Taekwondo.
What stepped into the ring was a six-foot-plus, 200-pound monster masquerading as a human fifteen-year-old girl.
Undaunted, I smile, stupidly unaware that I am going to my certain death. She senses my contempt, and I pay for it dearly.
The referee starts the match. A foot instantly connects with my nose. I start crying and bleeding. My confidence quickly melts away.
The ref stops the fight and reprimands the girl. I also mentally reprimand her for being a butt-face. I unsuccessfully attempt to gather my shit. You see, In Taekwondo, a kick to the side of the head is highly encouraged because it’s worth double points. A kick to the nose is highly illegal and hurts like a bitch.
Between sniffles, I ready myself for the match to start again. It does, and I am met once again with a swift kick to the nose. She is either very bad at aiming her kicks, or karma guided her foot to my face because I didn’t think a girl could win a fight.
The ref stops the match again. I continue to cry. My coach shouts words of encouragement from the sideline. They fall upon deaf ears: I am already a broken man inside.
The match starts once more. I am irrationally afraid, the pain of two kicks to the nose making me forget whatever modicum of martial-arts prowess I currently possess. Between tears, I squeamishly dance around the ring, trying to avoid any contact with my opponent.
My mind begins screaming: “WHAT DO I DO? CAN I EVEN HIT GIRLS? OH GOD PLEASE I DON’T WANNA DIE LIKE THIS.”
Meanwhile my normally chivalrous father is yelling from the sidelines, “KICK HER BACK IN THE FACE.”
I make a pathetic attempt at kicking her, which visually was similar to a wimpy dog poking a hermit crab and then jumping the fuck away when it twitches menacingly. This goes on for several seconds until she kicks me in the nose again.
I curl into a ball and am inconsolable. I make a sound almost as awful as Justin Bieber’s singing.
The match is over.
This whole experience taught me some things. Never underestimate someone just because she is a girl, or she’ll be really tall and kick you in the face a lot and you’ll cry. It was odd that I even thought that way in the first place: My whole life I have been surrounded by strong women. Most of my greatest rivals in any aspect of life have been girls, and they’ve generally been better at stuff than me. My beautiful girlfriend is a transmission engineer for Ford, has had a regular weightlifting regimen, and has pink earmuffs for the gun range.
I, on the other hand, like to ride the teacups at Six Flags and have caught all 150 Pokémon in the original game. But that’s neither here nor there.
So yes, boys, women are our equals, and they also kick hard.