I posted this on my blog

I was 11. A fresh orange belt (that's the second belt btw, just after white). In fact it was the very day i received my orange belt. I got at an 'A-' for my grading, top of the class. Of course, i was feeling awesome.

I felt even more awesome when my instructor started a sparring session at the end of the class.
He asked for volunteers, and needless to say, i was waving my hand in the sky as if he just asked if anyone wanted a million bucks. But of course, smiling, he purposely ignored my frantic waves a few times as he let a few of the other guys go first. He was making me wait longer. Making me more excited and impatient, and he did it deliberately. The sick b*st*rd. =P When i finally got chosen, i tell you i was smiling so hard my cheeks still hurt today. Then he chose my opponent.

I remember him clearly. His name was Rahman. Slim build, dark skin. He was a white belt. But - i think he was 18, and he was about 3-4 heads taller than me. I didn't care. I just wanted to spar. Wanted to prove myself. Wanted to kick and punch. And that's what i did.

I kicked and punched. A lot. I was really trying to hit him, but i was so much smaller i barely hit him at all and he just kept evading my attacks. I got frustrated and attacked even more aggressively, closing in ever so slightly. A few weak hits here and there, but nothing significant. I kept getting more and more aggressive with every failed attempt.

Until he punched me.

I tried to stay standing for a few seconds, tried to fight the pain, but i dropped to the floor on all fours (understand that at that point in my martial arts training, i was full of pride, so i had the mentality that i wouldn't go down unless i was dead - and man did it feel like i was dying) I couldn't breathe, my body felt limp and weak, and the core of my torso hurt like hell. Immediately my instructor got someone ta help me up and lifted me up, off the ground, back to back, expanding my chest. It felt weird, being carried like that. But i wasn't complaining cos it was really helping with the pain.

He had punched me in the solar plexus. I don't know if it was intentional or just a fluke, because as far as i can remember, that was the only strike he executed during the bout. All i know is that it happened. And up till then, although i had read martial arts books and articles about how the solar plexus was a weak spot, i never knew just how weak. Now i got it.

When the pain had dissipated slightly, and i could breathe a lil bit more, i immediately took my place on the floor again, facing him in my stance. I wanted to keep going. But instead my instructor gave the command for the bout to end. My pleas of "i want to keep going" and "i'm ok" didn't work. I was extremely frustrated, like watching the first quarter of a Bruce Lee movie and being rudely interrupted by someone else changing the channel. I felt like exceedingly restless, like there was a job to do and i hadn't completed it. And i never got to complete it.

Rahman never came back for training. Did he feel guilty for hurting me? Or was he just caught up with school or work? I can't help but feel that it was guilt. And i can't help but feel sorry for that young man who stopped training because his heart was so big that he couldn't stand the thought that he had knocked an 11-year-old down.

I trained even harder from that day onwards, because i wanted to win, and to never be knocked down like that again.

I train even harder - in honour of Rahman, his sense of honour, love and duty, and all the other martial artists i've been blessed enough to know thus far.
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