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The True Story of a 5-Year-Old Kicker

I’d moved on from being one of two, to one of five tiny girls in a class of about twenty boys. I don’t think I really noticed the unproportional balance of boys to girls. Cooties was never my thing, you know? I didn’t really see a difference. Girls can like action books. Girls can be superheros for halloween. Girls can do karate. And if a girl can do it, a girl should do it, right? Really, I was a jack of all trades kind of kid. I cheerleaded in pre k and that was fun but something made me turn to karate as the thing to do. Maybe it was that my best friend, Jagat, wanted to sign up.

For whatever reason I started karate. Can you imagine? I was the shortest one in the class, I’m sure. I was always the shortest. I had round cheeks and a mouth that wouldn’t stop talking and a smile that went on for days. I looked like a perfect little lady and talked like an adult and really believed I was big. So when all the little kids jumped and kicked the short kicking bag on the ground without much excitement or energy, I ran like a bullet and kicked as hard as a truck and believed my way into the big kids class. I now realise that they were probably only fourth or fifth graders, but let’s say for all intents and purposes that they looked like middle schoolers and I had to jump my own height off the ground to kick that big kid bad. I was so proud of myself for being in the big kid karate class.

My coach was a big man with defined muscles, a full head of hair, and a love for kids. He would sometimes have us work with him instead of the raised spherical mat. He had these pads he’d put on this hand that we would punch, although we were small enough that just punching his normal hands wouldn’t have hurt him either.

He also had pads he’d hold up in front of him that he held from about the top of his shoulders to just below his hips.

I was a good jumper. I’d done gymnastics since age two. I’d jumped to kick the big mat probably hundreds of times. But for some reason, I didn’t jump this time. I kicked my leg straight up and the poor guy fell to his knees in pain because a little Shirley Temple look alike had kicked him in the nuts.

Of course I was a lady and my mom had me write him a very nice letter. On white printer paper in colorful markers I wrote “I’m sorry for kicking you in the balls.”



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