The Day I became a Man | Teen Ink

The Day I became a Man

October 11, 2022
By Anonymous

Author's note:

Had to do this for English class. Didn't want people to see it but I kinda have to know for a grade.

He was huge. 220 pounds 5’11 and only 14. How was my 5’7, 130 pound self gonna spar against that giant? Despite this only being practice, my heart was racing. And it wasn't just from the previous workouts. That little xylophone felt like nothing compared to the drumset that was banging in my heart.

I tried to think on the bright side… it was only 30% speed and power, meaning he was gonna have to hold back 70%! But still, that was like getting hit with 70 pounds. 70 pounds, more than half of my body weight… I’m basically allowing this guy to rip me in half! As long as it wasn’t full on kickboxing I would be good. Avoiding and slipping punches is one thing, but getting away just for a roundhouse kick to be shot at your head is a whole different story.

“For this round we’re gonna do two minutes of full on kickboxing, including knee kicks, so remember to x-block for when those come at you. Remember, start small at 30%, and if you and your partner feel comfortable, you can raise the power and speed. Just try not to make it so that the ambulance won’t come, haha.” Chuckled instructor Matt, as he unpaused his lame, ‘practice+workout’ playlist. 

RAISE THE POWER AND SPEED? I thought. If that happens, it’s not gonna look so ‘haha’ anymore. And knee strikes? Ironic enough that he said full on kickboxing but now we're adding some muay thai? Mom’s gonna be pissed when she sees the list of medical bills she's gonna have to pay.

“Okay, partners, face each other and bow, touch gloves and begin!” As soon as Matt said begin, Arman didn’t even wait to touch gloves. 

A giant right hook came for my left ear; it was huge. How the hell was his glove getting bigger and bigger?? Shit, stop staring at it, and move your damn body! I rolled under the hook and turned my back leg ninety degrees to face the right side of his body. 

Yes, yes, yes! He’s wide open and I’m way quicker than him. If I keep this up, I can wear him out by dodging and getting hits in. I threw a left hand jab and followed by a cross with my right, thinking it would knock him back enough to throw a brutal snap front kick. 

This monster didn’t even move. What the hell is this guy? How does he tank a jab and cross that easily, while he’s making me move around him without me even getting hit. 

Suddenly Arman shifted his left shoulder back. He was in the perfect stance to shift to the right and throw a giant left hook. Even though he might have been aiming for the body there was a big height difference and as far as I know, one hit and my jaw could’ve been dislocated.

My body then moved all by itself. It was like my brain went on autopilot and all of my body parts knew what to do. My right leg retreated back and my left leg followed the same movement. Now dodging Armans second hook, my ego was soaring through the roof. Sure, maybe he could tank two hits but the jab and the cross were my weakest attacks. I had much more under my belt.

Sh*t! Arman threw a teep, a forward leg front kick which is supposed to catch people off guard. Now I understand why it caught people off guard. I remembered doing teep’s in class thinking it would never happen in a real fight, but here I was, trying to tank a front kick. Although my reaction speed was quicker than his, it couldn't save me this time. My stomach sucked in even quicker than when a fat guy sucks in his stomach when he sees a group of hot girls. I don’t know if sucking in my stomach helped but the kick was way weaker than I expected it too. Mainly because I expected my guts to get ruptured and torn, but it was just like bumping into someone in the hallway. 

Armans foot planted far out, as he tried to catch his balance. This was probably one of the worst positions you could be in. His legs were split apart so his weight was distributed unevenly. I quickly turned my left foot and let my body spin through. A rush of adrenaline had struck me. I remember attempting this kick many times before, only having to catch my balance right after but this time I thought none of it. As my body spun a 180 degree angle, my right foot soared like a jet. And now it was gonna crash land. My heel hit Arman in the middle of his chest, knocking him backwards into the wall. As soon as he hit the wall my foot let out a cry. The front bone of my foot had bent, just like the time I leaped forward and landed on my foot in track.

I tried to hide the pain and rushed over to Arman asking if he was okay, just to see him chuckling. “I guess we're going more than 30% then, Pandey.”

“Aight bet, just don’t go off on me for that kick!” I quickly got back into my guardian stance and decided to hold back on the right leg. I waited for Arman to do something. A jab, hook, round kick, even a faint. Anything! Anything that could get a reaction out of me and that I could work off of. But I guess he was playing defensive because that oaf didn’t do anything but circle around. I guess I had to go on the offensive.

I stepped in with a jab to close some space, followed by a right cross, left hook, right hook, two more jabs and an uppercut. I wasn’t sure if I was landing any of them but I could tell he was bombarded by the way he was backing away. Then it happened again. My brain went on autopilot and my arms just started swinging. I don’t know what they wanted to do, or where they tried to hit but they swung. I changed my level by squatting down to his stomach, to get a shot in there, and then I came back up to get a shot in there. I was like a broken record, repeating the same combos and moves over and over again. But the record was starting to run out of batteries.

As soon as I stopped to catch my breath, everything around me had darkened. Sweat was pouring down my face, falling off of my eyelashes. The pain in my leg went away with all the adrenaline and my heart was playing metallica at full blast. Arman used this opportunity to be the guiding light that took me to heaven. He squatted down and pulled his arm down like he was about to wave at the devil, and then ripped it up. But contact was never made. I was never launched. 

“Yo why you flinching so much?” Arman laughed while lowering his arm down. “Obviously I wasn’t gonna hit you with THAT!” He touched my gloves and got back into a stance and circled around our sweat stained black mat. 

I smiled back to show respect, even though that was the opposite thing I wanted to show. Was this guy really mocking me right now? Even though I almost got hit with the most pulverizing hit I would probably ever get my whole life, was he gonna pretend that I didn’t just hit him with back and forth combos? Even though he was almost double my weight I had kicked many people older and bigger than me to the ground. If I wanted him to see me as a good opponent, and even more, if I wanted to see myself as a good fighter, I would have to be better. 

70%. That’s what I was going to do. Surely a ‘more than 30%’ Arman couldn’t handle me now! There was nothing to lose! My reaction speed was better than his was no matter what percent he was going at or how much he was holding back, and as long as I had that I was good. I instantly got back into the rhythm of dodging and throwing, dodging and throwing. At this point, the two minutes felt like an hour. I was waiting for the time to run out as I kept throwing hook after cross after jab.

We kept circling, kept blocking, weaving, kept kicking, punching, and caging. Of course the both of us had taken the occasional hit but none of that mattered. Not in this present moment. I could take a beating like this for a minute to have the confidence later for an hour.

“20 SECONDS!” Matt announced, making every group glance over at the timer for a brief moment. Not us though. This was normal practice for everyone, just a quick spar to wrap up class. This was me avoiding the biggest challenge here for months and finally having the balls to tackle it head on.

Combos, back and forth, punches back and forth, this time a bit sloppier because I just wanted the time to finally end. But this was going to be my downfall.

As I threw a round kick to the head, my legs were split apart, one on the ground, one in the air. Arman saw this and took the opportunity. As he lifted his leg into his chamber, I realized it was too late and I would be getting hit in the stomach or the head. I quickly put my guard up, hoping that the impact would be less brutal. 

But wait, why was he going so low? It made no sense to front kick a leg. So if he wasn't going above the torso or below the legs was he gonna… Then it happened.

“Ahhh-ahh- bro-... aghhhhh” I whined in pain as my balls that we just a second ago went in and fought like a warrior, were numb as I layed on the ground.

“YOOO, MY BAD, I SWEAR I WANTED TO GO A BIT HIGHER” Arman chuckled as he kneeled down, making sure I was okay. 

The instructors came over to make sure I was okay, and they sat me down on the side as I iced my crying testes and abdomen. I realized that this is what made me a man. Not fighting back and throwing good combos, but getting cocky and facing the price of that. I realized I had to be more cautious from now on and to hold back on the high roundhouse kicks.

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