When I Was a Superhero
The boys and I saw part of a TV program showing a martial arts expert breaking bricks. Calfgrit7 asked me to stop on that channel to see what was going on. We’ve seen part of this show before, but I don’t know the name of it. They use science to check sports facts and myths (it’s not Mythbusters), and this particular episode was checking if shouting or grunting made any real difference in an athlete’s power.
We watched a guy break 10 concrete bricks with his forearms with and without a yell. He did better with the yell. In discussing what we were seeing, why he wanted to yell, I mentioned that I had broken concrete bricks, myself. Calfgrit7 was interested in this. I said, “I think we have a video of my black belt test.” I looked through our family videos, and sure enough, there was my Tae Kwon Do black belt test tape.
I took it off the shelf and pushed it into the VCR. I earned my black belt in TKD just a couple months before Calfgrit7 was born, and though I tried to keep up some self training at home for a couple years, I haven’t done any real training in the years that he can remember. So watching this video was a first for him seeing his dad doing “cool stuff” like fighting (sparring) and breaking things with punches and kicks.
He saw me defending against an attacker, and he was impressed when I knocked or twisted the guy down. I explained that this was just a test to show that I knew the moves for how to defend myself, and that we weren’t really hitting hard enough to hurt each other. But then the video came to the sparring — actual fighting, with padding on our heads, torsos, fists, and feet. I was fighting two guys at once, and we could hear the audience around the camera cheering me on. It was actually pretty exciting to watch. I mean, it’s no Ultimate Fighting Challenge in the Octagon, but it was me, Calfgrit7’s daddy in action.
And then he saw me fall down — hey, I was fighting two guys at one time, who both already had their black belts! — and he laughed. Okay, enough of the fighting . . . I fast forwarded the video to me getting ready to break two concrete bricks. At the time of the video, I had only broken one brick at a time before, twice. In the video, I approached the bricks, held up by two concrete cinder blocks, and got into position for a downward smash with my right hand. I took a couple of slow line up moves, and then stood up and back away.
“Are you going to break them, Daddy,” Calfgrit7 asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m just getting ready.”
I was intently watching my face on the video. This was the first time I’ve watched this since right after the test, but I could remember what was going on in my head and body at that time. For one thing, I was very tired, exhausted. Before the bricks were set up, I had already been doing calisthenics, maneuvers, defenses, and sparring for half an hour, in front of an audience (the part I hated the most). I knew I couldn’t let the tiredness make me sloppy or else I’d just smack the top brick and hurt myself.
In the video, I stepped up to the bricks again, and got into position. Watching the video, I was getting excited again. I glanced over at Calfgrit7 and saw him watching intently. I noticed even Calfgrit3 was watching now.
My video self struck down and smashed through the two blocks with a strong yell. Hearing the applause on the video made me feel proud. (I don’t remember hearing the applause live. I was very much in a zone.)
“Wow,” Calfgrit7 said.
I beamed at him.
“Have you ever broken as many as that guy on the sports show?” he asked.
“Uh, no.” I said, hearing some of the hot air hissing out of my ego balloon. “I only broke two.”
And then everyone’s attention went elsewhere.
4 Responses to When I Was a Superhero