It was a late class. The dojang smelled of teenage sweat. Teenage sweat smells different from any other kind of sweat. And in a dojang with the windows closed, it felt like we were pushing our faces through invisible bricks of the most revolting curing cheese.
Sitting on the sidelines waiting for our time on the mat, a classmate leaned in to where I was sitting and with her Triny accent (which secretly sounds German), quietly whispered, “Someone should really open a window, don’t you think?”
I was thinking the same but the idea of crossing the mat and parting through the teenagers still working on their drills, felt like a physical hazard waiting to happen. Safer to stay seated and let myself become the cheese. Known fact, in order to overcome, just become! No?
Our turn on the mat. Someone managed to open a window. Fresh air. It was going to be a great night training. My regular partner was in class. We may not be the most aggressive when training together, but we have an understanding and we diligently train our muscles to react to the offensive strikes.
Warm-up begins. Hips. Ankles. Legs. Feet. We are going to be practising kicks, my favourite. And then we pair up with a warm-up partner.
Before I can turn to “my” partner, one of the Teen’s who has joined our adult class, grins and loudly says “Miss Donnafay?!”
I look in his direction. He is eager. He really wants to practise together. It is possible that over the last 9 months that the idea a girl is somehow an inferior training partner has dissipated. I didn’t want to let down his excitement and the obvious challenge he was wanting tonight and I said, “Sure”.
We were now a team and the next 5 minutes is a race against all the other teams and he wanted to win. I did too and we were going to try.
His turn first, high knees up to my hands. He was going as fast as possible. He was going to win this round. He finishes his exercise, pumped, he’s done first!
He turns to do his sprint and his right foot comes slamming down into my left foot.
I involuntarily swear the loudest swear in my swearing vocabulary and I fall to the ground. He stops, turns around shocked, “Miss Donnafay are you ok?” and I shoo him off to do his sprint.
My foot is no longer pale, it is colourless, it is WHITE!
I can’t feel anything but a ringing in my ears! It’s uncomfortable.
My poor foot, no match for a good stomp. Broken? Maybe. Fractured? Likely. 5 Days Later, Black and Blue? Most definitely!
The cheese doesn’t seem like a bad state to be in after all!