The vice-captain seemed to signal to the rest of the club, causing them to vacate the mats and ensure the spectators were under control as the captain and I prepared for our fight.
I looked down at my attire briefly; although baggy jeans aren’t ideal for martial arts, at least they won’t restrict much of my movement. My jacket, on the other hand, would be an issue. The loose fabric would be a nuisance and I’d rather it not get ruined in the off-chance I’m grabbed in this demonstration.
I looked between the small crowd and MMA club members, letting out a deep sigh.
I guess I can’t hide it forever.
I took of my jacket in a blur of motion and assumed a fighting stance, hoping the flourish of my movements would hide my secret. The crowd’s sudden silence gave me my answer. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, attempting to keep my composure.
Why did I decide to do this? Please stop looking at me.
Who could blame them though? Who wouldn’t be surprised, nay disgusted, at the self-proclaimed martial artist whose limbs look as though they’re terminally ill? The captain was taken aback momentarily before assuming a stance of his own. Despite the obvious unease in the room, all I could do was nod at the vice-captain, showing I was ready for the match to begin.
I’ll end this quickly so I can leave.
Nervously, the vice-captain sliced her hand down between me and the captain, signaling for the match to begin. As soon as her hand retracted, I dropped down into a sitting position, knowing that even though I had better technique, my opponent was stronger than me with longer reach. As I devised a plan to bait him into my range and counterattack, I could feel the pressure from the crowd bearing down on me.
“Hey now,” the captain spoke up suddenly, “just because he sat down doesn’t mean he’s out of the fight just yet.”
I glanced into the crowd before looking back at the captain expectantly.
“If he specializes in jiujitsu and is more comfortable on the ground than standing against Muay Thai, then he can play to his strengths by sitting back. Knowing your weaknesses and playing around them is a key component of a good martial artist.”
As the captain finished his monologue, he stepped into my guard and began to lean down, his arms outstretched to establish grips.
Ah, I see. He pities me. He thinks I’m as weak as the rest of them.
The only thing I hate more than cocky kids is that look. That pitiful glint in everyone’s eyes. I planned to end the fight peacefully but now I needed to show everyone here that I do not need their pity.
As the captain reached an arm towards me, I snatched it close to my chest, throwing my legs over his neck simultaneously. I continued to rotate my body, using his momentum and my post arm to throw him onto the ground, landing soundly on his neck. In the moment of impact, I made minor adjustments; ensuring my ankle was promptly clamped by my opposite knee as I tightened his arm across his throat, blocking both arteries and finishing the triangle choke.
Tap Tap Tap!
The feeling of the captain’s free arm slapping against my thigh indicated that his forfeit of the match. I carefully untangled my legs from his neck and rolled off of his, now bright red, face. I attempted to stifle my pounding heart as I walked over to pick up the jacket I had tossed away haphazardly moments ago. Luckily the bagginess of my jeans was able to hide the shakiness of my legs as I put on a poker face.
As I tried to make my escape whilst putting my jacket back on, the remaining MMA club members blocked the exit. I knew I had gone too far; I knew I had gotten carried away.
“That was sick! I’ve never seen anyone move like that in locals!” The newer girl rambled excitedly, “I thought our captain was gonna win your fight for sure but then you did that flippy move and… Wow!”
I turned away, continuing my futile escape attempt, before the short but strong grappler interjected.
“That was a mounted triangle choke, right? That was smooth as hell. You’ve gotta teach me that motion next time we have an open mat!”
At this point, the entire room was staring at me, including the captain who had already been checked out by the vice-captain.
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly, looking downwards, “I quit martial arts a year ago. This was a one-time thing.”
As I spoke, I attempted to push past the crowd and make my way out the door. Just as I made my way to the door handle and gripped it firmly, the captain spoke up from the back of the group.
“If you really want to quit, then why have you been smiling this whole time?”
I stopped, frozen, unsure how to answer. I was not smiling; this entire experience has been horrible. Not only was I pressured by a crowd of people, but I was pitied by a bunch of cocky kids and even had to relive my past trauma. I reached my hand up to my cheek, feeling the position of my muscles and lips.
Why was I smiling?
I darted out the door, flinging it wildly behind me as I ran.
“The next session is tomorrow at noon in this room!” The vice-captain shouted after me.
I didn’t stop. I didn’t look back. As I ran, the hallway seemed to stretch until I finally breeched the doors at the entrance and collapsed in the shade outside. It was sweltering but at least I could breathe.
As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I buried my head in my arms.
I’m so dead.