Chapter 10:

Averse Attendance: Cole

Insurmountable Odds

It was Tuesday, August 29th. I woke up naturally to the mild aching of my muscles and the rowdy tenants surrounding my dorm room. Even though I had just woken up, my mind was already racing.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the prospect of doing martial arts again, but I couldn’t help worrying about the risks involved as well. Although I truly enjoyed MMA, I had my reasons for quitting a year ago and even after staying up all night thinking, I was still unsure what to do.

Showering helps people think, right?

After grasping for one final straw, I took a morning shower to try to help organize my thoughts.

One more session couldn’t hurt, it’s a taster after all…

After I dried myself off, I searched through my luggage for any semblance of exercise clothes before finding my old rash guard and spats from when I actively competed. On top of the nicely folded pile was a small note taped carefully to the black and purple fabric.

The note simply read “Just in case.”

I smiled to myself before getting dressed and ready.

Thanks mom.

The previously skintight sportswear now hung loosely off of my frame, acting as yet another reminder of the time that had passed. Although it wasn’t technically regulation, the clothes did help hide my body somewhat so, in a way, I did appreciate them.

One last check later and I was out the door, ready to go to my first, and maybe last, session of MMA for this year.

By the time I had arrived, I could already hear the sound of the class through the door. I knew I wasn’t on time given how much I had slept in, but I had no idea how late I was. After taking a moment to compose myself, I attempted to open the door sneakily and slip into the back of the room unnoticed.

Unfortunately, as soon as I went to make my entrance, the warm-ups ended and the room went silent, causing even the slightest creak of the old door to alert everyone in the clubroom of my presence.

I awkwardly made my way to the back of the group, lying my way through the captain’s snark in order to not have to do extra exercise for being late.

After the demonstration, the captain paired all the more experienced people, myself included, off with the new recruits so we could begin drilling the Kimura from closed guard that he had demonstrated.

The person I was paired with was named Lucas. He seemed fine at first glance, wearing basketball shorts and a generic T-shirt in place of actual sportwear for MMA. We were put together due to our similar heights, but it was obvious he had at least 10 pounds of muscle on me, if not more.

“Hi, your name was Cole, right? My name is Lucas, it’s a pleasure to meet you!” He smiled at me innocently as we shuffled off into an empty corner.

“You can do the move first; I’ll help you along.” I replied dryly, completely avoiding his greeting.

I had too much on my mind and wasn’t in the mood to talk about anything. I gestured at the mat in front of me as I kneeled, indicating for him to put me in guard so we could begin.

“You know, it’s typically nice to respond to my introduction with one of your own, just saying.” He suddenly spoke up while getting into position for the move.

Despite his innocent and kind demeanor, I had to give him some respect for snapping back at my rude behavior. Although I did respect it, unfortunately for him, I still wasn’t in the mood to talk.

“You already knew my name so why should I?” I replied, continuing to be as standoffish as possible, hoping to make him switch his focus off of me and onto the move.

As I was finishing my sentence, he suddenly seized up his body and smacked my arms that were holding down his hips. It took a serious amount of effort to quell the smirk that was spreading across my face from such a petty and futile attempt.

“Now whose being rude?” I scoffed, turning my head away to hide the slight smile I couldn’t fully repress.

After some coaching and work, we were able to have him successfully complete the move before we switched positions. During my half of the drill, I made sure to not give him the chance to speak idly while I continued thinking about what I was going to do in the future.

The next demonstration we drilled was a simple hip bump sweep from the same position and to my surprise, Lucas actually managed to do it correctly on the first try. It was definitely rough around the edges but nonetheless it worked.

I guess spite is an excellent motivator…

After he got into the groove of the move, he began asking me more questions which I reluctantly answered. Although I originally didn’t want to have a conversation, making enemies would’ve been much more hassle in the long run. Plus, doing jiujitsu again, even like this, helped clear my head and cheer me up a bit.

As I was reluctantly getting comfortable, I was dragged back to reality by the one question that I always dread.

“It’s obvious that you care for martial arts and have been doing it for a long time, so, if you don’t mind me asking, how come your body is, well, so skinny?” Lucas stumbled over his words nervously as he continued “No offense, it’s just that my mental image of a professional martial artist is muscular and fit, not to say you don’t look good or anything, but…”

“Stop talking” I said, glaring at him before letting out a deep sigh.

If I don’t say something their imaginations are just going to run wild… Might as well rip this band-aid off early.

Miao Miao