Barn Burner

Freezing fog attempts to creep indoors, windows keep it out while exhausted heat and stale breath stain the glass. Our gym is dojo fresh.

Four minutes.

Forced breathing from constricted chests take time to find the rhythm needed to focus on the act. Determination. The feel-good-regrettable pain of mistakes that show you are no stylist.

You’re in training.

He steps in, right leg lead and throws a combo, jab-cross-jab. You take it as if his punches are full of wind, attempting to swipe you off your feet. Leather skin enables you to take it. Cracks as deep as fissures in the earth grip the mat. Callouses as tough as kevlar slide across canvas easily. You smile inwardly when the combo takes no affect; your feet have movement and power.

Intense foot therapy.

You parry, then counter. Combo, parry. Parry, jab, cross. Jab out. Do you have a glass jaw? Yes. Blurred vision encompasses pounding ears, until you spot the specks on canvas mats. They look like ink blots, browns and grays. Blood. Can’t be yours because you’re a brawler, cover up and get off the ropes.

He bobs and weaves, attacks with a nice-try-hay maker. Vibration takes over your opponents legs, but only for a moment. You notice. Pound for pound, this session benefits you both. His eyes are slits, a black grin shows through saliva filled breathing. Now you have your chance, hook, hook step out, Mawashi Geri!

You’re mesmerized. His blackened teeth hang loose, like a broken shutter on a window. It’s his mouth guard fluttering to the mat, pink saliva tornadoes after it.


You hear the time and your heart stops. But the pounding in your ears don’t. You and your opponent clinch for a moment; ragged breaths block out the sounds of your pulse and his. It feels as though your nose is an estuary, running rivers downward to meet sweat as they mingle and drip down your chest.

Humid air and muggy senses elates you. Accomplishment.

The dojo.


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