I stole this from Bobbe's Blog. I liked it a lot and thought you might too!
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Eskrimadora By Bobbe Edmonds
I met a girl in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A scrawny, 13 year old white girl.
Who will beat you into pulp with a pair of sticks.
“You should come out to this year’s Gathering of the Tribes, I think you’ll like it. There’s somebody I want you to meet.”
Mushtaq, as usual, doesn’t beat around the bush when he wants something. Especially when he wants it from me.
“Well, to be honest Old Man, I am really tired of “group” seminars, and such. Howzabout I just fly you out here every so often & we whack each other with sticks?”
“Bobbe, you have to meet this girl. She’s a Martial Arts prodigy. And she’s only 13!”
“I don’t think so Mushtaq. I don’t teach children, and teenage girls annoy me. Why don’t you find a day care, or something?”
“If you come out, I’ll make some of that Apache venison stew you like so much”.
Mushtaq, as usual, also knows how to bribe my weak 1/4th Cherokee ass when he wants something from me.
“Okay, okay, but I’m NOT gonna train with her.”
You ever get that feeling, like you’re being set up?
Terry Trahan & I walked into the seminar Monday morning, and Mariah was already there. So were about two dozen other people, so you think she would have been easy to miss. She wasn’t. She drew attention to her like a magnet.
Mariah was warming up, and unless you were a lump of salt you could feel her intensity from across the room. She stretched. People noticed. She limbered up with some kicks and twirled the sticks a little. People got the hell out of her way. When she spoke, she looked you in the eye and said exactly what she meant. I was talking to Terry & could see her out of the corner of my eye. As much as I tried not to.
I did NOT want to be impressed with her. I fought it down. In fact, I actively ignored her for the first hour or so.
Mushtaq took care of that.
“Bobbe, this is Mariah, the girl I was telling you about. I want you to fight her later on”. Great opening Old Man, thanks. I guess I’ll take it from here. Mariah gave me a smile and a short bow, and I think she tried to actually speak to me. Unfortunately, I blew her off, so I’ll never know what it was she said. I don’t care how high she can kick, I’m not teaching her. I don’t do child care.
Throughout the first day I trained next to Mariah at various intervals, carefully avoiding being put in a scenario where I would be paired with her. So how it actually happened I still haven’t a clue, but we ended up crossing hands on one of my favorite knife drills.
Oh Cthulhu damn it all, now I’m screwed. This is gonna be a wasted session.
That all changed in 30 seconds. 27 maybe, who’s counting.
“Okay Mariah, you can’t approach this with a traditional stance. Bend your knees and duck simultaneously when you pass the knife over your head. Nice, keep going”
“Slow down Mariah…Good, like that. Pass the knife into ME, not towards YOU.”
Mariah caught on to EVERYTHING I told her to do, in the middle of being told something else by the current instructor. I couldn’t help but be impressed, I have seen MOST ADULTS unable to cope with multiple directions and instruction. Hmmnn, this was taking a dangerously wrong turn…Maybe it’s time I changed the beat a bit, show her how the big boys do it.
“I’m going to feed you some different angles. Fast. Deal with it.”
Damned if she didn’t, with a big ‘ole smile on her face the whole time. The photo below was stolen from Mushtaq’s blog, and it was taken at the exact moment I just described. Our facial expressions say it all.
I don't care, and it doesn't bother her one bit.
I had a grudging respect for Mariah when the session was over, and I couldn’t help but throw in one of my famous sarcastic comments; “Not too bad kid, but you hit like a girl”.
Oh, oh, oh, If looks could kill, I’d be a goner right then and there.
The next morning Mariah walked in with a T-shirt that read; “If someone says you kick like a girl, take it as a compliment!” Ha! That’s a good one on me! I spoke to Mariah several times the rest of the day, and worked out with her once more. When it was my turn to teach, I kept watch on her and another woman training together out of the corner of my eye. After a couple of corrections, Mariah got it. And just so you know, she comes from a hard style of Karate known as Kyokushin Ryu and I was teaching a flowing Entry and inside-thigh kick with a takedown from Sundanese Pencak Silat, one of the hardest, to be honest about it. Mariah got it so well she started teaching the other woman how to do it. That’s the definition of fluidity.
I found out later that Mariah had also gone to China and trained under Jet Li and Jackie Chan’s Wushu teacher, the famous Wu Bin. During a break in the training, I saw Mariah giving a short demonstration twirling two Filipino practice knives in a Chinese-style form at the end of a pair of knotted cords. The kid has coordination, fluidity and grace. Mariah can rock the house on command.
Mariah with Laoshi Wu Bin
We finally geared up on the last day, and it was decided that we would spar double stick style. This is especially difficult, it requires both sides of the body to act in accord and independently of each other, as well as not get tangled or confused in the exchange of strikes. Also, I fight with close to no coverage, and Mariah fights fully armored…Not unusual, she IS 13 after all. I had designs of “going easy” on the kid.Her opening volley killed that notion off REAL quick.
*SKA-BOOM!* If I didn’t have better footwork than this kid, that opening shot would have rang my bell and got the answering machine saying nobody’s home. Mariah was quick, and what she lacked in precision she made up for with sheer ruthlessness. She had her multiple strikes down, and forced me to retaliate as I would to an adult. I am a little ashamed to say that for a second, she convinced me I was fighting an adult WEKAF fighter, and I treated her as such. I reverted to Doce Pares style WEKAF fighting, using advanced footwork and all-out striking everything that I could hit. After the first round I heard her ask Steve van Harn (WEKAF world-champion, who was acting as officiator at the time) about me hitting her in the legs. I also thrust my stick into her gut to stop one of her terrifying Kamakaze-style "Death From Above" assaults. A thought went through my head and for some reason it sounded like Steve Perry; “You have got to slow this down, Kid. She’s not an adult.”
Oh jeeze, I’m getting my ass handed to me by a skinny little girl and now my Crystal Voice has a southern accent. Could my day get any worse?
I slowed the pace down a bit, and drilled Mariah on her weak points. We spent the rest of the time working and attacks and entries. When we were finished, I gave her a hug and said “Good going, little sister”. As far as I was concerned, Mariah was in the damn club, period.
I have always said that the difference between a competitor and a fighter is that the fighter wants to HIT, the competitor wants to score.
Mariah is a fighter who can compete. She wants to hit. More specifically, she wants to hit YOU. Repetedly. On the head. Mariah's slogan could easily be "One lump, or two?"
Check out the local news story on her.
Mariah is an X-Factor. She fools you. On the surface she is one of the single most respectful and nice people I have ever met. She wouldn't stop bowing to me, no matter how much I berated her for it.
“Focused” is too tame a word to describe Mariah.
“Driven” almost doesn’t cover it either.
“Borderline bloodthirsty and far too much in love with hitting people with sticks” is just about spot-on.
I like that. It reminds me of me.
Mariah has the chops. I want to see what she can do at age 24, I bet she'll have a title close to "Master". It's not terribly easy to impress me, I have been around some pretty amazing people and sat at the feet of some of the best Martial Arts teachers of the last century. It's impossible if I have already decided you ain't going NOWHERE with me. How ironic is it that a 13 year old girl has succeeded where several adult "Masters" have not.
I have added a link to Mariah’s blog, but remember it's a fledgling blog and she’s a teenage girl, so don’t go over there with the impression that it's Thick as Thieves part 2.
But if you don’t behave, you may find yourself waking up in the I.C.U. with a golfball-sized knot on your head and in the process of undergoing emergency rectal surgery for stick removal.