I didn’t want to offend him by calling any undue attention to the cut, so quickly as I could, I moved the wrist band I was wearing up my arm to cover it.
Tito continued in a very matter-of-fact tone “You have to be careful with that last thrust I just did ka Jeff, because the knife might get stuck in your lower jaw bone. It’s okay if I’m only facing one opponent, because I could just leave it there and go home…but I don’t want it sticking if there are more people coming.”
No…we wouldn’t want that - I thought. “So you have to be conscious of how you pull the blade out.”
We squared off again, and several times after that as well. Each short exchange ended with similar results, only I didn’t sustain any more actual cuts. My heart rate was very elevated at this point and the arm band was literally soaked with blood. He explained everything he did in terms of anatomical targets, with unsettling graphic detail regarding how the opponent would physically react to being slashed or stabbed in a particular place. I won’t recount his exact descriptions, but they were based on his own personal experiences. It was like listening to a combat medic describe shrapnel wounds- only from the perspective of inflicting them rather than treating them.
He invited me to slash. I obliged with [what I thought was] a sneaky cut taken from the knife drill we had just learned earlier. Tito halted my arm with the dull edge of his blade before it even came into range of the target. “Ka Jeff, only a dummy or someone with a lot of fancy Kali training would try that in a real fight. Slash like you’re trying to kill me!”
My recollection is a little fuzzy from here. It had been a brutal morning workout; I was running on 4 cups of coffee and ½ a bagel; plus I was actually in a mild state of shock from the cut on my arm. I remember looking up and seeing some familiar faces. The seminar in the next room had paused for a short break and my students had come looking for me. Of all the pictures we took during that trip, the one I regret not taking was the collective expressions on the faces of my students as they stood there wondering just what in the hell was going on.
Finally, one of them spoke: “Guro…ah…are you okay?”
To be continued...