Mixed Martial

While the rest of the world was always promising to lose weight, exercise more, read lots of books or be kinder to others—my dad’s annual New Year’s resolution remained the same every time. The 6’ 6 “ man said that in the coming year he planned to lose up to four inches…in height.

He said he was tired of ducking under doorways, stooping to use the bathroom mirror—and folding himself in half to get into a car. As near as I could ever tell, he never quite pulled off his height-loss resolution—although he did create an optical illusion by wearing his pants higher.

Through the years, like many of us, I have also made some personal resolutions. There was 2010: “The Year Without a Doughnut.” Not a single cruller, old-fashioned or maple bar passed my pie hole. But plenty of pie did, so the caloric benefits were a wash.

The following year was “The Year Without a French Fry.” The resolution also included tater tots, jo-jo’s, au gratin, mashed, boiled, potato soup, potato salad, latkes, hash browns, baked potatoes and even skins. I succeeded, but friends from Idaho stopped talking to me.

I did accidentally eat some gnocchi, but only because I didn’t know what it was. Since that slip-up, I have never eaten it again—nor any other thing in which the ‘g’ is not pronounced, such as gnus, gnomes and gnats. I won’t even gnaw on them.

“A Year Without a Drink” has occasionally been attempted—but is usually broken by, say, mid-day on January 1st. (I steered away from vodka during my potato-less year—until I discovered one made from sugar beets.)
But maybe in a couple of years I will finally follow through on something I have been considering for a long time: Going to Schick. Not the drug and alcohol place—but the one that helps guys quit shaving.

Arguably the best kind of resolution is not one that involves deprivation, but accomplishment. Learning a musical instrument would be good—except if it was the neighbor kid learning violin or bagpipes.
Mastering a language would be a worthy goal. One year my brother became fluent in all kinds of new words when he tried to put together his kid’s swing set.

Self-defense seems to be an increasingly popular pursuit. A couple of days ago I saw a mom walking her son out of a martial arts instructional place. The kid was wearing the stock karategi uniform—and stood approximately a foot and a half tall and could not have been much older than three years old.

I thought, “Well, self-defense training is all well and good—but where is a three-year old going to use those skills? On another three-year old? The baby-sitter? The dog?”

On just one city block near my house I recently counted four different martial arts places, teaching everything from taekwondo to judo; aikido to jujutsu. (That same block also has two gun shops.)

When I was an undersized teen I loved watching movies and TV shows where once wimpy kids suddenly rose up and overpowered bigger kids and bullies with a few quick punches and a roundhouse kick or two. I decided that was the perfect answer for me—and I settled on karate as my pugilistic choice.

I went with a friend to observe a karate class he was taking. But by the time class was over, the kid had a bloody nose and a swollen lip. That’s when I realized that learning karate meant not only administering kicks and punches—but receiving them too.

I decided there had to be an easier, less painful way to learn the techniques. So I bought a book.
It featured illustrations of guys performing moves on each other—called “How to Learn Karate.” I studied it for weeks until I figured I had it down pat.

Then, in a remarkable coincidence, a school tough guy started pushing me around on the playground. I calmly informed him that he might want to think twice—that I was a master of karate and I could hurt him.

He leaned in close, and asked, “Oh yea? What belt do you have, karate master?”
I said I wasn’t sure but thought it was natural leather. The next thing I felt was a punch to the midriff and a quick visit to the ground.

The moral is: “Don’t tell someone you know karate unless you do. And if you do, don’t tell them until you need it.”

AFTER THOUGHT: Maybe this year, it would be more practical to narrow any no-liquor resolution to something more specific—like “A Year Without a Coors Light.” That one would be fairly easy.

Although perhaps it would be wiser to wait until after the Super Bowl.