It was my first year as an engineering student in Tunis. In front of the university, I was talking to some friends. I wasn't a nerd but if you want to keep a conversation with one of those engineering students, it has to be about physics, Math, or Mechanics... as if these guys had no lives.
Suddenly I see two guys fighting. Well, just playing. It wasn't a real fight. One of them does something I recognized at once as a Karaté move. Being a Karaté player who misses the sport and would be more than happy to find a club near my University, I went to talk to the guy:
"Was that a Kizami+Gyaku?"
"Yes, it was! You play Karaté too?"
"I used to when I was living in Zaghouan, but when I moved to Tunis, I didn't find a club." I didn't want to tell him I stopped training regularly years ago and only went back to training a few weeks before every competition. And definitely didn't want to tell him what happened in the last competition I played.
"Oh, there's one by the next tramway station. That's where I train."
"Really? That's cool. I live not so far from that station. Can I have your phone number?"
And that's how I met an engineering student that not only had a life but shares my passion for Karaté (or at least I thought he does).
My first session was totally normal. I met the rest of the team. They welcomed me. I was impressed by the trainer. He used to train the National Karaté Team once! He's well known and many famous players would come to train with us sometimes.
By the second session, I saw them!
At first, I was hoping they don't recognize me. But then I made peace with the memory and I was ok with it coming up again. After all, I did beat one of them.
It was in the competition from the year before that. My first battle was against the younger brother (though I didn't know they were brothers by then). The older brother was rooting for my opponent with so much enthusiasm he almost distracted me. I did my best to stay focused on the battle. I wasn't well prepared for the competition but my friend pushed me to participate anyway. He said nothing can motivate us both to take our training more seriously than an epic defeat.
An epic defeat wasn't happening in my first battle, though.
I was keeping my distance, blocking any attempt from my opponent. Mostly playing defense because I wasn't confident at all. Then it happened. Between the brother's encouragement, the time passing with no points scored, and the fatigue starting to creep into both of us, I saw an opportunity and I took it, not caring if he would see me coming and counter my attack. I worked. I scored the first point in our game. The rest was something I'm not proud of. I was wasting time to keep the score as it is.
The guy facing me was irritated. I could see it in his eyes that he hated me. A guy not better than him is beating him with only one point and is ruining the game to move to the next round.
I really hope they don't remember me!
By the next round... I don't know if it was manipulated (though it wouldn't surprise me) but I wasn't relieved at all when I knew I was to face the bigger brother. I mean older brother because he was actually a smaller guy.
Not one minute passed, and I received a kick in the head. That counts as three points. I had to let go of the defensive style and start earning points to catch up if I want to move to the next round. Well instead of scoring, I received another three-points-kick and another that counts as two points. There's a rule in Karaté that says if the score is 7-0 the game has to stop, and that would be the most humiliating defeat one can ever get. Well, I lost 8-0 that day and got the epic defeat my friend brought me to get.
Whether they remembered me and decided not to talk about it to save me and the younger brother from the embarrassment, I will never know and I honestly don't want to know, but those two guys and their third brother have become very good friends of mine. We trained together in the club and outside. We had many trips and many cups of coffee. I was invited to their house a few times...
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