EB: Giving ’em the business!

Brain dumps from the original Bonehead.

That which did not kill me.

Once upon a time I had one of those “that which does not kill me” kind of experiences that taught me alot; not about the world in general but about myself in particular:

Ok, now I was diagnosed as being asthmatic back when I was two-years-old.  If you think having asthma sucks, try having it back before emergency inhalers were invented!  The only treatment for it back then was bed rest and some really, really nasty cherry flavored Robitussin-wannabe – so basically you were lying around in bed for days wondering if you’d live or die.  Other kids would run and play and do all sorts of stuff and if I tried to do any of that with them I’d likely end up laid out for the rest of the week. 

Over the years I began to work on it and better meds were invented so I was eventually able to do alot more stuff.  During high school I was taking a Tae Kwon Do class under a former Army drill sergeant named Alonzo.  He didn’t believe in allowing his students to wear pads when we sparred because he felt it was unrealistic… he said if we got hit on the street there wouldn’t be any pads to protect us so we’d better get used to it.  As sadistic as it may sound, I think it was reasonable. 

One Friday night me and a couple other rookies were in class and he wanted us to get some sparring time in at the end so he called up another student that lived near by to come work us out.  The guy that came in was our senior by many ranks; also, he was bigger, stronger and unfortunately faster too…  basically, I was in for a rough night!  Between the sheer panic that engulfed me and the exertion of the match, I caught a full blown asthma attack while fighting. 

Damn.  Can’t win for losing, huh?  What happened next?

My opponent had already boxed me into a corner and, upon realizing I was having an asthma attack, appeared to be shaken.  He then looked to Alonzo for direction and was told “keep hitting him”.

Say word!!!!

I’m not making this up.  He was told “keep beating him”.  All my life, my asthma was like a Get Out Of Jail Free card – no matter what happened I could get myself out of it by faking sick.  This time I wasn’t faking AND I was getting my ass whipped and I couldn’t get out of it.  Alonzo walked in to look me over and said I’ve got a special condition that I have to learn how to deal with.  He said nobody gives a damn if I can’t take care of myself, I’ll just get run over and life will move on without me.  He then instructed my opponent to keep pounding me or risk getting pounded on… and so my beating continued. 

Next, Alonzo gave me a goal.  He said if you want this to end all you’ve got to do is fight your way out of this corner.  Punch, kick, elbow, shove, whatever you have to do but make that man back off you and I’ll let the fight stop.  It felt like two or three years went by while I sucked up as much wind as possible while doing what little I was still able to do to try and defend myself.  I then reached into a reserve that I never knew existed.  I fought back.  I dodged, blocked and fired my own strikes back until my opponent had to reposition himself to get clear.  I lunged forward and fell on the floor and Alonzo ended the match. 

I’ve never been so grateful to fall face first onto a hardwood floor.  My opponent patted me on the back and congratulated me.  My classmates were on their feet applauding, as were the bodybuilders we shared the gym space with – they’d gotten caught up in the unfolding drama and were watching and cheering for me while I took the worst beating of my life. 

Once my breathing had returned to normal and the class had ended, I stood alone at a bus stop on a cold winter night utterly convinced that I was forever done with all this karate crap.  I’m an intellectual!!  I don’t need this shit!!  I tried like hell to talk myself out of ever going back and I did a damn good job of it.  Alonzo called me the following morning to see if I was coming back to class.  His call was unexpected and I didn’t have any excuses prepared.  A healthy amount of stuttering followed. 

“You’re not going to quit on me, are you?  You’re not going to quit on yourself, right?”

“Uh.  I… um.  I wasn’t planning to come today… I, uh… have alot of chores to do around the house.”

“You can do those after class”, very matter-of-factly, “Listen.  What you went through last night was rough, but you did it.  You dug deeper than you probably ever have before.  It was a breakthrough.  It will only get better from here on in and if you quit now you’ll never find out how good you can be in the face of adversity.”

I accepted and within minutes he was at my house to pick me up.  Every inch of my body hurt but somehow I’d become some kind of hero in my class.  I didn’t beat a superior fighter that night but I did beat my asthma for the first time in my life.  I fought against a condition that I’d been taught since early childhood would kill me outright if I pushed myself too hard. 

 I’ve been pushing myself as hard as I can ever since that Friday night because I didn’t die, I became stronger.


September 29, 2005 - Posted by | Personal Revelations


  1. Fantastic story.

    Unfortunately for me, what doesn’t kill me gives me hives.

    Comment by Mikey | September 29, 2005 | Reply

  2. Wow. Good story.

    So have you watched that episode of “Lost” where the girl and her brother are trying to find her inhalers that were lost somewhere in the plane crash? Turns out they don’t find them or whatever, and the doctor on the show tells the asthmatic girl to calm down while she’s having her asthma attack. Meanwhile, she looks like she’s about to seriously implode. Mysterious Korean woman ends up making home-ground eucalyptus balm for her and she all instantly feels all better.

    Wonder if that would ever work, but I suppose asthma’s not something most people would mess with. I don’t know whether to congratulate you for defeating that hurdle or say that you’re freakin’ whacked that you didn’t walk right out of that match. Whatever the case, your choice, but awesome story.

    Comment by Glenda | September 30, 2005 | Reply

  3. Thanks folks. I’ve never watched Lost but I think the eucalyptus balm would definetly work. I’ve tried all sorts of artificial and natural remedies and things like a eucalyptus balm work well – it helps to open up breathing pathways. I tried something similar when I was a kid and after a couple hours I did begin to feel a little better… my guess is that the TV show probably exaggerated a bit.

    Comment by barber | September 30, 2005 | Reply

  4. You had asthma? All those times you were out of breath in Karate, I just thought you were one out-of-shape bastard. lol. Awesome story dude, you are one hardcore mother fucker.

    Comment by Ramon | October 1, 2005 | Reply

  5. Honestly, your experience sounds a lot like my last class at the theater. 🙂

    Comment by Yaz | October 14, 2005 | Reply

  6. E, we all need role models like your instructor Alonzo who was just teaching you to act well, like a man. As you know I don’t mean that in a machismo way at all. You earned respect for making it through the exercise – you developed character because you went back. Thanks for sharing this – it was really good. -Jules

    Comment by Julian | December 21, 2005 | Reply

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