Why don't you tell us your name and where you’re from?
I’m Wayne, Wayne Turley. I was born here in
, and always lived in the same house. So I guess I’m from here in Warm Springs. I don’t think I’ve ever even left the state. Well, I suppose I’ve been to DC a couple of times with my Dad to go to football games and basketball games, and I’ve been to Virginia Annapolis once to see all the fancy boats and the . But other than that, I’ve hardly gone anywhere. I think the same goes for my parents. They were born here too. My dad used to travel a lot on business; he was an insurance salesman before he died. My grandparents live near Naval Academy . Virginia Beach
If you don’t mind, can you tell us what you remember about your dad?
I was a kid when he died, just eight years old, so I don’t remember everything. He was really big, I remember that. He would play ball with me. He could throw a football like a mile, same with a baseball. We used to play basketball and he would go easy on me, you know, ‘cause he could like dunk a basketball anytime he felt like it. Here’s the thing I remember maybe the most: he would pick me up and carry me places, maybe put me up on his shoulders and I would be so high. At parades and crowded places, I could always see everything really well. I really miss that feeling. I’m a lot bigger now, you know, and the idea that someone could pick me up, well that’s not really likely anymore.
How did things change for you after he died?
Well it happened all of a sudden. We got a phone call one evening from the State Police in
, and my mom just let the phone slip from her hand and started crying without making a sound. I had to pick up the phone, and they told me what had happened. I tried to be brave for my mom, but it was really hard. I stopped playing with my friends for a long time. After a while it got harder and harder to make myself go out of the house. I read a lot and played computer games. I really just hid from the world in my room. My mom started to get worried about me. I’m a pretty big person, like my dad, you know, but not as tall as he was, and I started to get really heavy ‘cause I never did any physical activity, and I really like food. I really love my mom’s cooking, too! Maryland
Well, it looks like you worked through that, since you seem to be in pretty good shape now. How did you do that?
I’m lighter than I was two years ago, by about seventy pounds maybe. But I think I could still lose another twenty pounds or so. It’s really all because of Sensei and practicing karate. My mom just forced me to go down to the dojo one day, and I talked to Sensei, and he persuaded me to try out the class for a few days. I thought it was just gonna be another boring exercise class. But he really challenged me to make something out of myself, and he can be really persuasive. He also did these amazing things to me. I mean, they were like magic. He would show me all these grappling tricks, using leverage in surprising ways. He was able to throw me all over the dojo, and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, he’s this little guy, not more than five foot eight and a hundred and sixty pounds. But he could toss me around like I was a feather. And the most amazing thing was that he always seemed to be able to arrange it so that it didn’t hurt when I hit the floor. He taught me how to land, how to slap out of a roll. After a few months of that, I was hooked. It’s like I was little again. I think I’ll practice karate for the rest of my life.
What do you like best about karate?
I like it all, I guess. But my favorite thing is the katas. That’s where you practice a very precise sequence of moves, blocks, punches and kicks. It’s all about controlling your body, your balance, your breathing and sharpening your focus, and doing it all at once. I like sparring too, but that’s not as interesting a challenge to me. I mean, people usually expect me to win in sparring ‘cause I’m bigger than the rest of the class and I have long arms, but they don’t expect me to be able to control my limbs and my body. So if I can do it, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.
Do you tend to win fights?
Sometimes, I suppose, but I also lose lots of the time, maybe most of the time. The littler guys, they tend to be quicker than me in some ways. And sparring is more like a game of tag than a fight. Quick little punches or kicks can win in sparring that would never decide a real fight. But it’s an important exercise for me. If I can block the quick strikes in sparring, imagine how much better I would be in a fight.
Have you ever been in a real fight?
I suppose so, once, though I’ve never told my mom about it. I’m not real comfortable talking about it… but I’m not really sure why. I was at a pizza place one night down in
and there was this scuffle going on in the parking lot with a lot of guys. I don’t know what possessed me, but I just waded into the middle of it and separated the two guys who seemed to be really fighting. I don’t exactly know what happened next. It was dark and stuff happened fast. But some guy threw a punch at my head, all out of the blue. Anyway, I blocked his punch and punched him in the chest. I wasn’t trying to hit him real hard, more like just push him away. I guess in the excitement of the moment I must’ve hit him harder than I meant to. Anyway, I really knocked the wind out of him and he staggered back and sat down on the ground next to a parked car. Well, the next thing I knew all the other guys turned on me, even though I was just trying to stop the fight. It was like seven or eight guys coming at me. Covington
That sounds scary. How did you get out of that?
I was pretty fortunate to have my friends with me. Danny and Billy, they also train at the dojo. Anyway, they jumped right in and the three of us were pretty much able to handle all of ‘em.
What exactly do you mean by “pretty much”?
Well, Emily was there, too. I think we all knew nothing bad could happen with her there. And it was also kinda cool to be able to show her what we could do on our own. I guess we were showing off for her a little bit.
Can you tell us about Emily? How would she keep anything bad from happening?
I guess you have to know her to understand. Emily is like the most amazing person in so many ways. But most of all, that girl can fight. No one, and I mean no one, fights like her.
Does she train at your dojo, too?
Oh yeah, she trains there. But it might be more accurate to say that it’s her home away from home. I mean, sometimes it seems like she practically lives there. I think Sensei and her dad were friends from way back. She’s been training there since she was a little kid, maybe five or six. Sensei is sort of like family to her, I guess. But it’s more than just training with Emily. How can I put this? She is simply the best martial artist any of us has ever seen, maybe that we’ll ever see. I mean, she’s even better than Sensei. We’ve all sparred against her, and no one has a chance against her. I can’t remember anyone even scoring a point against her, ever. It’s actually a little unsettling to face her, ‘cause you don’t know how to begin with her. And she lets you think you can just barge right in and take control. But as soon as you make your move, it’s like she beats you to your own punch. She always gets there first, you know, as if she knows what you’re gonna do even before you do. I sometimes think she takes it easy on me in sparring, but I’m never really sure. She has these really dark eyes, and when you face off against her and look into those eyes…, well, it’s just so hard to read her, and she seems to see right through you with this piercing stare. It can be a little unnerving.
She sounds like a pretty tough customer. Is she that tough in a real fight?
I’ve seen her in a couple of scraps, and it is just awe inspiring. But there’s also this other side to her, I mean a powerful kindness. In the fights I’ve seen her in, you can really see that kindness come out. She really doesn’t want to hurt people, even when they’re trying to hurt her. I can give you an example of what I mean. We were at this tournament in
a while ago, and she was fighting in the finals of the black belt kumite, which is practically full contact rules. And she’s fighting in the men’s division, because there were no other women in the women’s division. Most of these guys were like Marines from the Navy base over there, so they’re all really tough and much bigger than her. Anyway, she just takes these guys out, one after another. But in the semifinal match, this guy punches her in the head before it even begins, while she’s looking at the ref! I guess he figured that would knock her off her game. But when the ref tells the judge to award her a penalty point she refuses, and tells ‘em to give it to this jerk. It’s like the only point anyone gets off her in the whole tournament. Anyway, to make a long story short, she totally dominates the match, practically humiliates this guy, and hits him pretty hard in the process. In the fourth point, he loses his cool and runs at her like he’s gonna tackle her. Well she does this move where she twists him into this throw and he ends up flying across the ring and lands on his back. He just lies there for a few seconds, totally stunned. Emily crouches down next to him, looks him in the eye and talks to him for a moment. Next thing, she helps him up, and he apologizes, bows real deep to her and steps out of the ring, you know forfeiting the last point and the match. That is so typical of her. She looks this guy in the eye, and lets him find himself in her eyes, you know, find his better self. She is really amazing that way. Newport News
She sounds like she’s really special to you. Did you know her before you joined the dojo?
I’ve known her for a lot longer than that. I think we all have. But she’s always been pretty much a loner, ever since she was little. It was really hard to get to know her, at first just because she lived on the outskirts of town. But she’s such a cool customer that even later it was hard to get to know her, even when we were at the dojo together. But after her dad died, things changed. She just opened up to us, to Billy and Danny and me. And it was pretty amazing, you know, how quickly we all bonded. It’s like we all became best friends in just a few months.
So, she’s not your girlfriend?
Not, hardly. I mean, there was a time when I thought I loved her. Well, I still do, but not like that. I mean, she’s way too important to me to be just a girlfriend. I need her to be so much more. I’m not sure what, exactly, but not a girlfriend. It’s kind of like this: one day I looked in her eyes and I saw what I always see, this scary deep darkness. Her eyes are just so dark. That’s what you see when you spar against her. But I also saw that depth of compassion that all of us also know. But it was just so deep, what I saw this time. It’s like a spiritual truth, when you look in her eyes. You just can’t be false to that. If you met her you’d know what I mean.
Of course, my mom thinks I should ask her out on a date. But all she sees is how pretty Emily is. And don’t get me wrong, she is really pretty. But she’s so much more than that. I mean, she’s beautiful, and she’s my friend. I don’t know how else to explain what she means to me.
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