News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


'Kung fu-ed' by karate salesman

Lynn, our eldest daughter, came home from school one day when she was a third grader and announced she'd been "kung fu-ed."

She was no match for the classmate who targeted her for martial arts practice, she realized after picking herself up from the sidewalk.

I suggested that her mother take Lynn to karate lessons so she could learn to protect herself, but Regina said for me to cool it.

That was 30-something years ago, three decades before our grandson Wright would be calling from Georgia to excitedly tell his grandparents, "I broke the board. I broke the board."

When I didn't make the martial arts connection, his mother interpreted. "He's telling you he broke the board with his hand in karate class," Mary Grace said.

I applied a healthy layer of praise, hopefully enough to equal their enthusiasm, and thought of the kung fu incident, and wondered how serious a threat a 4-year-old Karate Kid could be.

I wondered about the thickness and strength of the board Wright put his hand through with precision accuracy.

Was it one of those boards that the bulked-up bodybuilders like to break for Jesus at Christian youth rallies? Or was it flimsy like the chairs bad guys once shattered on John Wayne's head?

I didn't want to throw cold water on this kindergartner's rite of passage, so in trying to determine the thickness of the board I asked the question another way:

"Wright, how many people in your class broke the board?"

"Everybody," he said proudly, the point being not the difficulty of the exercise but the participation.

"I'm glad everybody won," I said and handed the phone to Regina so he could tell her also.

Not only did Wright break the board, he's so attentive the instructor says he can take classes more than one afternoon a week, his mother said proudly.

The guy's a heck of a salesman.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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