The Kravist -A Fictional Tale Part II. Meeting with Cobra
Carefully, I made a calculating peek around the alley corner and watched until the third member of the Descendants disappeared down the street beyond the empty lot. Glancing back, I saw that the member whose arm I had broken was busy collecting himself and seeing what to do about his still unconscious fellow.
With confident ease, I slid around the building’s corner and glided across the lot towards the café. There was no need for me to call the police—there was a different set of rules followed within the streets and I remember fondly an old Cypress Hill quote from a song that said, “Some people join the military, others just join the hood”. Of course, common society would never understand that. They look down upon this underground lifestyle, to us, or rather as it used to be to me, the underground was a way of life—no—it was a lifestyle choice to begin with. As to getting back to not calling the police, what good would come of that? There wouldn’t be a darn thing done except a bunch of questioning, paper work and an unnecessary headache.
Occasionally I would peek over my shoulder, and then allow my gaze to scour over my immediate surroundings. Alert and prepared for anything. I had let my guard down earlier as I had afore mentioned, but everyone makes mistakes—human beings often do and I suppose that differentiates use from common beasts who have a simple mentality: Live, eat, drink, protect, defend and procreate. There is no room for conscious in the animal kingdom; but, then again, there is no room for conscious within the city streets and back alleys of my city either. In retrospect, with my martial discipline, I am able to be dualistic.
I made it to the café door decorated with a large gold Star of David being dunked into a coffee cup, or tea cup, or whatever it was supposed to be. Upon opening the portal, a soothing bell jingled to announce my arrival. Some of the patrons looked up from their papers, books, and conversations and then went back to their business. I came here often, it was my think spot. My get away from reality—I felt safe here. It was a haven where I didn’t always have to watch my back wherever I went. I never sat with my back to the door, however. Old habits die hard, I suppose.
A man caught my eye. He smiled when I caught his as well—an old friend and wise in his more experienced years compared to my own. He gave a subtle nodd to which I returned the gesture and made for the counter at the front of the shop.
“Shalom aleikhem, Moshe,” was my greeting.
“Aleikhem shalom, young man. Let me guess, a tall Earlgrey, two honeys and a dash of sugar as per usual?”
“You know me all too well, Moshe; yes, tall Earlygrey as usual,” I dug into my pants pocket and took out exactly $2.10 in change, “keep the penny.”
I wasn’t the wealthiest Jew you’d ever meet, but in my mind money caused for a lot of the world’s suffering—amidst other material ailments, obviously.
My tea was given, I paid for it and weaved my way between the occupied chairs and tables and came to sit by the window where I saw my training partner.
He nodded and spoke with a heavy European accent, “Hey, how’ve you been?” he paused a moment and tucked his chin so he could peek over the rim of his shades, “is that blood on your knuckles?”
“Yeh, but it’s not mine—ran into some trouble a few moments ago when I took my shortcut from temple.”
He offered a type of half smile and gently shook his head. I sat down within the plush leather chair and brought the ankle of my foot to rest upon my knee. The warmth of the cup in my hand felt good as I brought it up for my first sip—the first sip, always the best and always the hottest.
“Did you call the police?” he set his iphone to the small table between us.
“What for? They were thugs, want-to-be gangsters—it’s getting worse here now and they got exactly what they deserved,” said I.
“Yeah; well, still…” his words trailed off.
“So, I hear our little band of mercenaries are calling you “The Cobra”,” I attempted to sound mystified, but I know he heard my teasing tone.
“You don’t like it?”
“’Ey, man, I never said I did,” I shrugged my shoulders to me ears then relaxed after a sip from my cup.
“I like it,” he said, pretending to be hurt.
“Nah, I do, man, it gives you a certain,” I widened my eyes mystically and flashed my fingers, “pizazz!”
The two of us shared a laugh and then that laugh quieted to a moment of silent thoughtfulness.
“I found a new place for us to train—I know the city council forbade any sort of violent schoolings in the area,” Cobra transitioned not all too gracefully into another subject matter.
I always found his company a pleasure to be around and valued his advice, both within our martial arts career together and business-wise. He was a very successful man; driven, self-motivating and came from virtually nothing at all after he arrived here in the states. Whatever urged him to come to this corrupted realm is beyond me—this place was so upside down that I felt a higher calling to disrupt such filth from our streets. I know he felt the same. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. I shrugged, but not at what he had mentioned.
“That’s because the city council fears that these gang members will disguise themselves as the norm and gain access to lethal skills; anyway, where’s it at?” I inquired.
“In an old abandoned warehouse over on 4th street—it’s nothing official, and for what we do it would be sound enough for us to train in,” he answered and reached for a mug of coffee that steamed upon the small table.
“Sounds great, when can we go and check it out?”
“Right now, actually,”
I stood up, glanced out through the window and then to the front entrance. I didn’t see any of the Descendants. When I glanced back again to Cobra, I caught someone walking by the window out of my peripheral—those kind of sensea sharpen when you train for as long as we have. My eyes caught the blue and white colors of four 13 members. One of them recognized me immediately. She had short dark hair that lengthened towards her shoulders and soft caramel skin.
Our eyes locked and her full lips parted into a smile and blew me a kiss. My stomach dropped and I felt a sense of joy fill me up like a decanter of sweet wine filling up an elaborate glass. I returned that kiss with one of my own and winked as I smiled. Looking away, she kept on by with Israel’s flag, in bandana form, hanging out from her right back pocket. My girl was stubborn and kept herself within the 13. She wanted me to get back into it, sometimes I considered the notion. That’s for another time, though.
Cobra and I took our beverages and went on our way ourselves to the warehouse he spoke of. When we arrived, I saw what he meant. It was something straight out of an old Bronx movie and even those this was South Jersey, it still went hard depending what areas you were from.
I laughed to myself, drawing Cobra’s attention, and said, “This is perfect!”
He smiled and then led me to the gated entrance and pulled back upon the loose chain to let me slip through. I returned the favor once on the other side and we jogged the wide open space of the abandoned lot. When we came to a side entrance of the warehouse, we slid inside.
There was emptiness here within this place, but it was now filled with the twin spirits of two warriors. Some spaces were cluttered with old equipment, and some of those were shrouded by shadows where the streams of sun light could not touch. The fans of light filtered in through the broken and graffiti defaced windows above, giving this abandoned building an almost stoic, urbanized beauty.
“Want to break the place in?” Cobra said to me.
As I turned to him I realized he had slid his feet into his stance. Subtle and slight as it may be, but when you train in martial arts you begin to familiarize yourself with the tiny details that separates the sheep from the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“Hazak v’kvod,” I bowed and fell into my springy step.
He recited the oath in turn and bowed his head and dropped back. We circled and our eyes never met, for they locked upon the centermost point of each other’s sternums. The center line never deceived you as the eyes, hands and feet could. The center line remained centered and with that center all was revealed. Reliance upon our peripherals was forced and reaction times were enhanced tenfold.
He shot in swiftly, feinted with a jab/straight cross and sneakily came high with a round house kick to my ribs. I leapt back as if I were spring loaded and caught the kick just at the end of its rotation. I rushed forward and caught the outside of the kick with my forearm to help his leg along its way to throw him off balance, but he went with the motion and came back around with a back fist.
I ducked low and dipped to his now exposed flank, landing a hook to his ribs and then darting out before he was able to execute his side kick. We both smiled with one point going to myself. We bounced back and forth for a few moments, feeling each other out and trying to bait one another into making a mistake. We knew one another too well, I suppose, because we waited for the other to make a move.
I had to oblige, the excitement of battle calling me like the war drums of old, and I skipped inward to lead with a front kick to the chest. He side stepped, using his arm like an angled spear to deflect the kick and allowed for his forward momentum to carry himself through. At that same instance, he caught me with an outstretched forearm strike to my chest. Luckily for me I had my hands up and caught the blow at my forearms, instead.
Too late was it for me to savor the small unintentional tactical victory, for he manipulated his angles to suit his own ends and before I could turn to follow, I felt the strike of his fist upon my flank.
“One for one,” Cobra gloated playfully.
I smiled and came in fast with a flurry of punch combinations. A left jab, left hook, spinning left back elbow followed with a front. Cobra weaved in and out like a serpent while he produced enough space to regain his composure. He answered in kind with a spinning heel kick that transitioned well into a knee complimented with a horizontal elbow and another vertical. I danced and parried away the attacks deftly, but it was no easy task nor did Cobra make it as such.
He checked a low kick, recalibrated and thrust out with a mean jab. Parrying the strike and redirecting it over my left shoulder, I shot in with a jab of my own. Cobra parried down with the blade of his hand as we circled with our fluid dance. Yes, a dance is what it was. Dancers tap, dancers ballet, dancers bebop—but we dance to a different style. Our style is one of calculative positioning, of manipulative maneuvering and creative provocation. We danced the dance of true warriors, of Kravists.
Neither of us landed another hit after our first initial strikes. After a few more minutes of sweat and controlled heavy breathing, we ceased our bout. With feet together, arms to our sides, we raised our fists and bowed to one another respectfully.
Simultaneously we recited our oaths, “Hazak v’kvod”.
In Hebrew it means “Strength and Honor”. To us, it meant everything.