Shihan caught up to me in the middle of my warm ups before karate. "Good news! You get to keep these." He hands me a pair of padded shin guards for sparring. "They're second-hand, so...half-price."
"Wonderful!" I stop and correct myself, "OSU! Arigatoo gozaimashita!"
"And don't use mine."
I try to picture myself trying to sneak off with Shihan's shin guards tucked under my arm, to no success. I'm not sure why he pegged me for a black-hearted thief, but you can't blame a man for being perceptive.
The shin guards did come in handy. I was missing my sparring partner when 7.45 rolled around, and Shihan stepped in to help me to my sudden but inevitable demise. Everyone knows you work at 150% when the boss is watching, or in my case, when the boss is trying to kill you. (Let's just say I can no longer lie on my left side.) I did get in one good, but unfortunately cheap shot. Shihan stepped back to let me catch my breath (or so I assumed) and I hit him right in the solar plexus.
"Oh," he groaned. "I had bowed out!"
I bow in deep shame of great distress. "Doomo sumimasen."
Forgiveness has never been so sweet or so necessary for my survival.