Ashley was lying on the ground gasping for breath when a taunting face came into focus right above her. She blinked her eyes, desperately hoping that he would leave her alone, but knowing she was in for it.
"And that's what you call a 'Two for One Special.'" Joe glared down at her before hauling her to her feet. "How many times have I told you to do it like you mean it?"
"How can I do it like I mean it when I don't even know how to do it the right way?" Ashley demanded. "Sir," she added as an afterthought, so as not to appear disrespectful.
"Ashley, you know how to do this throw. I taught you myself and I've seen you do it, so just toss that thought right outta your head," Joe said. "If that's how you're going to defend yourself against some punk boy then that's where you're gonna end up. On your back."
Ashley's eyes opened wide; he'd never talked to her like that. Joe opened his mouth to say more but snapped it closed as he looked around at the younger children in the karate class who were watching and listening.
Pulling Ashley over to the side he snagged Daniel, another black belt. "Watch closely," Joe told them.
Joe moved off several paces, bowed and executed a black belt kata.* When he finished he planted himself in front of her.
"Well, what did you think of it?" he asked her.
"It looked great to me," Ashley hedged.
"Sharp, crisp movements."
"Huh." Joe grunted. "Daniel, what did you think of it?"
Daniel laughed. "What in the world was that?"
"That was Nai Hanchi.** Didn't you recognize it?"
"You mean parts of it were Nai Hanchi,** the rest was Pinan Go Dan." **
"So, I screwed it up?"
"Majorly," Daniel replied.
"Why couldn't Ashley tell?"
"You bluffed so convincingly that she believed you."
"That's right. I acted confident and I was able to convince her." Joe looked meaningfully at Ashley. "That's what you need to do."
Ashley looked confused so Joe softened his voice. "Sweetheart, when you act confidently others believe you, even if you don't feel confident."
Daniel looked at her seriously. "If you're on a date and the guy starts to do stuff you don't want to do and you hesitantly tell him to stop, he won't listen to you. He might stop for a minute or two, but it won't be long before he's back at it. He'll hear your hesitancy and go off that. But if you confidently tell him to stop he's more likely to listen to you. If he doesn't, you have the knowledge and the skill to put a stop to it and to get away from him. You have to act confidently. That's what Joe's trying to get through to you."
"You saw how fast you went down when you were supposed to be throwing me. You weren't confident in your actions. Even if you didn't know what you were doing, but had been acting confidently, I wouldn't have been able to throw you as easily," Joe explained.
"People are far less likely to attack a person who looks, and acts, confident," Daniel added.
"Act confident, even when you're not, and eventually you'll feel confident, too." Joe smiled at Ashley's look of surprise. "And others will see you as a confident person, and treat you as one, too."
"It's that way in most areas of life." Daniel chuckled. "You ought to try it. It works."
A week later Ashley strutted into karate and Daniel nudged Joe. "She's strutting this week."
"How'd the date go, Ashley?" Joe asked.
Ashley's mouth dropped open. "How'd you know about my date?"
"I knew about it last week, before you went on it. How'd it go?" Joe crossed his arms over his chest.
"Well, let's just say that acting confident sure did help." She grinned ruefully.
"Are you going out with him again?"
"No way." She was emphatic.
Daniel chuckled. "So, why are you strutting?" he asked as Joe relaxed and smiled.
Ashley took a playful swipe at him. "Because there's a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. I can be confident without being arrogant so I'm practicing my confidence by walking confidently."
"Is it working?"
"Of course it is. That was quite a 'Two for One Special,'" she smiled. "Thanks."
*kataroutines martial artists use as practice
**Names of black belt katas
Patty Wysong is a Christian wife and homeschool mom of 5 who is passionate about wrapping lessons in pretty packages that will point others to God.