The Ballad of Chipped-Tooth the Failed Kickboxer

That’s not a skirt. That’s a muay thai shorts that looks like a skirt. Photo: Joseph Edwin’s personal archive

A chipped tooth was a permanent gift from a coach. Not The coach. Not even that coach. But just a coach with whom he trained several times.

After an accidental punch to the kisser, he felt something floating inside his mouth. His biggest fear was soon confirmed when he felt the new landscape with his tongue.

Quickly he demanded an immediate time-out to consult a mirror nearest to him. Without his glasses on, he struggled to assess the severity of the dental devastation. Once he found the angle, he noticed a good portion of his lower incisor was missing.

His heart plunged and cold sweat surged from his forehead. He yelled out, “my tooth’s broken!!

Coach looked fairly remorseful. But the punch barely had any power behind it! It was more like a manly face-fist-bump with no ill-will.

No sorry was ever said. Coach smiled awkwardly to the panic-stricken customer. Keep your hands up was the sentence closest to an apology. Despite that, Chipped-tooth continued his workout until the end of the 45-minute class.

While his body followed commands to punch and kick, his mind ventured off into the future in which he was a receptionist at a five star hotel:

Upon seeing a wide-eyed holidaymaker, he greeted her with the most sincere smile he could ever produce. Hello! How do you do! Welcome! he said. Her sudden awkward grin was a queue for a quick introspection. What’ffhh the matter, madam? he attentively asked. His question turned out to be the only answer he needed. The involuntary whistle he made was caused by air escaping from a pearly white cavity via a kickboxing coach.

Of course Chipped-tooth was furious! Panic quickly morphed into a boiling rage. He incurred more than just a damage to his enamel; his pride was forever smeared by the accidental smack.

How dare he?! I am a paying customer! Your job is to keep me intact, not separate me from my tooth!

You see, Chip was a hotel management student. His behavior was predicated on providing the highest guest satisfaction possible. Perhaps every hotelier’s dream is to read the answer “better than sex” to the question of “how was the service?”

Inconveniencing guests is never allowed. Much less knocking their teeth out!

But no one was to blame. Chipped-tooth was only a beginner and his reflex had not developed yet. Coach was doing his job by testing how his student would react when a jab is reaching for his face.

Okay, maybe Chip was overzealous that day. And, yes, maybe he may have invited his friends to train with the secret purpose of showing off. And, fine, he did made unnecessary loud grunts when kicking the heavy bag. But Chip definitely paid for his unsolicited showmanship.

There was innocence behind his actions, though. Just like anybody else, Chip wanted to feel good about himself. The way to do that, he figured, was to be great at kickboxing while putting on an exhibition for the audiences in attendance.

Fortunately, Chipped-tooth survived the ordeal. He ended up training for a full year. Chip even went through an intensive training camp in preparation for an amateur fight. However, he had to pull out because the date was far too close to his thesis defence.

Along the way, Chip was a recipient of multiple strikes to the groin, a black eye, badly swollen shin, bloodied lips and a possible concussion — but he ate those like a champ.

It’s a night and day contrast between working the hotel floor and kicking a partner. There is no pretense in fighting. And what is kickboxing training if not a simulation of a fight? When punches are thrown and kicks are unleashed, injuries are bound to happen.

If you want to be serviced by a loving receptionist, please go to the Marriott. Dine at their Japanese joint while your there. Their sushi & sashimi menu is killer! See their Zomato reviews!

You and your training partner are at the mercy of each other’s discretion. A trust must be established if the two of you were to escape with minimum damage. If not careful, Chipped-Tooth #2 may arise. Or worse, One-Ball #1.

Yes, they do shadowbox every time. But unlike the falsely named BODYCOMBAT, they actually practice combat after beating up the air!

Meet Chip’s best friend, the mouth guard. Photo: Joseph Edwin’s personal archive

However, if an elbow grazed the jaw, or a knee accidentally struck the stomach, it’s all good, brother! They know the risks. After all, there is no better way to deflate someone’s oversized ego than being at the receiving end of a strike.

So, Chip was wrong to draw self-confidence from showboating or trying to do well at practice. Luckily for him, chip realized that the real confidence booster is the fact that he can survive embarrassing hard hits, get up and attempt to return the favor.

But the greatest lesson he got was that pain hurts (duh!). He knew how the body shuts down when a knee lands on the liver. The initial response is to curl into the fetal position. You can’t breathe. Your internal organs seem to rapidly twist and turn, retaliating from the deep, rolling pain. In any which way you writhe, comfort can’t be found. Worse of all, there is nothing you can do but wait it out.

Pacifist born of violence, he wouldn’t want anybody to experience that horrible fate. More than anything, he appreciates the use of reason to resolve problems.

He knew how easily conflicts can escalate into needless physical altercations, even when neither really wanted their face bashed. This is the magic of fragile pride. Just totally unnecessary!

He doesn’t appreciate false macho personas. He will bet you his other tooth many of them have never even been punched in the face. But if they keep it up, they might very well be on the path of getting one.

With the absence of intellectual challenge in kickboxing and having achieved his personal goals, Chip moved on from the sport. Being apart from it for too long, Chip was once again immersed in his book collection.

Perhaps, it was finally time for a new endeavor. One that requires more brain than brawn. Perhaps Chip could take on writing…

If you’ve not guest it by now, Chipped-tooth is yours truly and this is my successful road to failure.