At the age of eight, my son Josh took a karate class at the neighborhood community center with kids and adults of all levels. I would watch the tail end of the class when I picked him up, thinking, “I could do that.” One day, the instructor sat down beside me and asked me when I was going to join the class, so I took the leap. After a year of weekly practice I finally moved up to the next level, where we were expected to learn to spar. Josh, like all the other boys, adored sparring. I, on the other hand, was dreading it. But learning to fight back was the whole point of self-defense, wasn’t it? As the instructor explained how to “X” the straps of the protective chest pad in the back, I joked nervously “I’d like to ‘exit’ over there,” pointing toward the door. He assigned a young man about my height and weight to spar with me. With speed and precision, my sparring partner advanced toward me, ready to punch. Did I draw on my many months of drills to expertly block his strike, pivot away from the punch or counter with a kick? No,