The Day I Used Karate in Freshman Shop Class

“I’ve no regrets. You take responsibility for your actions.”

–  Ron Moody


I’ll admit up front that the title of this post makes the story sound a lot cooler than it actually is. Sorry about that. But, I did use Karate in my Foundations of Tech class…which is saying something, considering I’m a second degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Let’s talk about Foundations of Tech class. The generic term for it is “Freshman Shop,” because all you do in there is build stuff, and 99% of people take it when they’re a Freshman in high school.

Well, not this kid.

See, I was too busy cluttering up my 9th grade schedule with other stuff like Global Studies and AP World History, so I didn’t have time to take FOT. It kept getting pushed up the grade ladder until finally, this past summer, my counselor informed me I needed to take it as a Senior. It was, after all, a required class for a high school diploma.

Which is stupid.

If this class sounds like a relatively pointless one, don’t worry: it’s every bit as useless as you’re imagining it to be. The point of building a project in there isn’t to create a well-working, useful products; rather, it’s to document your brainstorming process the entire way. Because, you know, in real life, it’s not about how well you can do your job. It’s all about the journey.

I’m sorry if I sound bitter. It doesn’t help that I’m one of three seniors in a class that’s 90% stupid Freshman. I would yell at them, but some of the Freshman are older than me—nineteen or twenty. I swear, only in this class can you hear someone say, “Man, jail was a rough time, man,” and not be quite sure if they’re joking or not.

So anyway. My story.

We had to build bridges out of popsicle sticks this week. And if you think I didn’t type that with a straight face, you obviously aren’t used to the ridiculousness of this class. By now, using Elmer’s glue and popsicle sticks seems perfectly normal with Freshman FOT. So I took the project home, dutifully constructed it, and brought it into class yesterday.

After my teacher checked that it met the specifications, he told me I could go ahead and destroy it. Most kids just took their bridge and stomped on it, which was my plan.

My friend had another activity in mind.

It came up casually. I set the bridge down on the workbench, shot it a look of disgust, and said, “I should just Karate chop this stupid thing in half.”

To which my friend next to me shouted, “You’ll never do it!”

Me (insert adrenaline rush): “OH YEAH?!”


Which was stupid.

Do you remember that classic moment in a movie where a character punches something really hard, yells in triumph like a Karate master, then looks down and realizes their hand is covered in blood?

Yeah, that happened to me.

And yes, there was blood. Not tons, but a bit. See, the popsicle sticks themselves weren’t that bad. It was the fact that they were all structured, layered and held together so the bridge could hold 21.8 pounds. And the fact that the entire thing was covered in Elmer’s wood glue. Which, despite its comic title, hardens to the consistency of plastic.

And then there were the splinters.

I pulled most of them out as everyone’s cheering turned to screams at the blood. To be honest, I was one of the calmer ones (“It’s only a flesh wound!”) Luckily, the teacher was too busy to notice.

After washing everything off, I found that I had three neat nicks across my knuckles, a scratch running down my pinky, and an abrasion on the side of my wrist. It stung, but didn’t look too bad once the blood was washed away.


Not one of my brighter moments.


One thought on “The Day I Used Karate in Freshman Shop Class

  1. What a great story! Freshman shop sounds like more fun than our graduation requirement, “Career and Life Management” aka CALM

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