We glance at each other with nervous eyes. The sweat glistening on our faces is not so much from the warm-up but from fear. Wufen stands by the door, his hand on the handle.

“Unless you want to die by my own bare hands you will fight to win! When you get to the battle field I want you to annihilate Anana’s army. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Sir!”

“Go!” Wufen opens the door.

We bolt out like chickens let loose from a coop. We follow Wufen’s men, running to the grand house at the top of the hill.

We stop in our tracks when we find Kapo sitting on a stool by the door of the house. There are six men with rifles next to him.

“Wait!” says a man who appears out of the fog.

“Anana!” says Kapo to this man.

Wufen comes up behind us, a rifle strapped to his chest. He motions us to follow him to the side of the yard.

Anana’s group appears out of the fog and stand behind him. The karetekas look at us with menacing eyes, then try to intimidate us, by jumping up and down, at speed.

“Iya! Iya! Iya! Iya! Iya Iya!” they shout as they leap. They are scary. They are just bone and muscle. Their cheek bones jut out of their gaunt faces. Hatred shoots out of their eyes like lightning.

Wufen and Anana confront each other in the middle ground, between the groups. They stare at each other with contempt.

“Today I’ll show your fighters what fighting is, Wufen,” says Anana.

“Challenge accepted,” says Wufen. He turns back to us. His eyes scan across our group until he finds and points to a Russian karateka and beckons him with a finger.

The karateka runs to him.

Anana turns to his group and points to a short karateka, who runs over.

The two face each other; Anana and Wufen move away.

The shrill sound of a whistle startles all of us. Kapo has signalled: fight time!

The Russian karateka’s kicks aim solely at the Japanese karateka’s head. The Japanese, in contrast, attacks the Russian’s legs. He’s cool, only working on counter attack. The Russian is the busy one, attacking all the time. For every Russian attack to the head, the Japanese karateka smoothly ducks and instantly attacks the standing foot, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Anana grins.

The whistle blows for the end of the first round. Wufen heads straight for the Russian karateka, grabs him by the scruff of his T-shirt and pulls him towards all of us in his group.

“Come closer!” says Wufen.

We quickly form a circle around the Russian karateka. Wufen is whispering now. “This is the strategy from now on. We fake-kick the first kick. When they strike, we use our knees as a shield that will harm their attacking shins. When they are hurt we then strike with the real kick, followed by a finishing kick. We do this fast! Are we clear?”

“Yes, Sir!”

“Feign a kick, block with the knee, attack twice, then knock out!” emphasises Wufen.

We all nod. The Russian karateka is sent back to the ring. He does exactly what Wufen commanded. There is a loud thud as the Russian karateka’s heel comes down on the top of his opponent’s head.

It’s lights out for the Japanese karateka – and bitter disappointment for Anana. We clap to congratulate our Russian karateka but have hardly had time to catch our breath when the whistle blows again.

It’s time for the next fight.


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