Dax smiles. “Sure, girls train. Not as many here as guys, but a good number. Shana, for example, is one mean Muay Thai fighter. And Erin,” he gestures over to the far corner of the gym where a small blond woman is jumping rope, “is on the women’s MMA circuit.”

“Nice,” I say. “I don’t even know how to throw a punch.”

“You threw a decent one last night,” Dax says. My eyes widen in surprise. It’s the first time anybody has directly referred to the attack since Shana left me tucked in that bed. But Dax keeps talking, as if he hasn’t noticed. “There was a lot going on, but I noticed that. You didn’t throw your arm out too wide, had natural swing of the hips. A lot of people swing wide and don’t realise the power comes from the body, not just the arm. But you were doing it fine. Just need to fix your fist.”

“Oh.” Not the snappiest comeback, but my brain is in a fog. I mean, I know I’m here, I know what happened, but things feel a bit distant, out of focus. Not like being drunk, or anything. I suppose … hazy, like when I was in labour with my baby. Brain went a bit funny and I couldn’t even tell the nurse my address.

But Dax doesn’t tease me. He’s nodding, and takes some casual steps closer, holding his right arm out, palm open and flat. “See here,” he says. “When you make a fist, you need to keep your thumb out, which you did.” He closes his hand. “But see how I’ve got my knuckles flat, instead of scrunched into my palm?”

I reach, lift my hand, and do the same.

“Right,” he says, looking at it, but not touching me. “So now you just need to put your thumb across the fingers, and not sticking up. See, otherwise, your thumb is poking up and you could hurt it.”

Which makes sense, now that I think about it, and I move my thumb.

“Perfect,” says a woman. I spin to my right and see Shana. She’s looking bright eyed and put together, in leggings and a long-sleeved tee. She’s even wearing red lipstick. Holding each of her hands is a little girl, not older than three, with hair tied up in bunches. Twins. “You interested in training?”


Tell us: How do you feel about girls and women taking part in martial arts and boxing?