“Blood Sport” by John Mani2 min read

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Illustration by Arty Guava

Master Chung tells me most successful taekwondo schools are located in bad
neighbourhoods. Big bullies are best for business, he says. Master Chung is cunning this
way. One day a man in a Patriots jacket walks in. I challenge the master of kung-foo, he
proclaims. Master Chung beckons the man, takes his coat, and says, I accept your
challenge, and please what are your rules? The man pauses, he hadn’t considered this. Can
I pull your hair, Master Chung offers, gouge eyes, punch the groin? What if you are
permanently injured? Do you have life insurance? The man objects to the groin punching,
but is unsure of himself now. Go and write up a contract with the rules of the fight, and then
come back, and we will have a match, declares Master Chung. The man spits and leaves.
Charyut, pipes Master Chung and we snap to attention. The deadliest weapon of all, he
says, pointing to his bald head. Someone groans. The class continues with jumping jacks,
but we pump our arms somewhat less vigorously than before. I daydream Master Chung
delivering the final blow to Patriots man. His bloody face snaps back, a rosy mist in slow
motion over and over. And we are all lost in the same revenge fantasy that drew us together
in the first place. We are out for blood, desperate to get what we are paying for.


John Mani is a first-generation Canadian of Korean and Persian ancestry. He shares a cozy apartment in Toronto with his young family.

Lay Hoon aka Arty Guava is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer based in Vancouver. She grew up in Malaysia and spent most of her adult life in Singapore before moving to Canada. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioengineering but chose to make a career switch after about 1 year of working in the field. Art and Design have always been her calling. She is passionate about culture, people and nature and how these themes interact with each other. Her work is available at artyguava.com/illustration

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