When boys reach a certain age, none of them bigger than a bump in the dirt, they test one another. Some pick up a bat and ball. Others take to the gridiron. Trajan’s brother, Langston, lived to fight. Legend has it he entered the world with fists balled, one leg cocked, prepared to strike in the event the doctor attempted to swat his backside more than once. Langston’s broad smile shone openly on their father’s face when he told the story, his ordinarily stoic demeanor overcome with delight at the anecdote he alone could tell.
Langston trained in martial arts from the tender age of six or seven. He fancied himself preparing to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, upon learning that Tae Kwon Do would be introduced as an official Olympic sport. He walked around day and night practicing moves, punishing the air with interposed thrusts of hands and feet. He fashioned a stretching implement from a length of rope thrown across the metal support of a basketball hoop that stood in the playground unused after-school hours. He would plant a foot on the blacktop, the rope tied at one end in a slipknot, pulling his free ankle skyward until his legs performed the splits along the pole supporting the backboard. With time, he used this method to extend the reach with his left foot to match that with his right. Then he’d switch to his right side to keep pace with the left until he could control either foot in ways the rest of the world struggled to comprehend.
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