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Punching Up


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Saturday, November 8th, 8 AM.

Claremont Gym.

Bam.  BAM BAM! Bam bam bam bam!

Fists hit bag, footwork ensued, complicated, as the bulky Benny D'amato changed center line, stuffing his leading left hand at the face level in a drill that would make sense with someone else, as his right hand did two neat, sharp uppercut like hooks right at the floating rib area  Then came a quick four punch flurry.  Though him getting someone besides staff tended to prove tricky, and the fast kid showed why.  He wasn't just quick.  He was damn near sudden, and he hit hard.  Precise.

And he did this routine upwards to six times a week.  The run.  Then the drills.  More running.  More drills.

This one changed though, as he wheeled to the human shaped dummy that was used for grappling, as he threw a feinting punch at it's face, and then shot down for a double leg take down, that he immediately floated over the dummy on impact into a mounted position, and he hammered at the 'head' of the the practice thing, before he rolled away, and pushed up and off of his rear leg for a superhero punch at another training bag.

This drill down, he stood there, breathing hard as the alert went off from his bag at a bench, and he moved over towards it.  Wearing a tank top, a pair of shorts, sneakers, and wrapped up hands, which fit his workman aesthetic.  He picked up the watch, and pushed the button to turn off the alarm, before he moved to lift his water bottle.

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A weather rumpled Claude opened the door and walked into the Claremont gym , wearing a hoodie and sweats with a pair of trainers on his feet. He looked to be heading for the locker room, but when he saw Benny he stopped and wandered over. 


"Hey Benny. I hear you're the man to go to for the sweet science of punchin' people in the mouth." The Bostonian drawl says with an appraising look in his eye. 


"I have some formal trainin' and experience in a scrap, but can't hurt to learn some more." Claude said to his fellow pugilist.  



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He arched his brows a bit, as he slowly drank down the water, then shrugged a bit at that.  "Sure buddy, I ain't mucha teach, but I can give it a go."  He grinned a little bit, his loutish features brightening up into that expression, as he moved to get some tape.  "Though, lookin' at ya hands, we're gonna need to wrap them up first, and then we can put gloves.  And I'll do the pads."  He seemed more confident than in the tech room, his though his eyes were as sharp before, but this?  This was his element.

He unspooled the tape to start the wrapping as he looked levelly at Claude.

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"Claude shrugged and shot Benny a wry grin. "Eh, don't sell yourself short there, man. At the very least  just havin' a sparrin' partner is a step up from having ta shadowbox while I run." Claude shucked off his hoodie and tossed it haphazardly on the nearby bench. 


Compared to Benny, Claude was much less of a physical specimen. The Southie was by no means out of shape with a wiry swimmers' build, but it didn't help that by Claudes' rough estimation he was about half of his impromptu teachers' mass. The lightweight to Benny-boy's heavyweight. "Ahlright, I'm a southpaw so let's start dere." 


He offered up his left hand. "Thanks for doin' this pally. My only choices were either you or grimace the grumpy menace so I'm glad you were here this mornin'. Everybody else I've met so far in this joint tend to use their powers instead of carin' about throwin' a proper punch." 

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Benny shrugged a bit, not dismissing Claude's assertion more it seemed to slide off of him.  "Hold up yer hands Claude. I'm sixteen, ain't exactly really had a lot of teachin' under my belt, so I can say I ain't good at it."  He pulled the tape of length out as he looked at him still, and when the hand was offered, and he started to to do the wrap with practiced ease.  Going around his wrist, and back up between each of the fingers, over the knuckles, and bracing the thumb.  "Doesn't matter much for wrapping.  There are others here who can, some teachers, and all that."

Benny was big, fireplug of a guy, there was a little definition to the mass, but his body was a barrel, but as he moved the muscles did under his skin bunched and moved about.  Once that hand was done he waited for the other.  "Ain't see much of a point to antagonize each other really."  When he spoke like that it wasn't a rebuke, there was an edge to the beefy kid that hinted at experience.

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The sound of a long-suffering sigh came from the far corner of the gym, and up stepped the Smith sisters. "Is it really just you two?" Watchdog was wearing her leather jacket and jeans; Judy had put her hair back in a ponytail and was wearing a grey sport shirt and shorts - the former of which bore a bold I CAN DO ALL THINGS in bright red. "Lame.


"Oh, come on," said Judy cheerfully, "it'll be fun!" as she and Ashley walked up to join Claude and Benny. "You'll show them the moves that almost took down the Raven!" 


"That was with my gun," she said, sounding a little annoyed - but only a little. "Boys," she said by way of greeting before she showed Benny. "Gloves wrap my hands like tape. Had to punch a few guys to get that." 

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"H-hello?," a small, bright voice chimed.  It was Benny's roommate, Heroditus.  The two were very much an Odd Couple -- he was tall & thin, with the toned physique of a swimmer, and more nerd than jock.  He wore short dark brown sandals and breeches, and a dark red short-sleeved tunic, cinched together with a pouch-belt of lighter brown.  "I was looking for- oh, Ashley, and Judy!"  He bowed to them, "good morning!  I was looking for Benjamin d'A- ah, there he is!"


He walked past the girls towards his roommate.  The Atlantean's gait was still a bit awkward, but considerably better than when he'd first come to Claremont.  "I changed my mind, and decided to take you up on your offer for some sparring lessons.  I have been neglecting my combat training, and would prefer to do my 'catching up' with someone I know, and whom I know is very skilled in the combat arts."

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Benny's eyes widened, the mild mannered guy suddenly had a lot of people here.  His invite was open, he just didn't expect everyone to show up, but he dutifully finished wrapping Claude's righthand.  "There are some o'them light MMA gloves, but yer gonna wanna wrap up your hands first.  An I guess we'll start with progressive drills."  His own Joisey accent showing, his tone bemused, as was the small smile.  "Course ya had to decide on this after I've been doin' my work out for three hours."

He jerked his head on his neck sharply, popping it loudly, as he held it there at an angle, stretching it out before he rolled it about his shoulder.  "I ran into the Raven on-..."  He trailed off, and shrugged a little bit, and then moved to offer the taping up of everyone else's hands.  "If we don't do this most of youse knuckles gonna split and bleed, and it's gonna suck.  Hands' delicate things."

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Claude offered up his other hand. "Heh, it's a failing of mine I admit. Pokin' things and people when I shoulda known better. Really, in Ash's case it's more that the first read I got off her is she's fakin' the whole biker chick persona for whatever reason. She dropped her act for a moment when Claremont's very own Leroy Jenkins of love proposed to her sister. If I was a bettin' man, and I am..."


Claude paused as he heard the door to the gym open and gave rueful chuckle when he spotted the pair that he had missed while talking to Benny and the Atlantean approaching them. "Speakin' of the lady and the tiger...” he added sotto voce before giving the trio a jaunty salute with his already taped hand.


"Ladies." he greeted before arching an amused eyebrow at their byplay. "Waitaminute. OG Raven is in his seventies by now. So you're going around and holding up geriatric retired superheroes at gunpoint? And braggin' about it?"


Now the Atlantean, that was an odd person to be wanting to learn how to break faces. Named the same as the Greek historian, which Claude to have all sorts of questions on divergent linguistics when he first learned the teens name. Claude let Herodotus speak and Benny reminisce about his meeting with the writing desk adjacent heroic legacy, before chiming in after the warning about phalange safety. "If anybody does need a medic or somethin', I'll handle it. Unless somebody brings a gun to a fistfight." 


Edited by Semi-Autogyro
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"I shot the third Raven in the dick on national television, dumbass," growled Ashley, enjoying the chance to slip into Watchdog's character and actually mean it for once. "You this obsessed with every girl, or just the ones that don't buy this...thing you're selling?" She asked as she looked him up and down dismissively. 


"Now now, there's no reason to fight," said Judy as she let Benny wrap her hands. "And it wasn't even national television," she reasoned, "technically people only saw that part if they looked for it on Youtube. Ah don't actually know much about hand-to-hand fighting," she admitted to Benny, "Ah've only ever fought things from a distance. Should Ah just watch?" 

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Ben Wang rubbed his red-rimmed eyes and mumbled to himself as he staggered into the gym. "Freakin' Hanji-mains, man, overtime and you STILL won't get on the damn payload..." He lifted an open Beast energy drink can over his head and tipped it over, but nothing came out. He stared at it quizzically for a few moments, then dropped it in the trash can next to the door. He directed two finger-guns and a grin at each of the other students as he trudged past them and up to the row of mu ren zhuang dummies. He greeted his Green Squadmate Heroditus with "SQUADDY", Claude with "CLODDY", and Ben with "Uhhh...SQUATTY? I dunno, man, yer stocky and it's early." When he saw the sisters, the grin fell off his face, and he just muttered "...'Sup."


He stopped at the reinforced steel dummy with the concrete-weighted base. His skin rippled and broke into hundreds of tiny tiles which flipped over each other, seemingly transforming the sweats he'd been wearing into a sleeveless tee-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts, while the sneakers he'd been wearing vanished altogether, leaving bare feet. He pulled his cell phone out of the pocket of the shorts he was now wearing, tapped a few buttons, then shoved it back in the pocket. Through the "fabric", any observer could hear the phone, and his matching smartwatch, vibrating loudly in time to the aggressive rap music the phone was playing at a barely audible volume.


He mouthed the lyrics as his hands and feet began to move, slowly at first, in a series of circles and sweeps, sometimes around the arms and legs of the dummy, sometimes slamming against them with strikes from a mix of open hands, fists, elbows, knees, and feet. If the dummy had been a person, it would have sustained several brutal blows to its stomach, face, and throat, and its elbows and shoulders would have been broken and popped out of their sockets several times over. He slipped back and forth around the dummy, often hitting it from a 45-degree angle instead of head-on. To a Muay Thai enthusiast, his techniques would feel familiar, but slightly "off", while anyone familiar with Silat would instantly recognize him as a fellow practitioner. His strikes gradually became faster, eventually becoming hard to follow with the naked eye. His movements were impossibly fluid, and his balance was perfect, like a ballet dancer whose joints could bend the wrong way (which his literally did, more than once). His strikes didn't seem to leave any bruises on his bare hands and feet, but some of them did leave visible dents, as though his flesh were made of clay. Several times, he knocked the dummy over, either from the sheer force of his blows or with a sweeping kick to what would have been the backs of a person's legs. Sometimes, one of his tentacles burst forth from his forearm and grabbed it before it hit the ground, pulling it back upright in the blink of an eye. Other times, he followed it down, adding what would have been a devastating kick to the ribs or groin, and a punch to the solar plexus or also the groin. At one point, he yelled "DICK KICK! NUT PUNCH!" as he did so, giggling to himself.


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19 hours ago, Avenger Assembled said:

"I shot the third Raven in the dick on national television, dumbass," growled Ashley, enjoying the chance to slip into Watchdog's character and actually mean it for once. "You this obsessed with every girl, or just the ones that don't buy this...thing you're selling?" She asked as she looked him up and down dismissively. 


"Your parents must be very proud." He sarcastically drawled, turning to give Ben a "Mornin' Inky." as the octopodial teen passed by. 


"Firstly, you ain't my type, no offense. Second, I ain't tryin' sell anythin'. Day one, you went ballistic doin' your 'big bad dawg' act then did a 180 so fast you coulda given yourself whiplash. Why? Dunno. If ya had just disliked me for callin' your bluff, that's one thing. But it's interestin' problem for me to poke at in the meanwhile." He rolled his shoulders, limbering up a bit.


"I'm a savant that doesn't need to sleep. Puzzles are about the only intriguin' thing I have goin' for me aside from the occasional diversion like this little shindig. So, if you'd slow your roll for an hour or so maybe we could all get somethin' out of today."


He shot Ashley a vulpine smile. "And just maybe, you'll be free and clear to punch me in the face." 

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"See, this ain't wise..."  Benny trailed off as he watched the sniping and other stuff keep happening.  His face set hard, and he turned from Judy finishing wrapping her hands, to then put his index and thumb in his mouth, as he pressed his lips tight, before he let out a loud, shrill whistle with enough volume to reverberate, and he followed it up with a rumbling, baritone that came deep from his diaphragm as he glowered.  "Cool it!"


He looked at them, as the switch was flipped and his 'aw shucks' kinda vibe was done.  "Ya hear me?  Cut with the silly stuff.  Ya gonna pull the bluster, an' ya outta here."  His annoyance writ large on his features.  He fell into the only understanding of the role he had found himself in, and it was as a hardass.  "If ya think ya can spend this whole time hasslin' each other when yer learning tells me ya ain't valuing what I'm teaching, and that means I sure as heck don't wanna waste time on youse. An' it tells me that later when we need to back each other up ya wont do that neither.  Got it?"


He huffed a bit, his expression still a bit pugnacious, and his jaw set just so, and he moved to Heroditus, "Let's wrap your hands too buddy.  An' Judy," he called over his shoulder at her, "Nah yer in this.  We're startin' with drills, most youse guys sloppier'n scrambled eggs with ketchup."

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Some of that had clearly been aimed her way - but Ashley grinned anyhow. She liked Benny, and if he didn't like her, well, that was okay - he was just a kid. "Yessir," she said, disengaging from Claude with her hands behind her back. "Absolutely, we're all on the same team here - and that's justice." 


"That's really neat, Benny!" Judy called to the Octo-Ben. "You look like you really know how to fight." She knew  things like fighting and combat were important to the other teen, even if they weren't very important to herself. "So what are the rules?" she asked Other Ben curiously. 

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Heroditus cringed involuntarily when OctoBen entered, but remained cool in the face of his motormouth squadmate.  He flashed a weak smile at him, and was about to continue speaking to his roommate, but the sigh of OctoBen's rapid -- and highly skilled -- assault left him dumbfounded!  "Merciful Poseidon!  I  knew his lips moved fast, but I had no idea his fists would be their equal!"


Ben's whistle rang through his ears, and when finished shaking his vision clear, his roommate was already working on his hands.  "Ah, yes, I- oh, that is nice... thank you," he bowed his head slightly.  The wraps did feel pleasantly snug, much like the pressure vest he had on under his tunic.  "I shall do my best to make sure the time you spend training me is worthwhile."

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Ben was completely oblivious to the comments of his classmates as he practiced. A couple of times, one of them yelled loudly enough for his phone to pick it up and change the vibration to alert him, but he was too engrossed in his martial arts drills to notice. It was only after he stopped pummeling the practice dummy and started wiping the sweat from his forehead that he glanced at his phone. His head jerked up and around the room, but he breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear that he hadn't missed anything that would qualify as an emergency.


Still breathing hard as he rubbed his knuckles, Ben meandered back toward the main gathering. "I won't lie, been slackin' since school started. Gotta run them drills, y'know? Lock down that muscle memory. Fist's gotta know where ta go before you do." He glanced around at the students taping their hands up. "You guys sparrin-HEY!" His head cocked to the side when he noticed the shirt under Ashley's jacket. "Waitasec...YOU'RE Watchdog?! Shot-Raven-In-The-Balls I-Broke-My-Mouse-Clickin'-On-That-YouTube-Clip-Too-Many-Times WATCHDOG?! THAT'S who you are?! DAMN, Chica, we coulda been NUTSHOT-BROS this WHOLE TIME?! You gotta come on my vlog! You, me, collab-time, let's break the internet!"


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Benny didn't give Ben much time, "Yo! Zip it Ben!" He boomed to Octolad, "This is teachin' time, you wanna jack-jaw ya can do it after I'm done.  Ya want in, you can be in, but we're doin' drills.  Progressive ones.  So we'll start with a sequence and add more, and change it up.  This is about learning to walk, then we run.  If youse wanna question it, well that can happen later.  We gonna start with shadow boxing, then we worry 'bout hittin' targets, capice?"

He stepped back, having finished his hand wraps on everyone, confident they were tight, because it was something he practiced on, and fidgeted with a lot.  Benny surveyed the rest, oozing easy confidence from someone who knew what he was talking about.

"First thing, put 'em up."  He stood, legs a shoulder's width apart and holding his hands up hovering near his shoulders.  "Then ya blade up, that means to move to present smallest target.  Ya want yer offhand in front, and yer main hand in back.  Do it now, and give each other space.  We're gonna do a simple jab, jab, and cross combo.  This is a bread an' butter."  And with that, he switched into an orthodox righthand stance, his left leading.  He made a show of the movements, his elbows in tight, with no waste movement.  His left snapped out quick, with a strong right to follow, the display showed the push off of his feet, the movement of his hips and shoulders.  "First jab has some oomph, because it's to get their attention, maybe get 'em to brush back, second one's quicker, ya want speed to set up the cross.  A good cross to the jaw is a trip to dreamland."

Benny moved, changing where he was standing to show off the technique to others as he repeated it, though slower.  "And if youse lucky, that first hard jab might send 'em sprawlin'.  But ya keep youse hands up, got it?"

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"Nah, not worth another detention," said Watchdog with a lopsided grin at Octo-Ben, making sure to keep her face where he could see it. It was probably for the best that Rebound intervened at that moment. 


Watchdog moved into the drill, matching Ben's movements with a lazy drawl that told him she'd heard a lecture like this, or one very much like it, before. Daystar was obviously considerably more tentative. While she was doing her best, it did not look like she'd thrown a punch in anger in her life. 


For her part, Watchdog kept her eyes on Rebound and asked a question between breaths, "Hey coach," she said, "however many of these I learn to throw, I'm always gonna be a head shorter and a hundred pounds lighter than you. What's your advice?" 

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Claude blinked at Bennys' outburst and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Alright with me," he said as he set his jaw with a mullish glare at the floor and began flexing his hands to get the tape settled right.


"For the record, I even if I needle someone,  I'll still work with them. I'll shove personal feelings aside to get the job done, but I'll never leave someone else holding the bag." Claude said still facing the floor, voice oddly serious with his normal accent missing. 


Claude quietly fell into his preferred stance after that, specifically the hitman style: his left arm hanging near the waist while his right arm was closely drawn to his chest area. It wasn't as powerful as the normal orthodox stance, but it let him leverage his gangly arms to deliver wicked fast flicker jabs.


He waited until Benny was nearby and focused on him before addressing the other teen. "I appreciate the lesson in basics, bossman, but that don't exactly help me. Bit past these lessons but I don't wanna stop the newbies from learnin'."


The Bostonian threw a flurry of light jabs with his left before comboing into a cross smash with his right. "If ya want, I'll busy myself with the speed bag until ya need me." 

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Benny moved to Judy, going to stand behind her, and he reached out and gently pushed her elbows in towards her body more.  "Keep 'em close.  If they are wide then they see 'em coming.  And ya don't wanna throw haymakers and farmer punches, unless ya making a movie."  He moved to stand beside her and going her through the motion, a strong lead jab, a faster jab, before he brought the hard right.  Despite his bulk, Benny's hand's didn't seem heavy.  His movements sharp and precise.  "Give it a go from here, we're shadow boxing, we ain't hittin' no one right now, just loosenin' up, yeah?"  His tone changed when he was talking to Judy, it softened.

He looked back to Ash, and he started to talk to say somethin', before Claude's sulking caught his attention.  "Naw.  Elbows in.  Ya throwin' like a drunk sailor."  Was he really?  No, but it seemed exaggeration was how Benny underscored his points.  Then his eyes rolled back to Ash.

"I'm 'bout two sixty, so I am a heavyweight, I can't cut to one eighty, unless I wanna look like a corpse.  The current champs stand 'bout six five, at least, and are that weight."  His tone was matter of fact as he stepped towards the bench to pick up his target pads, and slipped them on.  "Now, ya wanna go against someone like me, then ya still need the fundamentals.  Sure, ya got a puncher's chance, but then, might as well bet all ya money in Atlantic City for that does ya.  But, if we wanna get fancy, ya be an aggressive counter puncher, get in, slip and roll on a tight guard, and hit hard. Break up their rhythm, either ya wait for the mistake, or make them do it.  Footwork and positioning.  This is like how Dempsey, Patterson, or Tyson did it. Well, part."

He moved back to Claude then with the pads on and he held up his hands with the pads.  "Words, words, words. Two jabs, like I said, like ya mean it, to my right, then move to youse right to go off line, and then throw the hook to my right hand, got it? Good."

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Heroditus studied Boxer-Ben's moves intently, memorizing the stance, the ways his muscles bunched and flexed, his breathing.  His mind could grasp such things quickly, and hold them indefinitely.  His muscle memory, on the other hand, would take considerably more work.


The artificer tried to mirror the pugilist's moves.  "Feet anchored," her murmured.  "Sinistral hand fore, dextral hand aft.  Cubitals in tight."  Jab.  Jab, jab.  "Yes, yes, so far, so good."  Jab, jab, cro- lose balance, stumble-spin clockwise.  "Ah, yes: angular momentum, plus lesser resistance of air compared to water."  To his credit, he got right back to it, going through the drill with surprising efficiency.  While he, like Judy, had never thrown a punch in anger, combat drills -- and rote learning in general -- were very familiar to him.  As he continued, he focused on his own body: how it was moving, how his muscles felt, the relative angles of the bones in his limbs.  He soon became totally focused on those sensations & observations, shutting out everything else around him.


Edited by Dr Archeville
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"Yo! Zip it Ben! This is teachin' time, you wanna jack-jaw ya can do it after I'm done.


Ben threw his hands up and took a step backward. "DAMN, Dude, the waitress at Denny's put too much salt on yer Early Bird Special? CHILLLLL. You want me ta stop talkin', I'll stop talkin', whatever, that's cool. Not a peep. Mum's the word. This is me, zippin' my lip, shuttin' my yap, pluggin' the pie-hole."



"Ya want in, you can be in, but we're doin' drills. Progressive ones. This is about learning to walk, then we run."


Ben nodded and continued to mutter. "I get it. Yer hittin' it HOOSIERS-style. FUNDAMENTALS. Brick by brick, and it's LEGOS, it ain't JENGA. Paint the house, wax off, gettin' yer Miyagi on, I feel ya." It wasn't clear whether or not he realized he was talking out loud.



"First thing, put 'em up."


Ben raised his fists. Then several tentacles slid out of formerly hidden orifices his back with a slurping sound. The tentacles arranged themselves in the air around him, and the ends rolled themselves up into an approximation of a fist.



"Then ya blade up, that means to move to present smallest target."


Ben dropped into the fighting stance Benny had described. Then his entire body squished inward, as though a giant piston had just smashed it flat. His torso and limbs were now narrower than his fists, maybe three to four inches wide at most.



"We're gonna do a simple jab, jab, and cross combo."


Ben executed the combination, first with his arms, then with his tentacles (the entire set acting in perfect concert), alternating between the two.


Edited by Grumblefloof
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Claude gave an exaggerated eye roll to Benny's instructions, but he still complied. The two jabs followed by the slip to deliver the hook, all delivered with punishing precision. Whoever had instructed the the Southie was a professional as Claude defty moved backwards out of sheer habit to avoid the counterpunch that would usually come after delivering a straight a combo like that. 


Lightly bouncing on his toes, he glanced over to Heroditus. "Huh, I never woulda guessed that some people take the 'science' part of the whole  'sweet science' thing literally."


"Eh, whatever works."  The Bostonian said with a light shrug of his shoulders as he rendered his verdict. A quick step took him back within striking distance of the pads in Benny's hands. Jab. Jab. Hook. Disengage. 

Edited by Semi-Autogyro
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Benny moved his hands effortlessly to set up the blows.  "Sloppy jalopy Claude. I said strong jab, fast jab, hook.  That's two flicker jabs.  Yer heavy on youse feet, and yer body ain't in the hook, it's wide, no hip and lot on ya shoulder.  Yer stance is wide, so ya need more head movement or youse gonna eat a sucka punch.  Change targets, jabs to the right, cross to the left."  And he went through it again.  In the middle of the second punch he barked out a, "Duck after this, then throw the cross, an' step to your strong hand's side."

As soon as the jab connected, he threw his own punch aimed for Claude's jaw, it was slower than what he could do, but it was setting up a target to avoid, before he was immediately in place to catch the cross with the pad.  Then he broke away from Claude, and he addressed the rest.  "Youse guys all gonna do the sequence."  He then did it, strong, fast, duck, cross, then moved to his right.  His steps light, bouncy, except when the punches were thrown.  They planted, and he exploded off of his stance, but the moment he didn't need them, they were moving.  "Judy in front everyone line up, and jog in place, step up, throw 'em, move and go to the back of the line.  This stuff is simple, but ya can't ever mess up on the simple stuff.  I trow dis combo a hundred times a day even now.  Ya ain't gonna be fightin' none them ninjas, or Dr. Sin's kung fu goons everytime.  Ya fall down to the purse swipes because ya get cocky and think youse can just haymaker them, or trow a twirly flyin' roundhouse because it'll shows up in da papers."

The pads were up and he was waiting for them.  It was clear he didn't abide cocky, or what he took as such.

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Ashley still took the position that a better strategy was to shoot your opponent in the back - but she liked the cut of Benny's jib even so. She ran through the same exercises as everyone else, glad that no one was commenting that she was fighting in full costume rather than athletic gear. One argument I don't need right now. She tried not to think about how f*cking old the easy grace of the teenagers around her made her feel. Well, most of them! 


Uncoordinated though she was, Judy listened attentively to Benny's instructions, and certainly seemed to be doing her best to apply herself to the repetitive actions of the drill. She was slowing down perhaps a trifle when she was done, and was certainly breathing harder - but showed no signs of sweating or needing water. If anything she was glowing ever so slightly, as if the Sun was shining on her even when she stood in shadow. 

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