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My First Fist Fight

Updated on September 7, 2012

My first real fist fight occurred in the 5th grade and I was ten years old. There had been one or two before in the 1st grade, but they ended up the same way, so I won’t go there.

The odd thing is, I’m a short person, and probably the last one anyone would think of going out of their way to pick a fight. Normally, I never did. They would find me anyway...and if challenged you had to fight because it was the law. It’s right there in the “unofficial” Boy’s Code of Conduct Manual, chapter two, paragraph six, subsection C.

Women haven’t any idea why men get into brawls for seemingly unknown reasons, mainly because they don’t have access to the manual. But the two top reasons for a good old fashioned tussle appear to be jealousy over a woman or a verbal attack on the character of an opponents’ mother. The latter being the more serious of the two. Rule one in the handbook states never insult another boys’ mom…that’s the surest way to become embroiled in a fracas.

I don’t remember why I got into this particular scuffle, but apparently it seems my honor was at stake. (See, chapter three, “Valid Reasons to Defend Your Honor.”) But in what would become a pattern of future fights, it was with the biggest boy in class. I never felt being short was a disadvantage for me in any combatant contest. That was probably because I grew up being a physically fit, tuff little kid.

Since this was my first battle of any consequence I was completely inept in the manly art of pugilism. My older brother later taught me how to box and I eventually became more “ept”. However, that didn’t help in the current predicament.


The bigger youth had challenged me to a fight and the match was billed to be fought after class in the woods out in back of our school. When the time came we headed for the arena where most conflicts were settled. Most of our classmates tagged along behind anticipating the coming slaughter. Was it my imagination, the closer we got to our destination, the larger my adversary seemed to get?

Apparently, my rival wasn’t too keen on engaging in a fight with me, since he offered to just forget the whole thing. Was he afraid? No, he was offering me a chance to back out. However, I insisted we finish what we had started.

We squared off and began circling each other seeking an avenue of attack. But wait, this guy looked like he knew what he was doing. He had struck a classic pugilist pose; hands stiffly raised guarding his face and body along with a straight rigid stance. Maybe there was a way we could still gracefully talk this thing out…nope, too late.

Closing my eyes I rushed in like a raging bull, arms flailing empty air…and then darkness as I felt a sharp pain on my nose. When my vision cleared, I was flat on my back in the dust and blood gushing from my nose. The larger boy offered me his handkerchief and assisted me to my feet. He asked if I was alright and helped clean my bloody face. The fight had lasted all of two seconds and a disappointed crowd began to disperse and head home.

That was an important learning experience for me. Never fight anyone if you don’t know how. That’s not something you learn in school books. I made it a point to learn how to protect myself…and I did. My older brother was into martial arts and he began teaching me the basics.

Years later, I was again challenged to fight by a classmate in my freshmen year of high school. It was with the 9th grade bully. I fearlessly accepted, knowing a method of quickly ending such a situation. But, I had never tried it in actual combat.

This time, however, I wasn’t waiting for school to let out. We we’re standing face to face when I made a sudden straight up leap, cocked my leg back, and delivered a heel to the center of his chest in an expertly executed “drop kick”. He sank to the ground like a sack of potatoes with the wind knocked out of him. There was something to all that karate and kung fu stuff after all.

Of course, my older brother was extremely proud of me and continued working to improve my skills. He also taught me fighting was a last resort. One lesson I learned from him was “Power perceived, is power achieved”. People aren’t as apt to pick a fight with you if they think you’re skilled in the art of self defense.

There was one little trick he showed me to convince others not to pick a fight. An assistant would hold a plank of wood and apply pressure downwards on both sides. This would bend the board and a swift karate chop to the center of the bend would quickly reduce it to splinters. That exercise earned me the title “Karate Kid” long before the popular movie came out. But it’s recommended not to use tricks in place of actually learning a form of self defense.

Fighting is a normal part of growing up for boys although it shouldn’t be encouraged. It’s in the manual, look it up!


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