My first experience with a bully came in the fourth grade and I handled it like most children do – I ran away! Luckily, father did know best and when mine saw me hoofing it from a group of boys one day, he met me at the front door.
Dad didn’t confront me straight on but he asked me why I was wearing my gym shoes and not my dress shoes. I had been changing my shoes so that I didn’t slip when I ran across the schoolyard for the past 3 days and my father, watching out the window, had finally noticed. I couldn’t answer him and just started to cry. He already knew anyway. After a few questions, he took me downstairs.
“Son, I’m going to teach you a few things and after this lesson, you will never run away again, so listen close.” My older brothers were legendary for their capacity to throw down so he had my undivided attention. It only took one lesson. Here’s what it was.
Pops showed me four punches – a jab, an overhand right, a left uppercut and a cross. We worked on this for half an hour or so even to the point of throwing combinations and then we stopped. He told me that I didn’t have to win; I just had to make a demonstration, a very public demonstration. He told me that most bullies don’t expect their prey to fight back, that’s the main reason that I was chosen. He also said that kids at my age don’t usually throw punches, they push and pull and try to wrestle. “You’re not going to bother with that. When it comes, swing and don’t stop until someone pulls you off. If you land a punch or two, don’t slow down to admire your work.” Then dad prepared my mind.
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