Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Men, or just boys for longer than they should be...

I grew up fighting, not really remembering when it started. I like to think I fought because I was tough and male, I would tell you I fought for only two reasons - it was fun or I was afraid, those reasons were enough. The fun part of fighting lasted my whole life, it converted to sportsman like competition mostly, but the joy of going up against the North Koreans or Vietnamese was from the same source, I was tough and I was male.

I hit my sister once, in anger in the car on a trip, and that was so wrong. The lesson didn't come easy, my sister wore sleeveless blouses until the big bruise faded away, and my mother would constantly harp on how stupid I had been and such. I like to think I never hit a woman again, except in martial arts training and I probably didn't. As a boy I didn't understand how anger could get in your way of fighting well, you do get extra chemicals dumped in the blood but the rage clouds your cold blooded logic, and I found that very important in all tactical operations.

Boys should fight, enough to make them appreciate the benefits of negotiation, comradeship and mercy. Some think that fighting is just so wrong, until one needs a fighter to protect them and what they find worth saving from the barbarians and criminals and such. I go with wanting all boys to be fighters, when they need to. If I were to worry about it, some kind of sports activities when young, about twelve or so martial arts that would stress flexibility, defense and grappling - Judo is better than Karate at that age. Firearms training, or archery for the discipline.

Heroes and morality are very important if one is going to have a young male fighting. He has to know there are things worth fighting for, that one doesn't always win, that standing between the enemy and all that you love is the right place to be. He has to understand that taking fighting to the level of killing is a last resort, not as simple as 'popping a cap on him' real death reeks.

I think that the zero tolerance policy about violence in public schools has exactly the same effect as the ''gun Free" zones. That becomes the place the bullies and criminals can play. The boys that want to do well in school, understanding that fighting isn't a scholarship activity, will avoid confrontation with the petty criminals and pests. I once sought them out, at least enough to make them aware I wasn't afraid of them and I didn't like their activities. Reputation is both a wonderful thing and a curse. You don't have to fight any cowards, just make sure they know why they are afraid of you. You also don't meet many wonderful young ladies, because you are one of those bad boys. I was afraid of girls, they really don't think like I do, and their loveliness torments me. Easier to go find a fight and enjoy the guy stuff.

It was the only place I would fit, the military, I toyed with the idea of early enlistment, joining the French Foreign Legion, and such. I enlisted to be a paratrooper, maybe a Special Forces, but always light Infantry, I knew they were fighters. So off I went and because the Army never loved me and I was too intelligent to be a good grunt (which is another urban myth) they made me Artillery for too long. Along the way I found other things I couldn't live without, so after finally finishing my tour in Nam I got married and started growing up and certainly much older. No, it wasn't her fault - Time marches on!

She was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and I thought joining a local club and practicing three nights a week and maybe competition on the weekend was a good thing. It was, I got so much better at personal fighting that the fear reason for fighting flew away. I wasn't afraid of bigger nor badder than I. Those were very good years and lots of great moments and memories - all this fighting wasn't for more that honor and respect, okay there are a bunch of dusty trophies in the garage.

I settled down, and really haven't fought nor thought about it for years. The combat distances and reaction times are gone - although the nerves do remember better than the brain about some techniques. Am I dangerous, yes, would I jump into a fight - probably watch first and then decide - it isn't very likely. My current fights are mostly with my fears, trying to get myself back to where I should be, but ain't. One of those early lessons as a boy, just because you think he can beat you doesn't mean you shouldn't stand up to him and make him prove it. You don't buy courage to risk it all, you build it one beaten fear at a time - but you have to fight to beat them.


Yoda of Math said...

Earl, you belted me hard on the head when I was in junior high and you had just come back on leave in the army. I never knew until then that one's head could ring if hit hard enough. So much for only hitting one sister one time.

Earl said...

See, I am a terrible person, not only didn't I remember it I probably didn't tell you how sorry a fool I was to hit you. You certainly couldn't have said something to make me angry, so it was all on me. I am sorry, won't darken your life anymore. Really, I am sorry.

Yoda of Math said...

Apology accepted. You're a lot nicer now than you were at that time. Marriage becomes you.