“I can think of one time, a really long time ago, that I will NEVER forget. I personally picked a fight with someone I shouldn’t have. My dad was an Air Force officer and we lived on an airbase. I was a 16-year-old high school kid, and at 6’3 and 180 lbs was pretty well convinced I didn’t have to take a lot off of anyone.
One afternoon after a heavy rain, I was walking on the sidewalk with a couple of friends and a government car passed us at pretty high speed and hit a huge puddle splashing a lot of muddy water on us. We were soaked, muddy, and angry! I started yelling, holding up a middle finger, and generally acting like a serious punk. The car slowed, made a u-turn and came back toward us, made another u-turn and pulled up beside us rolling down the window. The driver leaned over and apologized saying he was in a hurry and would be glad to pay for cleaning our clothes, but he had to go right then.
An otherwise calm, reasonable, mature person would have said thanks for coming back and apologizing, but we’re okay.
But… I said, ‘How about I just kick your butt?’
He said, ‘I understand you’re angry. I do have to go now, but if you want to meet me at the base gym Friday evening around 5:30, we can go at it, if still you want to.’
I said, ‘Yeah, you’re on, I’ll be there!’
Word about the big butt-kicking spread around the base like lightning. Friday evening the gym was almost full, kids from school, airmen, moms, dads, siblings, civilian workers, dogs and cats… (you get the picture).
As we waited, I was getting really worried because this didn’t seem like a good idea – even when I was yelling at the guy the afternoon of the great soaking. But, I didn’t see the guy or his car and was starting to think, ‘Whew, that was close…’
Then, I looked outside just as his car pulled up, stopped, and he started getting out of it… and kept getting out of it… and kept getting out of it. He was one of the biggest humans that I’d ever seen, but I was already in and there was no getting out of it. He walked up and said Hi, that it was good to see me again, but he was still in uniform and needed to go change, would I wait just a minute? All I could say was sure, I’d wait…
My friends were panicking, starting to leave and telling me I should go now also, now, just go now. The guy came out of the changing room wearing a white judo gi with a black belt. He walked up, calmly, with no hostility and asked if I was ready. I said yeah, I was and asked him if he needed to warm up or anything. He just grinned and said No, he was OK. I started bouncing around trying to shake out my tension, hoping at least not to get immediately pounded into an unrecognizable paste, when he looked around and loudly said, ‘You know, we could just duke it out. I can see you’re ready, but I think there might be a better way of handling this.’
I was stunned, just looked at him, and finally asked what he had in mind. He said his weekly judo class was about to start and that I and my friends were welcome to attend. And if we liked it, we could join it regularly – and then he winked at me and said not to worry, there was usually plenty of opportunity in the sparring to do a little butt-kicking now and then.
The class sounded like a great idea for a lot of obvious reasons! As I glanced at all the disappointed people leaving, I saw my dad standing over by the wall, he just shook his head and mouthed ‘Dumb!’ to me. Turned out my new judo teacher was the Air Force judo champion – it also turned out that I was one of the very few people on the base who didn’t know that…”