And why not? Only last month, a white Labour member of Parliament, one Eric Joyce, got drunk and went berserk in a House of Commons bar. He head-butted, punched, and attacked several people, including fellow MPs. If that’s good enough for an elected Member of Parliament, why not for a couple of third-rate beak-busters born on the wrong side of the tracks? The reason martial artists bow to each other is simple. Despite the violence on the mat, respect for one’s opponent is imperative. I have never disrespected an opponent in close to fifty years of practicing karate and judo and have never been disrespected in return.
Mind you, I’ve had some bad fights outside the dojo, two of which took place where people are sent to pay their dues to society—I won the first and tied the second after we both collapsed with fatigue—but both times we shook hands afterward. I’ve walked away from more fights than I can remember. In one egregious case the Greek who insulted me was too weak and small to hit. He had a grievance with me because of a woman, natch. Another time long ago Andrew Parker Bowles, ex-husband of Camilla, said something to me in a nightclub about me being in the Fourth Division. I answered in football parlance about perhaps being in the Third. I am glad I didn’t take it any further. I also regret not saying that unlike him, I don’t rent my wife out to the Prince of Wales.
Fighting has consequences. If one must fight, the best way to go about it is to hit first and keep hitting until the enemy lies prostrate. But in all my years I have only hit first once. It was in a Paris nightclub, over a girl naturally. I became a friend of the victim and apologized to him for close to fifty years until his death, and I still feel ashamed.
Getting hit is not like in the movies. A proper punch breaks the jaw, knocks out teeth, and causes concussion. A judo slam on the pavement can cause death if the head makes first contact. Cowardly thugs fight. Walking away is the best policy, and brave men do it all the time.
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