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When I was 6 years old I had a wrestling match with the neighbour's 6 year old kid. Our parents stood around making bets on who would win. I did, but it didn't seem that important. I can't even remember what the 'fight' was about.

When I was 11 I got into an argument with a friend, around the same age or slightly younger, and he wanted to fight. He punched me in the side of the face, and I didn't like it. "Hey, I think I hear a teacher coming," I said, showing my cowardly side.

When I was 15 I was chased down by a 16 or 17 year old, because I had touched his bag with my foot as I walked past, when he specifically told me not to touch it. He caught up with me and punched me in the side of the face and then walked away. Those are the only times in my life I've ever been punched, or in a 'fight', although I couldn't really call them fights at all.

I used to do martial arts, wanting to prepare myself for the inevitable day when I'd have to defend myself. I was relatively good, but for one reason or another I didn't progress very far in them. I did Rhee Tae Kwon Do (TKD) when I was around 19-20, but stopped after less than a year because the techniques, I felt, were an absolute waste of time. I wanted to learn effective self defence, but TKD focused more on its being a 'get fit' sport, with most of the kicks being high kicks, roundhouse kicks, spinning kicks, spinning roundhouse kicks, etc. etc. They looked great and spectacular, but in a street fight, were completely useless and unrealistic. And don't get me started on the hand and arm techniques. Everything was 'choreographed', which was just useless.

A few years later I discovered Ninjitsu, a Japanese martial art that everyone knows all about. Ninjas practice Ninjitsu. So for a time I used to be a Ninja. That was definitely fun. And the techniques were effective 'street fighting', with very few kicks involved. There were a lot of pressure point strikes, at places like under the nose, the throat, under the armpits, the solar plexus, and the groin. If we were forced to be in a fight then we were trained to end the fight as soon as possible, causing the greatest amount of pain to our opponent. This was far more effective as a form of self defence, and one which I loved immensely. Instead of being choreographed, training consisted of learning various techniques and then focusing more on how those techniques could be used in real fight situations.

Unfortunately, I was forced to stop, also after just less than a year, when my back started playing up on me and prevented me from continuing. After my back healed, or at least wasn't causing any great pain any more, I tried to get back into it, but the agony in my back after training was far too much for me to enjoy or even tolerate, and so I sadly said goodbye to my martial arts life.

In my early to mid-20's I spent many a night every week at one nightclub or another, for a few years, sitting back and watching the drunks and the idiots do their thing. The only reason I went was because I was hoping to get somewhere with this particular female workmate I used to go out nightclubbing with, but I was sorely disappointed for almost 2 years. But that's a story for another time. In all the time of nightclubbing I was never involved in a fight, or any argument potentially leading to a fight.

In my late 20's I was working on the street, selling slices of pizza (Thursday through to Saturday nights) to drunks and nightclubbers, who were often one and the same. There were quite a few times when idiot drunks tried to be smart and pushy and abusive and even suggestive of criminal activities. Eg. "Hey, look at all the money he's carrying… we should roll him!"

What does one say to something like that? The potential for 'being rolled' is high, is in your face. And there's four of them and one of me. What do you say? I said:

"Do that and I'll have to hurt you."

It was casual, with a casual glance up at the guy who said that, and then casually back to where I was getting their change. They said nothing, took their change and moved on. I've never forgotten the power of bluffing, of confidence and, even if I didn't have the strength or skill, giving the impression that I DID have the strength and skill.

One guy I remember often wandered past with that drunken, dazed, hungry look, but never actually bought anything. One day he did. He ordered 2 slices of pizza, and 2 hot dogs with the lot. Thinking nothing of it, I made up his order and placed them on top of the bain marie stand (which rested on a wheeled trolley thing that I stood behind). I told him how much it was, and he said he didn't have any money. I looked at him incredulously, a deep frown forming.

"If you didn't have any money, why the fuck did you order it?" I asked him angrily.

He shrugged and looked at me. "What do we do now?" he asked.

"This is what we do now," I replied, gathering all the food off the top of the bain marie and threw it in the bin next to it. He looked shocked.

"Why did you do that?" he asked.

"No money, no food," was my reply, glaring at him. He walked away, stunned. He knew that once the food was outside of the bain marie and in the open air it couldn't be put back, according to health regulations. He thought I would give it to him anyway. The problem with doing that is that if you do it once, they'll expect it again. He never tried that again though.

I learnt some months after I finished that job that a lot of people considered me to be the 'toughest pizza seller in Canberra'. I had a 'street rep' and no one wanted to mess with me. That was pretty funny, and very cool. Considering I bluffed my way through it. If anyone wanted to have a go at me, I probably wouldn't have been able to stop them. But by bluffing and showing confidence and strength simply as a base attitude, I prevented anything getting out of hand.

I did that job for 2 years, without a single 'incident'. After I quit to take up web designing fulltime, my replacement, on his very first night, got into a huge fight.

He didn't have the 'proper' attitude. There's more to attitude than being a smartarse. A 'proper' attitude can go a long way towards preventing fights from even occurring.

I've been lucky throughout my life, but smart too. I aim for that to be the case forever.

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