Peter at 16 with the Bow we bought him for $500 and which he used exactly three times  But, he liked to keep it up on his bedroom wall to impress people—mostly the girls he brought over.


When my stepson Peter was 11 and 12 he was very short and he was very pretty.  I managed to gently persuade  him to cut his hair so got rid of some of the pretty.  But the small, I couldn’t talk away.  Therefore, I knew that sooner or later once he hit middle school he would be picked on.  Most bullying happens because the bully is acting out; he is being abused at home or feels no real sense of self-worth and so works all this out on the kid he is picking on.  Bullying can also be caused by a beta trying to prove—either physically or psychologically—that he is an alpha which is why it is usually done to weaker kids.

In any case, because of his size and looks I thought Peter was ripe for this sort of thing.    So I spoke to one of his sisters’ boyfriend—who was a golden Gloves Champion—and asked him to teach both Peter and Peter’s older brother how to fight.

He worked with them a few times which—as he told me—was all the time needed to learn how to kick the shit out of a typical schoolyard bully.  He told me that Peter’s older brother was all right but he telegraphed his punches.  It was explained.  He thought before he threw a punch so his opponent could see it coming and block it before it did any damage.

Peter on the other didn’t think before he threw a punch.  With him, it was automatic—like a reflex—and you couldn’t see it coming until the punch was hitting its mark.  The boyfriend told me that not everyone had it to the degree Peter had it and, if he wanted, Peter could train to be a pro.   He was that good.  For  Peter’s older brother it was enough for him to be able to tell a jerk he was a jerk without worrying that he might be “beat up.”

Peter on the other had enjoyed learning to box so much so that eventually he got weights to build up his arm and leg strength as well as a both punching bag and speed bag to develop his punch as well as the speed and dexterity of that punch.

As predicted, as soon as soon Peter got into middle school a bully started in on him.  So they had a fight and he kicked the be-Jesust out of that kid.   Peter had also developed leg work which meant that if an opponent threw a punch where they thought he was, Peter was somewhere sending bows to his opponents head. When that fight was over Peter was told, “I mean you could have beat him up, but did you have to beat him up that bad.”

OK, second incident.  Peter is in class with someone who is really pissing him off, throwing stuff at him and playing Peter for a victim type.  Now you have to understand, Peter is someone who under normal circumstances is temperate and wouldn’t consciously hurt anyone—least of all physically. His fighting was merely defensive.  But this kid would not stop and tapped in to some of Peter’s anger.  So, Peter went for him instinctively, which means so fast that he was on top of the kid before anyone knew it was happening.  After a few punches Peter had him a head lock and kept jabbing his fist into the kids face with blood poured out his nose.

The teacher broke it up and both kids were suspended.  But when the teacher talked to Peter  he asked, “Where the hell did you learn to fight like that.  I never saw anything like it in my life.  You really know how to fight.”

OK, this brings us to upstate New York – where we moved to get the kids out of the city and also get ourselves out of the city – and a high school notorious for its crop of bullies.

Peter’s older brother had already gotten his height and was well over six feet, but at 15 Peter was still short.  So guess what, one of the school’s most notorious bullies decided that Peter was going to be his next victim and so, taunted him—egging him into a fight.  Peter, who knew what he could do to this guy, but didn’t want to, did his best to ignore him.  But as that proved impossible, Peter said, fine, “after school.”

The end of the school comes and the two combatants and several spectators are off school grounds ready for the fight.   Peter said “are you sure.”   Peter really didn’t want to do him harm and wanted to make sure there was no alternative. The other kid, thinking that it was Peter trying to back down said, “No way.”

The fight begins and here is a blow-by-blow.  The first thing that kid does is throw his book bag at Peter thinking that Peter would instinctively catch it and leave himself open to a sucker punch.  There is a problem with that strategy—a big problem.  Peter has an apparatus in the basement which swung back and forth.  He used it to train himself not to back away from a punch but, instead, move to the side and avoid it.  And that’s what he does with the book bag.  A second later our school bullyboy finds a fist in his face and when he swings at Peter, Peter isn’t there, he is in back of him boxing the kid’s head.  When our bully turns around, Peter isn’t there either. He was somewhere else throwing punches into the kids face.

Since Peter refused to talk about it—he is really ashamed when egged into these things—I got my info from a friend of his.  He said the thing was over in seven seconds and no one there had ever seen a fight like that. Peter was throwing punches and moving at lightning seed.  He managed to get eight or nine punches in before he sent the coup de grâce into his opponent’s jaw and knocked him out cold.   I mean unconscious.

After that Peter and his brother made the school bus home while seven kids carried our dethroned and unconscious school yard bully into the school.  An amazed school bus driver who had seen the whole thing  told Peter:

“Looking at you I’d never guess you had that in you.”

Peter was of course suspended for a few days but when he heard that Mr. Bully Boy was threatening to come here with his friends, Peter had a talk with him—essentially saying, the last thing that Mr. Bully Boy wanted to do was that.  The kid’s parents threatened to sue but as Peter was smaller and shorter than Mr. Bully Boy, they wisely didn’t pursue that course of action.  Short story shorter, the kid was so disgraced that his bully status was over, he dropped out of school a few months later.  All the kids he had bullied for years could say  was, good riddance.

After that no one but no one tried that on Peter again and he soon had the reputation as the “toughest” kid in the school.  In fact other boys asked him to teach them how to box and some days, after school, he was down in the basement teaching them just that.  It should be noted that, in all the fights Peter  had, no one ever managed to lay a punch on his body or more importantly to his head.

Post script #1.  When his younger sister made it to the high when Peter was a senior, one of the latest crop of school yard bullies demanded her lunch money.  When she told him who she was our bully’s demeanor changed in a minute.  As he scurried away:

“Please, don’t tell your brother.”


Peter in the Marines with “his” Blackhawk


Post Script #2.  Peter was in the Marines serving in Afghanistan part of a crew that maintained a Blackhawk.  He got into an argument with someone from another crew, and as it happens in the Marines, the rest of the seven man crew were ready to take on Peter to defend their mate.  But, it doesn’t happen as things are worked out.  But Peter was ready to give what he got and they knew it.  Physically he has no fear.  So, when he told me the story I asked him what would have happened if they came at you.

“They would have beat the shit out of me, but let me tell you, a few of them would have been hurting—real bad.”

It had been my responsibility as an adult to make sure that Peter, when he was a boy was never bullied.  I knew how to do it, I did it and it worked.  So, I did my job.  But Peter took it way beyond my wildest expectations and in the process, I discovered that he had more heart than anyone I’ve ever known.  And that is something of which I am extremely proud and always will be.

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