Fighting never solves anything. But as a boy, my father made me take judo and jujitsu lessons so I could protect myself against a large number of bullies who preyed on stragglers in my Lower East Side, New York neighborhood. You see, most kids back then traveled in small self-defense packs to ward off predators from other schools. My public elementary school was not known for its martial prowess, and, in any case, I usually refused to walk with my designated support group. I was the quintessential straggler, often ambushed, who’d end up in fights at least twice weekly. So judo class was the answer—but fighting fire with fire didn’t exactly work.
So, I had to hire a bodyguard—one of the JDs (juvenile deliquents) in the “left-back” class—for the princely sum of ten cents a week (holidays included). Mickey R would meet me after school and walk a few paces behind. The bullies never messed with Mickey R. So I was safe . . . for a while.
We parted company after five months, when I refused to pay his proposed ten-cent increase. We fought over it in front of the school with a ring of kids cheering on the mayhem. I basically lost the fight, but since I was “brave” enough to fight Mickey R in the first place, I earned begrudging respect from him. Word got out and I never had to fight again (I think). Yet had I not had the judo training, I’d never have been so foolhardy as to rebel.
The below book, Maestro di Jiu Jitsu by Giovanni Reuter (the Mussolini look-alike in the photos), brought back the memory of those harrowing days. This book also implies that if you’re gonna fight, it’s best to do it in a suit.