What Punching My Dad in the Face Taught Me about Courage

Dad. My Hero and Mentor.

Dad. My Hero and Mentor.

On May 16, 2015, my Dad was inducted into his high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 1967, he won the State Championship in wrestling. In 1967, my Dad was the best. What did he get for his trouble? Well, seventeen years later, he got socked in the nose by yours truly.

See, in 1984, I was bullied incessantly. I wasn’t mocked or belittled over the internet…what with it not existing and all. I wasn’t teased verbally. Nope, I was full on physically bullied.

The 80’s were a different time. How was a family to work toward a solution without mediation, therapy, and some other ridiculous hand holding? Our solution was for Dad to teach me some wrestling moves. So, there we were in my backyard and Dad has me in a rear-wrist lock (I wouldn’t learn that term for another 14 years or so when I went to the police academy).

He walked me through heel and elbow strikes to disengage. We drilled over and over.

At some point, like a Hollywood movie, I stopped seeing my Dad and there before me stood the bully. My reaction?

I balled up my right hand into a fist and threw a punch right at his nose.

His head snapped back and his hands went to his face.

…and then Dad was standing there.

I burst into tears, of course, having just socked my Dad in the face. But his reaction was priceless. Muffled by his hands, he said, “That was perfect!”

A few weeks went by and eventually the time to try out my new moves came to my door. When my right arm went behind my back and the bully was looming over me, everything I learned fell out of my head.

No elbow strike.

No instep strike.

But, I did remember that punch.

When my arm was released and the bully started to laugh. I turned to face him. My right hand clenched into a fist and I hit that dude square in the nose. He never saw it coming.

He never bullied me again. And, as an amusing aside, we became the best of friends for the remainder of junior high.

That was over 30 years ago, but the lesson I learned the day I punched Dad in the face has stayed with me all these years.

Dad taught me self-confidence, strength, and there is no such thing as fear that can’t be overcome. That lesson has come in particularly handy in my role as a police officer.

There are plenty of times my job scares me; however, I know courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. I wish I could credit someone with that quote, but the internet attributes it to multiple folks.

Doesn’t change the veracity, though.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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5 thoughts on “What Punching My Dad in the Face Taught Me about Courage

  1. I used to dunk on the old man in one-on-one games in the driveway. I’d showboat and embarrass him. One day, after I had taunted him and my mother saw it, he asked for another round. The first time I took him off the dribble and leapt to rock the rim, he stuck his hip into my legs and sent me flying into the landscaping. By the time I recovered my wits, he was inside sipping a beer. The lesson, as he pointed out over celebratory bottle #3, was that humiliating someone who was beaten would make them take it personally. Years later, after swearing an oath and earning my badge, I still remembered that lesson. I make it a point to not taunt or mock those going to the whoscow(sp?). I mean, unless they run their jib. Then I professionally prod them with words.