SHOW ME THE DRAGON
Scott J. DaDante
I read an article as a boy in one of the early issues of Black Belt Magazine in the early 80's that ironically surfaced into a real life experience for me as a teacher many years later. I will never forget this story for it brings a smile to mind knowing that I had helped out another student which in turn enriched my life forever.
Some time ago, when I was teaching for my teacher at A.A. Universal Karate Studios, a great and young student had come to me. He name was Mark and he was a hard working student with the upmost respect for everyone in general. The reason he came to me was because he was having trouble at school, it seemed that a couple of kids were picking on him to the point that they would get physical on him. He told me he was afraid to defend himself. He was scared to fight back in fear that these kids would really turn it into a fight and he would really get hurt. He also told me that he did not want to let me down because of our school's policies which did not allow fighting outside of the dojo.
I told him that I was proud of him to think this way, but I did not want him to become anyone's punching bag either. I told him that bullies feed off of another person's fears only to try to make them feel better about themselves by covering up their own insecurities and fears. I told him that these boys will not stop what they are doing until he makes a stand and that it will only get worse as long as they felt like they could get away with it. I told him that standing up for oneself does not necessarily mean fist fighting, but fighting for his safety by exposing these boys to teachers or the principle because I was pretty sure that he was not the only person these boys were bullying.
Our next lesson together Mark arrived with a black eye. He proceeded to tell me that he told these kids he was going to tell on them if they would not stop. Their answer to that was to punch him in the face. He was so mad and begged me to train him to fight these kids. I told him that he could not change these kids with his fists, but he was set to fight with them with or without my help. So I decided to train him to defend himself and for the next month he came in everyday and trained hard never backing down in any sparring matches. He got good fast, I would ask him time to time about these kids at school and he would tell me that they still did what they did and that he was waiting to get his revenge.
The next week he came in like he was walking on air. I said, "You're sure happy!"
He answered, "Yes sir! Today I made my stand and I won!"
"So you fought them?" I questioned.
"No sir!" he responded. "When the time came for the fight, I started to think of my training and realized I was no longer afraid of them, but I had a new fear. I feared of really hurting them out of my anger and that's not the martial arts. You"ve always said that I could not change another person with my fists and I came to see that what I was doing was using my training to handle these bullies by becoming a better bully. Mr. DaDante, I'm no bully!
"So when it was finally about to happen", Mark continued. "I told them that I was not responsible for what I could do to them. The one kid laughed at me, he rushed me and tried the push me so I side stepped and threw out a technique. I must have hit him ten times, but without ever really hurting him. Then I put him down to the ground. His other friends started laughing at him and I told him to image if I really hit him with power and put conviction behind my moves. He looked up at me with a look of shock on his face and then returned back up on his feet. He apologized for messing with me and asked me where I learned to move like that. The other kids asked me to show them more and I did, I even picked up a stick and showed them my staff kata and they flipped out on that saying that was the coolest. Thanks for helping me and thanks for all the good advice."
I looked at Mark and told him I was proud of him. I said, "Yesterday you came to me with revenge in your eyes, the eyes of a tiger, but when two tigers fight one is killed and the other is badly hurt. A dragon, on the other hand, is wise. He always has a way out. When he fights he wins without harm to himself or to others. The dragon is hard to reach, but today you have shown me the dragon!"
About the author: Scott DaDante is an author, musician, artist and advent martial artist for over thirty years now. He is based out of Perry, OH. And own and operates Northeast Kenpo Karate. He is the founder of the NKK system. For more information, contact www.northeastkenpo.com.