Have you ever been in a fist fight with someone?
I’m often surprised how many of my peers actually haven’t been in a fist fight. It would be mentally debilitating to me to go through life without knowing if you could defend yourself if it came down to it.
So to answer the question. Yes. I have. Now the number of times and the viciousness of those occasions isn’t on the level of some hot headed reprobate. In fact most of the fights I’ve been in were in some what “safe” conditions. They weren’t situations in which I was fighting for my life, property, or for the honor of my girlfriend at the time. My fights were during hockey, during school, or in the living room with my older brother.
You learn a lot about yourself when you fight. You learn your limits. You learn if you can handle your rage. If you can keep emotions in check. You learn to let go of the fight once it’s over. It’s important I think.
Most of the fights I’ve been I could say that I was the victor. However I was in one “fight” that I definitely lost before I realized it was a fight at all. So for the sake of amusement I will share that story.
When I was 17 I tried out for a Junior A team in my city. To that point I had never played at a Junior A or B level, but I wanted to test myself. Tryouts spanned about 3 weeks and I had made it to the point of exhibition games, much to my surprise. As much as I’d like to revise history and pretend I wasn’t intimidated that would be an utter fabrication. The boys I were playing with and against were not boys at all but men. The average height was about 6′ 2″ , very solid, and very skilled. One of the guys on my team actually ended up playing for the Vancouver Canucks for a short while. Me and a few other guys, however, were late bloomers and still stood at 5′ 9″ or less but we were the minority.
What you have to understand about a tryout is that everyone is going out to attempt to impress the coaches. That means skating as fast as possible, shooting as hard as possible, and hitting anything that moves with impunity. I had tried out for a defensive position as I didn’t feel I had the necessary skill or confidence to play as a forward. If you could try to imagine a smaller defense men attempting to hit and push forwards that had at 10″ or more on me you get the picture.
We were playing an exhibition game against a rival team and tensions were definitely high. Everyone on the ice was out there to prove something and the game got rough very quickly. Somewhere about the second period a forward on the opposing team had taken an outside shot and then crashed the net to attempt to dislodge the puck from beneath the my goalie’s glove. This is a no-no in hockey and requires that the defense punish the forward for attacking our goalie. Now the forward that had crashed the net was on his knees and I had turned to him just as he slammed his stick into my goalie. Instinct took over and I put my glove on his face and pushed him up and over yelling something like “Get the fuck out of here.”
Then he stood up.
He was significantly taller than me. It felt like I was straining my neck to maintain eye contact. He looked right at me with a savagery that turned my stomach, but I stood defiant stick held in both hands, horizontal, keeping him from my goalie. He then said, “You wanna fucking go?” which to me sounded ridiculous. I hadn’t been in a hockey fight to that point, and considering that this was a tryout I had no plans on being in one today. My response….I laughed and said with a chuckle, “No.”
He didn’t listen.
Before I knew it he had cracked me on the side of my head and I was toppling flat onto my back wondering why I was in free fall.
The next thing I saw was my defensive partner, who was at least equal to the forward’s size, launching himself over my downed body to tackle my attacker feeding 10-15 quick short punches into his face. A few seconds later the fight was broken up by the stunned refs and both players were ejected from the game.
It was my first hockey fight, and it lasted only one punch. I didn’t even get my gloves off and likely was still smiling as I toppled to the ground.
Still…got a pat on the back from my coach and thanks from the goalie.
…the next week we played the same team and I ended up getting my ankle broken….but that’s another story for another time.