Is there a baby boomer alive who hasn't tried teaching their kids to fight?
When they're 24?
Most of the time it happens when they're in their teens. You called it self-defense.
My son was a high school wrestler. I knew he was scrappy, but could he punch?
We hung the new heavy bag on a garage beam hook to find out.
His Mom and Grandy had gone a few rounds on the bag the night before. Both were impressive. Now it's his turn.
Before starting, D said he didn't want to be coached, which meant he didn't want my hectoring.
Perfect, I thought, it's demonstration time, and pulled on big, red, boxing gloves.
We started the same way I started Mom and Grandy. We moved left and touched the left glove, then right, to the bag. We stepped right and touched a right and a left.
"Let's not punch and hit. We don't need to. Just touch the bag until you feel something. The rest happens on its own."
Since he didn't want any coaching, I didn't actually say those words, but showed them with my slide step, tap-tap, slide back, tap-tap, saying these words out loud to myself, "slide left, left-right, slide right, right-left."
I puffed with the punches like the fighters in Million Dollar Baby, Rocky, and Raging Bull, but tapped the bag gently.
After a minute, I went inside to change into shorts. To no surprise, I heard the pop-pop of harder hitting when I came back out. He took the boxing bait.
The young man had a light sweat going.
"Let's do a few three minute rounds like the Olympics," I said.
We took turns whacking the bag, moving, and whacking some more. Elbows inside on short punches, out on hooks.
This was a father's dream, watching a fighter son stick and move with grace.
After enough grace we took a batter's stance to practice swinging knockout punches. Left foot lead, jab, jab with the left and take a home run swing with the right. First left side, then right. It was tiring.
Before my last turn punching I asked my kid, "Do you know how to fight for your life? What would you do?"
He asked what I meant.
"Fight, flurry, swarm an opponent with vicious intent."
He still didn't get it. This is a millennial child with one brother. No one trashed his stuff and threatened to hold him down and let a little brother beat him up if he said anything.
In other words, he grew up deprived of such hi-jinx.
With a steely calm I said, "Here's how you fight for your life."
I jabbed the heavy bag so hard it swung, crossed with enough power to make it change directions, brought up a knee, chopped a forearm, a hammer blow, then another knee as hard as I could. I've never had to fight for my life, but if I did, it couldn't be much harder than this.
In the middle of my destructive fury, the bag swung back and hit me in the middle of a one legged Karate Kid stance. Like a compounded trampoline bounce with another person, the bag caught me coiled to strike and launched me across the garage.
Bag attack? I caught my balance, imagining the bad guy had just thumped me.
"Are you okay?" my kid asked, walking toward me. Apparently the bag was ahead on his scorecard.
Before his first step I flew toward the bag with my right fist ready. It was a fifty-nine year old boomer's Superman punch, coming up. Not too super, but you never know.
The punch and I landed at the same time, ripping the bag down to the ground. Pulled down a parking guide, too.
It landed with a bounce in front of my son. This was the unexpected result of a fight to the death lesson? How could it get any better?
Throw your arms over your head and do an Ali shuffle, of course.
Everyone thinks they know how to bob and weave, how to hook and jab, and maybe they do in theory. But it's not there without practice.
Do this: Find a used heavy punching bag and buy a couple pair of 16oz Ever Last boxing gloves. Find the rhythm of your side steps and easy taps.
Let nature guide you from there. Just be careful if someone else pulls on the gloves with you.
It won't end well.
It's not supposed to.
Good luck, and tell us here at Dave's Gym Confessions about your progress.
Read this next: Training for the Sandwich Generation
David Gillaspie is an active researcher, skills he honed during twenty years with the Oregon Historical Society. His education wavered between English major/Fiction writer at the University of Oregon where he met Ken Kesey, to a BS in History from Portland State with news writing. Married, with two millennial sons, he connects sports and fitness to the realities of baby boomer life, with no mention ever of skydiving or base-jumping. David covers a wide variety of fascinating topics on his boomer-centric blog, Boomer PDX. Check it out -- you'll be glad you did.