Building a Better Bloke

Fight or flight?

Posted in Diplomacy, Violence by Sam de Brito on October 7, 2009

By Grant Hyde

It’s an age-old question; do you stand and fight like a man or is discretion the better part of valour? What do you do if somebody wants to fight you? Do you wimp out and walk away or do you throw the fist punch?

As with most things in life it is never black and white. But hopefully I can shed a little light on the repercussions of your actions.

Some years back I was in Tonga building a hotel and playing rugby league. I met a girl there who had a very big, pissed off ex-boyfriend. One night he managed to outflank my entourage and king hit me whilst I was having a piss under a tree. One punch broke my nose and snapped my front tooth off in the gum. It was a good shot.

I have copped worse on the league paddock but that was a three-man gang-tackle with a high shot to the jaw.

As I hit the deck, one thing kept going through my mind, “Get up. Get up you cat.”

These were the words of compassion my old man used to bellow at me as a young rugby league player.

“Never let them know you’re hurt,” he would say, “Get up, play the ball then go down … or give him one back.”

So I got up, wiped the blood from my face and screamed my challenge.

The big bull could not believe it: a white man took his best punch then called him on.

By this time my Tongan mates were coming to the rescue. He fled into the night like the villain he was.

I was filthy on the world; dirty I had let my guard down. Vengeance was twisting and growing in me like a grub in a cocoon.

As chance would have it, a week later, he came wandering out of a church, absolving his sins no doubt, and almost walked into me.

What could I do? Here was my chance to square up: me with my face damaged and broken, him standing there, over six-feet tall, 115kg, shaven head and tattoos.

I thought to myself; “if I run now, I’ll never forgive myself my cowardice. If I back down, I’ll forever ask myself ‘how would I have gone against the big prick?'”

It would eat into very soul until I was old and bent.

I had a go. I couldn’t help myself. It’s been in me since those first head-butting lessons I received as a child from dad.

I baited him with some choice racial abuse. I wanted him mad, careless. He would underestimate me.

He came at me with a massive right hay-maker. I saw it coming and ducked. I moved in close and took him down with a back slam. His head whip-lashed into the pavement. Crack!

He was out cold before it bounced again.

I win. It was as quick as that.

It was a deadly maneuver my father had taught me and he would have been proud of its execution. God rest his soul.

I remember this fight like a triumphant warrior boasting of his murder and pillage. It was the best and most methodical victory I have enjoyed.

The scar on my broken nose is all but gone; the bridge on my teeth looks better than the originals.

I wear those scars like a trophy.

The mark of a coward never heals.

I got up.

Don’t be scared to have a go because you never know how close they are to losing.

I must add, however, that all situations must be assessed individually, with a calm and rational mind. You don’t take on numbers, knives or guns.

Run away, fast, but remember their names and faces.

Grant Hyde is the author of Lords of the Pacific. It stinks good.

29 Responses

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  1. lethalogica said, on October 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    How exactly is glorifying violence that is completely avoidable and walk away-able “building a better bloke”?

    Being a man isnt fracturing someone’s skull, jumping on a “chance to square up”

    Being a man isnt about winning: “I win. It was as quick as that.”

    I don’t believe that your weak footnote on rationally assessing the situation can mitigate the message of this story – that your pride is more important than being perceived as a coward, and that violence is ok if it comes as payback.

    What absolute rubbish.

  2. I'm a small guy said, on October 9, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Agree. You’re a douche.

  3. Sam de Brito said, on October 9, 2009 at 7:48 am

    See, you’re not always going to agree with the opinions aired here. I am not either. That’s what it’s about.

    • I'm a small guy said, on October 9, 2009 at 10:52 pm

      Yep. I’m kind of disappointed though, because I’d read about Grant Hyde the baggage handler in another one of your articles. I guess that I would not have expected a bloke with the nous to write a book to resort to “choice racial abuse” and glorify a head hitting concrete. Though, he may be able to craft an interesting piece of fiction about it.

  4. Trueblueoz said, on October 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Good on him for getting back at the stupid thug. He thought he could bash some guy probably smaller than him and he copped a hiding back. What is wrong with that? Don’t go around bashing people if you don’t want it back. There has been a couple of times I have been challenged and not taken it thinking like a rational human being, but to this day I regret it. Should have punched the crap out of them.

    • Grant Hyde said, on October 10, 2009 at 8:08 am

      Good on you trueblueoz,
      you understand that gut wrenching regret only someone with ‘half a set of balls’ can.
      Most chic’s can’t nor can those who have been bagged and down trodden all their life, they are just used to to bullies putting it over them, a type of ‘Stockhom syndrome’. i have never bullied anyone but i have beaten the shit out of a few of them and it seems to change them for the better. Maybe every bully needs a smack in the mouth to learn to pull their head in.
      So teach your kids to fight, to defend themselves and their loved ones. There is no greater gift to give than confidence in being able to protect themselves.
      Only the ones that say otherwise are scared.

  5. I'm a small guy said, on October 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Do it in this country and you’re in jail for assault. Murder if his head doesn’t come back up.

    • Grant Hyde said, on October 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm

      Better him than me, self defense, maybe man-slaughter. My pop used to say, it’s beter to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

  6. Timbo said, on October 12, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Interesting point raised here. I have never been in a fight in my life. Never thrown a punch in anger. Never had one thrown at me. Sure, I’ve had plenty of drunk fools come my way but it has never escelated. I just figure I’m always pretty good at diffusing situations and I have no interest in getting angry and pushing it to that level. Do I feel like I’m missing out? Not in the slightest. Sure, everyone wouldn’t mind being ‘tested’, but I’m quite happy with my track record.

    I think if it comes down to things like your close mates becoming victims (and I mean that in the sense that they are unworthy victims) or your girlfriend, then I think resorting to voilence in their defence is mostly fair enough.

    My best mate got king hit in the face while at the Gold Coast last week. I wasn’t there at the time, but he got hit completely out of the blue. Standing at the bar, he gets bumped from behind, turns around and bam. There was a bit of brawling but he was the one who ended up worse off, covered in blood, getting kicked out by the bouncers. Honestly, who are these people looking for any excuse for a biff? I have a lot of friends, and I don’t know any of them that would do that. Sure, they would be there to stick up for you if it came to it, but they aren’t provoking anything.

    The worst part about it is, it’s those douchebags that usually bag the women. Most of my female friends date them, sadly.

    And Grant, while I truly admire your courage with this, it’s comments such as your last one that sound a bit douche like!

  7. boof said, on October 12, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Nothing more cowardly than a king hit, especially when someone is taking a leak. Should have kicked him in the goolies while he was out.

  8. Grant Hyde said, on October 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Thanks Boof,

    I’m glad someone understands, i got piss and blood all over my good floral Tongan shirt i received off the Country’s Prime Minister. I had to avenge that.

  9. Richard Smith said, on October 14, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    If the question is “how do I be a man”? then this is a pretty good place to start. It’s something I’ve wrestled with all my life. If I walk away from a fight, am I high-minded? or am I a coward? Growing up in England I’ve gotten into more ‘situations’ than I care to remember and I’ve seen things work out just about every way you can imagine – really good and really, really bad. A proper tough guy once told me that if you get hit in the face – if the guy hits you full on with a punch to the face – and you don’t fall down – you’ve won.

    So maybe Grant won the battle against the big, pissed-off ex-boyfriend by getting back up from the king-hit. Maybe it was his own battle against the voice in his head asking “am I a coward”? that he chose to fight by going back to give the guy a walloping in return. On this occasion things worked out O.K – he neither killed the guy, nor got killed himself, both of which are bad outcomes. But you never know your luck.

    You might say “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” but, seriously, how sick are you going to feel sat on Tongan Death Row after “his head doesn’t come back up”, knowing that you could have just flown away? The Welsh poet G

    • Richard Smith said, on October 14, 2009 at 10:57 pm

      please delete this one – my browser had an abortion

  10. Richard Smith said, on October 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    If the question is “how do I be a man”? then this is a good discussion to start with. It’s something I’ve wrestled with all my life – if I walk away from a fight, am I being high-minded? or am I a coward? Growing up ‘common’ in England I’ve seen and been in more ‘situations’ than I’d like to remember. I’ve seen things turn out really well – where the little guy stands up to the bully and wins – and really, really poorly – where the streets run with blood and all the girls go home crying.

    A proper tough guy once told me that if you get hit in the face – if the guy punches you straight in the face – and you’re still standing, you’ve won. So maybe Grant had won the fight against the big, pissed-off ex-boyfriend just by getting back up. Maybe it was his own battle agaisnt the voice in his head asking “am I a coward”? that he was fighting by going back to wallop the guy. On this occasion things didn’t turn out too badly, as it happens – he didn’t kill the guy and he didn’t get killed himself. Things don’t always work out so well.

    You might well say “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” but, seriously, how sick are you going to feel sat on Tongan Death Row after “his head doesn’t come back up” knowing you could have just flown away? The Welsh poet and priest George Herbert once said “living well is the best revenge”; by which I think he meant that what you should have done, having won the admiration of the crowd by surviving the bully’s best shot, instead of dropping the fat dude on his back, was pack your things and sail away on a luxury yacht with his ex-girlfriend and three of her mates.

    That’s what a real man would do. Maybe if you were looking for a motto to crystalise this idea, to make it memorable in the heat of the moment, you might choose to ask yourself WWJ(B)D? That is – “What Would James (Bond) Do”? And we all know that James knows better than most that he who laughs last, laughs longest. And he likes yachts. And chicks. Who doesn’t.

    Of course, when I think about it, there’s also a chance that before he sailed off into the sunset with the honeys, James would have killed the motherfucker in his sleep as a message to any other punk else that might be thinking about fucking with him. They don’t generally show him doing things like this in the films but I always imagine it’s part of the gig. Do Not Fuck With Me is, after all, an important and deeply ingrained part of the male psyche and I can’t imagine that crack British spies don’t, on occasion, have to deliver this message with great clarity. What can I say? Real Life Ethics is a thorny beast and role-models are hard to come by. It’s pretty much every man for himself out there.

  11. joncitizen said, on October 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    “What could I do?” You could have filed a complaint with the police and had him done for GBH and put in jail. But apparently, in your moral universe, one created by your father by the sounds of it, and amplified by the friends whose respect you’ve chosen to value, that would have involved a humilation.

    I don’t see any redemption in this story. I see one guy feeling angered by a perceived injustice done to him by another guy and resorting to the worst kind of human behaviour in response. Then I see the other guy reacting in the same way. You played on the same moral ground as him.

    There is physical courage, and there is moral courage. You seem to have lots of the former.

  12. Grant Hyde said, on October 15, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    ‘You could have filed a complaint with the police and had him done for GBH and put in jail’ you say, in Nuka’lofa police station? That’s funny, you haven’t been to Tonga have you – it’s the 3rd world – it’s ‘fight or flight’ there mate. I don’t care if you are all complete cowards, i respect your choice (it worked for Ghandi) but I can almost guarantee you that one day you will have to fight for your wife/girlfriends honour, your childs safety, a car space, your place at the bar or your own survival. Silky words and moral courage won’t cut it all the time Champ, you can squeal like a bitch for the police or you can go ‘Cro-Magnon’ and stick up for what you treasure. The choice is yours but if you walk away with your tail between your legs you will remember and regret for a long time but by the sound of things you may already be carrying enough scar tissue from your school days.

    • I'm a small guy said, on October 17, 2009 at 4:37 am

      Your story isn’t a tale of self defense. Your attack came after the threat had been mitigated. It had intent. That’s completely different to “fighting for your child’s safety”.

      If you’d gotten one back at him after he hit you first, fair game, I say. But a week had passed, and you still hadn’t cooled down? Well, you’re just as bad as the jealous ex who also lacks control of his emotions.

      Like a man who’s just been king hit by a large Tongan, your argument can’t hold itself up.

    • Mike said, on November 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      Well since you have taken the name of Gandhi, I got to mention it worked for him cause he FORGAVE…

      if he didn’t, it would have eaten him up from the inside.. regret, vengeance and all that you talk about as reasons for choosing to fight…

      so unless you have the capability to truly FORGIVE from the depth of your hearts, its better to fight…

      but if you fight, you will never learn to forgive… 🙂

      maybe in your next life you will be born as a weaker person and then you will have the opportunity to learn to forgive…

      untill then keep fighting…

      • Mike said, on November 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm

        An a different Mike to the one below.. an Indian Mike 🙂

  13. Mike said, on October 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

    I’m with you Grant (except maybe the racial bit). I don’t back down from a fight unless it’s obvious your going to get killed. I grew up in ‘The Druitt’ and Penrith so had to defend myself regularly. Used my smart mouth more often though. More effective and satisfying.

    A couple of years ago defended myself in a car park late at night against three young gentleman of a certain ethnic persausion, one armed with a baseball bat. I won the fight by knocking the guy with the mouth out and using him as a shield then screaming like a girl till help arrived ! Had a bruise on my thigh you wouldn’t believe! My point? If I had tried to talk my way out I would have copped far worse. My experience, balls and smarts saved me. You have to man up when the situation demands it.

  14. Grant Hyde said, on October 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Good stuff Mike,

    If you hadn’t had a go they may have killed you with that baseball bat. I bet it was a good cork in the thigh though? The racial bit wasn’t too harsh but it worked.

  15. Matty said, on October 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    It’s a tough one. There’s something primal about getting revved up enough to throw a punch at somebody, and there’s something a bit romantic about walking up the hill to the moral high ground.

    The line in the sand became pretty clear when I watched one of my mates get the shit kicked out of him with his hands in his pockets one day. Some dickheads just want a punching bag, and if you can’t avoid them walking away isn’t much of a deterrent to them putting it over some other poor bastard when you’re gone.

    I know this comment is sitting on the fence, but there’s no hard and fast rule when somebody smacks you in the mouth or is asking for one. For that matter, what if he’s smacking one of your mates in the mouth? I daresay walking away and letting a mate cop it rubs off a bit of that chivalry polish…

  16. thomasthethinkengine said, on October 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I like JonCitizen’s point about moral courage. If someone is a dick, you only need to get them back if you don’t believe their dickishness is punishment enough.

    Put it this way. If a small boy had whacked you while you were pissing, would you have decked him a week later? Nup. It’s not necessary. You whacked the big guy because you need to feel like king dick, and because you were angry.

    If you are ruled by your negative emotions, and if you need to bash people to feel like king dick, you are a moral vacuum, and an unpleasant human. Maybe your dad taught you the wrong lessons.

    If you don’t like what I’m saying, Grant, and you feel the anger welling up, then what you are feeling is evidence that what I say is right.

    I’d like to think I’d have had the moral courage to let it ride.

  17. Jack Sprat said, on October 30, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Grant, your ambivalence towards your Dad is obvious in ‘To Deal or Not To Deal’, why the fuck are you quoting him like Tyler Durden’s inner monologue and living your life by his rules, when it’s obvious that you think that he was 7/10ths of a cock?

  18. Grant Hyde said, on October 30, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Sorry Jack Strat but its all fuckin’ fiction (not real- sort of).

  19. Matt said, on December 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I was once told never to argue with an idiot, as they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. I believe this to ring true for this situation, I am not going to argue that you were wrong, but I will say that you are wrong.

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