Yellow Tigers Crouched in Jungles

There are three types of pressure points in the human body. The first may cause fatal injuries and must only be used in cases of extreme danger. The second will cause lacerations, fractures or mutilations, but are not deadly. The third type cause a shock to the nervous system, resulting in immediate pain.

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As soon as I raised my fist to strike him, I felt an unshakable feeling of regret bathe the back of my neck. The fear and penitence in his eyes inspired in me forgiveness and an urge to dissolve from my hand the bludgeoning instrument my fingers had morphed into. My left hand was grasping his shirt collar, feeling the warmth of his panicked breath, beating moist on it. Beating hard like the heart lodged in my throat. His pleas of “don’t hit me” and “I’m sorry” were slowly chipping away at my rage, but the savage pleas of the crowd forming around us were louder and more coercive. My right fist was patiently waiting for me to make up my mind as to whether I was going through with the whole thing. I blinked and pried my fist from my conscience’s tight grip. It tore through the space between the white of my knuckles and the tears welling up in the white of his beautiful forest green eyes.

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When you’re in a fight, you can’t allow your anger to influence how hard you should clench your fists. If you’re also clenching your jaw, then you’re doing it too hard. Your punching hand, the only one that you entrust to spoon food into your mouth and wipe your ass with, should feel loose. Weightless. A feather falling slowly as if defying time and gravity. Once this state of relaxation is achieved, you must deliver a quick, deliberate stroke meant to immobilize your opponent. The last place you want to strike somebody is on the head as this will cause more damage to you than to your opponent. You want to hit your opponent behind the ear, jaw or chin. Those are the sweet spots. When you punch in the mouth, you just want to knock their fucking teeth in. If your opponent is accustomed to fighting or full of adrenaline, that shock may not be enough to knock him out or subdue him and the amount of effort required to win will be multiplied exponentially.

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My hand felt numb as it descended. It felt like an alien tentacle outgrowth with a mind of its own. I couldn’t stop it. The situation was beyond me. When you raise your fist like that in a playground full of hormonally charged, emotionally unavailable middle schoolers, you’re better off punching yourself in the face than simply lowering your fist like a civilized person. You would be the laughing stock of the entire school. Generations of students would remember you as the coward who let another kid push him down during a basketball game in the playground. I could imagine their jeers and their pointing to this very basketball court we were standing on. A few seconds before my fist pummeled his face, he closed his eyes and turned his head to the right as his last recourse. The impact of his ear’s cartilage colliding against my knuckles’ tendons shot painful shock waves up and down my arm. I didn’t derive from it the orgasmic catharsis that my guts were craving for.

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Fighting is like fucking in that not everybody is good at it, and if you are, you want to do it all the time. Its complexity is determined by the person with whom you are engaging in the activity and someone always gets hurt in the end. You need to seduce your opponent into this carnal act, this dance of death. Although drawing blood from your opponent feels good and is a dependable indicator of the pain inflicted, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t scar or bruise them. The blood vessels that rupture under the skin serve as a reminder, to you both, of your victory. It’s a branding. A trophy.

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I released his shirt collar to nurse my throbbing hand and he scurried away, rubbing his swollen neon-red ear. As I thrashed my hand to shake off the pain, the kids in the playground patted me on the back in a congratulatory fashion. Now my whole body felt numb. I could see the boy I had hurt running away to sob in solitude. I wanted to go after him to apologize, but what I had done to him had turned us into enemies. Besides, had I done that, the rest of the crowd would’ve followed me thirsting for more blood.

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There is no such thing as a perfect punch as in most instances there is never enough time to prepare for it. Fighting is improvised. You should fight because you need to, not because you want to. Moreover, you must induce a level of fear into the mind of your opponent through the demeanor in your eyes and position of your body. You must conceal your own fear, you most powerful weapon, even more so than your clenched fists. For if there is no fear of succumbing to injury, then it is a sign that your opponent’s combative prowess is inferior to yours. If this is so, disengage immediately. It is better to appear weak than to prey on the weak.

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The day after the fight, I bumped into my opponent in the hallway. He didn’t make eye contact but his avoidance of it told me that he too felt remorse about what had taken place in the playground. The jittery feeling that had coursed through me the day before as I brushed the embedded asphalt off my scraped knees, the one that had spurt me on to fight was now spurting me to make peace with him. I never wanted to punch him, but my actions spoke louder than my intentions. I flanked to the left before he could pass me and stood in front of him. With eyes bulged, he looked up sheepishly. I could see a reflection in the darkness of his dilated pupils and in it was reflected the darkness in me. It didn’t matter what I said to him. The damage had been done. I simply stepped aside and he ran away. I had won the fight but lost something I could never win back.

Photo Credit

Leach, L. (1963). Husband tells of stabbing [Photograph]. Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles.

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