Friday, March 30, 2012

Rough and Tumble

Today was my day off, so this afternoon I was there behind Handsome's school to pick him up when he got out of class. There were children running this way and that, heading for their parents or simply playing with one another, and there I was in the middle of all that trying to find my boy. I finally spotted him as the crowd was thinning out, standing and talking to one of his classmates. As I walked over to get his attention, I heard a voice behind me cry out Handsome's name. Handsome turned and looked past me, and I turned about to find the source of the cry. 

Standing on the edge of the parking lot was a boy. A big boy. Bigger than Handsome, and he's pretty big. I found out later that this boy is a 7th grader who used to go to school with Handsome, who is in the 4th grade. This boy was just here with his father to pick up his younger brother, but apparently he remembered Handsome from a couple of years ago and he wanted to play. He was calling him over to the parking lot, hands spread, fingers beckoning in a "c'mon, lets go" gesture.

Handsome walked by me and dropped his book bag with me.

"I'll be right back, Dad," he said as he walked by. As Handsome approached the boy dropped into a kind of fighting crouch, hands up and ready. Handsome looked at how close to the cars they were.

"Come out here," he gestured toward the grassy field. "We need more room."

What I found out later, but had not a clue about at the time, was that way back when Handsome was in the 2nd grade and this boy was in the 5th grade, they used to go at it rough-and-tumble a lot. I also found out that, because of their disparity in age, Handsome lost in his shoving-pushing-wrestling matches with this boy with stunning regularity. This may have had something to do with the other boy's eagerness to go a round or two with my son.

They squared off. The older boy was slapping at Handsome, trying to get him to react and make an opening, but Handsome just covered up and took the blows to his arm. They circled a bit, then the other boy's father called out that they had to go. The boy turned to tell his father he'd be there in a minute, and while he was turned away Handsome gave him a stinging slap to the arm, much like the blows he had already received. The older boy got a little mad at this, and charged Handsome. They clinched, and the boy tried to use his greater size to bowl Handsome over.

Now, I've already mentioned a few things that I didn't know at the time, but there was something the boy didn't know, that I did. Something that was about to become pretty important.

Handsome recently trained as a wrestler for a season.

When they clinched, Handsome swept the boy's leg out, sending them both tumbling to the ground. Handsome was ready for it, however, and got to his knees in a flash. He got a grip on the older boy and, very systematically, as he had been taught, maneuvered around him, locking up his arms and rolling him to his back. The 7th grader wound up lying on his back with one arm completely useless and the other only able to flail ineffectually at Handsome's back, unable to get up, move Handsome, or do anything at all useful.

They stayed that way until the other boy's father came to get him, at which time Handsome simply released him and rolled to his feet. The boy's father helped him up (actually finding this situation pretty funny himself) and told him it was time to go. The boy, frustrated and, I have to think, a bit embarrassed about the ease with which he had just been handled by a kid three years younger, spun away from his dad, dashed around him, and went at Handsome like a runaway train.

Handsome didn't flinch or run away. He ducked slightly and stepped into the charge. He caught the boy under one arm and turned away from him in what some martial arts call a 'wraparound hip throw', while others call it a 'front sweep take-down'. Whatever you want to call it, Handsome easily put the bigger kid face down on the ground and wound up sitting on his back, holding the boy in a double hammer lock. 

For those of you who don't know what a hammer lock is, put your hands behind you as if you're being handcuffed. Now slide your hands up your spine towards the back of your neck. At some point they stop (unless you are unusually flexible), and you've reached as high as you can go - any higher and it will hurt your shoulders. The higher you go beyond that point, the more it hurts, until, at some point (again, unless you are unusually flexible), one or both of your shoulders dislocate. This is a very controlling arm lock when applied by someone who knows what they are doing, as there is plenty of opportunity to provide immobility or pain without actual damage.

And here was Handsome, calmly sitting on the older boy's back keeping him completely helpless with this hold. Not hurting him, simply holding him until his father could come collect him again.

Now, I was watching this whole thing and listening to the impressed murmurings of the other dads who were there to collect their kids. Their mutterings were summed up by one of Handsome's smaller classmates who spoke to Handsome in a tone filled with wonder.

"Wow. You just whipped a 7th grader!"

My favorite thing about the whole scene was Handsome's attitude and control. He never lost his temper, even when the other boy switched from slapping hands to closed fists. He used only the necessary force to control the situation, and made the kid completely helpless twice without ever actually hurting him. He did exactly what his wrestling coaches trained  him to do, and it was as effective as could be.

But besides that, there was this little voice in my head that kept saying "Wow. He just whipped a 7th grader!"

Talk to you later!

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