Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Dummy Named Fred

A friend of mine told me that when he was over here a few years ago, a small military element was clearing an Iraqi house. The greenhorn lieutenant entered the building and, with lowered vigilance, accepted the initiation to stay downstairs and drink Arab tea. Meanwhile the soldiers searched the house, room to room. When a two-man team entered a room upstairs, an insurgent with an AK-47 shot a Private First Class (PFC) square in the chest. Fortunately, his body armor protected him. The enemy combatant, on the other hand, was stopped with several burning hot pieces of lead traveling 3,500 feet per second.

Livid and raging on adrenaline and the near-death experience, the PFC walked downstairs and, finding the lieutenant surprised yet calm and tranquil with a cup and saucer in his hand, the soldier punched the lieutenant right in the face.

I’m not sure what it is about war that drives men to do such things, but to be honest, I’ve had a few daydreams about boxing rings and bosses myself. Living and working with little guys with big egos and power-trips is torturous.

Tom and Trish Bradach from OK Fine Productions, the owners of, sent me a training dummy in last year. The dummy is about six foot and feels about as heavy as I do. It’s a big padded mannequin used for hand-to-hand combat training. As a civilian I’ve taught law enforcement, military and security personnel courses on suicide bomber recognition and interdiction. For a portion of training the Training Dummy works great.

Since the dummy came in the mail, the guys from DHL had a hey-day with it. The arms and legs were individually wrapped in a blue tarp to protect it. Suffice it to say, the dummy looked like a person all wrapped up tight and shipped. When DHL arrived at my door, the delivery man told my wife they had referred to the dummy as their boss all day, calling him by name. They really got a kick out of it.

Fascinated with what had come in the mail while I was off working, my wife propped it up against the wall, took a digital picture of it and sent it to her family: “Hey, look what came in the mail?” One of her sisters, with a delightful sense of humor, grimly suggested that if my wife ever came up missing the investigators should check the mail first.

It didn’t take long for the name Fred to stick. I took Fred to some courses I taught; I took him to the Boy Scouts I supervised at the time. They punched and pulled and threw the dummy with all the energy their young bodies had.

Years ago while studying martial arts and sparring with my friend Damon Willis (author of “How to Get Your Black Belt in Phone Sales”), I learned that no Sensei (i.e. Dr. James Graves) and no true martial arts enthusiast was a brut or a bully. If anything those who study such things are calm, laid back and avoid contention at all costs.

So, while Fred might be good to pounce on every once in a while, no Dummy, not even Fred, is worth hitting in an adult temper tantrum. As a cop I saw—and subsequently arrested—too many people who punched in a rage of anger. Not only is it wise to control the physical body, but also the mouth. Self control is best. That is, if there’s not a boxing gym around and a boss willing to step into the ring.

(Disclaimer: This was written with the full knowledge and understanding that this is public information and could be viewed by anyone. If so, I’m challenging you-know-who or anyone else to a couple rounds in the ring. I have some serious pent up aggression. That’s what war does.)

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