Bullying the Bully

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Bullying the Bully

Tough Love, Beating the Bad Out of the Boy

By Antonio Graceffo

I beat the crap out of a bully today and feel badly about it. In my heart I knew it was probably the right thing to do. Jiao lien (coach) and my training partner, Kim even agreed. But it still felt terrible, bullying the bully.

Last week, I was training intensely for my fight, doing a timed exercise with Kim. A young Chinese guy came in, said he was a college student and wanted to train. He paid me the student’s daily rate for the gym and began kicking the bag and exercising very badly. He had two friends with him, and the whole scene just seemed oddly suspicious. Why was this guy here? Why did the friends come to watch? Why did he train so badly but not ask for help? And also, why had I never seen him before?

But I was busy training, so I just ignored him. I noticed he and his friends kept talking about me. In my arrogance, I just thought they recognized me from Martial Arts Odyssey or something. I heard the friend saying, “He’s pretty big.” Then later I heard him say, “Go ahead, ask him.” The guy who was training came up to me and asked me something in Chinese. I didn’t quite understand what he wanted. In fact, I thought he wanted to make a photo with me. So, I stopped for a second, thinking, OK, make this quick.

He ran over to the rack and grabbed a pair of gloves. I just thought they were props for our photo. But then Ah Heng, an older guy at our club, who I have huge respect for, said in easier to understand Chinese. “Antonio, he wants to spar you. But you are busy, so I will spar with him.”

This was really strange. What kind of person walks in off the street and asks to spar with one of the instructors? In addition to being very terrible in his fighting skills, he probably only weighed about 66 kgs. I weigh 84. But, Ah Heng agreed to spar with him.

Ah Heng is just about 40 years old, but in phenomenal shape. He was a pro Muay Thai fighter with well over 100 fights to his credit, many if not most of them in Thailand. In addition to standard Muay Thai, he trained Muay Korat which is an all but lost art. He is one of Jiao lien’s best and most trusted friend who helps run the academy if we are away fighting. He is also generous about giving his time, absolutelyfree, to help the fighters in our club improve their Muay Thai skills.

Ah Heng is also about 60 kgs, but there is no doubt in my mind that he could take my head right off my shoulders with a single kick. His shin bones are like knives that he has sharpened day after day since he was like twelve years old.

I was busy training, so I didn’t see all of the sparring, but what I saw looked normal. Ah Heng was going very easy on the young guy, trying to help him. The next time I looked, Ah Heng was on his back and the boy was ground and pounding him. Ah Heng is a master of Muay Thai but doesn’t know any wrestling or MMA. Instead of trying to rough him up or outdo him, the boy should have been trying to learn from Ah Heng.

The boy took Ah Heng down and bullied him several more times. I wanted to step in, but I wasn’t sure what the right protocol was, because Ah Heng is an adult and capable of standing up for himself. If he wanted to, he could have just kicked the guy once and ended the fight, when they were standing again. But Ah Heng is too nice to do that to someone, even a bad boy.

Immediately after the sparring, the boy and his friends left.

When I told the story to Jiao Lien, he said. “Those boys came here to bully you. And, he brought his friends to watch how great he is. They honestly believe they can beat you, because they fight in the street.”

I am sick of the street fighter versus real fighter argument on the internet. Just come in the gym and let me show you how ridiculous this argument is. Or we can do it on the pavement out front. I am bigger, healthier, and stronger than any of those street fighters. The only ones bigger than me are the ones on steroids, and I love fighting guys who are roided out. I hit harder and faster. I kick harder, and I spar insane numbers of rounds each day. There is no way those guys can take a hit better than me.

If I shoot a double and spike a guy on his head on the street, I don’t think there is some huge advantage to him being on the street, rather than in the cage.

Also, in our academy, 80% of our sparring is with 4 oz MMA gloves. So please don’t use the stupid argument that I can’t take a bare-knuckle hit. As for kicks in the groin and a lack of MMA rules, that would all favor me, as I can kick in the groin better than almost anyone.

Today, the boy came back, alone. I wished he had brought his friends with him. After he warmed up, I asked him to spar. The first thirty seconds or so, he was trying to nail me with hard kicks and punches, but not one of them landed, because THIS IS MY JOB! I do this every day, twice a day. He doesn’t. Eventually, I grabbed him and went for a throw. He obviously had some small amount of training, because he resisted the throw. So, like the mosquito who raped an elephant, I grabbed his head and threw my legs around his waist. I imagine it was comical to see my huge body hanging off of him like that. But then he did the stupidest thing ever. He dove at the ground. I think his plan was to land on top of me and ground and pound me.

As soon as we hit the round, I rolled him, got him in judo side control, pinned his arm between my knees and punched him, gently, in the face, till I got bored. Then I stood up. He threw another kick or punch at me. This time I zipped in, grabbed him in boxer’s clinch, got a front headlock, and rolled backwards, taking him over my head and dumping him on the mat behind me. Clearly, I can see where if I had done this on the street, he would have had the advantage of being unconscious or dead.

He landed on his head, but I still was holding on, so I did a gator roll, landed on top of him and used a wrestler’s neck crank to submit him.

The wrestler’s submission is very strength intensive, but I like it because it is incredibly painful and it takes forever for the guy to finally tap. It starts out as a pain submission, so tough-guys hold on, but then it turns into a choke, and they have to tap. And when they do finally tap, they always think, why didn’t I tap thirty seconds ago and avoid all of that pain?

We stood up. He punched at my head and I Khooed him. The Khoo is a series of moves that begins with the opponent throwing a huge haymaker right hook at your head. You duck under it, take his hips, throw him, and land in a 100% control position. I had both of his arms pinned under my knees and was punching him in the face.

Each time we stood up, he wanted to stop, but I made him finish the three-minute round. And, I swear, I didn’t actually hit him, just taped him a little with 12 Oz boxing gloves to demoralize him.

I have to believe it was the longest 3 minutes of his life.

When the round was over, he pretty much crawled out of the cage and collapsed in a chair. He had really severe acne and his shirt was drenched in blood, from exploded zits. The blood was smeared on the cage floor, on the wall, and on the chair.

Somehow the blood and the acne made me feel really terribly for beating this guy up. He obviously has all sorts of personal issues, and now I had beaten him senseless. On the other hand, Ah Heng is nearly double his age, and he should have shown respect to this absolute jewel of a Muay Thai master, a man we all learn from.

One of the things I love about Ah Heng is that, although his striking is better than mine, he still asks me questions and learns boxing and Bokator techniques from me. Then, if he wants to teach those techniques to other people, he comes and asks my permission first. I have never seen such humility in my life. And this boy, took Ah Heng down and bullied him, simply because Ah Heng doesn’t know wrestling, and because Ah Heng was too nice to knock the boy out.

The boy was looking pretty demoralized, on the chair, bleeding and breathing heavily. I thought about Ah Heng, and I scolded the boy, as best I could, in Chinese.

I told him, “Last time I saw you, you were sparring with Ah Heng. He has had over 100 Muay Thai fights. Did you know that?”

The boy was impressed.

“He could have killed you, but he is too nice.” I let that sink in. Then I said, “I saw you use wrestling to take him on the ground and treat him impolitely (mai yo li mao).” The boys saw where this was going and instantly regretted his behavior. “Next time you come to the club, if you see Ah Heng, you call him Ah Heng Uncle, and say you are ‘sorry.’ Then, if you ask him politely to teach you Muay Thai, he will.”

Obviously, in a foreign language, it is not clear to me how much the boy understood. But he seemed to grasp what I was saying. Then I added. “When you come in the club, you have to be polite, and we will teach you. But if you do impolite, like you did to Ah Heng, this is very bad.”

Sometimes, when I translate my Chinese back into English I feel like a cross between Forest Gump and Tarzan.

I was taking off my gloves and getting ready to continue training, when they boy stood up and more or less ran for the door. Kim shouted to him, in English, “Please come back and we will teach you properly.” I don’t know if the boy understood, but I could see tears in his eyes.

Afterwards, I talked to Kim about what had happened. When I originally said I would fight the boy, Kim was against it. But after the fight, Kim said to me, “You know how we were when we were young, we thought we knew everything. You didn’t hurt him. But you beat him enough that he can see that he knows nothing.”

When we told Jiao Lien he said, “Call him back. I want to fight him too.”

I honestly hope he comes back, to become one of our students. I am happy to teach him, and I think the whole experience, especially apologizing to Ah Heng, would be good for his personal development. And, I could use the eight Ringit from his training fees.

Antonio Graceffo is self-funded and needs donation to continue his writing and video work. To support the project you can donate through the paypal link on his website, 

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living inAsia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk fromBrooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on




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