Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stewart Middle School Tacoma, WA - Fight Club

Wow, I happened to randomly turn on the local news before I headed into Seattle this morning about 5:30AM, and there was a news article about my old Alma mater, Stewart Jr. High, now Stewart Middle School.

It would seem that nine sixth-grade boys suspected of participating in a so-called "fight club" have been expelled ( first rule of fight club, for a reason, is "You don't talk about fight club" as is Rule Number Two). But these kids recorded it on their cell phones and there it was, on the news, images of two kids beating the hell out of one another in the boy's bathroom.
1940s photo of Stewart Jr. High (now Middle School)
When I went to Stewart, it was grades 7-9, now 6-9. I was scared enough and got in enough fights as a 7th grader. I can't imagine what its like being a sixth grader. But back then I was fighting in Karate tournaments and it wasn't much for me to have a fight at or on the way to or from school, as I was fighting about five fights a night at the dojo anyway. 

Still...FIGHT CLUB in sixth grade? Give me a break. I never liked the middle school concept, nor the 9th graders in high school. But, I don't have any say over it. Then again, maybe kids are just maturing faster now.

But rather than these kids getting in trouble , they should simply give them a place to expend their energy. Like I said, I got mine out in the dojo and in tournaments. These were point fighting and even then it was sometimes terrifying. But it let you walk down the street with a sense of accomplishment, confidence and an ability to at least try to protect yourself.

I thought this was just the first time this had happened, but even doing a cursory search online I found others from previous years. Other Fight Clubs in Jr Highs over the years:


All I can say is hey kids, THIS, is Fight Club....

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in 1999s Fight Club
What you're doing is Play Club. And if that's what you're really into, find a gym or a dojo, dojang, or whatever you want to call it. It seems like its fun being in charge of your fun, but chew on this for a while. You're a kid. If someone gets really hurt, you're gonna regret it.

Okay, I know there aren't any kids reading this. So I guess if I direct this at the assumed audience here, I should be saying that if your kid gets caught being in one of these surreptitious haphazard organizations, go easy on them. Don't punish the symptom, find the cause, and give it an appropriate affect. Find them a better outlet, and it may not be what you want or thing it should be.

My mother may be half crazy (or all crazy) but she did do some smart things while I was growing up that people raised eyebrows over at the time. I was gun crazy since very young, typical of many boys born in the 1950-60s and before.
 1958 on the way to Spain, this made media outlets all over the world
 Done as a joke, childhood best friend Dave and I, 1973 when he was on leave from the Army
Out for a day shooting: My buds when I was in the Air Force, in Spokane, WA, about 1977-78
Georgian Craig, Local Tony my civilian friend and California Dan

Before you think I'm some kind of psycho, I was raised during Vietnam, I studied a killing martial art Isshinryu Karate and during my University years in the early 80s I began to follow the Buddha Dharma as it was very close akin to Zen, Asian thought I'd grown into since Karate days and Phenomenology which I was studying at that time. I don't believe in killing, but I do believe its necessary at times, e.g., when its you or them, when someone is going to harm a child, or kill someone and its a trade-off, obviously, the innocent wins out against the aggressor at that point.

Anyway, mom got me into an "gun club" sanctioned by the Tacoma Police Department. I want to do dangerous stuff, she got me into Civil Air Patrol and we learned how to support and perform search and rescue, for real. This was no cub scout stuff. We were really hanging off of cliffs, getting lost in the mountains, learning how to get found, find your way out, find others who were lost. I landed my first small plane at Tacoma Industrial Airport (now Tacoma Narrows Airport) across the Narrows Bridge from Tacoma in eighth grade. What the photo below doesn't show you is that on the right, as you're flying into the landing strip, you are facing a shear cliff face that is daunting but fairly safe due to the updraft.
Tacoma Narrows Airport

I got into fights all through grade school and it was seldom me and another kid in a fight, it was frequently me against a group of boys. So she stuck me in Karate just before the beginning of sixth grade.

Yes, I ended up doing some crazy things like going sky diving for the first time at seventeen. This one my mom put her foot down on though. Whoever, when I got to the air field with a couple of friends one day, and found out you only had to be like fifteen (actually they were questioning if there even was a requirement by age at that time), I signed up and paid my fee and went home pumped up and proud after 5 hours of training and a 3,000ft jump (I hit the target, no one else did that day). Mom, wasn't happy, but she was glad I wasn't smeared all over a landing strip at Thun Field in Puyallup.
Thun Field, Puyallup, WA (now Pierce County Airport)
So, in summing up. Fight Club, bad. Kids wanting to do Fight Club, well, need an outlet. You're the parent. Get on it!

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