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Picking a fight to beat stress

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Only when I felt truly threatened was I encouraged to raise my hands – never fists; don’t look like you’re starting a fight – palms facing the thug and to switch to ‘Back Off!’.

The louder and more aggressive the potential attacker became, the louder and more assertive I was encouraged by Wood to become.

Next, some basic moves. When I was certain a fight was inevitable, it was right palm hard and fast into the aggressor’s face, rock back, knee into groin and follow through, rocking back and following through with the left knee.

First I practised in mime, slow and sure, then speeded up punch/slapping and kneeing a padded shield.

“You use your palms, then witnesses will say that you didn’t throw the first punch,” Wood explained. The wide-palm punch/slap was more accurate than a closed fist – less chance of missing – and just as effective.

Now for the red mist and Wood’s padded suit, the ‘Bulletman’.

Imagine a cross between an American footballer’s protective kit, a bomb disposal man’s blast kit outfit and a sci-fi alien’s space suit and you’ll get the picture.

Then imagine a baby defending his sweets and you’ll know how effective I was in stopping the Bulletman.

Less fists of fury, more slaps of slightly-upset-but-not-prepared-to- do-much-about-it.

Wood spared my embarrassment and suggested we try again. “Hit me as hard as you can,” he said.

Except this time, when I didn’t hit him hard enough, he just kept coming at me pushing, prodding until I exploded.

Well, went off like a cheap firework.

Look, we’re not talking Jackie Chan here but if he hadn’t been wearing all that clobber I think Wood might have said ‘ouch’.

He did me the favour of going down like a World Wrestling Foundation fall guy.

Suddenly I felt invincible.

Bring on Lennox Lewis!

Well, Lennox Lewis’s blindfolded skinny second cousin.

Well, OK, Lennox Lewis’s blindfolded, one-armed skinny second cousin… on an off day. As long as he promises not to hit back.

  • Martin Freeman was recently named Feature Writer of the Year at the Regional Press Awards.

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