I’m living my own f***** up version of Fight Club.

Written by Cole Schafer

I had a gun pulled on me last Sunday.

I'll get to that, here in a moment. But, first, let's rewind...

A month ago, I was in Dallas with my girl. It was a Tuesday night. It was late. We were at a sports bar grabbing a drink with her sister.

Behind us, there were four guys clutching their beers as if their bottles contained the blood of Christ.

I don't know if they recognized her. But, as I kept a close watch on them out of the corner of my eye, they appeared to be jockeying closer to the three of us.

They were talking loudly, as drunk men do. They were being rather obnoxious, as drunk men are. They seemed to be trying to get her and her sister's attention.

When I'm out with my girl, I'm hyper-aware (and admittedly very cautious). But, I didn't like the situation.

So much so, that I closed out the tab and suggested we head to another bar.

We left.

We walked a couple hundred feet down the street and be it my paranoia, my subconscious hearing trailing footsteps behind us or a strange sixth sense, I felt we were being followed.

I nonchalantly turned around, feeling up my legs for my wallet, feinting as if I had forgotten it at the previous sport's bar and found that my suspicions were correct: two of the four men that were behind us, were still behind us, about a half a block back.

I became increasingly more concerned. But, I didn't vocalize this concern to my girl and her sister.

I knew I needed to get us off the street and into a crowded place. Up ahead, there appeared to be a fairly packed bar. I suggested we check it out.

The two men behind us, coincidentally decided to check it out too. A couple minutes after we entered, they sat down near the front of the bar at a window-side table.

We stayed in this bar for about 10-minutes and then saw ourselves out.

On the way to do the door, I made hard and very direct eye contact with the two men that had followed us in, making them aware that I saw them and recognized them.

After we left, they decided to stay put.

Chances are, these men meant no harm. Perhaps they were just fans that didn't realize how creepy they were being.

But, this occurrence, along with a few other sketchy occurrences I've experienced with my girl, made me promise to myself on this very night that I was going to become so well-versed in hand-to-hand combat that besides going head-to-head with a goddamn Navy Seal, there wouldn't be a situation I couldn't handle.

As soon as I got back to Nashville, I budgeted $10,000 for my training and began hounding boxing coaches, Muay Thai coaches and Krav Maga coaches all around the city.

I eventually found three different coaches with a combined fighting experience of nearly a century to teach me boxing, Muay Thai and Krav Maga.

(Krav Maga is a military self-defense and fighting system developed for and by the Israeli Defense Forces...)

Yesterday was boxing.

Wednesday was Muay Thai.

Tuesday was boxing.

Sunday was Krav Maga.

Which, is where I began this piece...

I had a gun pulled on me last Sunday.

Fortunately, it was made of plastic, it wasn't capable of firing projectiles and it was held by my Krav Maga coach.

Sweat beading on my forehead, out of breath, I try to remember what he has just taught me...

I lash out with my right hand, swat the gun away and get out of the line of fire. Mid-swat, I grab the barrel with my right hand and his wrist with my left hand, all while keeping the muzzle pointed at the wall and not at me.

I then drive him back, hard, burying the handle of the gun into his crotch and ripping the barrel towards his thumb.

He releases the gun. It's now in my possession. I "hit" him twice in the temple with the mouth of the gun and speedily back peddle away, creating distance between he and I.

The gun is now pointed at him.

There was nothing smooth about it. I have so much to learn. Sometimes I fumble. Other times, I don't get the gun away from him in time. Other times, I don’t get the gun away from him at all.

When he corrects my technique, doing the moves himself, it's as if I'm being mauled by a jaguar. He strikes at me with such a ferocity that I have to remind myself that he's not trying to kill me.

The next day, boxing.



"Left hook."


"Left upp –– good."

"Right hoo –– good. Again."

By the end of Coach T and I's session, my arms hurt so badly that I have trouble tying my shoes.

Coach T tells me for our next session I better "pick up the phone" while we box otherwise I'll get knocked out.

"Picking up the phone" is boxing lingo for keeping your opposing glove glued to your face when you throw a punch. You get tired, ou start dropping your gloves. You start dropping your gloves, your opponent has a clear shot at your head.


You wake up on the ground.

Two days later, Muay Thai.

My coach is a 3x World Champion Kickboxer by the name of Bernard "Swiftkick" Robinson.

He ended his career 68-8.

He's as scarred up as a fighting cock.

After he whipped a fighter’s ass in Tokyo in front of 50,000 people, the fighter left him with a gash on his right eyebrow that's still so deep you could stick the rim of a quarter in it.

The fighter also gave Swiftkick his fighting shorts to honor him. They're on the wall in a glass frame, behind us, along with a hundred other trophies and mementos from his two-decade-long career.

Mauy Thai is like nothing I've ever done before.

I throw close to three-hundred kicks throughout our session and, by the end of it, my shins and feet are the colors of plums.

It hurts to walk.

Before I leave, Swiftkick tell me my right kick could be something… if I remember to turn my hips.

In kickboxing, your power doesn't come from your knee but your hips. Your hip is the rifle and your leg is the bullet. You properly fire your hip and you can increase the force of your blow by 200%.

I know I've done it right when I lay into the pad Swiftkick is holding and it knocks him off balance.

I do it right only a handful of times out of the hundreds of kicks I throw.

For my entire life…

I've been scared to fight because I've been scared it could attract violence or, worst yet, turn me into a violent person.

But, what I've found (and keep in mind I'm still very early on in my training) is that fighting has made me a calmer, gentler, more collected person.

I think violence is oftentimes a side-effect of fear. Tigers are dangerous. But, tigers are especially dangerous when they're cornered; when they're scared.

As I've embarked on my training, I've realized that much of my anger, anxiety and quick-temperateness has stemmed from fear; fear of not knowing if I could protect myself and the people I love if, God forbid, we ever found ourselves in danger.

I still have that fear. I think I will for some time. But, with each passing jab, kick, knee, elbow and hook, I feel that fear fading, little by little.

Yesterday, I began my second lesson with Coach T.

He throws on a girdle that sits around his waist and torso and chest.

It's about 6-inches thick and it's designed to absorb everything but machine gun fire. He throws three-minutes on the clock and tells me to hit him as hard as I can. By the end of the round, I want to die I'm so tired.

I pull off my gloves and hose water down my throat. I can't get enough.

Coach T. is silent for a moment.

Then he speaks up, paying me my first compliment of the week, "I can feel those through this thing".

He smacks his girdle twice with his fist.

"You've got some power. You hit someone with one of those on the street... you'd knock 'em out."

I hope I never have to.