Bullying is not an accepted behaviour amongst the tribes. The elders go to a lot of trouble to see it doesn’t occur, so do the clan and family leaders. The few cases of bullying that do occur in the tribes are quickly and thoroughly dealt with, so repetition isn’t a problem. Oh, some boys and girls are very bossy and very pushy, but abusive bullying (either physical or mental) is very quickly stopped by the adults. Stopped in a way that makes those responsible never want to do it again.
Although he grew up in a rambunctious clan residence with a lot of chiacking and horse play, Gordie has no idea of what bullying is about. However, he comes across an incident at school halfway through his second year. In July, 1998 a set of twin brothers commence studies at the View Port Primary School. They move to View Port from living in a less salubrious part of Berana when their father, William ‘Bill’ Burrows, follows a job opportunity with the View Port fishing fleet. He maintains and repairs the new electronics systems fitted to the fishing boats.
The new students, Bob and Rob (yeah that’s their full names, not the shortened forms), don’t have much to do with Gordie or those he knows. Thus the twins are in the school a few weeks before their behaviour is noticed by him. He has noticed an increasing level of uneasiness and fear by the younger students, but he can’t identify the cause of it. Both the Burrows boys are bigger and more muscled than the rest of their age group at View Port. Despite being bigger than their peers they target the much smaller kids in the year below them.
One Wednesday in the middle of August Gordie is late arriving in the playground for lunch. He’d been to speak to a teacher about some school work. Because he’s leaving the building from near the teacher’s staff room and not his usual classrooms he’s walking through a section of the playground he doesn’t normally see during lunch break now. This section of the playground is around the corner of the building from his current usual area, and it’s an area used by the year below his.
He immediately senses someone is in great fear nearby. Turning around he spots the Burrows boys in an angle of the building with a small boy between them. They’re holding the boy by the arms while they pull him back and forth between them. The place they’re in is out of sight of the teacher on playground duty, because she’s across the other side of the playground area where almost all the children are.
Gordie moves fast toward the little group while calling out, “Hey, you two, leave off. Let him go!”
One looks at Gordie, and sneers, “Bug out or you’re next.” Gordie hasn’t yet learnt to tell them apart, and he has no idea which spoke to him. However, it doesn’t matter, because they’re in this together.
Hearing Gordie’s raised voice the teacher, one of the regular school staff, looks up and sees him hurrying into the small area in the building angle behind the steps. Wondering what’s going on she heads that way.
On reaching the boys Gordie grabs one of them by his free arm and belt. Pivoting fast he pulls him away from the boy being bullied, and sends him staggering out into the general playground area. The teacher sees the boy stagger out from behind the steps, and she thinks, He’s too large to be in this area, and so is the one I saw go in there.
The other Burrows boy lets go of his victim, who falls to the ground in exhaustion, and charges at Gordie. The teacher reaches a point where she can see what’s going on just in time to see the small boy collapse and the large boy beside him charge at the boy she first saw, Gordie.
Remembering his basic training in martial arts Gordie waits until his attacker is nearly upon him. Grabbing the boy’s shirt with his left hand he pivots in and shoves his hip into the attacker’s waist. He redirects the attacker’s motion to toss him to the ground by throwing him across his hip. The boy hits the ground - hard. He starts to get up. Gordie follows after him and puts him back down with an opened palm punch to the lower chest. He’d remembered his grandfather’s advice: ‘Forget what the Sensei says about not attacking! When dealing with more than one attacker make sure each one you put down, stays down.’ Gordie does, and the recipient of the punch groans, rolls over, then starts to throw up.
The first Burrows boy regains his footing and is charging back into the fray. The teacher is about to call out when she’s shocked to recognise the stance taken by the boy being attacked, it’s an advanced attack stance taught to students of the Way of the Hand. She’s only seen it used in competitions and demonstrations by her senior Master. Yet this six year old boy is using it perfectly right.
As the first bully reaches Gordie he moves forward in a very strong attack. He brings his right hand from behind him, across his chest, and thrusts forward with his full weight behind it. The bully is struck dead centre of the chest on the sternum by the palm of the hand. The scream of pain that starts is turned into a gurgle due to the lack of air when the strike punches all the air out of his body. His upper chest stops while his feet continue forward and Gordie is moved back about 100 millimetres by the impact. The bully falls down while grasping his chest in pain.
Looking down at the boys Gordie says, “Next time you want a fight pick on me, not the smaller children.”