How to fight like a pacifist

Does anyone remember Kung Fu, the 1970s TV series starring David Carradine? The DVDs arrived at the safari camp last week and it’s inspiring stuff. It’s about a Shaolin monk touring the old American West in search of his redneck half-brother. Obnoxious yahoos accost him during his travels, and he initially responds to their provocations with a soft-spoken discourse on the value of philanthropy. He continues in this vein until they overstep the limits of tolerable conduct, when he furthers their education with a well-aimed foot in the face. The yahoos then repent of their sins and accept his message of pacifism and humility, allowing the monk to move onto the next town of cowboy-hatted hicks.

There’s a lot in that Shaolin monk that reminds me of the better sort of gorilla. Like him, we’re mild-mannered vegetarians, although we prefer the odd insect or two to the powdered ginseng he takes with his tea. We also share the same philosophy on the use of violence: start off by preaching the virtues of pacifism; but if that doesn’t work, knock some sense into the lummox by the use of overpowering force. There are few things more contemptible to a well-bred gorilla than a creature that goes looking for a fight to win the approval of the rabble or to prove he’s a mean and moody character. Perhaps the worst example of this sort of pugilism occurs in the boxing ring, where two ungainly louts try to knock each other senseless with unending blows to the head.

I’ll never forget the time when Mike Tyson arrived at the safari camp, fresh from his ear-biting exploits in the ring. The trip was supposedly for his rest and recuperation, but he didn’t look in the mood for it – the trademark tick of the head and menacing scowl were fully evident. What particularly got on his nerves were the antics of Bonzo, the camp chimpanzee, whose job was to keep the visitors entertained between their excursions. The other guests found the cavorting chimp highly amusing, but Tyson frowned and muttered, perhaps incorrectly believing that he was being mocked in some way.

Things came to a head when Tyson attempted to face down the chimpanzee and give it a piece of his mind. As Iron Mike swaggered over, Bonzo turned his back on him, squatted, and laid a perfectly-formed turd at the feet of the former heavyweight champion of the world. Momentarily stunned, Tyson soon found his voice:

“Goddam monkey took a dump right in front of my face!” he thundered. “Hey, come here mo’fucker, I’m gonna whip yo’ hairy ass!”

It is always a cardinal error for a two-legged creature to engage in unarmed combat with an animal that can move about on all fours. As Tyson lunged at Bonzo with his hands, the chimp ducked underneath him, scuttled between his legs, and jumped onto his back. The enraged human tried to shake off the chimp and prize its hairy arms from his chest, but to no avail. Humans often underestimate the strength of chimpanzees, who are far more powerful than their hairless cousins. Bonzo soon got bored of the game and relaxed his grip to make good his escape. But before he bounded away, he tore off a substantial part of Tyson’s trousers, which he retained as a souvenir. The remaining rags dropped to the boxer’s ankles and were quickly discarded.

The one-time Lord of the Ring then strode furiously to the manager’s lodge, cursing obscenely in his briefs, where he remonstrated with the staff:

“Look what dat monkey did to me, man!” he wailed. “I’m gonna sue your asses for this!”

After taking legal advice, the brawny bruiser accepted the following out-of-court settlement:

(i) the safari business would fully reimburse Mr Tyson for the loss of his trousers;

(ii) no member of the safari company would ever mention Mr Tyson’s name in connection with any incident that may or may not have occurred in the Republic of Congo, or confirm or deny any statement relating to any such incident or alleged incident.

I should add that I am not a party to this agreement.

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