Fight Club

How I learned self-defense from an anti-immigrant group and lived to write about it

"We've seen what a hurricane can do to a piece of straw," he says. "If you know what you're doing, this can be as effective as a 6-inch Bowie knife."

At that, he indicates a white-bearded Gabby Hayes look-alike in the corner of the room, who promptly draws said knife from its sheath and wields it like he wants a fight. Hardine smiles and adds, "Notice I said ifyou know what you're doing!" No knife-on-fan combat today.

He asks if there are any further questions. An old man dressed in olive drab and wearing a "Kill 'em all—let God sort 'em out" T-shirt raises his hand.

"We've all seen the movies—Steven Seagal," says the old man. "Can you teach us how to do that?"

Hardine replies that it would be a long-term commitment. Longer, one suspects, than the years the fellow asking the question has left on the planet.

As the lesson wraps up and chairs are placed in rows for the upcoming guest speaker, Hardine taps me on the shoulder and asks, "Did you get anything out of it?" I explain that the footwork was a little confusing to me. He grins and says, "Don't worry about it! Just don't forget to take the tape off the spray."

By this time, the CCIR's head of security is asking for volunteers to help "secure" the building, and Hardine is first to offer his services. We are told to look for anyone who doesn't belong; if we see, for instance, anyone taking notes, we are to report that person and security will "take care of them." The guy sitting behind me protests, "I thought we were supposed to take notes!" Then, noticing that I'd been scrawling a few, tells me, "Don't worry: I think he's going a little overboard."

Nonetheless, I decide the time is right to make a judicious retreat. Having the kubaton almost buried into my throat while we were merely rehearsing was enough for me, and I have no desire to replay the scene for real. So I guess I'll never know what the special guest, Washington lobbyist John Clark, a.k.a. "Snoop with the Scoop," had to say about illegal immigration. But I think it's safe to assume he's against it.

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