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-By Caleb Jones
I just turned 40 over the weekend, so allow me to get a little introspective today.
One of the more difficult tasks in life for men, especially men in this era, is to find masculine, Alpha male role models in our real lives. Note I said real lives, not on TV or in movies or books. That's easy but has far less power.
I grew up in the 80's. The fantastic thing about life back then was Alpha male role models were all over the place. In movies we had guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, and a bazillion other guys I could mention.
The president wasn't some classy pussy, it was Ronald Ray-Gun, one of our more badass presidents. I disagreed with a lot of his politics, but I completely respected him as a man, in ways I can never respect Clinton, Bush (either of them) or Pussy Barack.
In television you had corny but Alpha characters like Captain Kirk (Star Trek reruns were very popular in the 80's), Knight Rider, the A-Team, the Equalizer, Stingray, MacGyver, and horde of other masculine Alphas I could name. Ah, the 80's was such a good time for men. A decade like that won't return for a very, very long time.
However in my real life, it was another story. Some of you guys out here are fortunate enough to have tough, masculine, Alpha male fathers, and that's great. I wasn't as fortunate. During my childhood, my father was the typical, normal, lower-middle-class guy. Chubby, balding, always stressed out, always worried about money, constantly arguing with my mom (to whom he is still married to this very day...and they're still arguing), a big temper that he lost often, working at a job he hated to bust his ass for a life he wasn't really excited about.
Later in life he found some success, and I respect him for that. Today he's an old man and retired and much more fun to hang out with; we have lunch often. I love him, and I loved him back then, and looked up to him as a father, but as an Alpha role model, I was forced to look elsewhere.
"Elsewhere" wasn't much better. As young man, most of the male adults I knew were mostly touchy-feely liberal types or big stupid jock types or angry, stressed-out business types. None of them Alphas, at least not as I define the term "Alpha". I was missing something I didn't even know I was missing.
That all changed when I started taking karate class at age 11. My karate teacher was a guy I'll call Cord. Cord was unlike any other man I had ever met in real life. He was good-looking, tan, chiseled, natural jet-black hair even though he was about 40.
As a karate teacher he was a 4th dan black belt, or the equivalent, in four different forms of karate. His fists moved faster than your eye could follow them. He could launch a punch at 95 mph and freeze it in your face, instantly, on a dime. It was like watching a real-life Bruce Lee (though Cord was a white guy). I had to spar with him one-on-one a few times and I once made the mistake of punching him in the stomach. It actually hurt my wrist to do so. His abs really were that hard, just like those villains in the movies when they punch Superman in the stomach and break their hands. Cord was an action superhero right out of the movies, standing before me in real life.
I'm sure lots of Karate teachers share those same traits, but he was not only a karate teacher, he was an Alpha. He was tough and steely. He had a strong piercing stare like knives of ice. You never, ever wanted him to look at you like that. Ever. Even though he was only abut 5'9" or 5'10" (several inches shorter than I am now), when he walked into a room, even outside of the dojo dressed in normal street clothes, he commanded instant respect. Not fear (though there was little of that too), but respect.
Yet because he was an Alpha, instead of being angry or stressed or losing his temper all the time, he was exactly the opposite. He was always smiling, happy, motivated, and often joked around. He had an extremely keen mind and a quick sense of humor. He could switch from fun and joking to very serious, almost dangerous, instantly, and pull off both of those opposite extremes to perfect, natural, genuine, effortless precision. An Alpha is a rose and a knife, and he was both. It was amazing to watch.
He thought fast, conveyed information fast, and talked fast. There was always a glint of excitement in his eye. I would listen to his stories of how he used to get into real-life fights as a professional bodyguard, and he would smile and joke talking about that just as he would when taking about the weather or swimming in the lake, which he did often since the dojo was right by one. "Why take a shower after a workout when you can just rinse off in the lake?" he would often ask, implying that taking a shower when a lake was available was for pussies.
The guy would be talking to someone and suddenly, mid-conversation, glance at the lake and whip off his clothes right there and dive him. People thought he was crazy. As an Alpha, he was outcome independent, so he didn't care. He loved his life.
One day I saw the most stunning, beautiful, physically toned, big-breasted blonde barbie I had ever seen in my life planting some flowers in the garden in front of the dojo. Perfect face, perfect eyes, perfect body. As a pre-teen kid, she gave me one of those insta-boners that 11, 12, 13 year-old boys often have to wrestle with. I wondered in awe who she was.
Entering the dojo and hearing Cord talk to some friends, I discovered she was his wife. God damn! Of course! He was an Alpha with a wife right out of a Baywatch episode. Could this guy be any more cool? (They got divorced a few years later, of course. Alpha males don't stay with women who demand monogamy and rules for very long. We can only be long-term with a woman who lets us be who we are.)
By the time I was about 13 Cord moved away and my classes ended. My heart just wasn't into karate if Cord wasn't teaching it. But I never forgot him. (To this day, at age 70 or close to it, he still teaches karate full-time. My guess is his body is still forged from iron.) Many years later I found that I had subconsciously integrated some of Cord's behaviors, speech patterns, and mannerisms.
Not surprising I suppose; Cord was the Alpha role model of my youth. I've had a few other role models since him, but he was the first. He was the first one to show me the kind of life that was possible for a true, masculine, free man. A man who lives his life as he chooses, don't give shit about what others think, doesn't limit who he is or who he can become, doesn't let others limit him, and holds long-term happiness as his highest goal, thereby bringing happiness to all he meets. Though I didn't realize it at the time, it was Cord who first showed me what was possible for a man's life, and it was Cord who first set me on my path down that road.
I haven't thought about Cord in years. However last Friday, the day I turned 40, when I woke up in the morning reflecting on my past, present, and future, it was Cord who entered my mind before anyone else.
Find someone in your real life like this. Alphas are a rare breed these days. As time goes on, as society becomes more feminine, politically correct, and focused on security over freedom, the less men like this there will be...so finding one is often not easy. Regardless, if you can find someone like this in your life, someone to show you what is possible for you, it will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
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Hawk 2012-04-22 12:47:04
wow, that post was awesome. I had a martial-arts trainer as well, he is just how you described. That post brought back memories, cheers.
Overload 2012-04-22 15:53:20
Great article, BD - it took me back to my 80's childhood also. Maybe it's nostalgia, but that seemed like the last good decade we've had, despite the problems of the time. American culture just seemed healthier back then. And last but not least...happy birthday!
Dennis 2012-04-23 06:59:46
Similar story. My Shotokan karate Sensei was Ohshima in LA. I was 20 when I started training and he changed the way I think, act and my life. After many years training I received my 1st degree blackbelt from him. Ohshima was the ultimate alpha .
Gil Galad 2016-10-01 22:05:50
BD, could you do a post about the comparative alphaness and betaness of comic book characters and their Hollywood (Marvel, etc) counterparts ? Random observations I made: movie Steve Rogers is at least a bit less alpha than comic book Steve Rogers; Hollywood seems to be hammering into us that a good superhero doesn't get laid much (how much sex does Chris Nolan's Batman has over a trilogy as compared to the real Batman's active love life), etc. I'm lazy but I'm pretty sure lots of interesting patterns and lessons can be found in there. Or just one movie analysis from the alpha/beta angle that exemplifies all of it.