On Being Puffy

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When you train in the martial arts for as long as I have and lived in New York City for seven years you develop the art of becoming “puffy“.

What is puffy?

It’s not quite like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man …


… but it’s close.

It’s a way of carrying yourself, an attitude, a physical re-alignment of your body. You walk tall. You don’t slump. You puff up like that puffer fish whenever there’s a threat. You even start to speak differently – you become more “street”, using slang and reverting to your (my) native speech roots – in my case, with a lot of “dem, dere, dese, doze” thrown in. I even revert to calling it “cawfee”.

Being puffy is also a very defensive tool, as seen in nature. I use the puffergish as my main example, but so many creatures have also inherited the art of becoming puffy on demand. Cats become “bigger” by turning sideways, going up on their toes and puffing out all their fur so as to look larger and more menacing.  Dogs will do this too, they get all puffy, they just don’t go up on their toes.

Cobras have specialized muscles in their neck that make their hood flare out when threatened.

Toads – ugly? Check. Warts? Check. But they taste yummy to their predators. But when threatened with becoming one of those predator’s lunch, they have the ability to gulp air and go up on their toes, making them appear much, much larger.

Even birds have the ability to become puffy. The Great Horned Owl is a master at this technique …

So with all of these and other animals having the intuitive ability to make themselves appear puffy, it’s no surprise that I learned the technique at an early age and perfected it on the streets and in the foul little gin joints of New York City.

Being a bouncer in some rather unsavory places had me getting puffy on a regular basis. When some guy wanted to test himself and his beer muscles, I would just get all puffy, puffing out my chest, standing tall and getting my puffy attitude on display. More often than not this would serve to de-escalate the situation without resorting to physical means.

I would advise anyone and everyone to learn the fine art of becoming puffy – it’s a useful tool to have, just in case.






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