Why I Started Punching Jerks Again

Men, please take this as the verbalization of fantasies I know everyone of you has had. Ladies, take this as an inside look at the hardwiring of the male mind…

Perhaps it’s too much flying monkey or watching mating battles on Planet Earth, but I’m beginning to think (once again) punching jerks might not be such a bad idea.

The current issue of Esquire brought out my inner Tyler Durden with a hysterical article called — I believe — “Why I Started Punching Jerks Again.” I believe? I believe so because the online editors changed the title to “In Defense of the Fistfight.” Shame on them. The original makes more sense, as it’s first-person…

If you dislike some artful use of profanity, please close your eyes now. Here’s the lead from Esquire:

This whole thing started — or maybe it ended — with these guys engaging in some ritualistic, Hare Krishna clapping shit. They were sitting at a table across the bar from my buddy Phil and me. We were trying to enjoy a quiet pint in our quiet local on a quiet evening, but these hippies wouldn’t quit with their clapping. Swear to God, they might as well have been crashing cymbals in my ears.

I asked them politely to stop. “Make us,” they said, and then they clapped louder, smiling their dirty-toothed smiles at us, twisting our nipples. One of them was named Jericho, I picked up. He was a skinny bearded guy who looked as though he’d wear Guatemalan mittens in winter. “Jerry,” I said when they finally took a break, “come on over here, have a chat.” He did, and shortly thereafter, he loosed a throat pony into my face. It was Jerry’s bad luck that I had resolved to start punching people again.

It wasn’t a snap decision. I’d reached the end of the road after what seemed like a perpetual assault from life’s Jerichos — the sorts of assholes who not only act like assholes but celebrate their assholedom: the grease spot who gave me the forearm shiver in our recreational soccer league and said, “It’s a man’s game, bitch”; the walnut-headed midlife crisis in his convertible who cut me off and then gave me the finger. It felt like they had me surrounded, clapping in concentric circles. I mean, Jesus, a skinny bearded hippie named after a biblical city had just spit in my face.

How’d we get here? Blogs are part of it, along with the incessant frothing of TV pundits and reality-show contestants, especially that lippy midget from The Amazing Race: Everybody thinks they’re above being edited. And the saddest part is, the Jerichos are right to feel bulletproof. Somewhere along the way, we’ve evolved into a culture without consequence…

What?! Punch people in the face?! Read the whole article — it’s worth it.

I’m not suggesting that we just run around whacking each other in place of words. However, it seems to me that in this land of no physical consequence, where flaming is spreading offline, and where freedom of speech makes it alright to spit in someone’s face but not OK to give them a judo chop in return… could something be wrong?

Born premature and small throughout school, I was on the receiving end of hazing for more than a decade, but I put up a good fight. Being small didn’t mean I couldn’t operate in a world with a line that, once crossed, meant you had to put up or shut up.

Now, I don’t get in street fights and I don’t recommend looking for them. But how do you uphold a certain basic standard of respect and gentlemanly conduct when the Jericho-like instigators seem to be multiplying faster than “u r a douche” comments on Digg?

Is there a chance that we would have fewer AK-47-toting high schoolers if it were socially acceptable to take of a glove, slap it across an offender’s face, and issue the good ‘ol “Sir, you have insulted my honor” challenge? I think a little fisticuffs would do most men a world of good, giving options to the masses who put up with too much, consequences to loudmouthed idiots who would then think twice, and a release valve to a gender that otherwise comes up with far worse things to do to men, women, wives, and children.

The real question is: how do you create a common social contract that allows for this type of correction without bullets or lawsuits flying? Is it possible, or do we have to continue to walk through a world that seems to consist of either Mohatma Gandhis or Joey Buttafuocos?


Perhaps I’m just spending too much time in NYC and need to get away from all the I-bankers and crazies. I’m going to the gym.

[Thanks for letting me vent a little! The next post will be a how-to guide to collaborative filtering, which can feel like a punch in the face but tastes better.]

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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253 Replies to “Why I Started Punching Jerks Again”

  1. Right on, Tim! I’ve never hit someone, but I completely agree with you on this. People are getting angrier and angrier because disputes are never resolved and aggression is never released.

  2. Some people deserved to get the beat down. Seriously. They weren’t raised right, and need to learn that the world doesn’t tolerate their flavour!

    Nice post.

  3. I agree with you until you start making this about gender. Not all women are pacifists, just as not all men are violent.

    Much like you and Jones, I put some thought into this and decided that, under certain circumstances, violence is not only okay, it’s my preferred course of action. I’m a woman and there isn’t a more satisfying response to a stranger’s hand on my ass than physically reminding him that isn’t acceptable.


    Hi Jill!

    Well said. I totally agree and just used that caveat because the topic of fighting tends to get the most visceral kick-back from women… but certainly not all women.

    Thanks for chiming in!


      1. I have to add something as I feel so conflicted about this. I am a woman, I practice krav maga, I teach krav maga and yet I abhor the kind of violence that some guys and some women enjoy.

        The guy who spat in the dudes face just thought he was golden, he’d got an attitude that he could get away with it. Wonder how many times he’d done it before without getting battered? And ultimately who cares because he seems like a d**k. Trouble is, there are people out there like him and it’s not always men, there are women who think it’s ok to behave disgustingly and to provoke men in the assumption that they won’t be physically assaulted. Those kinds of women are vile. So as much as I hate to admit it, very occasionally I reckon they need a lesson as much as the Jerry’s of this world. And that’s where I feel uncomfortable, because I don’t like feeling that way.

        And yet – if someone spat in my face, (even if he was built like Arnold back in the day,) would appreciate my displeasure as I smashed his nuts into smithereens. Conflicted much?!!

  4. All I have to say is, AMEN!

    It seems as if people take advantage of others, knowing they won’t stand up for themselves, and use it to be a complete ass. Violence has been filtered down into movies and completely removed form schools and public places.

    I’m not saying go around punching douchebags, that’d be too easy. Punch the extremely deserving douchebags.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with this article and your blog post. In America especially, where you can get arrested and put in the slammer for a night just because someone else said you hit them, something needs to be done about this problem.

    Frankly, i’m tired of the B.S. oversensitivity in American culture right now. I couldn’t even go out to the theatre without hearing people talk out loud (oftentimes on a cell phone), texting away next to me, parents allowing their kids to kick the back of my seat, and when confronted saying they couldn’t do anything about their kid’s behavior.

    I live in Australia right now, where it seems fist fights are a little more common and police are a little more tolerable to the innocent party.

  6. HELL YEAH!!! That is all I have to say to that. I myself put up with a lot of crap growing up (especially in highschool) and completely agree that some people just need to be put in their place. KUDOS TO YOU!!!! It is one thing to have an opinion and it is another to try and force it upon others. I spoke with a swedish friend of mine today and he just read your book. He described you best, “the guy speaks his mind and is not out there just trying to make money off others.” This is more rare than you can imagine. To just be yourself, you have positioned yourself as an elite. I hope you continue to say it like it is and help those around you. I don’t want to fill your blog with my opinions but rather just say “Great Job and I hope others follow..”

    Take Care & Happy Holidays,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    Dallas, Tx

    1. Bro this is what i’m talking about! This is what happened I was on the bus guy behind me kept calling me a fat ass I told him to knock it off he kept on I told him if he doesn’t stop I was going to punch him he kept on! What do I do? I punched him between his top part of his jaw and his nose and he starts crying. I told him this, you ain’t gonna call me fat ass now are you? He shook his head

  7. LOVE IT!

    just last week I saw guy-A intellectually mouthing off to guy-B and then guy-A got punched in the shnoz. Guy-A whimpered, “what makes you think you can just punch someone like that?” Guy-B said “what makes you think you can talk to me like that and not expect to get punched?”

    It was great!

    The crowd definitely favored guy-B…

    but my wife still made me sleep on the couch that night.


    p.s. amongst all the NYT best selling business authors this year, you are the only one to take a stand for all us boys who love speeding, playing with guns and punching jerks.

  8. IANAL (still a law student), but I’m pretty sure that spitting in somebody’s face is assault, and you can be thrown in jail for doing it.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. It’s been years since I punched someone (actually, I elbowed his face a few times, much more effective), and it had been years before that.

    Iow, an especially deserving -and disturbing- case. Guy was trash talking me through every possible medium, and had finally called me at home just to harrass me. Obviously, there are people in this world who needed to be taught a lesson yeeeears before, and who just don’t understand “shut up” or “quit lying”.

    Ya know what? Not only did it feel GREAT, everyone in the circle respected me more after that. And they are still talking about it with reverence, 4 years on (also because the guy still needs a beating in many ways).

  10. Does the world really need more violence?

    And what about women? They can treat a man however they like with zero consequences? Not all jerks are male y’know!

  11. When you’re physically provoked you just gotta do what your male primal instincts dictate.

    There does seem to be a growing number of rude people who are either socially unaware or just don’t care. Either way I think you did the right thing.

    Good for you man!

  12. I took fencing lessons for a while, and “Coach” was of much the same opinion — if everyone carried steel and an insult was a reason to challenge to a duel, people would once again learn to be polite instead of being jerks.

    And, he added, he’d get rich teaching people how to do the skewering.

  13. You know, I hate to be all pompous and superior about this, I really do, but most people just don’t have the self-control to ‘slap Jerrico down’ as you suggest.

    So yeah, maybe you can take the other guy… you think. Believe it or not, it might take more than you expected. Suddenly your plan to right the wrongs of the world turns into nothing more than a bar-room free for all or just another trip to the ER/A&E dept at your local hospital.

    If you’re coming from a position of weakness – psychological *or* physical – you are likely just acting out and over-compensating for your own insecurities, trying to ‘be the man’ you never were. If you truly are a superior man you will be able to acheieve a similar result via verbal means (ie humiliation or social embarrasment in front of his peer group) – or give him just the hiding he needs without going overboard and going ‘psycho’. Too many guys think standing up for yourself means unleashing your inner Rocky and throwing a punch to settle an argument.

    Where I live there are enough idiots every weekend who’ll gladly take you up on the offer if you think you are man enough. Why do you think martial arts teach self-control? Because even if you lose the fight you still acted with dignity, honour, self-respect and stood up for your values. Then you’re always a winner. Trust me.

  14. I usually like your ideas, but I’m not a big fan of this one. If there are too many a**holes, it’s worth a little bit of shoe leather to just get up and move on. The human body is pretty delicate and it’s way too easy to put someone in the ICU by accident to start a fight just because someone is an ass.

    The way I look at it, they have to live with being an a**hole for their entire lives – I only have to put up with them for a few minutes. On balance, a little compassion is in order :->

    I trained in martial arts for many years and the main thing I got was a respect for how easy it is to damage something vital in a fight – often by accident. It’s why I never got the whole “Saturday night barfight thing”. I don’t know. Maybe I was just raised wrong, but I just think life is too short . . .


    Hi Peter,

    This is a good point. Once boys are big enough to be called men, fights often produce more than bloody noses. 99 times out of 100, the issue can and should be resolved by taking yourself elsewhere. Your comment also raises another important question: were there more gentlemen’s rules in the fisticuffs of yore? It seems to be the case. Today, fights to settle differences are generally considered “no-holds-barred,” which is ridiculous, of course.

    Thanks for the comment,


  15. To be fair, though, I sometimes feel the same way when I’m living in NYC (which I do a few months every year). Right now I’m in Manly Australia surfing, diving and generally avoiding winter! If I was back in Manhattan right now, I might just agree with you!

  16. Mandatory martial arts training in school.

    There have been studies done that have shown that children, even children with a high risk of resorting to violence, show a marked decrease in their tendency towards violence when they are trained in a martial art. The studies also show greater respect for others and empathy and increased self confidence.

    It would also give them a controlled environment for resolving physical disputes, if they decided to take it that far (and the studies show that they probably wouldn’t).

    But of course, there’s always the risk of a John Kreese (http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0044574/) instructor teaching the wrong things like winning means more than honor…

  17. This is an important topic and post! While I have not been in such a fight as the author of the Esquire article describes (on either side)…there is a huge problem in society with people like “Jericho” and his friends who think they can say or do anything without consequences. I have heard a self righteous person actually proclaim “I can say what I want, its a free country!” (what is this 2nd grade?) after saying something offensive. They really believed they could say rude and offensive and nobody should be allowed to challenge their words.

    I think there was a time when people acted more civil because of both the threat of a good punch in the face and the teaching of proper etiquette by their parents. Nowadays the punch factor is gone (or the puncher get sued, while the person who deserved the punch collects cash) and parents raise kids to think they are more important than others. Many believe they can act in any manner and say anything without regards to those around them.

    This is a shame. I agree it is worse with the anonymity of the internet and it all just feeds upon itself.

    Great post Tim, now my question…..how do we restore civil behavior and respect into society? Maybe some people should have special permits issued that allows them to punch jerks in the face without the threat of a law suit.


  18. I agree with you. The fear, of course, is that – even if the guy deserves it – you pop a fist in his face and he pulls a gun and pops a bullet in yours. There are some crazy-ass people out there.

  19. Our definition for battery is far to lose. It’s too easy to get sued for touching someone on the shoulder much less deservedly punching them in the face.

    I think our problems go much farther than this. As men particularly we’re no longer willing to draw a line in the sand and say this is the behavior I’m willing to accept and this is the behavior I’m not; whether it’s your girlfriend or your boss.

    We’re expected to sacrifice our own time for the everyday emergency at work. We accept blame for the short comings of our coworkers. We will perform any assignment or attend any meeting passed down to us. We can never be pushed too far.

    The most important thing I’ve done in the past year was telling my boss I will no longer be performing a particular type of job…one way or another. When you accept that your time (life) has value, and define what you are willing to accept, you’ll be a lot happier. Surprisingly people will recognize this and respect you for it more than if you simply perform to their satisfaction.

  20. The one and only time I slapped someone (and slapped him hard) was a boyfriend who had been playing around behind my back.

    I don’t make a habit of such behaviour, and maybe I should feel bad about it, but years later I still think he deserved it.

    Really, it’s not so much about violence, but more saying “No, you can’t just treat me any old way and expect me just to roll over”. And there are plenty of situations where you have to tell people just that in no uncertain terms. I just save getting physical for special occasions such as the above 🙂

  21. Mandatory martial arts training in schools is a worthy idea. I’d even vote to make it optional for girls. Somehow we need to restore lost manly virtues. Since public education has in general been unkind to boys as boys, it’s only right.

    Tim–very seriously–I think this could be your next big crusade. You have the passion for MMA and the influence to make a difference. Think about it!


    Hi Mark,

    Judo and kendo are both mandatory in phys-ed in Japan. In fact, did you know that Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, designed it to be a safer version of jiu-jitsu that could be used in the public school systems for physical and moral development?



  22. LOL – My husband grew up in India and does not hesitate to whack someone who is asking for it – the first time it happened it freaked me out. He even did his community service time when a guy assaulted him and he hit him back. The problem is people think because he is skinny he’s weak – but he handles cast iron skillets all day, so…

    But to his defense he has only done this three times in the ten years we’ve been married. Each time someone picked that fight with him. He is more circumspect now, but you push him hard enough, that old country pops right up in him and POW!

    I feel safer with him around I can tell you!

    So in a round about way, I think guys should have some leeway in pummeling each other – it was my observation in college when the guys across the hall had a disagreement they pounded each other for about 15 minutes and the next minute they were drinking a beer and everyone was fine for weeks. Our apartment… well…

    In a way it releases aggression and obnoxious jerks who think they are better than they are find out where they really are on the pecking order. But there does need to be some rules and etiquette about it because it can get so out of control.

    And watch it with the little skinny guys who can cook…

  23. I once punched in the Tokyo Subway a big guy who had punched a school girl in the face. To be more exact I tried to restrain him and got punched first!

    To anybody who would have asked me why I did it, I would have said it was because I had to. The big question is not how we feel about doing or not something, but if we have or not to do it.

    I think that’s how we stand as good men. Like Gary Cooper in “High Noon” we have to do what is right. We can however minimize the judicial impact by shouting out loud first that we don’t want to fight!

  24. I totally understand what the point of this article is. I am convinced that people who act like a**holes are basically abusing the assumed good-nature of the people they are dealing with.


    Before you start throwing punches, perhaps you could escalate to confrontation first.

    What I mean is that SO MANY PEOPLE ARE F*CK*NG AFRAID OF CONFRONTATION. They would rather let ‘it’ slide. We have gotten to the point where someone won’t verbalize that they are even upset. I can’t tell you how many people I have reamed a new one for – that, as I am tearing into them, have absolutely nothing to say.

    I think that’s why “Office Space” and “Fight Club” were so liberating. Those guys started saying exactly what they meant.

  25. The problem with this theory is that it only deals with confrontational people. What about the passive aggressive people that make your life difficult anonymously?

  26. Tim, you sound like you are disappointed in not getting more reaction to your blog, and now feel the need to throw some red meat into the animals’ den. Kind of like a radio talk-show host who isn’t getting enough calls and decides to say “I think all cats are evil and should be exterminated” just so he can watch the phone tree light up with folks ready to tell him what a jerk he is.

    Seriously though, if you are identifying too closely with folks who let a-holes provoke them into violence, you need to go back to your martial arts training and start over from the beginning. The moment you let someone else control your thoughts and emotions you have ceded your own self-sovreignty to the jerks. By the way, giving into the temptation to do something you know is wrong won’t make you feel better either.


    Hi Paul,

    No red meat here in that sense. The blog is doing fine without that.

    I’ve just been bumping into a lot of jerks around NYC recently and came across this article at the same time. Pretty simple reason for the post.

    I think that — whether you train in martial arts for 50 years or for none — people will always affect your emotions and thoughts, so it’s a matter of being metacognitively aware of this influence and doing your best to digest and adapt.

    Thanks for jumping in the conversation!


  27. Having (unfortunately) been in fights, I dislike them, especially for the unknown outcomes (how many friends does the other guy have waiting to attack you from behind?).

    That being said, if someone spit in my face…it’s hardly controversial to punch someone for such a disgusting affront.

    @Allen: ‘Jericho’ committed battery when he spit on the narrator’s face.

    One of the Best and most deserved punch ever:

    Old Man Astronaut Buzz Aldrin decking a conspiracy theorist and moon landing denier Bart Sibrel right after Sibrel came up to him and called him a coward and a liar:

    I could watch it over and over.

  28. I wonder if people would be so crass in traffic if they knew there was a legal recourse for a duel for such behavior? Doubt it. Cool Post.


    Dallas, TX

  29. As another small child (4’10” 105 lbs high school freshman) I completely “get” the sentiment. In fact until a late growth spurt I endured utter torment from every Jericho in my class and fought constantly to maintain my honor. Amazingly when a late growth spurt put me at 6’1″ 240 I no longer had to fight because there was truly a threat of consequence.

    But that was the seventies, since then the rules have swung dramatically to favor the obnoxious ass but what disturbs me the most are the large 15-17 year old thugs that “spit in your face” and then dare you to touch them because they are minors. You can always find their parents too, they’re the ones whose children have never done anything wrong and never faced a consequence.

    Civilization all comes down to personal responsibility and consequences and when those are removed we all suffer.

    So I say AMEN to swift and righteous consequences.

  30. While I whole-heartedly agree that there are situations when a slap across the mouth is the most effective way to put an a**hole in his place, the author of the Esquire piece seems to swell with an odd sense of pride and satisfaction at what he’s about to do.

    Violence is, in my opinion, necessary sometimes – but also regrettable.

    I’ll dive back into my idealistic bubble now 🙂

  31. Tim, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was one of the assholes in High School and even a part of the way into college. I used to dislike people simply because of the way they looked I also beat their asses. I remember throwing an elbow at some “skate-rat” flying in from behind me and knocking him flat on his ass. He was just a kid having fun, annoying fun, but not worthy of a bloody nose.

    Why do I tell you this? Trust me, it isn’t because I am proud of it. (Oddly, it did gain me quite a bit of respect back then.) Anyway, the point I am hoping to make is that if one of these guys did decide to put up a fight maybe one of them might have knocked my sorry ass out. Who knows? Lucky punches happen all the time. Perhaps I would have learned that behavior is not cool.

    I hope someone that acts the way I used to will maybe think twice about what they are doing.

    Thanks for the thought provoking topic.

    BTW, I’ve gone on to earn an MBA, be a successful commercial real estate agent, married and 1 daughter. So, I truly did get my act together.

  32. That big-city dog-eat-dog “get over on anybody you can” life finally got to me a few years ago. I moved to the country in the “Heartland” aaahhh, things are much better now! I don’t even think about that kind of sh*t anymore. Time was when I was ready to kill a few MFs. No more! Life is good again!

  33. I loved reading this article…especially the “Amazing Race” take. I feel that people don’t understand the total package of communication (verbal and non-verbal). When someone is clearly being an AHole in their non-verbal, you can pretty much discount their polite verbalness. So go ahead and whack them alas judo chop to the shins.

    Keep up the fresh takes!

    I love it!

  34. Tim, I love this post (and I’m a chick).

    I agree with every word. There is nothing that makes me angrier than having someone intentionally provoke me, knowing I will not kick their ass due to my own self control. Some people think they can say anything to anyone they want. They somehow don’t realize or care that they are talking to another person. Those jerks deserve an ass whooping. What kind of a world do we live in where people can be intentionally rude, knowing that if you give them what they deserve (and they know they deserve it), they will just sue you.

    I’m afraid to have kids, knowing they will have to grow up in a world where they can’t stand up for themselves.

  35. You know – I really like the idea of martial arts being mandatory in school (ahem – for BOTH boys and girls! Why should it be optional for girls?). If you keep the whole “winning is everything” junk out of it it would be such a great thing. I don’t know about you, but paddling, though humiliating, worked like a charm on me in elementary school!

    But a major point is being hit on: narcissism. It is so out of control in our society. Yes in some ways it is so much easier to walk away from a jerk, but that jerk goes on thinking he or she can go on behaving that way. It is so frustrating! The compassionate part of you wants to take them by the arm and point out what it is they are doing (which I have tried) but they literally don’t care and take real pleasure in being jerks.

    One thing I do is just hold inside me the feeling of pity that someday that person WILL get what’s coming to them. I also chant “This is not worth going to jail for” over and over. Sad day when I DO decide it IS worth going to jail for.

    This really kind of applies to girls too – I remember being picked on incessantly in elementary school. I finally lost it one day and literally almost took a girl’s eye out – and I have to tell you I got left alone after that! I was strong enough to take on some of the boys in my neighbor hood, and sadly even my mother. Girls suffer these situations as well, and martial arts would have been such a boon for me. I really could have avoided so much of it if I had had confidence in myself and didn’t lose my temper.

    Now, I have finally learned my best weapon? Laughter. I just start laughing when someone starts in with me. If I am in line behind someone who is abusive to a checkout clerk, I help him or her laugh it off. If someone starts in on me I start laughing and pointing and man, it shuts them up fast. I did this in bars (I have a rather loud laugh), and it got me great success. Takes the wind right out of their sails. No joke, laugh and the world does laugh with you!

  36. As Jill @#3 says, it’s not just a gender thing, Tim.

    We small gals (4’10”, 93#) often have to resort to a physical response when the occasion warrants it. Although I’ve found that simple “knee” response is much more effective than a slap in the face; it really gets the a**hole’s attention and renders him inert


  37. Well, having personal experience with this, I found the hassle of facing the judge in one instance and getting stitches in another outweighed the satisfaction. Right or wrong has f*ckall to do with it.

    In the end, what matters is what one has to lose. The **sholes usually have much less to lose.

    Fortunately, no one has ever spit in my face. Pretty sure I would be back in front of the judge on that one. It would be worth it.


  38. Violence only begets violence. Don’t stoop to that jerks level. Don’t ever believe that hitting someone is satisfying. What if your daughter or young son had spit in someone’s face – a big fat bully. A punch from that bully could seriously injure your child. You would never wish that on your child. That hippie was selfish – a quality our world needs less of and you, also selfishly, think that your violent action is justified. God gave us intelligence to see past the jerk and realize something in him needs changing and violence won’t help him improve. I could go on but that’s for another discussion. Karen

  39. So I am about 8 yrs old … my parents take me and my brothers to Dennys or Shoneys or something like that … breakfast time before a tennessee football game …

    Anyway … the tennessee shoneys were 80% smoking and 20% non smoking. yeee ha.

    So we wait extra long to get a non smoking table….

    Regardless … the dude in the table behind us lights one up …

    And so… Dad makes every ‘obvious’ indication that we are in a non-smoking section … coughing, … waving hands in front of face … etc. And even the manager comes over and asks the man to stop.

    But … there sits fatass … still puffing away …

    So .. after a few minutes dad got up … walked over – grabbed the cigarette from the mans mouth … threw it on the ground … stomped it out. The man immediately lights up another and says ‘why don’t you try that again?’

    My dad was calm and said … “Sir, you are making it difficult to enjoy our meal. So please put your cigarette out or … I am gonna bust open your lip.”

    The man just sat back in his chair and puffed and smirked …

    … I wish I had a video camera back then .. that was one sweet-ass punch.

    Sometimes the best solution is to just to serve up a healthy dose of ‘shut the F# up … and clean their clock for them…

  40. This article is a breath of fresh air. Men in our culture have become the epitome of emasculation. Even if there is a fist-fight situation, it’s become the standard for the loser to file assault charges, as well as a civil suit!

    Our past president Theodore Roosevelt, was once fired from being a Sunday School teacher, because he rewarded a young boy a dollar for defending his sister’s honor and knocking another boy upside the head. What ever became of this culture of dignified mutual combat?

  41. I can’t say that I have a problem with this. I don’t think anyone in my adult life has ever said “make me” to me. As for unwanted male attention – verbal assaults seem to create an adequate amount of embarrassment and laughter at the offender’s expense.

    Even so, it became clear to me 10 years ago that if I had males in my life I would still be dealing with these issues, albeit indirectly. I was in a pub in London, accompanied by some of the Queen’s horse guards whom I had befriended the week before. After a while, a superior officer decided he should be a better friend to me than his subordinate. Pretty soon, the entire pub had broken out in a brawl, eventually resulting in several arrests. My attention ended up being directed at an innocent bystander who had gotten punched for no good reason. He and I left the pub to go dancing, and as they say, the rest is history.

    I’ve decided the only meaningful way that I can contribute to this dilemma is to offer personal counsel to the men in my life – to help them feel as strong, competent, capable and confident as they can – hopefully lessening the need to “prove it” in random acts of violence.

    When it boils down to it – even if the other guy is being an a**hole and pummeling him is justified – I don’t care enough about the a**hole to encourage my man risking himself in any way – physically, legally, etc. I’d rather he just come home and prove to me what kind of man he is… Which is just as physical, hopefully just as satisfying, infinitely repeatable, and an equally valid topic to brag about with the boys.

    This strategy seems to be working. I just had a new friend yesterday tell me that he feels more confident and comfortable around me than most people.

  42. I’ve seen friends reason, be patient, and get picked on by other irrational bullies and sometimes a great Kung Fu punch is the best solution.

    My Judo teacher taught us to defend for the weaker when they can’t.

  43. I am totally in-favor of punching jerks. BUT there is the problem of asymmetrical outcomes (see Nicholas Taleb “Fooled By Randomness”) to take into consideration:

    – “But your Honor, I didn’t Mean to Kill Him”

    You want to break the jerk’s nose, so you punch them. By chance, you land a perfect shot… on the chin and knock the jerk out. They are standing, and fall over backwards onto concrete. SMACK- the back of their head hits the concrete, they die, and you go to jail. THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. So: if you plan to punch someone, plan your NEXT move to ease them to the ground if your hit lands well. OR: just kick ’em in the nads – they will fall forward, which is safer for them.

    – “Oh You AND Your Friends Want to Play?”

    You punch the jerk, but you misread the situation and his 8 knife-equipped friends that were over at the bar kill you. Or, they make a point of stalking you for the next 3 months, driving you out of your neighborhood or hurting your friends or pets when you’re not around. This happens.

    So, Tim – I think you need to disclaimer the excellent message of your post a bit – punch jerks IF you know where you are, who’s in the room, who’s hands are in their pockets, and if you’re prepared to escalate or escape…

    That annoying little hippie may be packing. Be ready.

    – Karl

  44. I already provided my personal take on this, but want to contribute some wider social commentary as well.

    First off – this conversation has 2 very distinct components:

    1. The appropriateness of seeking gratification and/or revenge by physically dominating someone else

    2. The honest quest of deterring jerkish behavior in an unraveling society

    I’m guessing that beating someone up in the hopes of “teaching him a lesson” doesn’t work. I’m betting that whatever inadequacies drove the little “annoying hippie” to spit in the author’s face have only been further validated by getting beaten. In fact, he may now be a martyr for the whole group’s cause, thereby spurring them on to commit further acts of jerkiness.

    If you REALLY want to act as a deterrent, you have to remove yourself (and your frustrations, anger, etc.) from the situation as much as possible – before rendering your unique brand of justice.

    I am well aware that initiating a conversation with the kid about why he would choose to spit in your face (particularly when it’s obvious that you COULD beat him up) is not the “manly” thing to do. But if you look at it from the point of view that this is your opportunity to CHANGE HIS LIFE FOREVER – perhaps you’ll realize it’s the RIGHT thing to do. OR NOT. Maybe you still decide to just pop him. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re doing it for his own good, or as society’s self-appointed mediator.

  45. “I want you to do me a favour. Hit me as hard as you can.”



    “What do you want me to do, you just want me to hit you?”

    “Come on – just this one favour.”


    “Why? I don’t know why. I don’t know … never been in a fight. You?”

    “No! But that … that’s a good thing.”

    “No it is not. How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight? I don’t want to die without any scars. So come on – hit me, before I lose my nerve.”

    “Oh God, this is crazy. I don’t want…”

    “So go crazy – lett’r rip”

    “Hey, I don’t know about this…”

    “I don’t know either, who gives a sh*t – no ones watching. What do you care?”

    “Wait, this is crazy – you want me to hit you?!?”

    “That’s right.”

    “Where, like in the face?!?”

    “Ha ha – Surprise me.”

    “This is so f’ing stupid.”


    “Aww Mother f’er – you hit me in the ear!”

    “Well, Jeez – I’m sorry!”

    “Ouuuww – Why the ear man?”

    “Aw, I f’ed it up, kinda.”

    “No, that was perfect!”

    Man, I love that movie! Some people are just asking to be hit!

    Here in Canada, many of us young men have settled our differences by dropping the gloves and going a round or two. It’s almost a coming of age thing for many of us – a good old hockey fight.


    Hey “Tyler” 🙂

    That is a great transcription! Thanks for the nostalgic movie reference. People think MMA is rough. Man, I’d take MMA over getting pounded by an NHL enforcer any day.

    Pura vida,


    1. Amen! It should be settled like a good hockey fight. Square off, drop the gloves and lids (ridiculous that’s not allowed now) and go at it. When the guy goes down, it’s over. You still have to have some honor even in this situation.

  46. If someone intentionally spits in your face, it’s battery. You have every right to hit them. However – never, never, ever punch someone in the face. You will break bones in your hand, believe me. A hard upthrust of the heel of one’s hand to the nose does a good job, as does a quick punch to the groin or solar plexus. However, you must immediately follow it up with a secondary take-down or the guy will just retaliate. Put him down and prepare to engage his friends, because few clowns like this act without being surrounded by lots of friends. And for them, I carry pepper spray.

  47. It’s a fun, nostalgic article. Speaking as one that beat the living daylights out of a would-be bully and enjoyed it– I’d never do that again knowing what I know now.

    Back then I got the customary 3 day suspension from school. Today, it’s not unlikely that I’d be ambushed and killed later for that.

    Along the lines of the “asymmetrical outcomes” reply, I actually think it’s a far meaner and more cruel world now than it was. The reaction could be disproportionate and total over-reaction is not uncommon.

  48. Hi Tim,

    Love your book, and your website. We have so much in common! If you weren’t so darn famous, it’d be great to exchange a few emails with you sometime. (I mention the “famous” bit, because I’m pretty sure you don’t have much time for new friends! 🙂

    Anyway, I enjoyed this article a lot. Although I’m fairly sure I could hold my own — I just got my brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (I know you can appreciate that!) — I would still try at nearly all costs to avoid a real confrontation these days. I noticed a big change of attitude on that when I had kids.

    — Matt


    Hi Matt!

    A brown in BJJ? That is serious business. Rest assured I won’t be picked a rumble with you. I like my elbows just how they are, thank you 🙂


  49. When you are short on cash for bail and so battery is not advised, you can get by on a perfectly enunciated “F*&% YOU!” accessorized with appropriate hand gestures and look of repulsion.

  50. I wouldn’t worry about the lawsuits. If enough people start punching jerks, the courts will be flooded and judges forced to ignore such cases. Then it goes to the court of public appeal. Pretty soon people will know that you can punch someone and they can’t sue you.

    But it won’t stop the AK-47s.

  51. Sounds good in theory but would never work in reality. Who’s going to decide which person is the good guy or is the jerk? You think that Jericho clown thought he was wrong to spit in the author’s face? Bet it was his opinion that the author was the one being the jerk.

  52. Actually I have a buddy who set the kind of legal precedent you’re talking about. Pretty sure it was in Colorado, but i can’t be quite sure because he moved around quite a bit with the army. Anyway, the story…

    My buddy is married. His wife likes to dance, he does not, he’s just not the dancing kind of guy. To fix this he goes with his wife to quite a few dance clubs and she can dance with whoever she wants. He doesn’t mind people getting close to his wife in general, he is just not a jealous guy. Unless you touch his wife…

    One night his wife was dancing and the guy she was dancing with starting getting a bit too physical. So he pulled the guy aside, explained the situation (we’re married, I don’t dance) and politely asked him not to touch his wife that way. Guys says fine. So my buddy notices the same thing happening again, and pulls the guy aside again and says, “I know it’s a club, I know it’s fun, but please just don’t touch my wife that way again. If you do, I’ll hit you.” Another Ok, and back to the floor.

    The ballsy little guy does the same thing again. And sure enough, my buddy hauled off and decked him. And it did end up going to the cops and then to a judge. When on the stand something funny happened.

    My buddy’s lawyer asks the sleazy douche bag “Did he warn you what he would do?” The guy said yes… Then the judge got involved. Here’s how that played out

    Judge: He really warned you?

    Guy: Yes.

    Judge: He warned you that he would hit you?

    Guy: Yes.

    Judge (turns to my friend): How many times did you warn him?

    Friend: Three times your Honor.

    Judge (back to douche bag): Is that true?

    Guy: Well… Yeah…

    Judge: Well then, that was fair warning and you deserve everything you got.

    And he threw the case out. I chalk that up to small town court rules. But things might be changing for the better.

  53. My son was 10 years old and in a moon-bounce with his friend. As I looked out the window I see my son curled in a ball while his friend repeatedly kicks him. As I opened the window to yell, my son stands up and socks his friend in the face as hard as he can. This was the first time he had ever hit anyone. It was the best thing in the world for him to do. Good for his confidence and self-respect.

    As a mother with a boy who may some day go to war…how do they learn to shoot other men if they never learn to fight? and is this a goal we want? what if I didn’t have to worry about sending a whimpy boy to war and I could teach him how to turn the other cheek and “use your words”. It would be nice but not safe.

    Idealistically I’d love to walk away. But damn was I proud of that punch in the moon-bounce that day!

  54. Wow – that’s really intense. I can’t say that I have not had the urge to do that, but at the same time, I feel that I can take the upper road and show some restraint, which offers real power in the face of such weakness as spitting.

    By the way, this is my debut comment on these blogs. I’m converting my life one step at a time into a Four Hour Work Week, and journaling / chronicling my journey on a blog at http://www.fourhourworkweekdiary.com/. I’d love all of your feedback, encouragement, and comments on my journey!

    Oh, and I have some really cool apparel for any four-hour-a-weeker that cares to show it off in public!



  55. I wholeheartedly agree. A good punch in the face is what most people need nowadays. Especially those little f*cks on Digg 😉

  56. Am I the only one who thinks that both of these guys were jerks? If the story was written from the perspective of Jericho (“My friend and I were sitting in our local, practising our Buddhist chanting, when this fucking Neanderthal came over to our table and told us to shut up”), you would all be saying that Chris Jones (the author) deserved to be spit on.

  57. This is only my guess, but it sounds like you were trying to fight fire with fire. I’m also thinking that you went up to them with an attitude of “you better stop your damn clapping or I’m going to stop it for you.” This only made that other person want to fight back.

    Martin Luther King and Gandhi would have many arguments of passive resistance, instead of bringing in the “fists of fury” to solve the problem. I don’t think they believed in violence because it only made the situation worse. Yes, it might sound corny that I’m using King and Gandhi as an example, but they were smart men willing to look over the whole situation before they came with the big guns.

    My suggestion would be to join with them in their clapping or gathering a few of the other people that were also annoyed and show them that they have no right to act like such jerks. It’s like you said in your book you got to think differently then the rest of the group to get the response you need.


    Hi Karl,

    That wasn’t me in the bar! It was an excerpt from an Esquire article, so I didn’t tell anyone to stop clapping or get my face spit on. Thank God for that 🙂


  58. My rules for fighting

    can’t pick on weaker opponents

    gender can’t hit the other gender

    must use MMA rules

    There was this great TV show in the early nineties, called “The Grudge Match” that made money off getting people like Jericho and the bar dude into the ring.

    Creative Aggression, (an oldie but a goodie) by Dr. George Bach is my top book recommendation on the topic

  59. Sweet comments. Oh Tim, Did you know that Carlos Machado is being nominated the best BJJ instructor of the year? He will be receiving the award on Jan 12, 2008 in Newark NJ. Anyways, I figure I would keep you posted on the BJJ world here in Texas. If you ever swing by Dallas let me know and I am sure Carlos would love to have you roll around at the academy.

    Keeping you posted….

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  60. Sweet Post,

    I am glad you cleared that up. I was a bit confused. Thanks for clearing that up. Thanks for the answer on the NYC vs LA question. In your opinion what best would benefit an entrepreneur in CA?

    Have a great nite and enjoy your holidays!!!!!!!

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  61. Very pro-punching people. Owing to the internet people have been getting mighty bold. I think if people started actually hitting people again the metropolitan environment would be alot more civilized.

    If you are online and people try to flame you, you should just go, “What’s your address? Lets deal with this face to face.” Shockingly most flamers online completely lack balls or maybe not so shockingly.


  62. Hi Tim,

    I spent a night thinking on this one,there is an old maxim I go by and it is always rang true for me no matter what the situation and that is, whoever loses his temper first loses the fight.If you spend your day looking to be offended you will surely find many opportunities to do so.

    If you spend your day looking for the best in situations and being grateful for your life and things in it you will also find many opportunities to do so.

    If you walk around with the proverbial chip on your shoulder you will find those that will want to knock it off whether verbally or physically.

    If you remember Andy Kaufman,the thing he enjoyed most was pissing off others and see how far he could turn the screws on them before they would “lose it”.Just ask Tony Danza,he hated the guy and Andy Kaufman knew it.

    Each opportunity that is brought to you is ultimately a test of your character and if you don’t pass that test,well,life will surely give you another one until you “get it”.

    Thanks Tim,

    Keep up the good work.


  63. Tim,

    I know exactly how you feel.

    I’m a married father of two who counsels others in conflict resolution. But, when some guy ran his car up to my bumper and laid onto the horn because he felt I was too slow clearing the intersection, when my two daughters ages 7 & 8 were in the back seat, I too went a bit Old Testament.

    I’ve trained in martial and mixed martial arts for years and am practiced in many techniques to bring rapid submission and immense pain. The point is, I’m not the only one. How can people just assume they can charge up on you and you haven’t the means to systematically dis-assemble them?

    Oh well, I suppose they rely on the fact that those capable of inflicting major damage know it, and thus don’t feel completely compelled to do so.

  64. Tim:

    You pride yourself on your ability to be aware (or metacognative as I think you call it?). Here, you seem to be unaware that for males — especially drunken males — the other guy will always be a “jerk”.

    You’ve formented a bristling comment thread of passive aggressive people who, the next time they accidentally bump into each other or spill a drink in the East Village on a Saturday night, might swing punches at the other “jerk”. Remember that when 90% of these situations occur, alcohol will have been consumed.

    I’ve lived in a few countries during my lifetime and NYC is the city I feel safest in. Despite all the aggression and honking and brashness, people tend not to let loose with their fists. This allows us to live On Top Of Each Other in Manhattan without it turning into Mogadishu.

    You think New York’s manners have really gone to hell in the last few years??? Really??? You sound like a Fox News commentator. Or maybe just maybe you’re universalizing your personal grouchiness?

    Fight Club is cool, I agree, and so is punching your mates. We’re evoloved monkeys, let’s not forget it. But punching strangers because you subjectively think they’re “jerks” is stupid.

    Also, the author of the Esquire article has weird agression issues (it’s his schtick). Check out his interview with Colin Farrell, which is simply an inner monologye about how much he wants to punch Colin in his pretty Irish face.

    I bet he provoked the hippy to spit.

    Paul (MQ)

  65. I’d be all pro peace, let’s resolve this with words and stuff like that – but sometimes it doesn’t go like that. Luckily, I avoided such situations since school days. And I hope I don’t have to resolve to punching people into faces again to make them understand that enough is enough.

    You are a fighter, Tim. How do you avoid situations when someone pushes you to the edge outside of the ring?

  66. I just had to comment on this very particular one. Anger management for all. I had my own with no tutor by just being forced to live at a shelter now, I had no other choice for now.

    Aggression arises daily and daily I am faced with the Saint Anger. Women and men, it is like human kind crawling back into irrational animals when they’re put all together inside of a vey small cage – representing any kind of pressure, they will fight for survive.

    I think thank mother nature we might not come to demographic explosions and chaos in this way, mother nature will take care of exterminating the rooten seeds, as does war and epidemics as well.

    In addition, some dogs that barks, they sometimes do not bite, anyways, keep an eye on all of them or over your shoulders, they have teeth that you can break with a good elbow brains. Nobody dies of intelligence but ignorance kills faster.

    Kill with kindness my dear.



  67. Personally, I will never punch someone unless it’s a last resort. (Even then, I’d probably groin-kick or throat/eye jab them instead – better leverage for me)

    I don’t believe you can cure insolence, stupidity or arrogance with violence, no matter how satisfying it is!

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think jerks should be put in their place!


    “This was the first time he had ever hit anyone. It was the best thing in the world for him to do. Good for his confidence and self-respect.”

    Yes, standing up for ourselves is good for our confidence and self-respect. I absolutely agree that we should teach our children how to stand up for themselves and their families and for what they love.

    All I want to point out is that standing up for oneself in no uncertain terms does not necessarily mean throwing a punch.

    “what if I didn’t have to worry about sending a whimpy boy to war and I could teach him how to turn the other cheek and “use your words”. It would be nice but not safe.”

    The lesson about ‘turning the other cheek’ is a lesson in compassion, not survival. I can understand where your decision is coming from, and indeed, if you taught your children to turn the other cheek INSTEAD of standing up for themselves, then you would be doing them a disservice, and to their futures as well.

    The interesting thing about this cycle of jerks is that mindless bullies are only mindless until someone stands up to them, but the fact that so few people stand up to them helps to create even more mindless bullies.

  68. Hi Tim,

    While the article and your comments make a convincing point, I have to say that Jesus had a much more badass response to situations like this. He turned and walked away knowing that those kinds of assholes will suffer a much worse punishment for their actions…they have to live with an asshole like themselves.

    I do think that men today need to…well…”man-up” more these days and I celebrate that, but I have a hard time believing that I’m any better than those assholes at my best or worse times. I feel It would be hippocritcal for me to put myself above another and correct him with a punch. I’m no hippie, “give peace a chance” kinda guy, but I think King and Ghandi were showed incredible strength and endurance to deny themselves and do what’s right in the world.

    You’ve got great posts, thanks for everything you do.


  69. @David #53:

    That story is the kind of thing that freaks me out. I was at a club in Cabo with my two brothers and my youngest brother was dancing with some guy’s girlfriend (unbeknownst to me, he’d been warned and didn’t heed it). We all got jumped at once and I took a blind punch that knocked me across the dance floor resulting in four stitches and two black eyes. I was glad to get out of there with that for as I was stumbling across the floor after being hit, I had the distinct thought,”If I end up on the floor, they’ll kick the crap out of me.”

    Too few people believe in a one-on-one fight and they’re usually not those who deserve a lick.

  70. I think you’re right about this one Tim. I’m not saying we should go around punching everyone in the face for any little thing they do, but to those who really deserve it… I think it would do some good. It is a bit easier to get away with it in a small town like mine – (Hawkins, TX) 🙂

  71. I haven’t read the article yet (took long enough just getting through the comments — congrats!), but I agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise.

    I haven’t punched anyone yet — I’m pretty good at just using words and body language to get the desired outcome. But I stopped backing down or just “taking it” a long time ago, too. I have zero tolerance for these kinds of assholes, and I do believe that someone has to stand up to them, especially in public, when the situation calls for it.

    I think of it as a kind of ad-hoc, volunteer community policing. People tend to settle into a herd mentality. Unfortunately the assholes take advantage of this by making it “clear” that they’re the Alpha in the group by acting like there’s no authority nearby who can effectively challenge them — and usually, that “act” of confidence is enough to make it so. But remember — it’s just an act. As soon as someone steps up and does challenge them, they either have to back down or defeat the challenger.

    People get used to there not being a police officer around, so when one of these wannabe “Alphas” pops up, if there’s no genuine authority figure around, people are (often rightly) reluctant to step up. So if you have the clarity of mind to see through the act, and can effectively challenge the jerk (every situation is different), I think you almost have an obligation to do so. Hopefully you can get the crowd behind you quickly and diffuse it without violence, but if not, well…

    This dynamic also plays out in other ways. I hate crowds and avoid them whenever possible for this reason. Often a crowd just needs someone to lead the way. Watch a crowded movie theater exiting; see 100 people squeeze through the one open door before someone simply opens the other door — I’m *amazed* at how often that one person is me.

    One time some friends and I were trying to leave a crowded parking lot at the end of a concert, but no cars were moving — we were all bottlenecked because the heavy traffic on the road outside the exit wasn’t stopping to let cars from our lot merge into the flow. All it took was two of use to walk out to the road and start directing traffic to get everything moving more smoothly and fairly for everyone. But without that, 1,000 people would’ve just sat in their cars fuming (in both senses of the word) and getting nowhere (maybe a few being alert enough to grumble, “they should’ve hired someone to direct traffic…”).

  72. You want to know who MY hero is? Aside from Tim Ferris, of course, it’s Andrei Arlovski. Just go here: http://www.arlovski.tv , then check out the first video after clicking “media; video”. MOTHER. He is one bad-ass mother.

    Tim would you take this guy on? I love the beard.

  73. Awesome post. I’ve gotten into loads of fistfights back in high school and college. Some were memorable, some I’d rather forget, but most of them were truly unavoidable.

    My main lessons:

    – The one who tries to stop a fight always gets pummeled. But it’s sometimes worth the effort.

    – Practicing a traditional martial arts, for me Taekwondo, somehow lessens the fights you get into. Perhaps because of acquired self-control.

    – Unhealthy repression of your emotions, gets you into more major trouble. You eventually snap.

    – A group of rowdy guys feel indestructible. But single out the biggest one and usually everyone else backs off.

    – Keep your cool at all times even if you’re already in the fight.

    – Don’t be a jerk like them.


  74. I’ll tell you something guys – I have been through the wringer on this one and before a month ago would have been cheering it on “yeah, punch that guy!”

    The thing is: I have been an instructor in thai and BJJ and I know what a single punch can do – especially these days:

    whether on not you want to admit it the training available today is so much more effective than it was years ago that an average joe can develop tremendous punching power in a remarkably short time (much faster than the moral aptitude to monitor it). So in a nut shell:

    1. If you have the ability to punch well you shouldn’t – your gonna really hurt the guy. Spit is gross but it doesn’t hurt.

    2. If you don’t know how to punch you shouldn’t – your gonna hurt your hand – possibly lose permanent function or at least have nerve or tendon damage. (Try hitting a bowling ball with your fist – that’s what a skull feels like in most spots)

    3. If you have any kind of moral sense of goodness you will NOT feel better after pummeling someone into the ground in 90% of cases (the ten percent that you could not avoid don’t count but that’s because the good feeling is that they didn’t get YOU). I know what you feel like after – and it’s dirty, low, and primal – like an alligator in the mud that snaps at everything.

    Everyone is thinking, “What a buzz-kill dude!” “Your raining on my manly parade”… Well, not really guys – if someone spits in my face I will respond – and then they will wake up a little later and I will ask for an apology – Chokes are way safer if you know what you’re doing…

    The thing is: a father was just killed in the town next to mine (with two kids) and I forgot the guys name so I googled: man punched outside of bar dies – try it… there is listing after listing of death after death.

    Kinda takes the wind out of that macho response, eh?


    p.s.: first degree murder

  75. Great topic and comments on both sides. I understand the sentiments of those who say, “just walk away.” Although walking away my be physically safer, it can leave a permanent bruise on your soul. I’ve done both. The actual fights I was in are dim memories, but the times when I walked away when I clearly should have stood up to a bully or drunk are clear and sharp in my head like they happened yesterday. Gives me a sick feeing just to think about them. I am still disappointed in myself. So don’t think that just walking away from a fight is without its own set of dangers and injuries.

    It’s like the fight scene in Dazed and Confused 🙂 The skinny intellectual guy fights back and gets his butt kicked… but will feel better about himself for the rest of his life.

    But just to be safe, have someone teach you the Guard Position!

  76. Right on.. I once had a roomate who was a loud obnoxious asshole who barged into my room and started kicking stuff around on his way to the shared bathroom we used. I informed him that it wasn’t cool to kick my stuff and would appreciate him not doing that again. He got in my face and asked me what I was going to do about it, kept pushing, etc. It didn’t take long to realize that no amount of words could resolve the situation so I went from calm to fist-of-fury in about a nanosecond and with one well placed swing knocked him on his ass and disoriented him. Before he could regain his orientation I picked him up and tossed him out of the door and locked it. After threating to kill me, he finally passed out and then apologized for being a douche bag the next day. Violence is definitely a useful and viable option and must be used in some circumstances, otherwise people’s behavior gets out of control.

  77. In my recreational swordfighting group, we occasionally preface a fight with “full strength, no injuries.” We mean, fight as hard as you can without doing permanent damage to the other person (we wear heavy armor and are using wooden swords).

    Sometimes, we say “no injuries that last more than a week.” Seems like a respectable rule for fistfights- if my arm is still hurting after a week, then you probably hit too hard.

    And it clearly puts most weapons out-of-bounds.

    But you have to make sure everyone is playing by that same ruleset…. if someone punches me in the face, unless I know them I have to assume I am fighting for my life, because I don’t know what they are going to do next, and that is when injuries may occur.

  78. Just a little note on the mental effects of such things, as I’m personally quite disgusted with the increasingly ‘soft’ attitude of the western culture.

    It is believed commonly in western cultures that physical violence causes trauma, and more often than not leads to mental damage. Whilst this may be true in some limited scenarios, it is not true in almost all real situations.

    As an AI specialist, I have spent some time studying the nature of neural learning (how the brain learns, at a fundamental level), and we can derive some interesting points from what is observed there.

    First of all, in order to learn, a ‘training weight’ is required. In reality, this pertains to a ‘reaction’ which causes an affect on the brain in order to verify a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ action. The classic example, is a child learning about fire. They are “burned once, and never again”. The reason why this is so commonly true, especially in the case of fire itself, is that there is a very strong training weight (pain), which indicated a very strong ‘bad’ action.

    Without a training weight, there is no such regulation of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, except in reflective training (that is, thoughts morals). Something which many “idiots” are reputably poor at.

    I put it to you, that a strong training weight is a more effective teaching aid than anything else.

    I’m not saying bring back the cane, necessarily, but, there are ridiculous rules coming into play these days that need to be stopped, now.

    I wonder if many readers here (or many people at all) are aware of recent rules in the United Kingdom preventing teachers from saying ‘NO’ to children? (I’m not kidding, research it).

    This idea completely blocks neural training weights, and I propose that children will simply not learn effectively under such cotton-wool conditions.

    If there is someone I want to punch in the face, it’s the complete and utter idiots that pushed such rules and ideals into our cultures.

  79. You missed one reason – pre-emptive strike. There are some people who menace you just to get a read on you for a possible future action. If you can see it coming, and you’re sure enough that you’re willing to risk having to explain it to a judge, then go with your instinct. The rule of law should guide your actions only if they’re also guiding the actions of the guy whose pointing a gun in your face.

    “So every morning, you wake up from that part of your shallow existence you accept as “a dream” and, feeling your nothingness dawning on you, you reach for your bottle of social media and keep drinking until all awareness of it is obliterated from your consciousness.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a small village to the north I intend to conquer today and I have to go ready my horse.”

  80. Tim,

    I thought the same after reading that article. Many pea-brains (especially here in nyc) deserve just that. I’ve found myself in similar situations ready to dish out a knuckle sandwich for inexcusably rude behavior. Usually the a.h. is surrounded by like-minded meatheads (never a beautiful woman) and are practically begging for it. Unfortunately these are the same sociopaths that will huant you with a lawsuit later. In our “sue everybody” society it makes it difficult to defend one’s honor. Keep fighting the good fight mein freund. You are an inspiration to those that matter. Might I suggest a book called “The Modern Gentleman” by Mollod and Tesauro?


  81. We’ve all had the feeling of wanting to slap someones face through the back of their head. However, consequences are inevitable if we try and do so, and sometimes they lead to much worse things.

    See http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/ for the real world consequences of what punching jerks in the face can lead to. He knows his stuff. Read it.

    Learn to let go of your feelings-that is all they are. It can be done. There are techniques developed by different people. I’ve had a lot of benefit from the Sedona Method. Get the book, The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being by Hale Dwoskin. It isn’t expensive and if you put the work in you’ll get benefits from it. After I did people I knew started asking if I was getting laid or on drugs. It works.

    I say the above not from a pacifist viewpoint, but someone who’s spent over 20 years doing martial arts, learning from people who have been attacked for real and have killed and seen people be killed. Nasty, horrible, terrible things.

    If there are jerks in the bar making a noise, get over it and go somewhere else. Easy as that. It will clear a lot quicker from your memory than being raped in a prison cell because you were locked up overnight for being in a bar fight-or for life for killing someone who made you angry because they were clapping.

    Be safe, have a great Christmas and go home safely to your loved ones. What can be more important than that?

  82. The problem is American culture.

    Here we are in 2007 charging people with assault who punch people in the face when defending their “honor” and yet the man on our $10 bill died in a gun duel to the death.

    Our country was founded by rebellious “terrorists” to England, yet they are glorified “revolutionaries”. I’d like to see something rise up against “mother America” today and see them labeled “terrorists” instead of revolutionaries. Say hello to military prison for attempting a current day Boston Tea Party.

    The issue is culture. Our culture has no base. There is no nuclear family anymore. Honor is not taught to our young people. Respect to others is not taught either. We are self-gods and this is why we are the way we are in this country. As one poster noted, kids are taught they are better than others.

    During this holiday season, I have said “Excuse me” while trying to get around folks in stores. NOT A SINGLE PERSON has ever said this to me this season. Where is the sense of respect for others in our society? Instead, I am cut off in the store just as I am cut off on the road. Nobody RESPECTS me or MY SAFETY. I pay the same friggin taxes to use the road, yet nobody RESPECTS my space. Americans are SELF SERVING.

    I do believe in Tim’s post. There are many stories in history of men defending their honor and it was normally a contractual agreement. But even in those days, there was a general sense of decency that existed that prevented these escalations. I feel that if I had existed in earlier times, I would have been able to politely ask somebody to quiet down if they were loud and they, out of respect, would oblige. Today, I would get treated like shit.

    Instead of having honorable disagreements and “gentleman’s” duels, we hide behind 3000lb metal weapons on the road and take out all aggressions on everybody trying to survive their friggin commute.

    I seriously think evolution for man has hit its limit and is going in the opposite direction.

  83. Tim,

    Great post and timely. I just got back from 3 months in Europe and despite being at the bars almost every night I only had 2 or 3 people warrantlessly harass me. Then, last night – less than a week after getting back to the states and out for the first time since returning to Phoenix I got to enjoy one of those delightful Jericho experiences. While it’s not just an American thing, because of the babying it really does seem like it’s running rampant.

    I’m 6’4, have a lighter build and I find that i’m perpetually harassed because of it. For some reason, simply because of my height people seem to think they can/have to prove something by trying to bully me. As a result I end up having to deal with at least two ego inflated puffballs each month pretending that they want to start a fight. The catch is, I don’t back down and – go figure – with a lot of huffing and puffing they always end up tucking tail when they see I’m not going anywhere or scared of them. I prefer not to get kicked out of places or show up to work with a black eye and try and “be the better person” so I always let the situation diffuse, but its annoying having to deal with these jerkoffs and their posturing on a regular basis.

    They’ve all proved time and time again that they’re all talk and I’ve gotta say I’m not sure how much longer I can take it before I start bringing a taste of accountability back into the picture. It seems like that’s what’s really missing and behind it all. If these morons actually expected to get knocked on their asses, I imagine most wouldn’t dare leave their beers.

    Barbaric? Not in this case. Perhaps just a necessary – but entertaining – evil.

  84. James, Jesus was a pacifist and pacifist strategies only work against enemies who have a conscious. I think it is a delusion to assume that people will feel bad if you simply ignore them. That’s what happened politically and now the world suffers because of George Bush and his cronies (he is a bully that was suffered by liberal pacifists). In short, turning the other cheek is dumb if the other person doesn’t value cheek-turning. Hence, the only way to make people listen in some last-resort situations is violence. Violence is the physical threat that keeps governments and society’s functioning.

  85. Case in point,just today this little boy was harassing my daughter. she came to me upset and i said to her “punch him in the face” she is four and the boy was about three, he would continually not let her pass on the playground. my four year old girl would not do anything but my two year old girl (the more aggressive one obviously) pushed him down about 20 minutes later and then he left both of them alone.

  86. This motivated me to elaborate on my blog http://talkingpoints4.blogspot.com/ . I agree with Tim’s take as well as the Esquire author. At some point and time the bullies and self assured a holes need to come to the understanding the buck has to stop. I don’t condone violence or a barbaric approach but if you don’t relate to anything other than that, then at some point, you have to understand ”

    Today is not the Day and I’m not the one.

  87. One way to deal (and probably the safest) is to maintain a psychological upper-hand. As a middle public school teacher in nyc (and where corporal punishment is outlawed) I’ve seen the worst of the worst behavior. You’d be suprised how much you can accomplish verbally and without using profanity. Sarcasm always works on a bully and good snaps impress the audience. Develop a sardinic wit and it will instigate the opposer to “throw the first punch”. Self-defense will lead to a legal victory if things are taken that far.

  88. Hey Tim,

    I would like to start punching jerks in the face.

    Actually, let me rephrase that: I’d like to have complete confidence that I could punch jerks in the face if I wanted without getting pummeled afterwards.

    I’m even going to be sitting-in at three martial arts classes this week for this very reason.

    [FWIW: From what you recommended on your David DeAngelo interview, I’ve decided to start with grappling, but I may take Judo instead of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (which you recommended.)]

    In any case, I’d opt for your advice in The 7 Commandments of Blogosphere (and Life) Self-Defense before I started teaching people lessons for mouthing off.

    Great post! Thanks!