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. Tim – Love the post, very entertaining. And while I agree with the general sentiment, I want to propose a slightly different approach (one that should result in less injuries – excluding the jerks.)

    Stand up for other people.

    So, take it back to the beginning of the story, where the hippie is acting like a three-year-old. Now, imagine that everyone else in the bar stands up, turns to the hippie with intent and angry eyes, and a few people say something along the lines of, “Want a chance to take that back?”

    Hippie option a: “Yes please, I’m sorry.” (Sits back down, crowd waits a moment, then goes back to what they’re doing.

    Hippie option b: “[insert vulgarity/inanity here].” (Crowd grabs the guy and/or his friends if they involve themselves, pin his arms painfully behind his back, frogwalk him to the door, and plant a 50-lb boot on his posterior to chuck him through the door.

    I understand that there will be those cases where someone with their mind unhinged comes back with an automatic and mows down the crowd – but let’s face it, if they were that screwed up to begin with, putting up with them isn’t going to change that. I really feel that if there were a sense of citizenship, a feeling that we’re all stuck on the same boat and should take care of each other, not only do the jerks become the minority (as they should), but we’re not forced to choose between ignoring blatant disrespect and fighting in our own defense. We should all take an interest in seeing that other people are treated with respect and consideration.

    And who knows, maybe the hairy hippies will jump ship when they’re ganged up on everywhere they go.

    1. What about yourself? Don’t you, or I have a right to stand up to this kind of behaviour in a way that is authentic and not a convoluted rehash of some tripe ‘assertiveness in the work place’ book we read? For our OWN self respect? Why is that wrong?

  2. Reg,

    I do believe esteem building is the core of intellectual and personal growth. Most of my students are well behaved having learned their manners in the home from parents that have provided a nurturing environment. Unfortunately the class bully never had that and acts out. Its called “negative attention getting” and needs to be dealt with effectively within legal limits to protect our children.


  3. If more parents laid a STFU on their kids, there would be less of a need to punch grown ups in the face.

    If STFU is too harsh for your kids, why don’t you start small with a hearty “HELL NO” when they ask to do someting ridiculous.

  4. Man I was just telling my girlfriend about this the other day. Would they act like they do these days with the ever-present threat of an imminent beat down from other males in response to their douchebaggery? Probably not. It’s the international language of “hey buddy, you’ve crossed the line “. Great article.

  5. Is this the correct place to send a message to Timothy Ferriss? Please let me know. Thanks.


    Hi Michelle,

    It’s best to see my “contact” page and choose the best person. For miscellaneous, best to email Amy.



  6. Mate…. Your damn right..!!

    Over here in Australia, we dont see a lot of what your talking about because here, men are still men and if you behave like that YOU WILL get a punch in the mouth..!!!!

    Good on ya for telling it like it is. God I hate do-gooders and advocates of political correction. Aaah I feel better now 🙂

  7. Jo…. pull your head out of the sand.

    In a mind full of malice, there’s no room for reason!

    Asking nicely someone who is robbing you to stop won’t make him stop. An elbow to the temple will however 🙂

    I am not an advocate for violence, but there is a time and a place where verbal de escalation will not work. If you had spent time in the military you might have known this.


    Like most things, there is a time and a place where violence is not only appropriate, but a positive thing. If someone is beating the crap out of you, violence can be a self-protective virtue.

    There are limits on what is and is not okay, and some assbags only respect that limit when you punch back.

  9. Sometimes, violence is a necessity.

    But sometimes, better just to walk away.

    If it does reach a climatic violent level, better get to bruising and then cruising quick, because the police in America have become mighty fascist lately and quick with the tazer!

    Don’t be like the Bush administration, always plan an escape before you strike.

  10. It’s so funny that I thought of this post as soon as I got home…

    I went out dancing tonight, and just happened to be getting some fresh air outside the club when a bartender dragged another guy out and across the street by his throat.

    I ran after them screaming something to the effect of “Hey, what’s going on?” multiple times. The bartender tossed the guy into a fence, but didn’t throw a single punch. I’m sure if I hadn’t been there, he would have beat the snot out of him.

    Why? The guy tried to steal a bottle of alcohol from the bar. Ridiculously stupid? Yep. Worth offending an innocent bystander and loosing her business along with her friends’? Apparently not.

    Interestingly, there were at least 12 other people witnessing the event — men and women — and not one of them objected to the situation in any way, shape or form. They just stared.

    I interfered with no hesitation, without knowing what the provocation had been. I’m glad I did, even if only for the sake that it proves I’m not living an anaesthetized life. Reactionary in my own way, perhaps, but not anaesthetized.

  11. This reminds me of a time when I was very young when my Father brought the whole familly out to eat at one of the nicest resturants in town. There was this loud mouth on the other side of the room being completely rude and ruining everyone time. My father got up went over to the guy. Im not sure what he said, but the guy shut up fro the rest of the night. My father came back and told us that in the 50’s every man in the place would have gottten up an thrown this jackass out the door on his face.

    I learned an important lesson that day…the 50’s rocked….guys need to start acting like men again.

  12. I have, my whole life, had this policy of punching the Jericho’s of the world. I do not make a habit of hitting other people and sometimes I think I’ve been chosen to send a message by the universe. Universe, I am your humble servant! But only if really necessary.

  13. You said that Jericho “loosed a throat pony” into you face. Do you mean that he spat on you? If so, then he deserves a good kicking!

  14. I would love to punch several people, however, if you punch them on the head they WILL get brain/nerve damage, chance of breaking jaws or eye sockets. In our city, a youth punched a classmate in jest after a practical joke, and he died…. Litigation, criminal records, hospital bills… Not worth the effort. NEVER punch on the head.

  15. In modern America those who break “the rules” rely on the rest of us following “the rules.” And they count on us not quietly following them home and waiting for the right moment. Because revenge is not only best served cold, it is best served anonymously. Not that I would ever do that, because, “That would be wrong.” Just a little something to consider.

    1. Like the first or second episode in season 1: “The Americans” when the dad kicked the crap out of the mid-20s guy that dated early teenage girls.

  16. @TrannyBuster: is this a joke? I’m always getting my back up about comments like these and then hear “oh I was just joking, lighten up”…is your username and ending comment meant to be a joke? because it’s not funny. I certainly don’t think Tim or any other poster here is advocating random violence against people you don’t like.

    This site is about lifestyle design, not hate or judgement for people’s lifestyle choices. Why so angry? I can only hope that these threads are being monitored and your comment gets deleted asap.

  17. Jason, I want move to Australia right now !

    The only country so far that I knew of where men are still men and you get punched if you insult someone was Russia.

    Glad to see there is still a western country with some male self-respect.

  18. I’ve found Non-Violent Communication to work perfectly. Also called empathetic or compassionate communication, you can find out more about it at cnvc.org. I teach it to bands to help them truly communicate and get along, used to teach it when i was a relationship counselor too. But I understand that it’s been used for everything from stopping rapes to getting blood feuding warring tribes to make peace.

  19. Yeah, we’ll, Here’s one for you.my 47 year old son-in-law decided that he couldn’t wait for his dinner after his wife had been operated on for a torn ligament in her knee and started screaming at her, About. What a bad house manager she is (she works full time) he wanted his dinner at 6:30 . I was making the dinner but turned it off and went to the room I was staying in. He ranted on for 20 minutes or so and then it got quiet. So I came out of the room and went downstairs to finish dinner. Mistake no. 1 . As soon as I reappeared he screamed at me” you fu–ing white trash freeloader , get the fu-k out of my house and then he spit full in my face. I was so shocked I backhanded him lightly and he hit me back. He then started yelling at my daughter …. The one in a cast from her ankle to her hip also at that time encased in an icing machine. I put a fist into his back, and he spit full force again and this time knocked me to the floor. I am 67 years old and have a pretty severe heart condition. I am not going to their home again. Was I right to slap him for the spitting?

  20. this reminds me of a night 4 years ago. London, I was out of a club with some guy (who’s now a good friend) who was maybe a foot higher than me. for some reason we got into an argument and he repeatedly said “I fuck your mom”. after the 4th Time I threw him a haymaker, he rolled on the floor. a second after that a police officer cuffed me and my friends. I got brought into a van, and they told me I would be fined for “public disturbance”; 180£ ! I decided to contest and found out the officer never filed the paper. Didn’t have to pay a penny.

  21. Sometimes jerks just need punching. I’m a female, a fairly small one, and I have zero qualms about punching the everloving fuck out of anyone, friend or foe, who touches my body without my express permission. And woe betide any idiot in a bar or club who thinks he (and yes, it is *always* a he) who thinks he can get away with that bullshit. It may be relevant that I am the only girl among five brothers – growing up, they were not in the habit of pulling their punches.

  22. Hmmmm ever remember an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I think the point of this article is well taken in that it talks about having self-confidence and self-respect as much as for others. I’d approve of a world where people stick up for ourselves, but I don’t approve of violence. If you’ve resorted to hitting someone, you’ve already lost in my book.

  23. As a female, all I can say is HELL YEAH!

    As a very fit 5’11” blonde, size 4/6, good looking, big boob’d, blue eyed, semi-pro VBall/Beach Vball player, I dealt with, how shall I say, DBs all yr round. They don’t realize I weigh about 175lbs +/-. That I happen to work with a boxer with whom I box with during lunch. That I run 7mi a day, swim another 3. I squat 300 easy… I’ve been weight training since I’ve been 14… with football players – as girls never did, I loved it. At an athletically genetically dispositioned 5’11” this never looks “big”.

    Yet, I would always get guys in my face telling me how inferior women athletes are. To the point that I started taking on challenges they would pose at parties (like the shore, I mean really) much to my friends discouragement to others. I’d be sore & sunburned for playing for 12 hrs (slightly cranky, dehydrated & usually with “un poco” tequila, and their drunk asses would challenge me (usually big ass dudes!). Oddly, most would say “hit me” and turn their back to me (? really? idiots). I’d laugh… & promptly hit them them in the lower back & drop them. Usually in front of large # of people. and then do another shot. (((shake head))).

    You just reach a point & smile while you do it. 😉

    But verbally challenge when you know they are bigger & way dumber.

  24. When I taught jr high and high school, I wanted to do a contracted boxing match between feuding students and charge a small fee to raise funds for other things. My students loved the idea and came up with punishments

    Consequences if thinga got out of hand outside the ring and things weren’t squashed. But no, too much worry about feelings and litigation and stuff. Everyone needs to get punched in the face once or twice, and get to punch someone in the face a couple of times.

  25. A totally irresponsible post.

    A friend of mine was murdered thanks to a single punch in front of a bar. A single punch. It wasn’t even hard. A freak occurrence that resulted over someone being careless and bumping into someone else, spilling a $3 drink.

    Hundreds of people die every year die due to acts of physical aggression. Most of these cases could have been avoided by walking away and not being assholes about it.

    You are trying to justify possible murder instead of being the better man and walking away.

    You lost a lot of respect from me Tim.

    1. Ideas on how to deal with “Jericho” then? Not being adversarial, just interested in following the choices/decisions.

    2. Horseshit. Freak occurrences are no reason to allow assholes to be assholes as much as they want to be. Freak occurrences kill people walking alongside roads, or driving in cars. Should we all hide in bunkers? Your logic is flawed.

  26. Outstanding article Tim. Life is about being responsible for your actions. As my drill instructor at Parris Island said in one of his first lessons, “Son you can do anything you want in this world but you better be prepared to own your shit.” Too many people these days flit through life with no regard for anyone but themselves and are horrified when held accountable for their actions. So when you go to a bar with a group of buddies to a bar always designate a puncher.

  27. Any fight can result in death or jail. Never worth it. Save your aggression for when your life depends on it. Someone spits on you, spit back.

  28. Without the instigation of the use of force, the response of force is never justifiable. We’ve all been assholes at one time or another. Everyone we meet is fighting a great battle, and should be met with empathy. My 2 cents.

  29. Love the last thought… “too much time in NYC” … definitely some truth to that. There is an abundance of free floating aggression here…especially in summer time. Only other place that I’ve experienced with similar atmosphere is Johannesburg. As for doling out some fist contact… well I’ve dented a few cars that came across the cross walks myself, and then of course there’s boxing classes..Gleason’s gym in DUMBO Brooklyn. Go there, its the real deal.

    I don’t know if there is a good answer (outside of sparring in a ring?) for finding some social contract that allows for this more physically consequential interaction. it seems everyone and their dead aunt has a lawyer ready to pounce…. Its a shame. Responsibility and consequence for ones actions is a tough lesson to teach these days it seems….

    Love the article- thanks for sharing!

  30. Tim,

    I love your blog and podcast, I really do. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and the things that kept me sane was my practice of Martial Arts. I saw youth stay away from drugs and alcohol because of the power of TKD, and I had the pleasure of being kicked in the face during spars…and kicking back of course.

    However, there’s a difference between fighting to test your personal capacity and discipline and fighting to silence someone who is clearly an asshole.

    Gender violence, man on man violence, stems from perceived feelings of feeling powerless, but let’s not forget that your inner Tyler Durden’s end goal is epiphany through self destruction.

    I got challenged by a classmate for a friendly spar, he was an athlete in high school and 40ls heavier. I won because of training, and it inspired me to start running. It was constructive.

    Unfortunately, a month later his pride got the best of me and he asked me to apologize for terrorism on behalf of my faith. My reaction could not be violence, because it would undue the constructive love I have for discipline.

    Bar room brawls have no benefit besides ego dominance in my opinion and really hurt the vision of a complete man.

  31. Oh I wish this were possible here in France, culturally not acceptable not like back home in England. If someone acts like a dick, you should be able to hand out an educational right hook. Would make the world a better place, more respectful and civilised. Managed to educate 3 last year when I caught six of them beating on a single guy.

  32. You are on to something. Not enough people have had their clock cleaned in the name of respectful behavior. Unchecked, this inevitably devolves into unprovoked violence. Great post

  33. You said, “Ladies, take this as an inside look at the hardwiring of the male mind.”

    Cut the crap about hardwiring and don’t presume to speak for all men.

    This is your own set of reactions and reasoning. It has its limitations and consequences, and it’s your responsibility.

  34. I was raised back in the day when disrespect and over the top rudeness were put to an end with a punch to the mouth. It was a much more respectful culture.

  35. Rarely, very rarely, yet sometimes, people need a punch in the throat to remind them that they live in the world with other people and that those other people will sometimes hit them, for ANY reason. i actually recommend just punching someone at random on general principle, because at some point, they probably deserved it.

  36. Hi Tim,

    I’d totally recommend a vacation on Hawaii. Not so much fighting here, more aloha, booze, beach and great food (at least at my place)

    Rock on


  37. Tim, this is something that needs to be considered by our culture. Countless times I’ve felt bound by a contract of higher social grace to hold back on spmeo who had it coming but could hide begin the walls of etiwute which were ironica created to stop this kind of thing. I am a 24 year old male and I don’t think I’m a unique case when I say how much it wears on you when you swallow the bullshit in an attempt to be a bigger man or ‘do the right thibg’. The fact of the matter is that the right thing is premised on an assumption of reality that is out of line with what actually eventuates in win/lose conflict situations. I don’t know about you mate but when I cop it from one of these jerichos, whatever form they take, I feel like I coed ot twice; once from them and once from myself for taking it. You are right that this does damage to men because Ithere is no worse attack on your self esteem than conceding that self sacrifice in the face of injustice toward some higher ideal is righteous. Tthis has been the backbone of many stints of my own depression: Existing in a culture that punishes standing up for yourself. I hope you talk about this more Tim because a lot of people listen to you.

  38. First of all, English is not my first language, so if you find something that makes you cringe your teeth, I apologize in advance.

    I would like to explain why I disagree so much on this.

    As you may have noticed, women have to deal with jerks all the time. Any time we are on a public space we have to deal with catcalling, as apparently the street is a male place and guys think commenting on our appearance is their right. And we usually have to deal with it everyday, and then deal with outstanding idiots that insult you as you walk off ignoring them for not taking their “compliment”. Believe me, I KNOW the feeling of wanting to hit people.

    But it is NOT a good idea. Who are you to decide who is being an asshole and who isn’t? Are you more entitled than your pal to decide that? What is going to determine where the line is? The general public approval? Then, what if you are in a highly racist area and your public think that you punching a black guy for saying hi to your girlfriend is right? Then it would be right?

    The thing about allowing physical violence is that you only give power to strong people. And maybe a jerk gets punched, but then that jerk is going to feel he has the right to punch someone else that annoys him. And that may be his little brother, his girlfriend or whoever he feels he can punch without getting hit back. The violence, if we allow it, only drives to more violence.

    Entitling people to punch whoever they feel like punching would only lead to more damage to the weak. Who says the guy in the article was right punching other person? If you are bothered because someone claps their hands, then go to other place. Or talk to the owner and tell them he’ll lose a client if he allows that. Imagine if a extremely homophobic guy tells a gay couple to stop kissing, as he is bothered by it. They refuse and call him an asshole. Then he punches them because they were rude to him. The principles allowing this punch are the same ones as for the punch in the article.

    I think the solution is educating people, and generally disliking violent people. I HATE that women are educated to control themselves, but guys are educated to let out whatever they feel like letting out. If a group of guys going to see a match feel like screaming, kicking trash cans or breaking glass bottles, that is generally accepted as “boys will be boys”. And that is NOT TRUE. Idiots are idiots because we, as a society, allow it. Women are less violent because women who behave like that have way more difficulties making friends or finding a boyfriend. And man who behave like that should face the same difficulties. If you find guys who act like that, don’t tolerate that shit. Even if they are on “your side” of the fistfight. If a guy gets frustrated with his telephone and smashes it on the ground, tell them they are assholes and need to change. Don’t just accept it. It is not fucking hardwired into anybody’s brain. We are just educated like that, and starting to show your dislike for disrespectful people and violent people. Not letting them approach you, as you only surround yourself with people that is worthy, and telling them exactly why you don’t like them. That changes people. That changes society. Going back in time to allow physical violence because you feel frustrated by the massive amount of idiots doesn’t.

    And sorry for all the bad words, it’s an issue that triggers me. I hope that doesn’t blur the main ideas I wanted to express.

  39. Hi Tim,

    It’s my first time posting a comment on your site, though I’ve been following your immense progress for years now – ever since someone bought me 4HWW while I was in hospital.

    I had a recent experience with an arsehole who knocked me (and my bike) into a parked car as he drove past me – there was just about room for both of us to get through but it really wasn’t advisable; he just didn’t have the manners to wait.

    Had he stopped and apologised, we’d have had a swift resolution but, no, he carried on. In something of a rage – it takes a lot to get me to that point but I simply can’t ABIDE such injustice – I got back on the bike and sprinted after him. I caught him at the next junction and pulled up in front of his car. I got off the bike and shouted at him, asking what he thought he was doing. He got out, laughed, and actually MOCKED me for having been knocked off, and then he tried to intimidate me and pick a fight.

    Years ago, when I was a kid, I once grabbed my father by the throat and pinned him to a wall when he tried to pick a fight with me (I was 12) and I think he was so shocked at being manhandled by a much smaller person (I had my growth spurt a year or two later) that it stopped him in his tracks. I guess that same instinct kicked in again, as I did much the same, this time shoving him back into his car (“Before I do something I regret”, I told him). Same result: he quietly drove off.

    Honestly, I’m not proud of the incident. I think initially that I was, feeling all macho and tough, but, with the benefit of hindsight, I feel I should have handled my emotions much better than I did – what I did was downright dangerous, especially pulling up in front of him like I did – but I also don’t entirely regret my actions.

    I’d like to think that, just maybe, my reaction to his twattishness might just make him think twice about acting that way in the future. Or perhaps he didn’t learn a lesson at all and the next person he knocks off their bike will break his jaw for him.

    I’m genuinely morally torn by the subject of this post. I’ve avoided violence since that incident with my father because, frankly, I rather scared myself with it, but, at the same time, there really are some people for whom a smack round the mouth might just be the best option. And it’s a growing problem here in London too.

  40. Tim, I agree and disagree. As a martial artist you already know that it takes more cojones to walk away than to fight. Coming from NY, and living in many places my experience has been that you can develop a knack to detect ignorant people a mile away. When you do this decades will pass before you ever EVER have a confrontation with a fool like the hippy in question here. HOWEVER, this does not mean that a judo chop is not out of the question when the line has been crossed like someone spitting in your face.

    The error is made when you see a situation and fail to avoid it. Inviting an unknown troublemaker over to sit next to you is not a good idea either. Things in this country have certainly changed, but to allow the environment to control our actions is a mistake. Punching someone in the face is not something you really want to do, but an impulse from outside that is influencing your behavior, and hence controlling your actions.

  41. I agree, but, too many consequences: lawsuit, arrest, serious injury. Learn brazilian jiu-jitsu. Much, much better alternative.

  42. Hi Tim,

    The odd thing is that somehow it’s more okay for us women to use our fists than men.

    For example, if a guy touches me in a way I don’t like on the street or public transit (has happened) and I punch him (has also happened) people applaud (that happened too).

    Perhaps the problem is that our physicality is dismissed, as you seem to have done in your rant. For us it’s “Oh how cute, the girl punched a douche,” whereas men being larger are more of a threat.

    There are certain physical boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed without defensive measures, for man or woman. In those cases I support a punching. However in shouting matches, the one who resorts to physicality is the one who loses.

    1. Betty, unfortunately (and I truly mean that) Rumblr turned out to be a joke. I’m still hoping someone will take the idea and run with it. People need an outlet that doesn’t involve killing each other, and heck, good scuffles when I was a kid helped me make some pretty good friends.

  43. Tim, I’m with you on this, and I even accept that I have been the jerk that needs to get wizened-up sometimes (we can all be jerks sometimes). The problem is definitely figuring out a way to avoid lawsuits or bullets (unless bullets are agreed upon – I think duels would be just fine if both parties give the thumbs up). This country has definitely become way too friendly to ill-mannered people, and sometimes a good smack on the gob is all a person needs.

  44. I was bullied my whole childhood and picked on most of my life. At 39 I’m now 6 foot, 232 and can bench over my body weight. Everyone seems a lot nicer now. And they don’t get their dental plans activated.

  45. Wow! I was just thinking about this earlier today. I seem to recall that when I was younger (40 or so years ago) that it was a little more socially acceptable for people to get into fights/brawls without anyone facing long prison terms for assault and battery (as long as there were no serious injuries or death). In other words, you could let some steam off before things blew up into something more serious than a black eye. I don’t advocate fistfights, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a correlation between repressed social behavior and increased extreme violence.

  46. I’ve been on the fence about this ever since I had a son. He’s only 5 months now but, one day he will need to stand up for himself. I think regardless of being male or female, we all come up against someone that refuses to back the fuck off. So what do you do? Take the high road? What if you have to deal with that person every day? But then there’s, as you said, lawsuits, hospitalizations, and bitter feelings.

    My grandfather used to carry two pairs of boxing gloves around in his trunk. He would get them out whenever he felt the need or guys were just “getting mouthy.” He told me though, that I should marry a man who knew how to take an ass whooping and a loss in stride. I don’t know that many people nowadays can do that very well.

    I’ve also seen my mother in some pretty hellacious fights with other women and there is something to be said about the sportsmanship and fighting style of men compared to women. Ladies can be ruthless and I have yet to see two girls fight and shake hands after that doesn’t involve jello, creamed corn, or mud.

    So I guess when you find the answer, let me know.

  47. I’ve been training Muay Thai for three years and during those years I’ve come to learn a few things about myself.

    1. It is simply a good release to be able to punch and kick at things/humans. However that may sound.

    2. You learn a good deal about humility by getting hit as well. We have several ex-convicts/criminals that have completely changed their ways and are some of the nicest guys in the gym.

    With that being said I’ve never been in a real fight outside the gym myself and I’d rather try avoid it. Was I to encounter a Jericho that would probably be another story though…

  48. I have fairly regularly confronted people for being pricks, a lot when I lived in Brooklyn, but even here in polite and friendly Seattle. If someone is creating and obvious unsafe situation to others, or just not behaving in socially acceptable ways in specific contexts I get indignant. And then I say something.

    An example:

    I was on the bus headed to run some errands. A few stops later it was my turn to get off. As people were exiting both doors, I went to the front as it was closer to the direction I was walking. Despite people trying to get off, a man was forcing his way in. He was pushing through saying “Out of my way.”

    I noticed the people ahead of me were old; as in ‘dead any day’ old. This man just shoved past them with no regard and moved toward the back.

    As he passed me I spoke up up: “It’s off before on man, that’s how it works. This is a human society you live in.” He replied, “Man I don’t care.”

    I snapped. “You’re a rude motherfucker, those are old people.” Then we exchanged some heated “fuck you’s”, and I got off the bus.

    When I decided this man had crossed the line, I knew in the back of my mind it could end in conflict, and I was totally OK with that. People like him have grown accustomed to bullying others, and need to understand that there are people who don’t take that shit. I would have punched him in the face.

    For the record, here in Washington state there is a ‘Mutual Combat’ law that allows two people to fight, as long as police are there to referee it. Would I have called for a cop first? Probably not. Had he followed me off the bus, it was going to happen.

    He stayed on the bus, and perched me from the window. I blew him a kiss and continued on with my day.

  49. I’ve had to throw down with people a few times in bars/clubs. Almost always because some white a-hole makes a racist comment to me. Being a high school wrestler had its advantages. 🙂

  50. I complete agree with this, I’ve been in two fist fights and after spending my childhood enveloped in mma; I knew I had no manhood to prove nor street cred that was worth breaking my hands over. I won’t leave a long comment (I hate those) . Essentially the fights started when one man was about to hit his girlfriend at a party I stepped in and only used a triangle choke as I thought a peaceful sleep was more reasonable the giving him a concussion. The other situation was similar to Tim’s

    Cheers and good wishes !

  51. Really disappointed you would publish anything in favour of violence. Its a slippery slope and nothing but a bloody jungle at the bottom. When we have a choice to walk away, we should do it. Not sure if your aware but people die from punches every day.

  52. In your podcast with Walter O’Brien, you talked a lot about science fiction. I’d start with Robert A. Heinlein:

    “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

    1. I believe Abraham Lincon, learned his manners in this way after publicly defaming a peer, being called to a duel by pistol and getting away with his life. Thus becoming much much much more mindful of the consequence of his public behavior. The idea that “walk gently and carry a big stick” (another US president, I’m not from there so I don’t know them all) if fraught with the danger that the apish will resort to the stick prematurely.

  53. You have hinged off growing public distaste for political correctness. And allow you may not like him or his politics, Trump did say on protester: ‘I’d like to punch him in the face’.

    Then again, Tim, he is a New Yorker as well.

  54. “Civilisation is the intelligent management of human emotions”- R James (Jim) Rhon.

    A couple of things:

    1. Knowledge of physical consequences: the rise of soft fall wood-chips in the playground and the demise of knowing the consequence of falling onto concrete.

    2. Civilized dueling: arm wrestling as a civilized way to establish a pecking order (in response to your “how do we?”)

    At the last corporate occupational health and safety love in it was highlighted that as playgrounds around the well to do western hemisphere parts of the world, are `paved’ with soft fall wood chips, bouncy reclaimed rubber sponges, or IKEA ball baths (by west I mean to include Australia and possibly New Zealand – the ground shakes there so I’m not sure they bother). All of these have led to soft, no consequence landings for young-ins and where in the past the odd broken collarbone, a loosened tooth or a bit of concussion was commonplace. Now there are at worst, a bruise only noticed hours or days after the event or a graze that’s easily licked clean. Progress? No.

    Basically by having concrete or hard clay to fall on you learned that some things should only be attempted with great forethought, total folly, or if you’re scrawny and unco(-ordinated) like I used to be, just let your mates do it and enjoy the show from a safe distance (CCTV footage is good for this).

    “Jerry” in the lead from Esquire having lead a life of ball pits and sponge is oblivious to the “Tyler” concrete and how hard the landing could be. Jerry probably had helicopter parents and this time they weren’t there to Deus ex machina or him outa trouble. Here Jerry could have been a little more astute and shut the fuck up when someone had asked, rather than be smug.

    Onto the second point: I borrow from a 13 year old starting out in high school just over a month ago and wanting to establish his level of strength in relation to his peers; whilst at the same time being civilized about it. By arm wrestling every other contender in the year (and the odd senior one) this boy established that he was probably the strongest of them all; the fat kid who got tired and conceded defeat might be a potential threat in the future.

    In conclusion: Minding one’s manners is a good thing (see Alain De Botton – The School of life “History of Ideas: Manners” on youtube). Like Jerry I’m sure that we’ve all had ‘oh shit, I shouldn’t have done/said that and lucky I’m still alive’ moments, after two score and seven laps around the sun I can think of 3 major ones and well many other minor ones, miracle I’m here really.

    Finally as Terry Pratchett wrote in the Hogfather we’re always going to be at a point “where the falling angel meets the rising ape”.

    cheers and stay awesome


  55. This story is highly suspect…a Hare Krishna hucking a loogie in the guy’s face without provocation? Hmmm. Oh well. If true, then a physical retaliation is warranted and perhaps justified. But what happens when people decide to haul off and punch other people for their verbal insulations. Firstly – jail is possible. Secondly, you never know if the jerk is packing heat and you could be dead over something absolutely STUPID. Tim, this is where basic anger management techniques come into play. You learn fast, I know. Try that first.

  56. Unfortunately, deciding who is a jerk depends on personal judgement. I don’t want to be spat on – that’s not on. But at what point do we stop hitting? One punch? 10 punches? Unconsciousness? Or do we end up like the cinema goer who put a bullet in a guy answering his phone during a movie? The law takes the stance it does because things often get out of hand. We’re poor at judging the appropriate response to an offence.

  57. It would be worth it as a society to carefully craft a new branch of justice: The Justifiable Beat Down. Bring back the concept of “fighting words.”

  58. Overall, sure. But the kids toting AK-47s haven’t typically been the ones being jerks (prior to, of course, turning into murderous shitheads). They’ve traditionally been the kids at the receiving end of bullying. So, no, this particular solution probably wouldn’t apply to that particular problem.

  59. Time to get outta New York, Tim…that place will kill you, your line of thinkingin this post proves it. Come back to the Rockies…where men are men and the (Big Horn) sheep are scared.

  60. Never actually being able to gauge a person’s mental standing, one should be weary of conflict because it could always turn into a life-altering situation. sometimes people grab weapons and go for the kill if they’ve been assaulted. Sometimes people don’t know themselves and don’t stop punching until the other person’s battered or Worse dead. this article was fun because sure we’d all love to blow off steam and take out our revenge that we are constantly thinking of to whomever. But in today’s day and age it’s just not realistic. you want to relax and have a pint with your friend while avoiding assholes a bar is probably not the best place. they seem to congregate there

  61. Been there. Definitely punched a few dudes in the eye. This is nothing new. Been going on since day 1. Dude gets on your grill, knock his ass down. Tim, you really seem to get this shite! Would love to work with u in any capacity at some point.

  62. There’s nothing quite like a well served knuckle sandwich(I know) to help one contemplate the meaning of life.

  63. Thanks Tim. Feeling so much better after I dropped an abusive alcoholic bully to the floor. First and last time he will ever force an old woman to eat a biscuit and call me Fat Boy. This Fat Boy just slapped his tummy and he squealed like a pig.

  64. In evolutionary times it was completely acceptable to beat up a rival. You got the benefit of stress relief. In the modern world we get the cortisol but not the physical outlet.

  65. Hey Tim!

    As my old man always says “Son, sometimes you need to cruel to be kind”

    Giving the jerks a little clip around the ear is doing them a favour. Cruel – but kind.


  66. I hope this doesn’t come across like I am an affliction wearing, steroid infused d-bag but… I’ve been in half a dozen fights in years past. I was raised in a small farm town and hung out with a rowdy group. The funny thing most guys will tell you about fights is after its done a new respect level is established. many of the guys I’ve fought have turned into friends, and at the very least they keep their distance. It’s not the worst thing if it’s managed by the spectators and theirs enough common sense to not be trying to kill each other, but rather just bloody a nose.

  67. I am a fan, the message here however is quite irresponsible and alarmingly disconnected from reality.

    I’m not sure you’re aware just how easy it is to hit someone(not very hard), for them to fall and then sustain further, often fatal injuries.

    If you think it’s reasonable to punch someone for being a ‘jerk’ then that is purely social. Motivated by the monkey brain. Some macho, BS defence of honour, ego thing.

    Speak to people who understand real violence and its consequences and grow up.

  68. This has been on my mind lately, as I feel I know if I was being an uncalled for asshole, I would get up from a well deserved punch without running tomcall 911 or my lawyer. But that is “if I get up.” So many people go into full gorilla mode when confronted with the danger of a fight that they end up causing serious damage during an otherwise one hit fight. And the ones who deserve a punch hardly recognize it, either do their friends, so they keep getting up to cause more damage. No need to knock someone out, and no need to kick a guy while they’re down, but that’s the reality of what happens nowadays with little man boys looking to prove themselves as a killer instead of a man who defends or stands up for what’s right. I believe this article/post was written in 2007, so nowadays in 2016, this Jericho type would not only spit in your face like an insect, he would immediately pull out his iPhone to record your reaction while taunting you–knowing that he’s just lowered his chances of receiving painful consequences for his bitch of an act by 80%, and plus, he can use it against you when he takes you to court then post it online to shame you for the next eternity as no one knows what he did before he started recording–making it 100% that his shameful act gets him a return on his dishonorable investment.

  69. The problem is that I always have more to lose than the other guy, and our legal system (and school systems) set things up where physical aggressors are punished greatly. If I punch a guy out, he could sue me. What if he falls down, hits his head, and dies? I’m then in jail for “murder.” The odds of that are low, but it happens.

    Therefore, while I think society would be better off under the “old” rules of being able to punch someone who truly deserves it, we just don’t live in a legal system that supports it.

  70. Great post Tim! I couldn’t agree more. Although you certainly need to evaluate the situation and the person you’re about to pop. Clearly doing this at a bar where everyone is feeling no pain would be a bad idea. Punching people with facial tattoos should also be avoided. But in a public setting where everyone isn’t intoxicated hell ya teach them some manners. The problem with assholes and bullies is every time they get away with it they get bolder. Then they have kids and raise them to be assholes too. Pretty soon decent people will be such a minority it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

  71. Hi Tim,

    curious to know if you feel the same nearly 10 years after writing this, or if not, why.

    I often fight back – with words, mostly rational I hope – and sometimes would love to whack them a good one (no different for women, or this woman anyway). But some situations and people are just not worth the bother, you know. At times, striking back makes me feel good then. Ten minutes, 10 hours, 10 days later, not always.