Getting punched in the face sucks.
There’s a real art to fighting without fighting. Generally, it’s not too difficult to avoid getting punched in the face or duking it out on the mean streets of wherever you’re from. Not being an asshole usually cuts it. But not always. Some people, for whatever reason, always seem to be looking for a fight, extending an invitation at the slightest provocation. Not the people who are ready and/or willing to fight should the need arise. I’m talking about those rage-overdosing, foaming-at-the-mouth primates who shatter a half-full pint of beer on the ground in outrage because someone bumped into someone else who accidentally bumped into him. Or her.
For the pacifists out there—for those who prefer not getting punched in the face (or anywhere else)—when this type of situation presents itself, it takes finesse, and a little extra finagling, to outmaneuver a determined adversary. But, before you go any further, please read the following disclaimer:
Release of all liability: By reading this article, you agree that, should any and/or all of these methods fail to prevent you from getting into a fight, you will not hold Kinda Kind responsible for any subsequent injuries. While some have worked for me in the past, I have no factual basis proving the viability of any of these methods. Do not assume for one second that these are proven or backed by fact:
THEY AREN’T. Rather, they merely seem like reasonably logical hypotheses.
Be Bigger Than Your Opponent
It’s always seemed to work for me—and I’m not that tall (only about 6-foot-2). This is most effective when you’re younger (as children equate size with strength, and strength with fighting prowess), but being bigger than your opponent is never a bad idea. If you’re not blessed with above-average height, then, I guess try lifting weights? You don’t need to look like a gorilla—and it should never get to the point where scratching your head becomes its own workout—but if you look like you can handle yourself (even if you can’t), often that’s all it takes.
Learn A Martial Art
For the truly pacifistic out there, aikido would be your best bet—it was literally developed as a method of self-defense—utilizing the attacker’s momentum and a throw or joint lock, rather than kicks and strikes—to defend yourself without harming your attacker. But we’re trying to avoid physical altercations entirely. However, if you do know a martial art, perhaps consider quietly and calmly alerting the potential aggressor to this fact. He or she may appear unconvinced or undaunted…
Granted, this guy goes overboard, aggressively and violently reacting to what appears to have been accidental. But it does show why knowing how to fight is handy. (Just don't go around doing what this guy did...)
Which is why I suggest carrying some sort of prop, or a recording of yourself, as proof. Maybe wear your flavor of martial art's traditional gi? If you know, say, karate, for example, consider carrying an appropriately thick wooden board in your backpack or briefcase. That way, should you ever be accosted, you can immediately display your formidable skills by punching said board in half. That would be more than enough to deter me…
If you don't want (or are too lazy) to learn a martial art, but want to create the illusion you do, get your gi here!
Act Confident, Crazy Even
Convey the message that the very idea of this person wanting to fight you is so laughably ludicrous that it couldn’t possibly pose any real threat. Show no fear. Refuse to back down. (Keep on the look-out for any sudden movement that might indicate an imminent attack…) It is entirely possible that you could take a punch should you choose this approach. And I would advise against using if you are clearly outmatched, in which case:
Act crazy. Bug out your eyes, adopt a severe facial/neck tic, violently working your jaw back and forth like a man possessed. Start clenching and unclenching your hands, tensing every muscle in your body—as though you’re about to go ‘all Wolverine on their ass’. Or Mike Tyson—even the biggest, baddest, scariest dude around probably doesn’t want to lose an ear in a fight over something trivial. (If he does, though, then I’m afraid you’re doomed, because that guy really is crazy, at which point running as fast as you can is about the only option you have left.)
That's right—bust that shirt off. Now, this suggestion is a tad extreme. And why it's a last ditch effort. And probably not a good idea for all you women out there, though far be it from me to tell you what to do. But it’s based on a simple principle: Nobody wants to fight a naked guy. (If you’re capable of self-regulating your body temperature, get yourself nice and sweaty—not only does this add to the ‘gross’ factor, it will also make you slippery and more difficult to grab hold of.) For those familiar with the TV show Trailer Park Boys, Randy immediately comes to mind. And while his penchant for disrobing before brawling is because his (obscenely) tight pants restrict his movement, once he's down to his skivvies, nobody wants to touch him. Not that it stops Randy from going on the offensive. But the principle holds nonetheless.
One Final Tip
This last tip works best when both offended parties are with a small group, and one that has worked for me in the past. (For guys, this works best when ladies are present.) The idea here is to embarrass your opponent, making him look like an asshole for wanting to fight you—the more trivial the dispute, the more effective this approach is. And why it’s always nice to have a few women around—because, guys, we don’t like looking like assholes in front of our lady friends, do we? You want to make him appear so petty and small that even his friends begin telling him to “Chill out, bro” or “Forget it” or “S/He’s not worth it". There’s a strong possibility you may be referred to as an ‘asshole’ or ‘douchebag’ or some such thing, BUT DO NOT LET IT RILE YOU!
This is that precarious moment where everything hangs in the balance: For this (very) brief instance, your opponent’s friends are on your side. They just can’t show it. Obviously. Responding in kind is liable to tip the balance in favor of fisticuffs.
This is an antagonistic approach, which is why it’s best to have a few friends around for back-up. Just in case. I have used this effectively on my own before—(back when I was young, dumb, and invincibly drunk)—but that doesn't mean it's advisable. All it takes is one rage-fueled asshole, immune to self-control, to easily turn your snide remarks into a beat-down, which is what we’re categorically trying to avoid here.
I hope this has been helpful, if not all that instructive. Should you attempt any one of these methods (with the exception of #2), be sure to remember that these are just suggestions and could very easily be bad ones, backfiring in your face like the unanticipated recoil of rifle. I really have no idea...