Guest post by Byron.
An important skill as a man in this day and age is knowing how to handle yourself in a confrontation. Our forefathers, in their day, could handle their quarrels like men. Odds are, your grandpa wasn’t above rolling up his sleeves and getting into a fistfight to defend his honor. And he probably knew how to throw a better punch than you.
But, in today’s litigious, post-feminine society, getting into a fight isn’t a good idea. Why? Because fighting sucks, and it’s almost never worth it. Anyone–ANYONE–who tells you otherwise, is full of shit. That friend-of-a-friend with the tribal tattoos and claims to have been in 200 street-fights? He’s probably lying, and if he isn’t, he’s not too far away from a felony conviction. This isn’t the Jersey Shore, this is real life. ANYTHING can happen in a fight. Fighting is anything but glamorous. It’s painful, it’s stressful, it’s dirty, it’s dangerous, and, worst of all, it’s unpredictable. You could slip and crack your head on a bar table. You could collide into an innocent bystander, and put them in the hospital. You could fracture your leg and pay thousands in medical bills to get it fixed. You could end up in jail, the hospital, or even dead.
As someone who’s worked as a bouncer, trained in MMA for almost four years, and had my own fair share of altercations (and came out of them in one piece), I’m here to tell you how to survive these altercations that all of us are confronted with at some point. Part of that survival is knowing how to avoid confrontation altogether, and then the other part is knowing what to do when the confrontation is unavoidable.
Let me state this up front: your goal as a man is to be able to resolve conflicts peacefully without a single punch thrown. It’s much easier than you think, and it takes less time than earning a 19th degree black belt in Rex Kwon Do. No matter how big or small you are, here’s a guide on how to get your balls back, and how handle conflicts like a man.
Body Language, Body Language, Body Language
The most important thing above anything else is having strong, positive body language. I say strong because you need to show that you are a confident person and that your words have weight to them. I say positive because you need to show that you’re not an immediate threat. Strong, negative body language won’t help.
Why? Because when you stand around with your shoulders wide, arms tense, and mean-mugging everyone that walks past you… you’re asking for trouble. And odds are good you might find it. You look threatening. And what do people do when they’re threatened? They become defensive, and they’re more likely to threaten you in return.
So, be positive! Smile, be loose, be relaxed. You should walk into any bar, party, or gathering knowing that you’re there to have a good time, and that you can handle yourself if anything happens. If you come in with a good vibe, people will respond positively to that and you’re less likely to run into d-bags who are looking to start trouble.
Even if you’re not a smiling, outgoing person, that’s okay. If you’re tired, or just content to people-watch, go ahead. Be relaxed. Enjoy your drink. Walk slowly. You can still have a positive attitude that you’re out to relax, and no trouble will come your way since you’re not looking for it. Think Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Caveat: This does not mean to be a smiling, supplicating pussy. You still need to have boundaries, and you will still have to assert yourself at times. But even when you find yourself in an argument you still have to have the confidence to keep your positive vibe. A strong, unshakable demeanor in the face of danger is manly.
This is probably the easiest thing to do and perhaps even easier than good body language. But it can be easy to screw this up if you’re not aware. So always be on your best behavior when you are out and about. Mind your manners. Say please, excuse me, and thank you to everyone. Treat everyone with respect, and they’ll treat you the same way. The blonde bartender with a fine ass, the lonely guy standing in the corner, the group of meatheads fist-pumping on the dance-floor, the Honduran busboys clearing up your table… treat them all like human beings worthy of your respect. You’re not above them and they’re not above you. If you come across as arrogant, it’ll show. And that’ll just bring more trouble your way. For the most part, most people are not assholes. They’re just like you; they want to do their thing and avoid any senseless trouble.
Now, things might still happen, and you’ll probably screw up. Own up to it. If you got a little hyped-up on the dance floor and accidentally spill someone’s drink, apologize and offer them another. Shit happens, you screwed up. Don’t get defensive and act like it was their fault. If you hit on a girl and her boyfriend walks up and tells you to fuck off, apologize and walk away. Problem solved. Granted, he acted rude, but why get into a fight over some girl you don’t even know, with some asshole you don’t even care about? If your ego is so big that you take every insult personally, you’re going to end up in trouble.
Another important point: don’t take everything personally. Someone bumped into you? It’s okay to be annoyed. It’s not okay think about it all night long, find the guy in the parking lot, and talk shit to him. Don’t assume he did it because he was a jerk; maybe he hadn’t gone drinking in a while and he got a little carried away. If you go out to bars and nightclubs enough, accidents are going to happen. Not a big deal.
I know this advice seems like common sense, but it amazes me how people’s manners and inhibitions go out of the window when they’re out on the town. Being drunk is never an excuse for poor behavior. If you can’t handle your alcohol without getting into some trouble, you need to take a hard look at yourself. Basically, don’t be an asshole.
Both of these principles are things you should be practicing in your everyday life anyway: positive attitude and being polite. Having a positive attitude isn’t weak, or beta. ‘Be polite’ isn’t code for ‘be a 5-foot-10 walking vagina.’ Having a positive attitude shows people that you’re fearless, that you’re someone that they can trust, and that you’re someone who deserves respect, because you give it so freely to others. It shows confidence: the secret, gooey sauce that is the essence of everything we seek to be in life. The fact is, it takes balls to put yourself out there, to make yourself vulnerable, and to get attention (in a good way). Having manners, and being polite, shows that you have tact. It shows that you are aware of the unwritten social rules, and that you can carry yourself as a gentleman.
Honestly, if you follow the two guidelines, you can solve any sort of confrontation by not getting in one in the first place. But sometimes things happens, and you may end end up in a confrontation with someone who you feel is waiting to rip your head off. That’s when it’s time to turn things up a notch.
Keep Your Distance!
The most important tenant in just-about every single martial art, combat sport, and self-defense system you can think of is to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Boxers use their jab to create space and back their opponents away. Wrestlers bend down and keep their hips far back from each other, making it harder for their opponents to grab them and wrestle them to the ground. And you too, need to keep your distance so you become less of a target.
This is easy to do, and pretty instinctive. If you’re face to face with someone who looks like they might get violent, back away from him until you feel he can’t touch you without moving forward. Can’t tell? Reach your arms out. If you can touch his hands, you’re too close. Back away until you’re out of his range.
Doing this is good for many reasons. One, it shows that you do not intend to fight. You might think that shows weakness, but it doesn’t. It’s smart. It also is less provoking, and it makes it less likely the other guy will counter with more aggressive behavior. This is a good thing, as we’ll see later.
Also, it has the added advantage that if the other guy DOES attack you, you will have more time to react, as you will see the hit “coming,” so to speak.
However, exercise caution when getting distance. If a guy looks to be calming down, this won’t be as necessary. Trust your instincts. But if he’s yelling “come at me, bro,” don’t fall for it.
If it’s some guy in a bar who’s looking pissed because the bartender got your drinks before his, walk away. Someone on the street talks shit to you and calls you a faggot because “you looked at him?” Walk away. Some things are so minor, you can walk away and that’ll be the end of it. Again, this stuff doesn’t happen often, but when it does, act like an adult and walk away.
But sometimes that’s not the best option. What if it’s a friend who got drunk and started harassing you because you have a better job/hotter girlfriend/nicer car/etc…? You could walk away, but odds are good that something else is bothering them, and that you’ll need to address it. Use your judgment.
Talk it Out
The last, but most vital step, is to talk it out. If someone looks like they’re going to kick your ass, and for some reason you can’t walk away, you’re going to have to talk it out with him (or them). Remember to keep your distance, and if he has any friends, keep your distance from them too. Now is the time for your inner cool to be put to the test. Remember to have strong body language, but not aggressive. You’ll be scared. That’s okay, as long as you start talking. The longer he talks, the more likely he’ll calm down and the situation will calm down.
Look him right in his eyes. Be firm, open, and honest. Let him (or them) know that you’re not looking for trouble. Ask them, politely, what the problem is. By politely, I mean that you should ask in a serious, but non-hostile manner what’s going on. Something as simple as, “What’s going on?” If you do it right, he should start spilling the beans on what his problem is. Maybe he’s upset that you took his spot in line. Maybe you were too flirty with his girlfriend. Whatever his issue is, shut up and listen. Ask him questions. Ask him his name. Introduce yourself. Keep eye contact with him, but don’t stare him down. It shows vulnerability, and if you have confidence in yourself, he will not be provoked by it, but he will begin to trust you. Keep talking. State your position clearly, but honestly. As I mentioned earlier, if it’s something you did, apologize. Acknowledge that what you did upset him, and that you meant no harm.
Do not say “What’s your problem?” That’ll make people defensive, and will just make them angrier. Do not, and I mean do not lose your cool and start going off on him. Things will get worse from there, and you could be in danger. Unless you’re already getting curb-stomped, you can’t ever lose your cool. Doing so shows just enough insecurity to lose whatever respect you might have with him. It shows that you’re not a man who can keep his composure, but a child who reacts to the slightest threat.
If you’re still trying to be calm with the guy, and he won’t budge, keep trying. Be firm. You cannot let him dictate how the situation will go. If it’s a house party and you need him to go home, he needs to go home. Do not let him push you around. If he wants to pick a fight with you, don’t fall for it. He may still run his mouth at you. He may intentionally provoke you: a push, an insult, a comment about your mother. It’ll be tough, but you must keep your cool at all times. He’s trying to see if you’ll fold, and if you do, game over. You have to have the attitude of an adult that’s dealing with a kid throwing a tantrum. I.E., you are the calm, assertive adult that’s dealing with an unruly child. He’s not your enemy, he’s not a threat. He’s just a spoiled brat that wants to take his frustrations out on you. Don’t give him what he wants.
Notice how there’s no actual advice on how to physically defend yourself. Why? Because, in all honesty, if you end up in a fistfight, you probably screwed up somewhere. Most martial arts schools — and any instructor who gives a damn about his students’ well-being — teach that violence should always be a last resort. There are too many things that can go wrong if you decide to throw down. If you’re lucky, you might just get a black eye. If you’re not so lucky, you might get jumped by 3 of his buddies. And it doesn’t matter how big and strong you are, you never, ever, ever want to get in a fight with more than one person. You will lose. Period.
Or, he might pull out a knife and stab you. You could slip and fracture your skull on the bar counter. You could even crash into a window and get sued by the bar to fix it. These may sound like extreme cases, but they’ve happened, and they happen more often than you think. Like I said earlier, fighting is unpredictable and anything could happen. Don’t risk it.
Hopefully you take this advice to heart, and start applying it in your own life. It’ll save you a lot of useless drama. It might even save your life. So go out, be on your best behavior, have a positive attitude, and have fun.