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The Special Issue

The VICE Guide to Getting Beaten Up

If a huge fucking Coke machine of a guy tries to attack you, that's it. You're dead.

The author shortly after strangling a man into unconscious

Don’t be a victim. If some huge fucking Coke machine of a guy tries to attack you, grab his right arm with the forefinger of your left hand, then twist it behind his back and kick in the back of his knees from behind. If he has a knife, use your elbows as side fists and smash his temples at 45 degrees until his pupils dilate. If he gets you into some kind of a headlock, then sit down on one knee so that he’s forced to sit on your lap and then implode his kidneys using the heel of your left palm against your right forearm… blah blah “nose bone into his brain” yadda yadda yadda.
Yeah, right. If a huge fucking Coke machine of a guy tries to attack you, that’s it. You’re dead. He is going to break your nose and you’ll be lucky to escape without head trauma. Any attempt to use some bullshit fighting tips you read in FHM or Maxim is only going to add to the humiliation. Professional street-fighting tips are for professional street fighters. What about us 90-pound weaklings?
After watching the singer of Oxbow (the greatest art-rock band of all time) strangle a heckler into unconsciousness at a recent Leicester show, we had him write a VICE Guide that deals with the reality of fighting, i.e. how to minimize the inevitable pounding you are about to receive.
Here’s what he sent us. (It’s totally unedited because we were told that making any changes would result in having our bodies “twisted into a ball of misery.”) IT’S NOT SO BAD
First of all, let’s cut the bullshit. Getting fucked up really bad isn’t that bad. Thanks to the anesthetizing tendencies of adrenaline it’s not even that painful. It’s more a pain in the ass than anything. You know as soon as that nose bone cartilage snaps you are looking at a long and boring 12-hour wait in the emergency room. When someone says, “I am going to fucking kill you,” think of it more as “I am going to audit you,” because all he’s really doing is adding a huge mundane thing to deal with into your next 24 hours. The truth is, the three-week-long pain of regretting that you pussied out is a hell of a lot worse than the dull nonpain of getting in a fight, so there’s no need to be scared. And hey, if you’re that calm you might even win. DON’T GO CRAZY
More fights are lost from the biophysical functioning of stress-induced fatigue than they are from inferior technique. In other words, relax. Exhale. Like you would for a bicycle crash or an anal rape. If you can fight with as much brio after five minutes (an eternity in fight time) as you can after 20 seconds, you will probably win. STAY INSIDE
Bar fights are typically fought by drinkers. That is, drunks. Play the odds: Boris might actually be drunker than you and the limitations of indoor fights can’t be underestimated. There’s the errant barstool either swung or tripped over to mix things up a bit, the strategic positioning of reliable friends who can move in if you’re losing, and finally, the simple truth that it’s going to be broken up in less than 10 seconds, leaving you free to posture, scream imprecations, and hope to god nobody takes you seriously when you shout, “Let me go! Let me go!”

The author relaxing at home with his hair off.
Photo by Todd Hester.

You want to lose a fight? Start one. Every single fight I’ve picked I’ve lost. No one picks a fight they think they can lose, and overconfidence is your worst enemy in a battle. If someone gooses your sister and you have to start a fight, try to avoid men with scarring around the eyes and the ears. Men sporting cauliflower ears and scar tissue on their eyebrows only get that way from training. BE INTO IT
The most important thing about fighting is to feel passionate about it. That’s why you had all those sick fantasies about that skinhead Pat O’Connor punching your mom in the stomach. You realized a brawl based simply on boots wasn’t enough to get you sufficiently amped. If you just accidentally burned him with a cigarette, fucked his old lady, and smashed into his car, you might want to let this one go. He’s got at least three good reasons to kick your ass and you have… well, none actually. DON’T MAKE THAT STUPID POST-FIGHT FACE
That fake smile guys do after they’ve been Ass-Kicked has got to go. It’s the same face guys make when their girlfriend catches them cheating. It’s the face of “The Complete and Total Inability to Deal With The Fact That You Might Be Thought to Be a Pussy.” The most notable thing about this face is what the guy says as he’s making it—“Did you see that? The fucking guy sucker-punched me. What a bitch.” Then, four hours later, you come back to the bar and you hear the guy boring some other poor bastard to death with “The fucking guy sucker-punched me. Did you see that?” Get over it. All you should do after the fight is quietly call him a piece of shit and then go get a drink. You’re not going to be able to talk normally (feel your heart) for at least another three minutes, so don’t bother trying. DON’T GO TO THE HOSPITAL
Unless he removed one of your fingers, do not let the word out that you pissed off some guy so bad he put you in the hospital. Have a beer and settle down. Accept a fake phone call on your cell and pretend you have to go. Shit, pretend you have to leave to go find him but you have to do it on your own. Just make sure that NOBODY finds out you actually went to the hospital instead. If you get stitches, cover them with a huge Band-Aid and say you had to put it there because you were getting blood on your food. RUN FROM ANGRY GIRLS
What the fuck are you going to do—pound her? Unless you are also a female, you should run away covering your head if a girl has a problem with you. It looks kind of cool, actually. Like you’re a heartbreaking bad boy. If she wants to take you on and you stand there defending yourself, there are two possible scenarios: 1) she beats the shit out of you in front of the whole party and you leave with a black eye and a future as laughingstock of your town; 2) you beat the shit out of her, and you’re forever remembered as the guy who sat on Linda’s chest pounding her bloody head into the ground as the crowd looked on in total and utter disbelief. HOPE FOR THE BEST, EXPECT THE WORST
I know you’ve been told that people who are willing to say anything are not likely to do anything, but that’s bullshit. Most humans who are not psychotic use a psychological technique called ramping immediately prior to conflict. Through a series of words, or language structures, they get themselves warmed into the prospect of violent activity until, voilá, they’ve arrived at Fight Time. Get there before they do. Pop him one early. Which brings us to our next section… ACTUAL PLAUSIBLE MOVES
OK, it’s going down. You are a little Timmy. What to do? We’re not going to bore you with impossibly ninjistic moves you’ll never have the gumption to use. We’re going to give you invaluable little tips, like how you should repeat the words “kill, kill, kill” in your head before it goes down. Things like: THE HEADBUTT
Headbutts are great because they take almost no accuracy and the risk of accidentally hurting yourself is nil. The secret to smashing open his nose is to focus your attention on his two front teeth on the way in. If you’re in North America, he will be totally taken by surprise.
Drawback: As it is for sharks, you can’t see what’s going on as you hit him, so you’re never sure if you really got him. THE KNEE TO THE HEAD
Most people never think of this, because most people haven’t taken the deadly Southeast Asian art of Muay Thai, and your knee seems too far away from his head for this move to come naturally. Wrap your hands around the back of his head, yank down with an authoritative snap, and leap upward knee first. As you leap your downward snap will meet the rising of your knee, and when his head and your knee meet? Well, it’s nothing short of magic.
Drawback: You have to do it fast because people tend to figure out something’s up when you grab the back of their head. THE REAR NAKED CHOKE
If, by any sheer luck, you end up standing behind him, it’s time to choke the fucker. Wrap your right arm around his throat, and squeeze it closed by grabbing your left shoulder. Now with your other hand you can push his head into the hold thereby squeezing his neck even tighter. The best part of it is you can talk to him the whole time.
Drawback: You could easily kill him, in which case there’d be “a whole lot of splaining to do.” THE UPPERCUT
If someone is delivering a knockout punch, nine times out of ten, it’s the uppercut. I don’t know whether it’s the sharp clicking together of the jaw or the stimulation of some sort of nerve bundle, but this punch is relatively easy to do and guaranteed to slip him into sleep. Throw your whole body into it and keep it tight against yourself at the beginning, like a jack-in-the-boxspring. A great way to administer this blow is to be waving your left hand in his face saying something like, “Whoa, whoa, I don’t want any trouble. This is all a big misunderstanding,” and then POW with the right.
Drawback: If your hand speed is slow, don’t even THINK about trying this one. THE MAD COUNTER
You are going to think this is strange, but it works every time. You tell the guy you’re going to count to five. You don’t say why. You just do it. “ONE,” then, while apparently inhaling for “TWO,” you fucking tear out of there and run as fast as you can. No idea why this works, it just does. There’s a three-second interval where he’s thinking, “Hey, he said he was going to count to five,” and that is all you need to make your getaway.
Drawback: You will be known as a pussy if there’s even a remote possibility you could have won. Robinson has a street fight record of 0 wins and 3 losses for fights that he’s started, 6 wins and 0 losses for fights he hasn’t, eight years of Kenpo Karate, two of Muay Thai, one of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, three of wrestling, and ten with his fight-prone band Oxbow ( Their latest album, An Evil Heat, has been out for months but it hasn’t exactly made a dent on the charts, so go and get it. This month, Oxbow will release a movie, Music For Adults, which contains lots of footage of Eugene strangling people on tour in Europe.