5 Ways to Know Someone Isn't Actually a Badass
Toughness as a virtue died off somewhere in the 1950s, but most men still like to be thought of as badasses. It's why we wear Affliction shirts, hold in our tears during sunsets and give a fake woman's name when we get whipped cream in our coffee. The problem is that with all this falseness, it can be difficult to tell when you're dealing with an actual tough guy. Luckily, I've identified five ways to spot someone who is only pretending to be a badass.
The Guy Who's Been in So, So Many Street Fights
A lot of times when people are talking about their badassery, they have to make a wild estimate at their fighting record. There are simply too many to count! There are several possible explanations for this. They might have something called critical incident amnesia that helps people forget awful events like getting fisted by aliens or which Tyler Perry movies they've seen. Or maybe their definition of a "fight" is being a dick to a stranger. Maybe they count it as a win when their girlfriends are too slow to dodge a plate? The thing is, most people who have been in a confrontation that escalated to physical combat know that it's like a thousand details taking a crap in your brain. You're more likely to forget someone you slept with than someone you fought. Which is only one of the reasons I like to end sex with an elbow drop.
If you're the kind of person who enters unlicensed street fights, you're either a middle schooler without a father or somewhere far away, not being that middle schooler's father. I can't verify these statistics, but it's a safe bet that if a grown man is punching people, he has a 20 percent chance of also carrying a secret knife for when he's worried he'll lose. Which means that anyone who has been in more than five street fights is lying, dead or known as the Night Stabber to baffled investigators.
I get that when you're speaking to someone who claims to be a battle-hardened and undefeated pit fighter, it's not the safest thing to automatically assume they're full of shit. It's possible you've finally found the legendary real one. However, here's what I've noticed about "street fighters." Every time a new guy at a boxing gym has no "formal training" other than the mean streets, go ahead and take out your mouthpiece, because this is what's happening next: First, he'll take a long time to explain how he can fight orthodox or southpaw, which always means that he can't do either. Next, he'll throw noodley punches at your shoulders for half a round, mostly with his eyes closed. This sets up his finishing move of forming the time-out signal with his hands while he pants about still getting over a cold. If you're really lucky, he'll thank you after all that, warrior to warrior, for a glorious battle. All I'm saying is that as far as I can tell, the street trains you to fight about as well as corn syrup and lupus.
A lot of tough guys won't even guess at the number of fights they've won -- they simply say they're from the name of a town and wait for you to gulp. I never understood using the location of your childhood as evidence of your badassery. Do you measure it by your city's hockey team or how disenfranchised its minorities are? For example, my town had more cattle than people and our education system was based around putting classrooms of children into a clothes dryer and giving the school crayon to the one who came out alive. Does that make me tougher than, say, someone from Des Moines? Fuck yes. Your move, Des Moines.
The Guy Who Trains in a Martial Art That Requires Explanation
Not all badasses spring forth from a childhood of back alley knife fights. Some have transformed their hands and feet into killing machines using ancient Oriental magic. Or at least they're pretty sure they have.
I'm one of them. Officially.
But with all the mysticism and intrigue of martial arts, it's sometimes hard to tell if the Karate Master you're speaking with is a passionate hobbyist or a delusional douchebag. The easiest way to tell is how much he explains his fighting style before you've asked. If a guy tells you he takes krav maga and he's done talking about it, he's a normal person who enjoys krav maga. If he tells you he trains in krav maga and immediately describes the situations where he could use it like the Israeli commandos who invented it because they needed a fighting style that worked, you should feel safe using a punch to get him to shut up.
I have nothing against people sharing their interests, and every martial art has its own theories on how combat works. In aikido, you use your opponent's energy against him. In wing chun, you attack and defend at the same time. In taekwondo, you have a place to leave your kids for an hour. The point is, if your martial art is so magical and complicated that you feel the need to explain it, you've probably only tried it out in your imagination. And if you study your own unique fighting art that takes bits and pieces of what's effective from other styles, oh buddy. Oh, you poor thing.
Guys Who Know Fight Secrets No One Else Knows
Do you know that it only takes half a pound of pressure to shatter a human kneecap and three pounds of pressure to break a human neck? Well, dumbshits do, which only makes sense because neither of those facts are real.
Guys that tell you how easy it is to kill someone with your bare hands think we are only drawing breath because of their mercy. I don't think they're right, but if they are-- thanks, generous murderers!
It's cute when people try to sound dangerous by spouting nerve cluster and ligament trivia known only to them and ninja assassins, but I never understood how people spend their whole lives bumbling around in their durable human bodies and still think they'll die if someone pulls their head really hard to the side or pokes them in the right pressure point. Was karate invented by attacking osteoporosal cadavers and no one got around to double checking the numbers? Or is it because we all watched the same action movies and know that Arnold Schwarzenegger could never lie to anyone?
The Guy Who Argues That This MMA Crap Is Just a "Sport"
In 1993, in about the first second of Ultimate Fighting Championship 1, I had the same thought I had during my first fistfight -- "Hold on a second, this martial arts stuff doesn't work at all like it's supposed to!" In one night of grappling, gi chokes and literally no backflip spin kicks, it became sadly clear that martial artists were sort of playing make-believe this whole time. Thousands and thousands of ninjitsu instructors suddenly had a very silly job and I realized that the elaborate karate dance I practiced to fend off a dozen attackers was only going to be useful for seducing girls.
For a long time, martial artists held out hope that word of this MMA stuff would reach a Shaolin monastery or a reclusive tai chi master and they would enter the cage and transform into a tiger. It never happened. These stupid real people fighting stupid real fights effectively killed the mystique of martial arts overnight. The UFC showed everyone that all the crap we were learning was the exact opposite of how to win a fight, and nothing bothers an insecure man like knowing that another guy can kick his ass. I don't know how it is for women, but it seems like the same feeling they get when they walk into a club and see a woman more naked than them.
So with the existence of the UFC, martial artists and douchebags suddenly had a lot of rationalizing to do. After all, how can they think of themselves as fighters if that is fighting and they don't know how to do that? Simple: The sports organization has all these rules like no biting or groin attacks, so none of those UFC apes would know what to do in a real fight! It's a desperate attempt to keep combat as this magical phenomenon that only you, the toughest guy ever, can understand. Still, is anyone honestly insane enough to like their chances against an athlete trained in punching, kicking and grappling armed only with their idea to bite him on the dick?
Some phony badasses are more grounded in their rationalizations. They might explain that they don't do that jiujitsu crap because it's gay to lay on men, especially when you have a boner. Besides -- all you have to do is land one good punch to win a fight. This argument is like saying that you could beat Dwyane Wade at basketball because all you have to do is make a bunch of baskets in a row. It's like saying you could win the Miss America pageant because all you'd have to do is score triple points in the talent section and that only takes four minutes of perfect tap dancing.
Guys Who Tell You About All the Fights They Won
Here are some karate chopping facts about me: I ended my childhood with two colored belts, I have a decade of Thai kickboxing and regular punch boxing training and I know enough wrestling and Brazilian jiujitsu that my cause of death probably won't be a headlock. Through the course of my lifetime, I have easily watched over 2,500 amateur or pro fights and posted several articles about MMA here on Cracked, and I personally wrote almost every word anyone says in the UFC Undisputed video games. I'm telling you all this about myself to establish that I'm an actual, professional expert on fighting, and yet every single time someone tells me about a fight they were in, something I've never seen happened.
Here's a true story about a fake story. I'm a typical nerd in that my fashion sense begins and ends with a T-shirt about a thing I'm enthusiastic about, and I have around 30 that say something about muay thai. Plus, I find that a Tapout shirt helps counterbalance my natural charm and magnetism. Three weeks ago, a bouncer saw the kickpunchery on my clothes and started talking about fights with me. Within minutes he told a story of how he once used ju-jitsu, which he explained was "more like grappling than fighting," to "tap out" two guys simultaneously outside a bar. And these guys were apparently huge.
The story made me sad. Not for those poor huge guys who got caught in the dangerous and forbidden Double Octopus Tapout, but because this idiot managed to tell the story to maybe the one person in the bar with academic certainty that he made it up. Plus, when he said he trained nearby, I started guessing from the Brazilian jiujitsu schools in the neighborhood and he changed his story to how he took private lessons way outside of town, years and years ago. This didn't stop him from telling me about the time he knocked one guy out and another guy down with the same back fist.
The thing is, I grew up in a world where you could tell stories like this. Our references for what was possible were ninja movies and the karate instructors teaching us how to catch swords with a clap. When someone on the A-Team punched you once, you fell asleep for 40 minutes. And in ancient temples, old men who totally existed could focus chi into their limbs and let people dangle from their outstretched arms. In this fantastic world of possibilities, why couldn't a small, out-of-shape bouncer dispatch multiple attackers with a move that doesn't hurt? I always wonder why these people don't go all the way and add some time travel or cursed medallions to their fight stories.
So yes, the man telling you a story about the knife fight he won by punching a rib into the lung of his dreadfully unprepared opponent is lying. In fact, it's a safe bet to say that anyone you ever meet who "won" a street fight is making most to all of it up. Or it might only be a weird coincidence that every street fight I see is two flailing unpleasant people falling into the same clumsy heap, and every street fight I hear about involves an untrained weakling settling a dispute with a flying kick. Personally, I never use kicks in a street fight because their impact is so great it dislodges all the breast implants of the nearby clapping women.