A Beginner's Guide to Nazi Punching
A martial arts pro on how to participate in an American tradition.
It was the punch meme-d ‘round the internet. On Inauguration Day, prominent modern Nazi Richard Spencer was in the middle of an interview when a protester punched him in the whiteboy fade. The slug sparked discussion about whether or not violence is helpful in the current political climate, but only after it made a lot of people smile. Richard Spencer is not a popular man — and for good reason. As many people pointed out, punching a Nazi is an American tradition (a Captain American tradition, too).
So, how to do it properly?
Nazi punching isn’t an immensely complicated activity, but it’s easier than you might think to screw it up. That’s why Inverse asked Ken Ng, owner of Class One Mixed Martial Arts, for his guidance on utilizing the rhetorical tool of last resort. He broke the process down into four easy steps.
STEP ONE: Locate a Nazi
You don’t need a time machine taking you back to World War II to find yourself some white supremacists. The American Nazi Party is always looking for new recruits, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has outlined the threat of modern day racist skinheads. The organization also has long list of active neo-Nazi groups all over the United States. And if you’re in a metropolitan area, there’s bound to be some chapter congregating at a dive bar sporting pool tables and dark ales.
Look for squishy faced men with Pepe pins who seem aggrieved for no clear reason. Listen for the N-word. Listen for anti-Jewish rhetoric. Listen for someone who “doesn’t trust” massive groups of people, specifically immigrants. Then ask if they are Nazis or, if they’re zeitgeisty, members of the “Alt-Right.” The thing about Nazis is that they’re not ashamed of being Nazis.
2) Use the Element of Surprise
Catching the Nazi off guard is one of the most vital parts to taking him or her down with a punch, or really anyone. As seen in the clip of Spencer getting hit, right as he invokes the name of the sweet Pepe the Frog co-opted by racists and Trump supporters, the protester comes out of nowhere for the hit.
“There is an old saying in boxing that ‘It’s the punch you don’t see coming that knocks you out,’” says Ng.
Spencer probably didn’t expect to face a beatdown on the day his presidential pick was sworn into office, and that surely helped out the dude that came after him. Is that a better approach than simply asking the Nazi to fight? Not really, but it’ll do if you’re pressed for time or see a really great opportunity.
3) Make the Hit Count
While Ng points out that the protestor had the element of surprise on his side, he also believes the punch could have been a lot more effective. Looking at screenshots from the viral video, it looks like the fist barely grazed or even missed Spencer’s neck. To Ng, it appears that Spencer’s head was knocked back by the attacker’s forearm, which isn’t optimal for getting the job done.
“A properly thrown punch should have knocked Spencer out, says Ng. “From that angle of attack, a right cross or an overhand right to Spencer’s lower mandible would have been much more effective if the objective was to knock him out.”
4) Exercise Good Judgment
People on Twitter had plenty takes on what was appropriate in the Spencer situation, but Ng wants to also remind people that violence isn’t always the answer.
“As for punching someone that spreads hate, that is something that I do not condone,” says Ng. “That being said, I also tell my students, if they are being physically attacked, they have every right to defend themselves and to make the attacker regret that bad life choice that they just made. So I stress to everyone that feels unsafe in this current social climate that they owe it to themselves to learn some type of effective self-defense.”