An Open Letter to Zangief Kid, the Bully Crusher

Hey, Zangief Kid. Millions of people are talking about you these days. They are talking about that final bullying event, captured on video two weeks ago, that made you Internet famous. Reporters, school officials, and other so-called experts are discussing how such events should be “handled” or “managed,” as if they indicated a simple policy failure.

I think you know better, Little Zangief, and so do I. Now, rather than adding to the punditry, I’d like to say a few words to you directly. But first, a quick recap, and please correct me if I am wrong…

School bullies hounded you for years. They tormented you daily, to such an extent that others were reluctant to be seen as your friend, lest they be forced to share in your suffering.

When a group of bullies ambushed you, their scrawny leader throwing punches while the rest stood by in approval, you finally snapped. They had your back against the wall, both figuratively and literally, Zangief. So, on the fifth punch, you grabbed the bully and gave him a piledriver! Wow!

The Internet approves.

Violence was the solution

I guess you’ve figured this one out already, but when adults tell children that “violence never solved anything,” they are lying. At times, it can seem a harmless little white lie, offered by those who care about our children, and want to protect them from harm.

The truth is that violence is a solution. Maybe it is not an ideal solution; and yes, while it is solving one problem, it often creates another. But there is no denying, Zangief, that absorbing punches with your face constitutes a problem–and that your direct aggressive action stopped those punches immediately–and perhaps forever.

You can safely trash most of the advice you’ve been given thus far. No, every bully is not secretly a coward on the inside. No, they are not actually trying to be your friend. If common sense had any useful advice for handling bullies, this world would be a different shape indeed.

Bullies never die

Look at what is happening in Libya today, or the broader Middle East region (or any other region). Bullies do not simply evaporate after high school; they rise to the highest levels of business and government. Bad news, Little Zangief: bullies run the world, with help from their enablers.

You’ve already met a few of these enabling characters. They are the people who stand by and watch, while their leader smashes your head. They are the people who respond to such injustice, by enacting and enforcing “zero tolerance” policies on self-defense. Lacking the strength, courage and wisdom to conquer their own bullies, they choose to collaborate instead. Let’s hope your recent example will inspire them to make different choices.

The logic of the melee

Little Zangief, I realize that your Spinning Piledriver was not the product of a careful and deliberative thought process. They finally pushed you too far, and you reacted without thinking. For your own safety, this is a situation you must avoid in the future. It is best to simply never let them push you too far.

Did you overreact in this specific case? In light of what actually happened, I would say no. A few punches resulting in no serious injury, were traded for an awe-inspiring body-slam resulting in no serious injury. Fair and square. Evaluating your actions by considering what never happened, due to those actions, is a little trickier–and this is where the experts and authorities usually go wrong.

The truth is that, by the sheer magnitude of your response, you may have saved someone from getting stomped by a gang of thugs. That person was yourself, of course; and because it was yourself, some naive observers will feel justified in labeling you as a willing combatant, rather than as a hero.

They will insist that you should have done something else instead. Perhaps you should have predicted your ambush, and tattled preemptively. Or waited peacefully until your bullies’ little limbs were tired of pummeling you, then crawled home to await tomorrow’s beating.

Or maybe you should have responded to each single punch with exactly one of your own, in a display of perfectly “proportional” and “appropriate” self-defense. I counted at least three co-conspirators on the scene–so if you have eight arms, eight legs, and supernatural stamina, then it could work. Probably not, but just maybe.

I’d like to say that you can just ignore these silly folks; but you cannot, because they staff the organizations that will decide your fate. They are policemen, parents and concerned citizens, reporters and editors, prosecutors and judges, principals and members of the school board.

Welcome to the complex world of self-defense.
Welcome to adulthood, Zangief Kid!


  1. Well-written, and I couldn’t agree more. Contrary to your typical sunday school lesson or soccer-mom supper-time conversation, violence/aggression does solve matters like this one. Good for him.

  2. Yeah, all the talk about what he should do or shouldn’t have done misses the point that this kind of social violence pivots on body awareness, spacial awareness, social status flexibility, and the feeling of ownership/belonging. I know a guy who teaches WWE Pro-style wrestling to kids…now that stuff works!

  3. Nicely done. The whole part about enablers is SO true. These bullies go on to become co-workers that some bosses are afraid to deal with. Also, sometimes they become bosses themselves.

    FYI that 4% of the US population has sociopathic tendencies.

    For the most part they cannot be fixed.

    See also: “The no asshole rule.”

    Sometimes a thump back is the only thing that will work.


  4. Provocative article. Think this boy finally got tired of being the victim. Apparently it had been going on for years. Whether or not you win the fight, if you are willing to duke it, you will be targeted much less in the future.

    Every time I moved to a new school as a kid, the bullies would test me. Lost a few fights but gained a lot of respect.

  5. Saw the video before I read the article.
    Love the article.
    Sometimes delivering a good whipping to the bully is the only way to stop them.

  6. Very poignant, sadly also very true.
    I guess the following day he probably had to deal with the bigger kid with the backpack, but at least now he knows he can.
    That was quite enlightened of the woman to stand off and let the initial confrontation resolve itself before stepping in and defusing the situation.

  7. Let’s agree that the false concept of “waiting” never works. No reaction to attacks only reinforce new attacks! This is the very true of every self-defence situations. That is why the faster reaction, the better. You need to assume that it WILL escalte so better to overreact on initial stages. Good luck Kid!

  8. Great commentary! Hopefully the kid will get to read it some day. It certainly will benefit anyone who reads it.

    There’s something that hasn’t been commented on by all the pundits and bloviators in this whole situation, though. Do you notice that no adults were doing anything about the bullies until after the problem and the boy’s response was publicized on the internet?

    And that all the crocodile tears were being shed over the possible extreme injury the bully might have suffered. And the boy was threatened with expulsion, until public outrage got the “school administration bullies” to back down.

    Seems that what it takes is concern about injuries and lawsuits is what it takes to get teachers and school administrators to take action. It certainly is true that if the boy had slammed the bully down onto the concrete on his back instead of his side there could have been a devastating head injury.

    I also noticed that the bully’s attacks were carefully calibrated. He had probably learned that this type of provocation, causing pain, but unlikely to cause injuries or leave marks, would not get him in trouble with the adults.

    So the boy was on his own, adults at the school doing nothing to help him, and he did what he did in the moment, not having an adult understanding of what can be done to you by bureaucrats in the aftermath of a self-defense situation. Good on ya, boy!

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