First of all, kudos to codic for his determination and will to protect himself against those thugs. Most of what he's written is excellent advice for the picked-on geek, and I think everyone who was ever the victim of bullying can relate to his story in some way.

That said, there is just one point I'd like to expound on a bit:

"Either you're going to fight to the point of really hurting another human being or you're not. There isn't really any gray area with the whole debate. I don't think it's possible to protect yourself competently without first accepting the idea that once things start to get physical, you won't stop until he's passed out bleeding to death on the floor."

Really? I know a black belt (1st Dan, karate) whose dumb frat brothers, knowing he was a skilled martial artist, would viciously attack him while demanding that he "demonstrate some moves". Unwilling to use his lethal skills against them and unable to stop the assaults by talking or walking, he was repeatedly beaten up. I met him at my dojo, where he had come to learn something he could do to protect himself without harming his buddies.

Or, to borrow my aikido teacher's favorite example, what about the uncle who's had a few too many at a family reunion and is spoiling for a fight? Should he be beaten to the point where he requires medical attention?*

What about the parent of a violent and aggressive child, when discipline, counseling, and reason have all failed? I know a woman whose hulking 12-year-old stepson blamed her for his parents divorce and took out his aggression with slaps, kicks, and punches. Had she beat him into a bloody pulp, she would most certainly have been arrested for child abuse.**

These are all situations which the reader may or may not encounter. This is not important. I merely use them to illustrate types of fight where savage violence of the sort codic describes is not viable.

Also, the police and judiciary take a dim view of those who pound others into carpet stains over "theft, racism, or implied physical harm". There is such a thing as a proportional response, even in cases of self-defense; not every fight need be to the death. Punches, racial slurs, or attempts to swipe a wallet do not constitute legal grounds for tearing someone to small pieces; using more violence than necessary to protect oneself and end the fight could mean charges of aggravated assault or worse.

I think, in the end, the issue is one of morals; is it superior to win a fight by badly injuring or killing another human being, or to stop the violence without harm coming to anyone? My opinion is that one should by all means learn how to fight and kick ass, but one should also learn how to win a fight without harming the attacker, since there are violent situations where kicking ass is not an option.

* My brother faced a very similar situation, where a drunken party guest (larger and stronger than he) repeatedly tried to pick a fight over an unimportant argument. Instead of using a lethal throat strike, applying a crippling bone-breaker hold, or flinging the man through a nearby upper-story window, all of which he was quite capable of doing, he applied a simple elbow lock and pinned the fellow to the floor until they had both calmed down.

** After some aikido instruction, she was able to defend herself against the beatings without hurting or harming the boy in any way.