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You’ve been practicing and perfecting your martial art of choice for more than a decade. You feel as if your mastery of form, technique, and timing can overcome any foe that you face. While under the right circumstances you may be right, you may also be in serious need of a reality check. The following are some facts you may want to consider:
1. A real fight is not a sparring match.
Performing your technique in a class environment, sparring environment, or the comfort of padded mats and protective gear is one thing. Getting shoved to the ground, obscenities shouted your way, sucker punched in the face, or suddenly having an object thrown against your head can instantly skyrocket your heart rate and adrenaline levels, causing you to be flustered and lose control of yourself.
This is where your mental strength and training comes into play. Can you remain calm in the face of danger in order to execute your techniques effectively and get the job done? Most people who haven’t sparred in as-close-to-the-real-thing type of conditions or have never been in a “real fight” will not react very well to such a situation and often break or freeze up.
2. There are weight classes for a reason.
Unless you’re an Olympic-level caliber athlete in your form of martial art (and even then it depends what your martial art is), it’s best not to take on anybody who has anything more than 20lbs. or 120% of your body weight on you.
In the previous article we explained that having superior technique and knowledge will always beat size and strength. However this is negated if your opponent is larger and stronger than you and possesses A) plausible or equal skill, B) a beserker attitude or under the influence of drugs, or C) too much of a size advantage for you to use any techniques at all. Suddenly that Judo throw isn’t looking so useful when that 250lbs. monster of a man lifts you up into the air and bear hug squeezes the life out of you.
3. You don’t do any exercises that condition your body.
You’ve been training your technique for years, but you’ve never lifted weights to increase your strength and power and you’ve never ran a mile to help your cardiovascular conditioning. Technique can be negated by an athlete who trains in strength conditioning, who hits harder and faster than you and never runs out of gas.
4. Your martial art of choice may either be too impractical (traditional) or too watered down for sport (modern) to be of any use in real life.
Traditional Martial Arts in a Real Fight:
Various Chinese, Japanese, and Korean martial arts systems such as Wing Chun, Aikido, Karate, Taekwondo, etc. teach self-defense techniques that only work if your opponent does something very specific and stands there like a gentleman waiting for you to execute your picture perfect technique on them. Unless your opponent is a complete chump or you are an extremely high level practitioner of the art and well trained (which most of us aren’t), you will be at a loss of what to do when someone punches you, shoves you backwards, or closes the distance on you and starts grappling / clinching with you (ie. a real fight).
However, the good thing about Chinese Kung Fu and other traditional systems is that it emphasizes strikes and techniques to crucial pressure point areas, joints, the crotch, throat, and eyes. If you can remain calm and execute these fight-ending techniques without being flustered by a punch or takedown, then traditional martial arts is extremely useful in this sense.
Modern Martial Arts in a Real Fight:
Mixed Martial Arts and their core disciplines of Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, and Jiu Jitsu are great because in most circumstances, they do what they’re supposed to do and it works. Boxing teaches you to punch someone (with force) without being punched, Muay Thai teaches you to kick and knee your opponent until he’s down, Wrestling teaches you to take your opponent to the ground or keep the fight standing, and Jiu Jitsu teaches you to choke your opponent out or break their limbs if the fight reaches the ground. When does all of this not work? When your opponent refuses to play by the rules.
There is something that needs to be said for Mixed Martial Artists who are tricked into the romanticism of engaging in a no holds barred fight. Much like traditional martial artists are romanticized into using traditional techniques that don’t really work in a real fight, modern martial artists or mixed martial artists are romanticized into being “macho” and think that “slugging it out” with the other guy or “choking him unconscious” are the best ways to beat an opponent. They think that an MMA fight, a sport fight, a fight with rules, equals to a real fight. It’s as close to the real thing as possible, but it’s not a real fight.
If you box with me, I’m going to finger jab you in the eye socket, or kick you in the nuts. If you clinch me and try to throw knees, I will uppercut you in the nuts. If you try to take me down, I will pull your ears or shove my fingers deep into your eye sockets when you grab my leg or are in the process of taking me down to the ground. If you have me on the ground and I’m in your guard, I will scratch your eyes out, grab your nuts as you go for a triangle choke, or ground and pound your face to mush.
Fight a smart fight. Don’t fight someone who is going to absorb all your strikes, pry your arm off from a choke attempt, and proceed to knock you out with a Zangief piledriver and stomps. If you do MMA, be smart and don’t try to be macho. Just end the fight the quickest way possible, using MMA as a base to get you there safely and effectively.
Fights can break out at any time, and you need to be prepared to deal with the realities of being attacked, especially from multiple attackers. Whether you get attacked on the street, at a party, or if thugs, bullies, or drunken idiots decide to gang up on you and attack you, you’ve got to know the no bullshit tips and foundations that will keep you alive and safe, and if the situation calls for it, to fight back.
Situations like this pop up all the time. You need to know how to PROPERLY defend yourself against multiple attackers, should you ever run into an unfortunate situation of being attacked. We wrote this guide to breakdown exactly how:
REACTION #1 – RUN AWAY
Run away. Run your ass off.
You live to fight another day, and there’s no shame in this. Being in a one on one fight is dangerous enough if you’re untrained, but having multiple attackers basically gives you a very slim chance of winning, and even if you hypothetically do win, you won’t leave unscathed. You will probably visit the hospital with hefty injuries. And this isn’t the movies. Your opponents aren’t going to magically attack you one by one, one at a time, allowing you to launch your techniques at them with perfect timing.
This is going to get ugly in a matter of a split second, so before you take the kind of damage you won’t be able to recover from; run. Take our advice, and run your ass off like you’re an Olympic sprinter. You’ll be glad you did and thank yourself later.
REACTION #2 – WHAT IF I RAN OUT OF SPACE / I AM BLOCKED BY OBSTACLES OR WALLS?
If you’re stuck in a dead end, make a football dash in the opposite direction and burst through the attackers that are trying to intercept you. If you’re quick enough you will not get surrounded.
If you hesitate until you’ve completely ran out of space and your attackers have backed you up against a wall, you’re already too late and your chances of getting out are now next to zero. Remember: the longer you wait – the worse off you’ll be.
REACTION #3 – WHAT IF I AM SURROUNDED / I GOT INTERCEPTED AND A BRAWL HAS STARTED?
Okay, you tried running for your life but you still got surrounded. Now you have to react or else you’re going to get overwhelmed very quickly and get kicked down. Read carefully and go to STEP #1.
STEP #1 – FORM A BOTTLENECK SO THE FIGHT BECOMES A 1 ON 1 FIGHT AT ANY MOMENT
If you can, get yourself aligned on a flight of stairs, a narrow corridor, or a walkway with barricades. This prevents you from being completely surrounded with multiple targets, and aligns yourself with only one person at a time at any moment.
If you can narrow it down to just having to deal with one attacker at any time, then the chances of you surviving skyrocket immensely.
DEFENDING YOURSELF IN A BOTTLENECK:
If you have no choice left but to defend yourself, read carefully.
If you’re a striker you can start opening up with jabs (only jabs) while backpedaling, or use calculated kicks to the groin while backpedaling. Fast, flicking hand strikes and fist strikes to keep your attacker at a distance are the best kinds of strikes to use. Do not over commit on your strikes (such as loading up for power strikes) or you will be left open or may slip out of position / off balance – which means getting overwhelmed and surrounded.
You may be able to grab onto the ledges next to you to use as leverage and throw strong soccer kicks aimed at their groin or chest. Keep your kicks low and strong, and don’t get predictable with your timing. Mix them up with jabs but always keep your distance BACK. Be careful with kicking as you may miss, slip, and end up falling in which you will be beat down.
If you’re a grappler, unfortunately multiple attackers means you won’t be able to get off any good attacks and you’re better off just throwing the attacker in front of you or pushing his head / face and smash him into any objects, walls, trees, etc. Keep your hands stretched out, forming a frame, and use it to brace your attacker / shove him out of the way when he comes forward. In any case, grappling with your attacker is risky and not recommended because in doing so, you close your own distance with your attackers and if you’re not careful, you will get overwhelmed.
The advantage should be yours should this continue in a tight close-quarters space such as a staircase where only one attacker can get to you at a time, bottleneck and blocked by the guy in front of them. Kick him down. Push off and throw straight punches aimed at his throat. It’s best not to get into a clinch situation or start grappling. Attack and get off first.
Of course don’t forget the eye gouging, foot stomping, and groin kicking when the opening presents itself. Karate style / point fighting style techniques work surprisingly well in this situation because it’s essentially all about backpedaling, attacking when the opening comes, and escaping right after. If you’re a high level boxer or point fighter, you can shuffle backwards and land well-timed jabs and crosses on your attacker as he chases you.
STEP #2 – GET TO A LARGE, OPEN AREA
If you’re able to get yourself to a large, open area (and we mean open area as in out on the streets or at a park, NOT inside a small room or hall), you’re in a much better situation to deal with your attackers as this opens up your options. You are free to backpedal, circle, and continue circling around. As long as you continue circling, you can pick them off one by one or eventually be able to, if you choose, to make a run for it.
DEFENDING YOURSELF IN AN OPEN FIELD:
You will need to continually run backwards while jabbing the closest person who is in front of you. Be careful not to trip while doing this. Be sure not to get cut off and surrounded. You do the cutting off, and you do the circling. Circle away continuously creating space behind you while jabbing the death out of the guy in front of you. Using measured check hooks as they walk into your striking zone also works well in deflecting their energy / line of attack as you circle away.
I hope you practiced your boxing because if you’re a jiu jitsu guy or a wrestler and you can’t strike, you’ve got nothing for your attackers here and you’re better off just running away. The time it takes for you to successfully clinch and land a throw or a submission, you’ll likely be knocked out already as your other attackers will be stomping your face and soccer kicking you in the head.
Here are two great video examples of the techniques described above and how it looks when implemented successfully:
He wasn’t completely successful, but he applied the right principles in trying his best not to be surrounded, and punched and shoved his attackers when the opportunity presented itself.
This man uses effective footwork, jabs, and check hooks to send his attackers back and tumbling off to the side.
Eventually you should be able to create an opening large enough to escape.
REACTION #4 – I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIGHT! WHAT DO I DO?
For men, if you cannot defend yourself at all, then negotiate with your attackers. Hand them some cash and live to fight another day. You might still take a beating, but hopefully you can learn from your mistake of never learning a martial art to defend yourself with.
For women, if you’ve never trained either, try not to anger or further annoy your attackers into making them do something worse, such as slapping them or humiliating them into making them want to physically hurt you or escalate it into sexual assault. If you make your attackers lose face, they’ll more likely want to attack you as payback. If they look like they’re just mouthing off or pushing you and they’re about to leave – then let it go.
If they’re definitely trying to harm you, then try to lock yourself inside a car or a room or somewhere where your attackers can’t reach you. If they cannot pursue you any further then they’ll leave. Remember to call for help. If you must engage them then try to stab them in the eyeballs with your keys or with your nails, use pepper spray, or grab a blunt object to use to hit them with. Your purse is usually a poor choice to use as a weapon as it’s not hard enough to inflict any real pain and they can actually grab your purse and pull it away from you as well – but if you’ve got nothing else then it’s better than nothing. Swing your purse at them, hit them in the face with it, while you kick and scream at them and make them back off out of fear.
In general, it’s hard to provide any tips for survival at this point because you’re really at the mercy of your attackers. All we can say is – be smart, be aware, and don’t put yourself in this kind of situation in the first place. Always partner / buddy up if you’re going somewhere or traveling, or just stay home at night.
8 Keys To Keep In Mind:
1. Aggressively attack and get off first. You will never be able to dodge multiple people at the same time so your best bet is to actually attack first when an opening presents itself and take out the front runner. Be careful not to over commit and get caught / dragged to the ground.
2. Attack the leader. He is usually the one issuing orders or the one leading the attack. Kill this guy off first and the rest won’t dare to follow up.
3. Maintain superior vision, awareness, and footwork. If you can keep all your attackers in your line of vision, are aware of your surroundings to avoid being flanked, and use great footwork to create angles and sufficient attacking space, you greatly increase your chances of fighting them off.
4. Avoid the ground at all costs. Do not turtle. Do not pull guard. Protect your head from being soccer kicked by maintaining a high guard and get back up to your feet at all costs.
5. Make a lot of noise and cause a scene! The louder and more aggressive you are, the better your morale is, the more intimidated your attackers are, the more attention you will be attracting, and the lesser chances of your attackers wanting to stick around if bystanders are aware of the situation. This also maintains your innocence in the public eye – make a lot of noise and get people to know you’re the victim of the attack and not the guy who instigated the fight.
6. Use cheap shots to gain an advantage. Eye gouging, throat shots, groin shots, ear pulling, finger breaking, and biting are all game here. If you act like a hero and try to “trade punches” with your foes, then you can expect to get knocked out, beat down, and humiliated. Remember; you’re outnumbered and they’re out to hurt you – why fight fair?
7. Use a weapon. Pick up an object and swing / throw it at them. If you can grab a hold of a makeshift weapon or if your belt buckle is heavy enough to be used as a whipping weapon, use it. Use anything you can to even the odds, and use it some more to make sure they’re down and out for good, and the threat of attack is completely removed.
8. Use obstacles / environment to keep yourself from being surrounded and create space, such as kicking a chair in front of them to slow their advancement. If your attackers have to jump over objects, barricades, and the general environment to get to you, they expose themselves to being open to your counter attack, or slow down enough to give you time to recover or flee the scene.
Train hard and fight smart. Don’t leave home without this knowledge, and share this post with your friends and loved ones – it could mean the difference between life and death.
You pissed off somebody who looks like Colossus from X-Men, or some juiced-up gym rat douche just decided to pick a fight with you. You’re screwed and you don’t stand a chance, right?
To the average person, they are easily intimidated / falsely believe that having an imposing muscular physique with crazy bodybuilder Terminator-type muscles automatically mean they can kick a lot of ass. While having “beach muscles” will certainly help an individual in a physical encounter in the brute strength department, it often has very little to do with their actual fighting ability (and in some cases, their muscles actually work against them). Here are the most common facts to consider:
1. The best fighters in the world all consistently pack on lean, functional muscle and are not bulky “bodybuilder” types.
Heavyweight fighters aside; Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Buakaw Por Pramuk and many other great fighters are all fairly lean and don’t possess gigantic comic book type muscles. Their muscles are conditioned for strength, endurance, and functionality. Having beach muscles do not help their fighting abilities in any way and in the next fact, it actually hinders their performance.
2. Incredibly bulky fighters lack cardio, endurance, coordination, and tire easily.
They may be able to explode in the early minutes of a fight, but after that they are basically sitting ducks. This is because the more muscle mass they have, the more oxygen is needed to supply these muscles. This means they take a bigger toll on their gas tank and tire more easily. Examples include fighters such as Sokoudjou, Mariusz Pudzianowski, and Bobby Lashley.
3. Skill and technique overcome size and strength.
Bigger fighters usually(*) rely on their strength and are less technically skilled than smaller fighters. The lighter the weight class you go, the more technically sound and superior the fighters’ skills are. This is because smaller fighters have always traditionally needed to work harder in the gym to make up for their lack of size and strength. While in contrast, a bigger man can “get away” with having sloppy technique or less fighting knowledge because more often than not, he has relied on his size and strength alone to win fights. In the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a skinny man by the name of Royce Gracie used the then-unknown martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to dispatch all his foes, many of whom were much bigger and stronger than him. This is where a smaller and technically superior fighter usually finds a way to beat the bigger, slower, sloppier, and less skilled fighter.
(*) In the event that a heavier fighter is just as technically skilled as a lighter fighter however, then the heavier fighter has an advantage and will most likely win if both fighters squared off. In our next post we will dive deeper into when a smaller man shouldn’t fight a bigger man.