Unless you’re riding out a coma in a secure state hospital, you can bet that at some point you, like most guys, will have to defend yourself in a fight. We want to be sure you end up the winner.
Over the past few months this column has presented some useful tips’forget the shove match, commit yourself early, go Tasmanian, end the fight quickly in the trapping range’to ensure you win the fight. This month I want to cover the 10 deadliest mistakes guys make in a fight.
Deadly mistake 1: Lack of proper skills in all five areas of fighting. You should know how to deal with real-world street fighting in 1) kicking, 2) punching, 3) trapping, 4) ground fighting and 5) weapons. If you don’t, you’ll lose nine out of 10 fights. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to spend years studying some martial art; it simply means you need to know at least one or two decisive moves in each of those areas’which is a lot easier than you’d think.
Deadly mistake 2: Lack of proper conditioning. A balls-out fight is one of the hairiest things you’ll ever face. If you’re out-of-shape and unable to end the fight in a few seconds, you’ll be facing exhaustion. Get in shape.
Deadly mistake 3: Expecting the enemy to cooperate. It’s why a lot of store-front martial artists get their asses kicked in a real street fight. All their training has taken place in a dojo using the strict rules of their chosen discipline. In a real street fight there are no rules. Don’t expect your opponent to wait around while you figure out that cool wrist-lock.
Deadly mistake 4: Using an unrealistic fighting style. Many martial arts teach ancient techniques that are outdated and downright dangerous for modern fighting. For example, the wide horse stance was developed for guys fighting each other in those little sampan boats’go ahead and use this stance if you love to get kicked in the groin. The high spin kick was developed to knock a man off his horse. The always entertaining board breaking was designed to crack an opponent’s wooden chest plate in case you lost your sword and on and on. Learn only what works in today’s streets’ignore the rest.
Deadly mistake 5: Imitating Hollywood. Forget studying what your favorite actor uses to dismantle the bad guys. It’ll only get you hurt. Train for reality, not fantasy.
Deadly mistake 6: Losing your temper. The moment you lose your temper you begin to make stupid mistakes. The trick is to remain cool. Use your training to get your opponent to lose his temper. Then you can take advantage of his stupid mistakes.
Deadly mistake 7: Not committing to the end. Even if you’re winning a fight, you’ll most likely lose if you hesitate or stop fighting too soon. Once you start, don’t stop. Give it everything you’ve got until it’s definitely over.
Deadly mistake 8: Sticking around to admire your work. It may be awfully tempting to stand over your opponent in victory, but don’t do it. The police will not be understanding, witnesses will think you’re the bad guy, your opponent’s angry buddies will suddenly show up and worse. The very moment you have a chance, get the hell out of there.
Deadly mistake 9: Not being aware of your environment. Street fights don’t happen in a vacuum. Most fights, robberies and assaults can be easily avoided if you’re continually aware of your surroundings. Be smart. Always be aware to avoid trouble.
Deadly mistake 10: Hoping someone will bail you out. It’s 2 a.m., you’re in a bad neighborhood with a flat tire, and a gang of thugs surrounds you. Tragically, most people panic at that point and begin pleading with their adversaries, hoping that someone will come along to save them. It rarely works. You’ve got to take responsibility for your own situation and act decisively. Don’t talk. Don’t show fear. Fight and/or run like hell. Next month you’ll learn some finishing moves that can end a fight in a matter of seconds. IM
Editor’s note: For more on TRS’ practical, real-world self-defense tactics, see page 74 of the June ’01 IRONMAN.