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How to Win in a Street Fight

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Defending Yourself the Right Way

While you may be a lover, fighters are still stalking the streets. Whether you're out on the town with your friends or out on a date, there's always the risk of finding yourself in the uncomfortable position of being propositioned for a fight. Knowing what to do in a street fight situation may not save you from a beating but it can save your life.

Avoid the Fight

The best way to win a street fight is to avoid a street fight. Let's be honest, you're not going to win the girl, you don't get prize money, and you won't impress bystanders by beating up some drunken idiot. A best case scenario is you get minimally roughed up.

The worst case scenario is much worse. A misplaced punch can kill an opponent, landing you in jail. If you don't end up in jail for involuntary manslaughter, there's always the risk of serious injury and assault charges. Participating in a street fight is a dangerous decision so know the risks and try to avoid it.

Don't hang around places where there's lots of fighting. The local cops know there are neighborhoods and clubs where fights are more likely to break out. You should know, and avoid, these places too. No matter how great the music is or how hip the club, it's not worth risking your personal safety to go there.

Stay on the beaten path after midnight. Keep in well-lit places with heavy traffic. Even if you avoid places known for their brawls, you may still end up in a street fighting situation.

Try to Defuse

First thing you should do when confronted with a combative person is try to defuse the situation. If that requires an apology, do it. There’s no shame in avoiding a fight with a seemingly sincere apology. If you need to laugh off the situation, give it a try. Keep the mood light and try to engage your potential opponent or his friends in the joke. A little levity may save you from having to throw a punch.

If that fails, some good old-fashioned civilized conversation might work. Calmly explain that you don’t want to fight, you’re sorry for the seeming slight, and move on before the situation has a chance to escalate.

Despite your best efforts, the person may still want to fight. The last resort of avoiding a fight is to flee. Before you throw on your running shoes, there are some caveats with this tactic:

Don't Run

Don't run if you can't outrun your opponent The worst thing you can do is bolt only to find out the guy who's threatening to beat the tar out of you is a trained sprinter. Seriously assess whether you can outrun your opponent.

Don't flee if you can't run This should be self explanatory but adrenaline can only do so much. Even if the entire offensive line of the New England Patriots were threatening to pound you, there are no amount of adrenaline in the world that will help you to outrun them. If you're not a runner, don't try it.

Don't attempt to run if a group is threatening you Pick the fastest looking person in the group. If you can't outrun that person, don't try. The first person to catch you will drag you to the ground and the rest will quickly catch up. You’re better off attempting to fight on your feet than being dragged off them and having the group stomp you.


There is one more risky way to avoid a street fight. If you believe the person threatening you is bluffing, you can bluff back. Puff up and tell the kid bothering you to back off. Throw in a few choice words and a step towards him as if you’re ready to attack.

The opponent may just be running his mouth assuming you will back down. If you’re dealing with a blowhard or some drunk, they should scuttle off. Of course it would also be just as effective and much less risky for you to back off but in delicate situations, such as being in the presence of a potential love interest, this move may avoid a fight and make you look more attractive.

Commit To The Fight

If defusing the situation isn't an option and fleeing is out of the question, it's time to mentally prepare yourself to fight. Committing to the fight is the single most important thing you can do once you’ve decided a fight is inevitable. Being focused and ready to win will make you better prepared to dodge punches and find openings to take your own shots. If you spend the fight looking for the exit or saying you can’t win you’re going to get beaten physically and mentally.

Observe Your Surroundings

Once you're committed to the fight, it's time to start taking stock of the situation. First observe your opponent. Are they drunk? Sober? Tall? Heavy? Make a quick assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. An opponent six inches taller than you may have a better reach, but they also have a higher center of gravity. Try to match their weaknesses to your strengths to determine the best way to beat them.

If there’s a crowd gathering, assess who’s in it. If your opponent has lots of friends, realize that some of them may step in. Compare their group to yours and calculate how many of your friends would join the fight if the need arose. If you’ve attracted a lot of attention, a large crowd may give you the opportunity to duck out or raise enough attention to alert the police. If you’re outside a club, the bouncer may already have seen the situation. Use the crowd to your advantage.

Looking for Escape Routes

Finally, observe the terrain. Look at the obstacles and routes of escape. The way to win a fight is to disable your opponent enough to make an exit. Finding the best means of escape can also help if the fight doesn't go in your favor. If you know the area well, plan out a couple ways out. Alleys can be used as escape routes if you're running from multiple opponents. Cars can provide cover if you’re trying to dodge your opponent. A nearby building might be a good sanctuary if you win the fight and need a quick escape.


While you're observing your surroundings, you may see potential weapons. Your best bet is to pick defensive weapons and avoid offensive ones. This may seem counter intuitive for a no hold bars fight, but disabling or getting rid of any offensive weapons will save you in more ways than one.

Offensive weapons are those that can cause harm to your opponent. Using a bottle, dart or knife in a street fight introduces a whole new set of problems that are best avoided. If you break a bottle and are threatening your opponent with it, not only have you escalated the fight but you've also introduced enhanced legal charges that may be incurred if your fight is broken up by the police.

Any damage caused by a weapon makes a plea of self defense harder to prove, especially if your opponent is fighting with bare hands.

They Can Hurt You Too

A weapon also may cause more damage than your fists. While he may be a drunk jerk at present, recognize that your opponent still has people who love him and may be an alright guy when he’s not picking fights on street corners. Hospitalizing him with stab wounds isn’t something you want on your conscience.

It's best to stick with your feet and fists than risk jail time or the possibility of disfiguring or permanently injuring someone.

Also remember that any weapon you use can just as easily be used by your opponent. Even if you think you can beat your opponent, a weapon can quickly change that assumption. Neutralizing the use of any weapons, whether by destroying them or handing them off to someone you trust in the crowd, will prevent a more dangerous situation.

If you see a weapon outside of arms length, don’t call attention to it. Rather keep your opponent away from it physically during the fight.

Defensive Weapons

Defensive weapons on the other hand should be used whenever possible. Defensive weapons are anything that put distance between you and your opponent. If a fight breaks out in a bar, grabbing a chair to keep your opponent away will prolong a fight long enough to get a bouncer or the police involved.

Get creative in finding weapons. A handful of dirt or a shaker full of salt can temporarily stun your opponent when thrown in their face. Look for and use defensive weapons.

Defend Yourself

Defending yourself is your number one priority in a fight. Winning is obviously a pleasant outcome, but if you end up with a shattered jaw, a broken hand and a bloodied nose at the end of the night, winning doesn't really mean a whole lot.

Start by planting yourself with a good stance. Feet should be shoulder width apart with one foot back slightly. This will naturally turn you to your side which creates a smaller silhouette and less area for your opponent to strike. Keep your chin down the entire fight. If your opponent tries an uppercut, this will save your jaw from shattering. Keep your fists up and ready to deflect any blows.

Remember to always protect your head. If your opponent gets you on the ground, curl into the fetal position with your hands covering your head. It may not look like the most manly pose, but it will protect you from serious injury. Even if you’re on your feet, keep your fists up for cranial protection.

First Blow

If you've exhausted your options to avoid the fight, make sure you’re the one to land the first blow. Make it count by catching your opponent off guard. The minute you decide you’re heading for a fight, make your move. A well-timed uppercut to the jaw or kick to the groin can cause enough pain and confusion to make your exit.

Getting the first blow is not only a mental boost, but if you can disable your opponent with the first blow, you can end the fight. Remember, you’re not stepping into the octagon for an official MMA fight. Street fights are brutal, reckless and most of all, quick. The first swing is often the last one so make it count.

The one caveat of initiating the first blow is that you will be implicated as the person who started the fight. This can have legal ramifications so if you are in a street fight situation. If there is a police presence, striking the first blow is a bad move. Let your opponent take the first swing and the responsibility for the fight.

The Fight

Street fights don't take place in regulated environments. They are no holds barred brawls. Your opponent isn't going to hold back so you shouldn't either. Protect yourself and do whatever it takes to get yourself out of the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Ergo fighting dirty is allowed. A quick shot to the groin is encouraged to end the fight. A punch to the nose will cause your opponents eyes to water and that time can be used to escape. Spitting out a mouthful of blood will slow anyone down. If you you’re stuck in a headlock, don’t be afraid to bite.

While fighting dirty is encouraged, don't fight dangerously. A well-placed punch to the head or throat can kill a man. You don't want to end up in jail for years over a pointless bar fight so don't go for either of those places. Aim for the nose or groin instead.

Quick Strike Methods

Using cupped hands for quick slaps on the throat or ears are a good way to disorient your opponent. The technique is exactly like it sounds. Just cup your hand and quickly smack the opponent. Your opponent should experience an immediate sharp pain. A cupped slap to the ear is the most effective place as it throws off your opponent's internal balance and can rupture their eardrum. This technique should produce enough pain and disorientation to make a hasty retreat.

While you’re fighting, it’s important to remember to keep it simple. It's tempting to try a roundhouse kick or a falcon punch, but suppress that urge. Keep your movements small and precise. Punches and kicks should be quick shots. Trying to make big movements will only give your opponent time to move or counteract your attack. The last thing you want to happen when you’re winding up for a big kick is have your opponent sweep your other leg out from under you.

win in a street fight

Using Feet and Elbows

To protect yourself, use feet and elbows whenever possible. If you don't know how to throw a punch, you’re more likely to break your own fist than anything on your opponent. The elbow is a much better choice. Unlike the fist, the motion of throwing an elbow is intuitive and causes serious damage. The elbow doesn’t have tiny bones like the fist so it’s less likely to break. The elbow can only be used for close combat so be prepared to get up close or save it for when your opponent is approaching you.

Kicking may seem like a self-explanatory attack but there are techniques you can use to make your kicks more effective. Use short, swift kicks rather than winding up for a field goal. The attacks should be efficient. Big kicks will give your opponent time to evade the kick or counterattack. Instead kick like you're knocking down a door. Use the heel of your foot rather than the toes.

Whatever attack you decide to use, keep the fight off the ground. Once you’re off your feet not only have you neutralized any advantage you have for attacks, but you leave yourself open to taking a stomping from your opponent’s friends. Get your opponent on the ground and make your escape. Never follow them down.

Mind Games

You may find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a fight you know you won't win. It may be that you're fighting Dolph Lundgren's steroid-abusing son or the entire cast of The Expendables. Regardless of the reason if you still need to engage in the fight, focusing on the mental part of the fight might save you.

Be Loud

Whether you're yelling quotes from The Godfather or singing your favorite show tune, noise can disorient and distract your opponent.

Get Them Off Balance

If you're dealing with a drunk opponent, work on getting them off balance. Swerve and dodge while approaching them. Don't stand still. Keep on your toes and move in erratic patterns.

Get In Their Space

Even in a fight, people have a natural want of personal space. Take that space away. Get their face and don't let up. Your opponent will naturally try to back off but don't let him. Not only does this make your opponent uncomfortable, it takes away any power behind their punches.

Go Crazy

A psychotic amateur in a fight can bring a pro to their knees. It's easy to beat an opponent if you can determine their next move but if you're just attacking with no plan, your opponent will not be able to counteract your attacks. It may create enough confusion to land a knockout shot.

Ending the Fight

The fight ends when you can get away safely. It’s tempting to continue beating the guy who got you into this situation well past when he's cowering on the ground but stop yourself. In the eyes of the law, you stop defending yourself when you can get away. So use that as your gauge. When it's safe to escape, stop fighting.

If you knock your opponent out, call an ambulance or at least make sure their friends will get your opponent medical attention. Even if you were fighting in self defense, you are responsible for the damage you caused. If the crowd is hostile or a friend is now threatening you with a fight, retreat and call from somewhere else.

No matter what your training or physical strength, winning a street fight is never a guarantee. Lack of rules coupled with hot tempers mean anything can happen and often does. Regardless of your background, applying a few simple techniques during the fight can ensure you have the upper hand during any brawl.

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This page was last modified on 3 August 2013, at 17:49.
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