How to Fight

Let me first strart off by saying that learning How to fight in the street is much different than learning how to fight in a relatively safe and controlled environment such as a mixed martial arts competition or karate tournament. While there might be some vague similarities between these forms of fighting, I can assure you they are dramatically different and require two divergent forms of training as well as mind sets. The purpose of this how-to guide is to teach you (the average person) how to fight under real world self defense circumstances.

Each and every martial arts style or system will claim they can teach you how to fight, but the truth is each and every martial arts instructor will have a completely different perception or perspective of what real fighting entails. This is the very reason why there are so many different styles of fighting (i.e., karate, kung fu, boxingMuay Thai boxing, jiu-Jitsu, aikido, etc.) and therefore so many different approaches to fighting.

While just about every martial arts instructor thinks his way is the right way to fight, the truth is most martial arts will teach you how to fight like a martial artist and not necessarily teach you how to defend yourself under real world self defense conditions or what I refer to as reality based self defense or RBSD. Unfortunately, most misinformed people assume that martial arts and self defense are one in the same but in reality, they are quite dissimilar from one another. Learning how to perform a flawless karate kata or breaking a stack of boards has nothing to do with fighting in a life and death encounter with a vicious criminal predator.

“Learning how to fight requires multiple skill sets.”


Learning how to fight well is not just a matter of knowing how to punch. It actually requires a wide range of skill sets accompanied with practical and arduous physical training. Most people dismiss this important fact and usually end up learning the hard way.

One of the most overlooked aspects of real fighting is the consideration of safety. Never gamble with your life in a fight. Taking undue or unnecessary risk in a fight is not only suicide; it’s also stupid. Each and every technique that you employ in a fighting situation must be safe. Safety means that the street fighting techniques and mechanics within a particular movement provide the least amount of danger and risk for you. When you executing a fighting technique, it should offer minimal target openings, and minimize your loss of balance.

For those who really want to learn how to street fight and be preparative for real world self defense situations, you will need to practice and train in a reality based self defense system or RBSD. Contemporary Fighting Arts is a good example of such a system that teaches you practical ways to fight under real world self defense conditions. If this interests you, I encourage you to read on.


Before learning the nuts and bolts of street fighting, you first need to realize and understand there are two different types of self defense situations that you might be faced with and they include:

  • Surprise Attack 
  • Anticipated Attack 


Before teaching you how to defend against a surprise attack, it’s crucial that I explain exactly what a surprise attack is all about. Essentially, a surprise attack or “coup de main” is a violent attack without warning.

For example, you are on your way home from work or school and you decide to take a quick shortcut through an alley. As you make your way around the corner, a large hulking figure jumps out from the shadows and attacks you. His physical assault is unexpected, fast and you are caught completely off guard. You are faced with a surprise attack.

The surprise attack is difficult is stop because of its spontaneous and unforeseen nature. You simply don’t have any time to prepare yourself mentally, tactically or emotionally. You are thrown into a violent whirlwind and must survive. To do so, you must be able to react without hesitation or apprehension. Freezing up is not an option here.

On a physical level, a surprise attack or “ambush” requires considerable self defense training and preparation. For example, this will require that you know how to defend against a wide variety of possible chokes, locks for holds (see my Escape Master DVD to learn how to break loose from surprise attack assaults). Again, your training must be realistic and practical. Don’t forget the wise old saying, “the way you train is the way you will fight and way you will fight is the way you will train.”

There is also the possibility that you might be faced with a surprise attack from multiple aggressors and therefore need to know how to defend against more than one opponent at a time (see my DVD, Rat Packed: How to Defend Against Multiple Attackers). Or perhaps you will be surprise attacked with a hand held weapon, such as a firearm, knife or baseball bat.


One of the best ways to fight a surprise attack is to prevent it from ever taking place in the first place. You can accomplish this with Situational Awareness. Essentially, situational awareness is total alertness, presence, and focus on virtually everything in your immediate surroundings. Situational awareness requires you to detect and assess the people, places, objects, and actions that can pose a danger to you.

Do not think of Situational Awareness simply in terms of the five customary senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In addition, the very real powers of instinct and intuition must also be developed and sharpened. Situational Awareness, in terms of threats posed by human attackers, begins with an understanding of criminal psychology. It is a common misconception that all street criminals are stupid and incompetent. On the contrary, they can be shrewd, methodical, bold and psychologically dominant. The especially dangerous ones are often expert observers of human behavior, capable of accurately assessing your body language, walk, talk, state of mind, and a variety of other indicators. Street criminals know what to look for and how to exploit it. Street assailants are selective predators who employ carefully selected measures designed to evaluate fear, apprehension, and awareness. Seasoned street criminals are always looking for easy targets. Chronic bar room brawlers, street punks, bullies, and muggers operate in the same basic manner. They look for weak, timid and unaware people.

As you develop Situational Awareness, you transmit a different kind of signal to the enemy’s radar. Weakness and uncertainty are replaced by confidence and strength. Your carriage and movements change dramatically. You will be seen as assertive and purposeful. You will be less likely to be perceived as an easy mark, and your chances of being attacked will significantly diminish.

Situational Awareness also reduces the potency of the street criminal’s favorite weapon – the element of surprise. Your ability to foresee and detect danger will diminish the assailant’s ability to stalk you, or lie wait in ambush zones. In addition to enhancing your ability to detect, avoid, and strategically neutralize ambush zones, Situational Awareness allows you to detect and avoid threats of dangers not necessarily predicated on the element of surprise. There will be some situations which will afford you the luxury of actually seeing trouble coming. Nevertheless, it’s remarkable how many people fail to heed obvious signs of danger because of poor awareness skills.

Very few people take the time to utilize their Situational Awareness skills. The reasons are many. Some are in denial about the prevalence of street violence while others are too distracted by life’s everyday problems and pressures to pay attention to the hidden dangers that lurk around them. Whatever the reasons, poor situational awareness skills can get you into serious trouble and could cost you your life.


Not every fight will come in the form of a surprise attack. There are many instances where you will have advanced notice that a fight is about to take place. For example, you are in a crowded bar enjoying yourself with a few friends when a belligerent patron begins to verbally harass you. You attempt to diffuse the hostile person but your gut instincts tell you loud and clear that violence is imminent. In such a circumstance you have time (or should I say “relative time”) to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the impending altercation. Compared to the surprise attack, the anticipated attack is not as shocking or traumatizing to your central nervous system.

Learning to fight the anticipated attack will require you to understand the fundamentals of threat assessment or threat evaluation. Essentially, you will need to evaluate the situation at hand and quickly decide how you will respond. Defending against the anticipated attack will also require that you understand and master five possible threat responses:

  • Comply before the fight – means to give in to the demands of the aggressor. 
  • Escape from the fight – means to flee from the threat.
  • De-escalate before the fight – means to verbally diffuse the aggressor.
  • Assert yourself to the adversary – means to stick up for yourself.
  • Fight back against the adversary – means to respond with physical force. 
how to fight in the streets

Threat evaluation will also help you make the right choice when deciding to fight back with physical force. Its important to mention that self defense requires understanding a bit of the law. For example, you’ll need to know how and when to administer the appropriate level of force for your self defense situation. The bad news is if you apply too much force you could find yourself in jail and if you apply insufficient force during a self defense encounter you may get seriously injured or hurt. It’s no wonder so many self defense practitioners live by the words, “It’s better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.”

If you would like to learn how to prepare yourself for the anticipated attack, see my Judge, Jury and Executioner self defense program.

“Self defense requires you to understand the law.”


Just like a carpenter who builds a custom home, you too will also need specific tools in order to achieve your combat objective. When I say tools, I am really referring to unique body mechanic techniques that you would use to fight your adversary. For example, you will need offensive tools to inflict immediate damage so your adversary can no longer continue his aggressive action against you or a loved one. Offensive tools will include some of the following:

  • using low line kicking techniques under certain fighting conditions.
  • applying simple and efficient hand range striking techniques.
  • using direct close quarter striking tools without apprehension. 
  • developing combat range comfort and proficiency so you will be prepared in a time of need. 

The fact is, offensive tools will not be enough. You will also need defensive tools that can stop your assailant from causing physical injury to you in a fighting situation. Defensive tools are designed to provide immediate protection and they include:

  • arm blocks to intercept an oncoming strike before it makes contact with a vital target.
  • hand parrying movements to deflect or redirect straight attacks
  • head and body evasion maneuvers to avoid being struck by an attack.
  • smart footwork skills to move out of the range of an assault.
  • manipulating the range and distance of fighting to maximize your reflexes and reaction time.


Learning how to use hand held self defense weapons involves both advanced expert training along with a tremendous amount of social responsibility. Unfortunately, the trouble is most commercial martial arts schools don’t teach you how to use practical hand held weapons. For example, the staff, sai or nunchuku are less than ideal weapons for a deadly home invasion scenario. Likewise, a Samurai sword doesn’t do you much good in a gun fight in an alley. Simply put, these weapons are inadequate for our fighting needs.

Learning how to use hand held weapons means possessing the knowledge, skills and attitude to safely handle practical hand held weapons for modern day self defense situations. The operative word is “practical” so this means you better learn how to use a firearm, knife (also know as knife fighting) pepper spray and various makeshift weapons. Once again, the only way you can acquire this type of training is through a reality based self defense (RBSD) system of fighting.


If you are going to learn how to street fight, then you must have a sizable about of self confidence. Self confidence is vital when you are fighting your opponent and staring into the face of danger. Basically, self confidence means having trust and faith in yourself and your abilities. The truth is, you must be certain of your fighting skills, period! When all is said and done, you cannot afford to doubt yourself, especially in a fight.

“Fighting and self confidence go hand in hand.”


By now you get the idea that learning how to street fight is not such an easy task. Actually, learning how to defend yourself in a real self defense situation will require you to take the initiative and seek professional training from a qualified instructor. First, I strongly recommend that you steer clear of any type of traditional martial arts school. Like I said earlier, it will not teach you how to street fight in the real world and will most likely get you seriously injured. Second, you will need to look for a self defense school that strictly teaches reality based self defense training.

Finally, you can get a good glimpse of what real fighting is like by either reading our self defense books and watching our instructional DVD