Taking A Punch
Have you ever seen the movie Million Dollar Baby? You know the part where Clint Eastwood tells Hillary Swank to step into a punch to minimize its effectiveness? Well, it’s 100% true. Short of simply not being there to take the punch, minimizing the distance between the point the punch was thrown and the point at which it connects will reduce the impact it can make.
The downside is that you’ll need to retreat to set yourself up for your punches. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re aggressive with your defense – because your opponent will do that work FOR you. If you continually turn your body into punches and step forward, they will keep backing up and backing off. This will not only give you the distance you need to throw your punches, it will also give you the opportunity to do so – each time they have to step back, they’re resetting for another attack. This is an opportune time to strike.
Remember our discussion on stances – keep your chin tucked to your chest and keep circling your opponent. Keep them in a situation where they have to calculate movement along with distance to judge strikes. Balance is a key factor in fights, both physically and mentally – if you can keep them off-balance, the edge is yours.
Train yourself to flex your abdominal muscles and keep your core tight on command. When your opponent goes for a solar plexus hit, if you fail to turn into it so that the blow glances off the side, you won’t lose your breath when they make impact.
Lastly… Keep breathing, slow and purposely. Keep the oxygen going to your brain. Don’t allow yourself to lose your breath, or run low on air when you must exhale and flex your stomach to guard against a mid-blow.
Remember this – no blow feels as bad during a fight as you think it’s going to. Your adrenaline is pumping, your nerves are spiking and your mind is racing. You simply won’t have time to feel the pain… It’s the debilitating blows you need to be weary of and guard against, and if you keep taking your opponent’s power away, they won’t be able to take you out.
Just… Don’t. Seriously. It’s suicide, unless you’re highly trained – and I mean Bruce Lee caliber, or, failing that, you have an insane opportunity. Kicks are pretty much all flash and flair for your audience, and leave you VERY open to counter attacks and moves that can throw you off balance. It’s just plain stupid in a real fight situation to try doing a bunch of roundhouse nonsense.
Elbows and Knees
Seriously powerful blows can come from the knees and the elbows… However, they force you to be close, and you need some training to use them effectively (elbows especially, since they pretty much remove your guard when you use them). Feel free to practice these on your heavy bag (or, if you don’t have one, head up to the Salvation Army and get an old twin mattress and some duct tape – you can make one in pretty short order). Just know that they are to be used when opportunity permits, not as primary strikes.
There’s a very high liklehood – especially if you keep stepping in and frustrating our opponent – that you will be taken to the ground or wrapped up in some way. This is not the end of the world, especially if you can keep your cool. So long as they’re wrapped up on you, they’re not throwing punches… It’s only when they can get you into a position of opportunity that they can strike you, so your primary goal is to GET OUT.
If your opponent has you from behind in a standing position, there are three moves you need to be doing over and over in succession or simultaneously until you break free:
Stomp the instep – come down as hard as you can with your heel on their instep. You will damage or disable your opponent’s foot bones and provide yourself with the ability to escape.
Backwards Headbutt – keep flinging your skull back toward their nose. If you make contact, freedom awaits.
Wring the fingers – don’t pull at the wrists of your opponents’ clenched hands. Get your hands around any or all of his fingers and wring the hell out of them until he either gives up or breaks one.
If you’re on the ground and wrapped up, you need to do the following things as quickly as possible:
Prevent the mount – don’t let them get on top of you.
Get on your side or belly
Scramble like hell to get out of there.
If you end up on your belly, prevent a choke from behind by keeping your chin to your chest and keep your hands around your neck. If you start to feel punches on the back of your head, remember – minimize the distance. Try to get to your knees and get them off of you.
If you can gain the advantage on the ground, mount the opponent and punch the face until they are incapacitated. If they’re on their belly, get around their neck and choke them until they pass out – just make DAMN sure you let go once the snorting starts (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you ever hear it). Going any further, and you could kill them. However, if this is a flee-for-your-life situation and you somehow managed to choke your opponent out, feel free to break an ankle or dislocate a knee to prevent pursuit. Do this in a high school fight, however, and you’re going to end up in juvenile hall.
This leads me to a very important point: if you do gain the advantage in a grappling situation, do NOT perform any ridiculous moves you see on WWE or on movies and telelvision. No body slams, no DDT, no Pile Driver… That shit will seriously injure or kill someone, and there’s a very real part of fighting that you have to consider – what happens tomorrow. If you break someone’s neck and paralyze or kill them, you might be arrested or sued, and no one will let you off with “self defense” when you took the time to perform some ridiculous move on an opponent who was already disabled or overcome.
Plus, there’s the chance that you’ll hurt yourself and lose… And again, losing is counter to the goal of this guide.
In all of the following situations, fleeing is the optimal response. Get the hell away from the situation and live to fight another day… These situations are unfair, and to be honest, anyone putting you in these situations is out to hurt you in ways that go far beyond simple matters of pride or minor altercations.
Assuming flight is not an option, try to keep the following in mind:
Facing a much larger / stronger / better trained opponent: stay fast, stay away. Don’t allow them to grab you, and avoid any and all strikes if possible. Look for an equalizer – gain elevation on them, grab a weapon, throw dirt in their eyes. You need to bring them down to your level if you want to stand a chance… Otherwise, enjoy your ass-beating.
Groups of two or more opponents: Find a corner and get into it. Don’t allow them to surround you, no matter what happens. Lash out as hard as possible at one opponent, then immediately move to your strong side and take out the next. Get one guy in front of another – try to keep yourself fighting one person at a time. Again, a weapon or equalizer of some sort should be sought. Go for one-attack-per-person until you break them up and can get out of the situation. If you do find yourself surrounded, attack the man in front of you, then immediately go for the one behind you, turning to face your left and right opponents once you can create a break in the circle.
Opponent has a weapon: Get as many objects and as much distance between you and your opponent as possible. Find a shield or other object to deflect the force of a blunt weapon. If the weapon is a knife or other blade, you need to get it stuck in something that isn’t you as quickly as possible. Knife fights look daring and crazy in the movies, but in reality, they bleed you until you die. As an interesting experiment, get your friend to arm himself with a red marker and try to fight him without getting any ink on you. Take a look after the fight to see just how many times you would have been cut. More than once anywhere on your body, you would have died. Once anywhere in your gut, you would have died. Knife wounds are serious. Get the hell away from it.
Final Thoughts And Tips
It’s so important, it bears repeating – confidence wins. Go into a fight with the attitude that you’re going to get your ass kicked, and you’ll get your ass kicked. You want to win? Throw as much bravado and confidence at your opponent as you can. Even if you know they’re better, they don’t know that you realize that. Just keep roaring and flashing your feathers like nature dictates you should. At the very least, you might lose the fight, but the next guy who wants to mess with you will know you won’t go down easy and might think twice about attacking you.
Always maintain awareness of your surroundings. Know where your exits are. Know if your opponent has friends in the crowd. Know where to grab a chair, bat, or other weapon – especially before your opponent can.
There’s no such thing as a fair fight if there’s no money on the line or men in striped shirts judging you. You need to win. More than that, you need to not lose. These goals are paramount. Keep them in mind at all times.
At any point you get the chance, disable your opponent. Take out the eyes. Take away the breathing passages. Remove mobility. An opponent who cannot see you cannot fight you. An opponent who cannot breathe cannot attack you. An opponent who cannot move cannot pursue you.
Above all else, remember that standing up for yourself is hard, and sometimes it can hurt… But nothing hurts more than being someone else’s bitch. And so long as you are willing to stand up for yourself, it won’t matter if you lose this one fight – you’ll win respect from your opponent and anyone else considering taking you on, and that’s worth fighting for.