Out here in the regular world, where law enforcement is just a phone call away and most bars have bouncers employed specifically to break up fights, fist fights tend to be pretty short. A few punches thrown, maybe some poorly executed wrestling, and unless you’re on your way to become an internet celebrity on WorldStar, people tend to start to intervene — and even when they don’t, fights usually end once there’s a clear victor.

Fighting for survival doesn’t work like that. A fight for your life doesn’t end because one party is willing to acknowledge the other is the victor and, more often than not, no well-intentioned bystander (let alone police officer) is coming to your rescue. If you ever find yourself in a scrap with someone that legitimately means to end your life, the rules play out quite a bit differently than they do between rowdy frat brothers outside a Margaritaville.

Training to defend yourself is a strange endeavor. Thanks to movies and our tenacity for hero worship, we tend to think of training like it’s a suit of armor: we don’t imagine a highly capable Navy SEAL falling at the hands of a poorly trained nobody with an AK-47 in their hands, but the fact of the matter is, most of the special operators we’ve lost throughout the war on terror were killed by nobodies utilizing a combination of luck and seizing their opportunity. That’s not because SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets and the like aren’t as good as we think they are — it’s because underneath all that training and high-speed gear, each and every special operator is still just a bag of meat, susceptible to the same punctures, impacts, and explosions that would have killed them before they earned their elite titles.

A fist fight that turns into a life or death struggle with a burglar is different from the combat situations most special operators find themselves in — with one notable exception: the likely outcomes. Either you’re going to die or he is. In that moment, training can either be a weapon you carry with you into that arena, or it can an interesting footnote in your obituary. Don’t believe me? Lots of people know all about the stabbing deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman back in 1995 (O.J. Simpson case) but what most people don’t know is that Goldman was a black belt in karate, and according to a number of expert recreations, may have put up a decent fight against his murderer that fateful night in October.