If I had to condense my thoughts and advice on street fighting into one brief outline, it would look something like the following.

  1. What is important?
    • Believe an assault could happen to you or a loved one at any time or any place.
    • Prepare yourself mentally and physically.
    • Train by practicing real scenarios and situations that have happened repeatedly through the years. Study violent crime statistics, look at how the assault happened, how many people were involved, and review location details. Was the incident location well-lit or dark? In an alleyway, bar, mall parking lot, or at a house party?
    • Develop a mindset for survival. Realize your potential; what are you prepared to do to save your life?
    • Familiarize yourself with the theory of commitment. Most people would rather be hurt than hurt someone else. It is just the opposite for your attacker. You must have a mindset that will allow you to defend by striking your attacker with bad intent.
    • Have a plan.
  2. How do you make it work?
    • Be aware of your routes when traveling and the time of day.
    • Travel or walk a wide path around bushes and other man-made obstructions. Even cross the street if you have to.
    • In a car, keep an eye on any car that is following you. If you think you are being pursued, drive to a well-lit location with lots of people or a police/fire station.
    • If you carry any type of weapon, including improvised, practice concealment and deception when in use. Repetition is the key to effective use.
    • Learn to relax. Repetition can teach your body how to relax under fire.
    • Fight out of your comfort zone. Normally, if you feel comfortable—i.e. being able to reach out and touch someone without having to step to close the gap—it’s likely your opponent can also hit you without stepping. Then, when you close the gap by stepping forward, you are too close and lose power and effectiveness as a result. If you train and start the fight just outside of your reach, then your techniques will have a chance to mature and maximize your leverage while punching. Your opponent will, in essence, have to move to move—he’ll have to take a step to reach you, leaving him exposed and leaving you with time to react more effectively. This will also improve your timing and striking effectiveness. Finally, your vision will be enhanced—taking more in, allowing you more time to make critical decisions under fire.
    • Practice under fire. Remember, what you do in training you will do in the street or ring. If you drop your hands or become flat-footed and immobile during training, most likely this will happen in a real fight. It is my opinion when you give up and make excuses during training, you will quit in a real fight. If you do not achieve the desired result with your first strike—your attacker is hardheaded, motivated, or even on drugs—you must accept that you are in the fight. Your greatest second asset is keeping hands up and maintaining proper movement—moving in and out directionally. You may also be caught off guard, and you may have to use your superior training and motivation to stay in the fight. A man is like a racecar with a lot of horsepower; if the engine runs out of gas, you win! That’s why, once you are engaged in combat, you must keep moving. You simply cannot let your opponent rest. Use simple jabs, eye racks, simple slaps, anything to keep him disrupted, angry, and moving. Most likely, if your attacker hasn’t effectively gotten to you after the first 10 to 30 seconds, he never will. In the beginning of a conflict, you have to use more energy than your attacker can sustain. Start hard and finish harder!
    • Practice closing, clearing and countering, and staying on point. The fight is never finished until you finish it. Impact training and situational sparring will give you a better chance of survival.
    • Do set-point drills to help you identify your attacker’s set-point just before he strikes.
    • Learn entrapment footwork.
    • Keep moving. Never become a sitting duck/target. Your feet have to move your body. Don’t lean or duck toward your attacker.
    • Learn the knockout points and other areas of the body that will create the most immediate pain and disruption.
    • Train your fight speed, initial-timing speed, miles-per-hour speed, and broken-rhythm-timing speed. Demon speed will never let you down.
    • You need situational awareness and technical training to help develop your killer instinct and your fighter’s intuition.
    • Train for muscular endurance. Being able to outlast your attacker may become vital to your survival. Sometimes it is not how strong you are, but how long you can be strong. Set your goals every time you train and meet them!
    • Strike first when there is no other option. Change levels, low to high and vice versa.
    • Remember, your body is a weapon. Utilize head-butts, fists, open hands, weapons including improvised. Use hammer fists and finger gouges.
    • When you start low, stomp, stab, or pin feet, split out the legs, and roll their ankles if you can. Boots to shins, shin to shin, zigzag in, parry, work on set-ups.
    • Have a plan for when you collide. This is a weakness with most. In fact, many soldiers and law enforcement officers lose when it comes to this. The immediate reaction happens before most regain their balance and crash position.
    • Utilize horizontal and vertical hammer fists, gooseneck, elbows, knees, palm/heel strikes, finger rakes to eyes, and ridge hand. Spikes/darts are all useful weapons and can be used in a hurry and when off balance.
    • Maintain a headhunter mentality. Focus on knockout points with set-ups, distractions, rouses, speedy first strikes, and angles of movement. Strike with heavy impact, crushing blows, with bad intent.
    • Maintain balance, alignment, and control the distance in every direction, even with multiple attackers. This can be done through angulation.
    • Footwork drills must be practiced at regular intervals: toe-to-toe with both sides forward, switch steps, bob-and-weave, slipping, clock drills, blitzing, and zigzag drills. When you are closing, you must be violent and throw strikes when closing the gap. Never close the gap between you and your opponent without throwing techniques. Some are for hitting, some are distractions and setup, and others are to mask or conceal the more damaging blows.
    • Be well versed in the geometry of attacking and defending. In general, defend straight-line attacks with circular blocks and circular techniques with straight-line attacks. You can block and strike simultaneously. Be familiar with blocks and counters and reaction punching.
    • Never let your opponent’s hips to get lower than yours.
    • Use short techniques on the inside: cutting and slashing elbows, head-butts, knees, and foot stomps.
    • Change levels and attack legs from a kneeling position.
    • When passing from the inside, duck under and around the elbows and back of arms. Stay close enough so you can’t be hit.
  1. When you train:
    • Train for resistance and impact.
    • Use a medicine ball and spar.
    • Focus on situational sparring.
    • Do mitt and heavy-bag drills using plenty of movement.
    • Start hard and finish harder. Always do sustained, non-stop punching and kicking for the last 30 seconds of every round worked.
    • Never do less than four rounds of fight training at a time. Four rounds is a base. If you do four rounds of jump rope or exercise, then complete four more rounds of bag work, mitts, and exercise or sparring.
    • Learn the art of continuous punching by punching in bursts set to your own beat, combining non-stop combinations of soft and hard punching. You will start by punching easy with random bursts of hard, violent punching. Work at least one round of heavy hands in three-point combinations.
    • In the fighter’s mind, when you rest, he rests. Always apply constant forward pressure while controlling the distance. Don’t circle your opponent, cut him off.
    • Always face your opponent when you are standing or grappling.
This article is courtesy of Jim West from The Loadout Room.