Do you know how to survive a street fight? Let’s start with the need for training. You should be in good physical condition, but face it, in a real fight, you don’t have time for a stretch-and-flex program. It’s now or never, no matter if you are in great physical shape and stronger than your opponent—which is not likely, as the hunters and predators actively seek out the weaker ones. You could be older, out of shape, a petite female, suffering from injuries or other chronic conditions, or wounded in combat; the one muscle that must be in shape is your brain, your mindset.

Human predators are much like a cheetah. Once they scare the pack of zebra, they wait for the weaker ones to fall behind, and then they move in for the kill. So you have gotten yourself in a pickle, and a mugger, rapist, or robber sees his opportunity and moves in for the attack. He will be scared and single-minded in his approach. His intent is to hit and run. Typically this involves stealth. They may have been scoping out an area looking for potential targets who have maintained the same routine, such as walking home from work, the gym, a bar, or a friend’s house.

In street fighting, the location does not matter. If you have failed in your awareness and suddenly become a victim, the following training tips will strengthen your mind, willpower, and determination to survive. Psychologically, defensive choices will allow you the opportunity to survive. You can only develop real-world defensive choices by training.

How should you train? Here are some key techniques and mindsets imperative to surviving a violent-force encounter:

  • Learn to move and breathe to stay calm, in and out, using lateral movement patterns (footwork)
  • Learn how to stand and brace for impact, or how to turn it around if you are suddenly overwhelmed and taken down. You must know how to turn your moment of fear and confusion into an effective offense, breaking the established mindset and determination of your attacker. You have to learn and practice the following:
    • Brace position
    • How to stand and hold your hands while protecting your centerline and vulnerable areas
    • How to disrupt your opponent or roll with the punches until you can
    • Surviving the initial attack
    • Weapons choices before and during the attack
    • Unarmed combat
    • Armed combat
    • Plausible denial
    • Explaining why you’re carrying.
    • Explaining why you are in this location—have a purpose for your actions.
    • Counterattacks
    • Reaction punching and weapons drills
    • Body and shoulder rolls and turns. Flex position in your knees allowing you to brace for impact. This will soften the initial blow.
    • Protecting your head from a knockout. Things happen fast.
    • Weapons choices if you are knocked down and mounted.
    • Knife work and firearms handling
    • Handling darts (such as the Delta Dart)
    • Utilizing a Taser
    • Using fingers to blind or biting
    • Defending from your back with eye gouges and kicks
    • Regaining your feet to run or fight
    • Counterattacking while moving backwards and side-to-side
    • Developing speed and quickness
    • Disguising your intention until the last second; don’t give your attacker a chance to defend
    • Learn to control your attacker’s movement by pushing, pulling, or knocking him off balance. For this you must be able to control the head, neck, triceps, back, hips, or know what you can do to make him pike his hips and lock his weight back onto his heals, reducing his mobility
    • Learn how to maximize your leverage when punching or striking with a weapon
    • Know the human body and target areas for maximum effectiveness. Remember, learn a lot and use a little
    • Always face your attacker and never let him get to your back

Footwork and Leg Strength

Movement patterns and footwork may give you an advantage. The more you know and practice—and even if you only learn a little—the more likely that repetition will take your mind straight to defensive choices in lieu of panicking. If you throw a couple of hundred kicks to the nuts or eye gouge at a heavy bag every day, when you are attacked, this is what you will first think of, and this will give you a second chance to turn things around under fire.

One thing about leg strength is, if you are over 40 years old, they are first to go. If you live and work a sedentary lifestyle, your legs will be weak and prone to injury, and you will be lacking in drive and the power needed to push off or run away. Your striking power actually comes from your legs and not your upper body. Much like a combat diver, you use your legs to propel you, and your arms for work.

You must strengthen your legs and remain somewhat flexible. There are a few exercises you could do in 10 minutes a day for this: a few unassisted squats with weights or without, lunges using a kettlebell or hand weights, or do a few slow, straight-leg dead-lifts. Then, sit down and stretch your hamstrings and hips to increase you range of motion without injury. This is easy right? You can do this before your morning shower.

As for your fighter’s mindset and intention, remember, you must be able to project through your opponent’s intent by appearing to be self-confident and high-spirited, while still practicing avoidance. This starts with relaxed, deep breaths and eye-to-eye contact. Much like a dog fight, there is a moment just before the attack when both animals attempt to assert their dominance by not showing fear. This can be a big moment just before impact.