The Reality of a Street Fight

Have you ever witnessed someone who couldn’t swim be thrown into the water? They generally thrash around, gasping for air, kicking wildly, and at times panicking.  It can be terrifying.  Now imagine a situation where you were thrown into a fight and didn’t know how to defend yourself.  You would probably have a similar reaction to the person who couldn’t swim.  I’ve seen and participated in my share of street fights.  It’s interesting to witness the reaction people have, and choices they subsequently make.


A street fight is very different from a sparing session, or roll.  At the academy or gym, you are provided with a safe controlled environment to train in.  The people you train with eventually become friends and a comfort level is established.  No one is really trying to hurt anyone.  In the gym, you can tap or stop the training at any given time for whatever reason.  You are not afforded with these luxuries everywhere.

self-defenseA street fight can happen anywhere with many more variables.  In order to defend yourself properly you have to assess your surroundings.  There is no mat to break your fall.  The person on the other end is attacking with the intent to do harm and may not stop until you’re dead.  You must also take into account multiple opponents and the possibility that they may be carrying weapons.

Movies and TV usually don’t portray a real street fight accurately.  For example, multiple opponents don’t attack you one by one.  This can take even train fighters by surprise as they deal many times with only one opponent.  In a real self-defense situation, all rules go out the window.  When fighting for your life, there is no such thing as dirty fighting.

You may be confident in your abilities to fight.  How can you be so sure of your opponent’s ability?  Many people can be unassuming and you never know what the other guy is capable of.  The reality is, there will always be someone better than you.  Are you willing to take the chance that he or she isn’t standing in front of you that day?

Finally there is the mental aspect.  When engaged in a real confrontation, I find people generally react in one of three ways; fight, flight, or do nothing.  Doing nothing is the worst decision and usually chosen by those who panic.  This is when the experience training martial arts really pays off.  Your ability to stay calm and collective during any intense situation is vital.

If you ever decide to engage in a street fight, know what you are getting into and understand that there could be consequences to your actions.  The best self-defense is to never be in a position to be hurt.

Have you ever been in a real street fight?  What benefit has training in martial arts had for you in that situation? 

By:  Patrick Flores

Gracie Barra Chino

Twitter:  patjflores

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