If you practice tolerance and try to understand how people think, you may avoid fights. Avoidance is the best strategy since nobody really wins a fight. Simple arguments over something minor may escalate into a fight that may end in your death or incarceration. Fights may be unprovoked or provoked.
Unprovoked fights begin when, without justification, someone attacks you. The attack may come physically or verbally, the only difference being the degree of aggression.
Provoked fights begin when you:
- Without justification, physically or verbally attack another person and the other person retaliates by attacking you.
- Without justification, verbally attack another person, the person gets angry, and you attack in response to the person's anger.
As Taekwondo students, we should avoid conflict but be prepared for it if it is inevitable. If it is inevitable, we must end it as quickly as possible and be willing to accept the consequences.
You must be responsible for your own actions but you not responsible for the actions of others, unless you have a duty to be responsible, such as when you are the parent or the boss. While you must react to a situation and protect yourself or your family, you still have some responsibility for the damage you cause, so you must avoid doing unnecessary damage to an attacker.
Since most fights are an escalation from a minor disagreement, you should be able to recognize escalation and avoid it or diffuse it. Escalation is caused by both parties not backing down. When one party eases up, the escalation eases or stops. If you are escalating a fight, then you are provoking the other person into fighting and have no right to claim you were provoked. You can end most confrontations by safely walking away.
In a fight, the aggressor is not the one that throws the first punch, but the one who insists on fighting. If you ever get into a fight, it should be because you are forced into it. Take every opportunity you can to get out of it. Leave if you can, fight only if you must! If you do get into a fight, it is usually because you missed opportunities to get out of the situation or to assess the situation properly.
Many people use anger as their fighting spirit but this is dangerous since anger stifles control and thought. A person fighting with pure anger is easier to beat than a person that is fighting using wits. Your fighting spirit should be your will to survive. Control your anger and you will have the edge. Controlled fighting means you minimize your own hurt while maximizing the attacker's hurt. After a fight, a person may not remember how much they hurt you, but they will remember how much you hurt them.
If you have done everything you can do avoid a fight, then there should be no regrets after a fight. A person that has picked a fight, ignored every warning you gave, will not let you back down, and has instigated aggressions, deserves whatever happens. Just remember that the law requires you to use only the force necessary to end the attack.
Fights start for myriad of reasons, some legal, and some illegal. However, for whatever the reason fights start, they all have some common features.
The winner will usually be the first to act
The first to land a good punch will probably be the one to win the fight. As explained in the "First-Strike" item, traditionally there is no first strike in Taekwondo. However, in a fight, you can never allow your attacker to gain the advantage. You must take control of the situation and not merely react to the attacker's actions.
Most fights are decided by punches to the head
In a fight, most people strike toward the face. It seems to be embedded in our genes. As stated above, the one who land the first good punch usually wins. That first good punch will probably be to the head. However, punches to the head have two big problems: the head is very mobile and difficult to hit, and, since the head is dense, punching it with the fist will probably break the hand.
Most fights are at close range
When sparring, competitors usually start outside of kicking range. Then the competitors will close the range, attack, and then open the range again. However, fights usually start at punching range and rarely, if ever, have the back and forth motion seen during sparring matches. Usually, a few punches will be thrown and then the fighter will clinch, fall to the floor, and start grappling.
Opponent is very unlikely to use martial arts techniques
Since most martial artists train to be non-violent, most will not be initiating fights. Since martial art training involves discipline and hard work, most violent people are weeded out. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that attackers will use martial arts techniques. Not impossible, just unlikely. However, they may use highly effective street techniques that have been learned through hard experience.
Fights are unorganized
Fights are not choreographed as fights in films, nor are they as organized as Taekwondo sparring matches. Fights are crude and rude. As martial artists, we work to perfect our techniques, but in a fight, the bad guy is not impressed by technique, he or she is only impressed by pain. A technique that is very easy to execute in class against a willing partner may be next to impossible to execute in a fighting situation. It is difficult to hit specific targets and complex combinations fall apart. As martial artists, we practice techniques against other martial artists, so boxers get good at fighting boxers and Taekwondo students get good at fighting other Taekwondo students. To win a fight, you must train to fight against an un-classically trained person who is probably well experienced in street fighting.
High kicks are unlikely to be effective
High kicks in a fight are dangerous to the kicker. First, your clothes will probably not permit the movement required. The soles of your shoes may grip the floor/ground too much or they may slip and slide. Your leg may be grabbed leaving your vulnerable. Groin kicks are expected. Street fighters know this so they only kick at the knees.
Real fights are not like sparring matches
There are no rules or referees in a fight. Your opponent can bite, gouge your eyes, spit, use weapons, etc. Losing a fight can result in permanent physical or mental damage, or even the loss of your life. You must be prepared to use violent, repugnant methods when it becomes necessary.
Most fights are over in seconds
Most fights end quickly. Often, the loser will be decided in the first few seconds, the victim of the first good blow. If most fights only last a few seconds, how many techniques do you need to know? Knowing numerous techniques is not only unnecessary but dangerous. For a technique to be useful, the user needs to be able to apply the technique with little or no conscious thought. If the user has to choose from numerous techniques, he or she must not choose the wrong one. Instead of learning numerous techniques, learn the basic principles of self-defense and then react to your opponents movements with techniques that cause them pain.
Blocking and countering is unlikely to work
Blocking works best at long range, as in sparring, and it works best when you can see the attacking technique coming. Neither of these things is likely to occur in a close range fight. Watch boxers, how many blocks do you see them do. If the attacker is intoxicated and moving in slow motion, you may be able to block, otherwise, you must learn to slip attacks and counter hard and fast.
Abernethy, I. (2003). Kata Bunkai; The Nature of Fighting; Brief History of Kata; and How Fights Start (Parts 1 and 2). [Online]. Available: IanAbernethy.com [2003, August 1].