This book could be titled “How and Why You Should Do Everything Possible to Avoid Getting Into a Fight.” The authors (both martial artists who’ve been around the block a few times and have the scars to show it) spend a good number of pages explaining why fighting is always terrible idea — even if you manage to win, you end up losing (your attacker’s relatives could sue you or seek revenge, you could go to prison, and for the rest of your life you could carry the knowledge of having crippled or maimed another person).
The authors also go into detail explaining how to recognize the first signs of a situation that could escalate into a fight and what to do. Only after they’ve convinced you to avoid a fight do they get to the section about effective ways of defending yourself.
The final third of the book deals with the often unconsidered aftermath of a fight: administering first aid and what to do to stay out of jail.
Escape and survival are admirable goals. Self-defense really isn’t about fighting like most people think. Self-defense is about not being there when the other guy wants to fight. Fighting is a participatory event, which means you were part of the problem. Even if you think you are only “defending” yourself, if your actions contributed to the creation, escalation, and execution of violence the you were fighting. And fighting is illegal and a really bad idea.
It is illuminating to watch a crowd at a mall, nightclub, or other public area with a predator mindset. Read people’s body language as they pass by you. Who looks like a victim and who does not? Oblivious people stand out from the crowd once you know how to look for them.
Four techniques you can use in a fight
1. Don’t let him get close enough to touch you. The farther away the other guy is, the tougher it is for him to hit you. Further, you have a much better chance to escape to safety or dash toward some source of cover that can protect you.
2. Throw debris to distract or injure him. Throwing debris is really an extension of distance. It is not a standalone technique, but rather a facilitator that can keep the other guy back and help you escape. You can kick dust, throw rocks, hurl trash, swing garbage cans, or otherwise chuck stuff at the other guy to distract or potentially injure him.
3. Attack his eyes. When you have an opportunity to attack the eyes during a fight, the chance will be only there for an instant. If you are going to go for the shot, you’ve got to take advantage of that moment of opportunity.
4. Strike with impetus. No matter how skilled you are (or are not), strikes work best when you catch your opponent by surprise, control distance and direction of your blow, relax until the moment of contact, and strike ferociously and repeatedly until the conflict is over.
All things being equal, the guy who attacks with the most ferocity wins. Even if the other guy is a bit stronger or more skilled than you are, he’s likely to disengage if he realizes he’s bitten off more than he can chew. If you have no other choice but to fight, do so wholeheartedly. Your adversary should feel like he’s run across a rabid wolverine wielding an industrial buzz saw. Strike fast, hard, and repeatedly until it’s over and you can escape to safety. Throwing a single blow or short combination and dancing aside to see if it had any effect may work well in the tournament ring, but it’s woefully inadequate on the street. Give it everything you’re worth and don’t stop until it’s over.