How to Fight if You're Not Strong

Four Methods:The Fighting StanceWhen Fists FlyPlay to Your StrengthsBe Aware of Your Surroundings

If you’re ever involved in a fight, keeping calm and knowing what to do is invaluable information, especially if your aggressor is physically stronger than you. The first step is avoiding a fight at all cost—put your ego aside, admit whatever wrong (however obscure it may be) you've been accused of and try to move on. An unjustly bruised ego is not worth physical violence. However, there may be times when violence is unavoidable, and if you’re faced with this situation, the right knowledge can help you protect yourself and those around you.

Method 1
The Fighting Stance

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    Keep your eyes on your opponent(s). This prevents a surprise attack, and if you can maintain eye contact, you come across as confident and intimidating. Keep in mind where your exits are, and if there’s an opening, take it. [1]
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    Keep a strong base. Keep your knees slightly bent (and ready to spring), feet shoulder width apart and staggered—weak foot forward. Be on the balls of your feet, and keep them moving—nothing showy, but make your opponent work to hit you. Remember, your punches come from this base (more specifically, your back, strong foot).[1]
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    Tuck in your chin. A well-placed uppercut will knock you out in a hurry—and possibly break your jaw. Minimizing this crucial target will minimize the chances of you not walking away.[1]
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    Keep your hands up. Guard your face—weak hand closest, guarding your chin, and strong hand farther out, guarding your face. Elbows should be at a slight angle, protecting your ribs. A good guard will also help defend from a headlock. [1][2]
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    Make a solid fist. Making a good fist is crucial. If you have something to hold on to (pen, key fob, or even calluses at the bottom of your fingers), do it—it will support your fist when you strike. Keep your thumb on the outside, and keep your wrist in line with your forearm, otherwise it very well may break.

Method 2
When Fists Fly

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    Taking a punch. If you’re in a fight, you’ll need to know how to take a punch. Strangely, moving toward the punch is your best bet—not only does it throw off your aggressor’s aim, but it decreases their momentum as well. If you get hit at full extension of the arm, it will do much more damage than if you catch the punch before the full extension is reached. [1][2]
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    Throwing a punch. Throwing a punch starts at your base; your energy comes from your strong, back foot, which should transfer power through your shoulder. Don’t punch from your elbow, unless you want to throw a quick jab. Hooks should only be used when you’re in close, otherwise they are slower, easier to block, and harder to throw.[1][2]
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    Kicks. Kicks should be executed with caution. Balance is key in a fight, and losing your base from a kick is probable and very dangerous. That being said, if you do find opportunity for a kick, a sweeping kick to the knees, shins, calves, ankles, or quads could damage your opponent’s base. Don’t kick with your toes; instead, kick with the top of your foot or kick straight on with the bottom of your foot (like a stomp).[1][2]
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    Knees. Knees can also be used to great effect if your fight gets close. A knee to the core of your opponent can be very painful and temporarily debilitating, and a knee to their quad will help weaken your opponent’s base.[1][2]
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    Elbows. Elbows should be used with caution, and should never be the primary means of an attack. They should be used when in close, and not in a flying, pile-driver sort of way. That can hurt everyone involved very badly.[1]
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    Grappling. This is when things turn into much more of a wrestling match. Although terrifying (especially when facing someone stronger than you), it’s crucial that you don’t panic. Your primary goal (as always) should be the exit.
    • If someone attempts to take you down from behind, try stomping on their instep, reverse headbutting, and, if you can get a hold of them, twisting (and maybe breaking) their fingers.[1]
    • If they tackle you, try to land on your side so that you can easily break away when you hit the ground (when grip is at its weakest).
    • They may also shove you, but a good stance should prevent falling. If you do fall, roll to the side and get up as soon as possible. Getting up while they are coming straight on makes you a much easier target.

Method 3
Play to Your Strengths

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    Find your superior trait. Even though you may not be as physically strong as your aggressor, you probably have some kind of upper hand—whether that’s agility, compact size, or smarts, it depends on your situation. In any case, place yourself in a position where you have at least some kind of advantage.
    • Example: If you’re smaller, get some place where you’re difficult to reach (behind the bar, on top of the monkey bars, under or on the other side of the pool table). Distance will allow you to wear out your opponent and will keep you out of the way of any blows.
    • Example: If you can continue to talk your aggressor out of a situation, you should to do so. Use shame and try to get the crowd (if there is one) on your side—if your attacker knows that the crowd disapproves of their actions, the likelihood of an attack will decrease greatly.
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    Confidence. Whatever you do, be confident, and go a little crazy. If you don’t think you’re going to win the fight, who will? Also, feel free to make some noise. At the very least, it will throw off or annoy your opponent, and it will also draw attention to the situation—hopefully bringing in an authority figure.[2]

Method 4
Be Aware of Your Surroundings

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    Friends and Foes. Potential allies to look for include bouncers, bar tenders, teachers, or any authority figure who happens to be around. If your aggressor arrived or was interacting other people in the crowd, keep an eye on their actions as well.
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    Weapons. If you’re outside, look for sticks and rocks, and if you’re inside, look for a chair or stool to break (and use as a club/shield), or even silverware or glassware to use. If you can use them, your belt and keys may also prove valuable as weapons or deterrents[1][2]
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    Physical surroundings. Mind your physical surroundings as well—you can use them defensively (to hide behind, or climb on) or offensively (to turn into weapons). If you’re ever faced with more than one aggressor, try to get to a place where you’re harder to get at, and where only one person is able to attack you at once.


  • The only unfair fight is the one you lose. Do whatever it takes to win or escape.
  • Running is not a coward's tactic. If you can run, do it.


  • Although it’s obvious, fighting is dangerous and potentially deadly. Be aware of what you’re doing; hits to the windpipe or even nose (at certain angles) can be lethal.
  • Keep witnesses around as long as possible; you’ll need help giving the authorities an accurate story if you were fighting out of self-defense.
  • Never use more force than necessary.

Article Info

Categories: Self Defense