How to Win a Street Fight

The aim of this guide is to help you to resolve a street fight or confrontation using simple, deliberate actions that enable you to survive and escape. But remember, defending yourself by fighting should be your final resort after non-violent methods have failed.


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    Be aware of your environment. Aside from various objects that can be used as weapons and traps, knowing where to run is very important – especially when you're outnumbered. Use all of your senses fully. Don't just look around directly – use shadows and reflections to your advantage.
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    Err on the side of caution by assuming the following: Your opponent is a better fighter, and has backup; They have a blunt or edged weapon, such as brass knuckles or a knife and you will be hit. Be ready to take a punch.
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    Walk away from the fight. Although perhaps obvious, the most sure-fire way to "win" in a street fight is to not fight one altogether. In the vast majority of cases, there will be some sort of warning before actual physical aggression occurs. If you can resolve a dispute without having to fight, do so. Don't let your ego get in the way of your safety. In a verbal dispute that has the potential to become violent, stay calm and take a firm but apologetic approach. Be neutral and non-confrontational. For instance, if a guy accuses you of looking at his girlfriend, you can just apologize and say that she looked like someone you used to know. He now has only two options:
    • Accept your apology, and maybe even apologize back. If this happens, all is well. Is it that hard to apologize to some jerk (even if you don't mean it) to avoid a fight? If the situation seems to be resolved, remember to never turn your back on the aggressor. It is wise to take 2-3 steps backwards and then turn. Always be ready for a sucker punch.
    • Continue the threatening behavior. If he continues to threaten, repeat the apology. Look sincere, but not weak! If he continues to threaten and close the distance on you, say that you do not want any trouble. Be firm verbally. Use terms like "back off" or "keep away". Get louder as he gets closer.
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    Stay at a distance from your opponent, allowing the distance to shorten only to strike. The attacker needs to close distance to strike you. Staying just out of their reach means they cannot hit you. Try to stay on an opponent's 'outside' (i.e. towards the side, rather than directly in front). Remember that they can be an obstacle to themselves. Keep your guard up. Even if it's only by extending your hands in a 'stay-back' type of pose, it places something between you and your opponent.
    • Alternatively, stay in close with your opponent. You only have strength and control as far as your arms can reach, and most people find it uncomfortable and unexpected for someone they attack to be right up in their space. Another advantage of staying in close is that the danger of a punch is the fist. Since the fist is at the end of an arm, staying in close can help make blocking punches easier.
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    Stay as relaxed as you can, and breathe deeply. The more relaxed you are, the harder you will strike and the less susceptible to injury you will be.
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    Try to flow with your opponent's movements. Hunting and pecking for openings will only get you hurt. Feel their movements and openings will present themselves.
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    Know when and how to run:
    • If you are outmatched or outnumbered, or just not willing to fight, then run at the first opportunity towards public, well-lit areas where there will be others. When escaping in the middle of a confrontation, try to impede your opponents as much as possible:
      • Block them with obstacles. If you can put a trashcan, car, bus, or other barrier between you and the attacker, all the better.
      • Run between narrow paths, such as between cars on a parking lot, run up a narrow stairwell and fight downward (make sure you have an exit), or run (and fight) through a narrow hallway. This will prevent the opponents from ganging up on you.
    • If you know you won't outrun them, don't try. If you are caught (especially with multiple attackers), you are more likely lose the fight due to a simple lack of energy. The one or two opponents that sprint with you may be just as tired, but those jogging behind will be fresh for the fight.
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    Establish your balance so that you can stay on your feet. Spread your legs to shoulder width and bend your knees. Going to the ground is very dangerous to the untrained fighter, especially if the opponent has weapons, back-up, or ground-fighting experience. If you find yourself tangled up with them, break away any way you can.
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    Defend yourself. Respond to attacks by aiming for any open, vulnerable spot without exposing too much of yourself. Use "reasonable force" (see Warnings below).
    • Damage to "soft spots" (face, temples, throat, kidneys, solar plexus, etc.) may eventually incapacitate your opponent. Scratching, biting, clawing, spitting, pulling hair and attacking eyes can also be used. You are defending yourself from a violent aggressor, not fighting in a ring with rules. Use anything you can to ensure your safety. Poke the eyes, and if there are others ganging up on you, hit with outstretched fingers into the front of the throat, always remembering to keep your fingers closed together. Splayed hands are weak hands!
    • Hitting the nose blurs the eyes and causes pain, and it just might leave your opponent dazed long enough to get away.
    • Consider using low kicks if you are at arm's reach. Low kicks should be aimed towards shins, ankles, the insides or back of calves or thighs and knee caps (if their legs are straight). Do not aim higher than knee or waist height because they will grab your leg.
    • Attacks from behind are difficult to see and avoid, and in a real fight, it is not cowardly to strike from behind. Watch your back, and attack that of your opponent(s).
    • Head butt your opponent fast and hard. Bring the top your forehead down across his nose and face. The "Glasgow Kiss" has defeated many experienced fighters not prepared for it.
    • Learn to grapple. A successful grapple can put you in control, even if the attacker is much stronger or faster than you. One way is waiting for them to make a move, and then counterattack. Grappling as a counterattack almost never fails, if done correctly.
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    Be as loud as possible. Don't be afraid to scream for help, or yell out "Fire!" (People are more likely to respond to fire because they'll want to watch, they probably won't want to get involved if you shout anything else). This brings unwanted attention that your attacker would rather not have. It also distracts them and could make them panic, making them less conscientious fighters.
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    Escape as soon as your opponent(s) are incapacitated enough to allow you to run as described above. Phone the police or alert some other authority as soon as you can. Let them know where you are, where the attack occurred, and describe your attackers.
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    Think you are a wolf, do not think about tomorrow, do not wait for help, do not wait for the police. You do need witnesses.
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    If you have a code of honor follow it, as far as it is safe. The only judge for you is you. No one can judge you, you were under attack, you were in fear and danger.
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    Leave as fast as you can, before anyone can see you.


  • If you are fighting more than one opponent, attack the one closest to you first. If you get one or more opponents down, run. Sometimes, taking out just one can scare the others off.
  • Count how many opponents are after you, and commit this to memory. This will prevent surprise attacks on you if they split up.
  • Learning a martial art can prepare you to win a street fight if you're pushed into a corner. Choose a fighting style that teaches strikes, hand-to-hand combat and ground fighting so you can be effective on your feet and or on the ground. However, keep in mind that even if you have studied martial arts for a long time, you still aren't necessarily safe on the streets. Thinking that your black belt will stand up to street fighting is very risky.
  • If someone else is better trained at dealing with this situation, leave it to them. Don't try to interfere, as you may end up causing more trouble. Follow any reasonable commands they give you.


  • Obtain a weapon if possible. According to the rules of "reasonable force" it is your right to use as much force as necessary to ensure your own safety. If you pull a knife (or other weapon) on a guy and he continues the confrontation, then he pushed you to defend yourself. Living is your priority – damaging or intimidating your opponent enough to let you get away is your method.
  • "Reasonable force" is the most important phrase to remember when defending yourself; the law generally permits you to do enough to prevent the attacker from harming you, but no more. Do just what it takes to run away, and notify the authorities as soon as possible. Things such as kicking someone while they are down are considered assault even in the context of self defense in some countries.
  • Never try to fight when intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, unless necessary for your own safety and you're unarmed.
  • When hitting your opponent's face, be very careful. You can wind up with broken fingers or severe cuts if you hit the forehead, teeth, or nose.
  • Do not, however, brag about this. If your friend asks, be modest about it, even if you have to tell a white lie. The bully will come back, hungry for revenge.
  • Fighting can cause injury or death, and land you in jail if you start one or fight in spite of being able to retreat; in some cases even where there is no such duty.
  • This article is presented as a basic guide to dealing with difficult situations, and is not intended as a substitute for actual self defense training. If you are concerned with learning to defend yourself against physical violence, find a reputable self-defense class in your area. If you do not know where to begin, consider asking at your local police station.

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