Have you ever had a moment in your life when time seemed to stand still as you stood in the face of danger unaware if you would ever see another sunrise?
I have, and that moment was a terrifying and life-changing event that shook my core beliefs and disrupted everything I thought I knew about the world. That moment happened when I was confronted by a man, a large angry man, and I was certain that at the very least he was going to inflict some serious damage. At worst he could have taken my life and endangered my children who were with me at the time. The thing that was most frightening to me was that no matter what happened next I would have no say in it. He could have either attacked me or walked away, and it's only due to good fortune that he chose the latter option. That feeling of being so powerless is a feeling that I will remember for the rest of my life, and it's a feeling I have vowed never to have again.
There were many reasons that I felt so powerless on that day and why I had no chance at effectively defending myself. The first was that the man who was threatening me was far larger than I am. Not that size is everything, but whenever someone completely outclasses you regarding size and strength, the threat level goes way up. This was especially true for me since then I had no self-defense training or martial arts skills whatsoever. That's the second reason that I was left so vulnerable, I lacked any training. While being bigger and stronger is an advantage, it's an advantage that can be overcome if you have the knowledge and training to do so.
Guess what kind of fight you will never lose? It's the fight you never get into in the first place. This means that you need to make sure that you are constantly aware and paying attention to where you are, what you are doing, what is going on around you, and who you are with. To put it simply if you don't want to get mugged then don't go out walking around alone at night in a bad part of town. It's a matter of common sense, but a surprisingly high number of people end up becoming victims because they make foolish choices without really thinking things through.
The other important thing to remember about street fights is that they are dangerous and unpredictable, and should be avoided whenever possible. That means that if there is a way out, a way to escape the situation before things escalate, you take it. You don't try to prove your manhood or worry about offending someone, you turn, and you run if you have the chance to. The biggest problem with getting into a fight is that you can't predict what is going to happen. Does the person threatening you have a knife or gun? Do they have friends or accomplices nearby that will join in on the attack? Are they going to surprise you and display strength, speed, and skill you weren't expecting? All of these are reasons why running away should always be option number one. But if that option is off the table and you are forced to fight back then the following are three serious martial arts that are effective in a street fight.
Do you know what many different government agencies around the world have in common? Many of them train their operatives in Krav Maga. They train them in Krav Maga because it is without a doubt one of the most effective, if not the most effective, hand to hand combat systems in the world. Krav Maga was originally developed in Israel by Imi Lichtenfeld, who used his experience as a wrestler, boxer, and fighting in the streets to perfect a real-world hand to hand combat system that is now favored by many military forces and government agencies around the world. Imi discovered during his time fighting to protect his people that there was a huge difference between being involved in a sporting competition and being involved in a real street fight.
Krav Maga has evolved over the years, and it has been refined and perfected by practitioners of the system. Unlike traditional martial arts, Krav Maga does teach ritualized forms or fancy maneuvers. Instead, it focuses on teaching its practitioners to use natural movements and to strike with great force and to vital areas of the body. Krav Maga dirty fighting is not just allowed; it is encouraged. The basic philosophy that continues to drive it today is that in a street fight you should end the confrontation as quickly and efficiently as possible. If that means throwing a kick or knee to the groin, or gouging at eyes, then that's exactly what you do. You don't worry about hurting the other guy; instead, you make it a point to try to hurt him as much as possible as quickly as possible. Do you know what kind of attacker can't hurt you? The kind that is lying on the ground howling in pain because you kicked him in the groin, scratched his eyes, and broke his nose with your elbow.
In addition to teaching you highly effective hand to hand techniques, Krav Maga also teaches you to use whatever you have on you or can find around you in order to maximize your damage inflicting potential. If you can grab a beer bottle during a bar fight, then you use it to club your attacker over the head. Krav Maga also teaches you how to disarm someone armed with a gun or a knife. I particularly enjoy how the training is honest and tells you that when you disarm someone with a knife, you will probably end up being cut. But you are going to accept a minor wound to disarm your opponent and prevent him from using his knife to inflict a serious or even fatal wound.
Looking for a real-world combat system that can overwhelm nearly any attacker? Then you are looking for Krav Maga. Founded on principles learned in real street fights, Krav Maga doesn't focus on pretty moves and choreographed forms. Instead, it focuses on teaching you how to use brutal attacks aimed at the most vulnerable parts of the human body.
Carlos and Helio Gracie were introduced to Judo, and over time they took what they learned and used it to develop their martial art which is known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes grappling and using holds and leverage to allow a smaller and weaker opponent to overcome someone that is bigger and stronger. Do you remember watching Bruce Lee movies as a kid? I sure do, and I marveled at how he would effortlessly punch and kick dozens of bad guys at a time easily defeating all comers. Those movies were great, but they may as well have been labeled as fantasy movies instead of martial arts movies. Unless you are some superhuman, you aren't going to be able to knock out dozens of opponents one after another. The other thing that is very unrealistic about these movies is that there is no grappling at all involved. You'd think that at some point a few guys would have tackled Bruce and then that would have been the end of the fight.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is different from most martial arts in that it actively encourages ground fighting. Instead of avoiding getting into a wrestling match, a BJJ practitioner looks for it knowing that his or her training will likely give them a huge advantage on the ground. When you are on your feet trying to box a bigger and stronger man you are going to get the short end of it in most cases. A bigger and stronger man will have a reach advantage and greater striking power, which makes standing up and trying to outbox him a fool's proposition.
Instead, a practitioner of BJJ will close the distance and then do whatever they can to get their opponent on the ground. Once there their superior training and experience will allow them to maintain control and ultimately put an end to a fight using a choke or other type of submission hold. BJJ was made famous by the Gracie family when it was used to great effect by Royce Gracie who was able to submit bigger and stronger fighters routinely. Today BJJ is a virtual must for anyone that steps into the ring or cage to engage in a mixed martial arts competition.
The biggest difference between using BJJ in a ring and a street fight is that there is no tapping out. You don't stop applying pressure because your attacker gives up, you continue with the submission until they are out cold or you have broken or dislocated a limb. While this might seem brutal, the reality is that this person was trying to hurt you. They picked a fight with you to try to victimize you, the moment they did that all bets were off. By executing a submission hold to the point of causing them serious injury you take away their ability to hurt you.
Known as the art of the eight limbs, Muay Thai is a stand-up combat style that utilizes strikes and clinching techniques. While many striking martial arts are not that effective in a street fight due to the risk of being tackled, Muay Thai is different because it teaches a form of grappling in clenching. This enables Muay Thai practitioners to hold their own in many instances. Unlike other grappling martial arts, Muay Thai focuses on preventing the fight from going to the ground. This is because regarding pure striking ability few people can contend with a master of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai teaches its practitioners to use punches, kicks, elbows, and knees to inflict heavy damage. Muay Thai is a physically demanding discipline that requires a lot of mental and physical toughness to master. This is part of what makes it so effective in a street fight. If you are training in Muay Thai, then you are going to be used to the physical toll that a fight takes on you. Your familiarity with being hit and hitting back will make you very capable of being successful in a street fight. In fact, if you are going up against someone with no real martial arts or combat training you will likely overwhelm them very quickly. The striking power of elbows and knees can inflict substantial damage quickly, which will enable you to end a fight and escape.
If you are excited about the prospect of getting into a street fight, then you are foolish, or you have never been in a real fight in your life. Street fights are nothing like you see in the movies. There is no prolonged and heroic battle. Instead, there is usually a short and incredibly violent confrontation that ends with one or both people injured or worse. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you have training, you should relish the opportunity to use it. Instead be smart and make sure that you avoid a fight whenever you can. When you can't avoid a fight that's when you use your training, but only then as a last resort.
On that day not long ago when I found myself face to face with mortal danger, I froze. I had no idea what to do, and that is a terrible feeling that I never want to experience again. With that being said I'll tell you that without a doubt option number one for me will always be to avoid a confrontation whenever possible. Do I feel confident that I can defend myself in a fight? You bet I do. Does that mean I want to risk injury or worse to prove it? If you are serious about self-defense, you will take the time to learn to fight and also have the common sense to realize that you should avoid fighting unless you have no other choice.