How to Win a Fight - A guide to avoiding and surviving violence

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. -- Mark Frauenfelder

How to Win a Fight

Sample Excerpts:

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.


    1. It seems like the adverarticles are still on Disquis.  Maybe the BBS folks don’t want threads that are basically just hawking a product?

  1. Would you also have a link to “A Hundred and One Ways to Start a Fight”? It’s by some Irish gentleman, whose  name eludes me at the moment.

  2. Most people interpret “keep your distance” as” just out of reach,” which is the perfect distance for punched the fuck out when attacker punches with a little lunge.  

    If you need to assist someone being attacked, use the double ear slap from behind. 

    If you’ve never owned a punching bag, forget it Your punches will only help if they convince your attacker that you have a tragic degenerative  medical condition and should be left alone. 

    1. Well said.  In “keep your distance”, the ideal distance to keep is several miles away in a public place.  If this is not an option, the closest attempt you can manage is a good place to start.

      If your opponent is close enough to hit you, your only objective is to remedy that situation as quickly and safely as possible.  (If that involves delivering intense violence to him, fine, but don’t hang around to see whether it was enough yet; either hit him some more or run.)

  3. These were only excerpts, I am sure more is covered on actual defense, so some of these comments are without merit, as they only pertain to the few pieces from the actual book.
    I got jumped by three young Triad guys while living in mainland China. I was leaving a club on the third floor via the stairwell. They were grouped on one of the landings between flights, talking, laughing. I walked through them normally, but didn’t make it–they all began hitting me from all directions, including feet. I went down and covered my head and just balled up until they stopped. I heard them running and laughing down the remaining stairs.

    I jumped up and ran after them (stupid I know, but I was angry). In the lobby of the building I grabbed a chair and then ran out through the sliding glass doors. They were hailing a cab at the entrance and when they saw me and the chair, they scattered. I hurled it at one guy, it caught him and he went down. I proceeded to grab him around the arms in a bear hug, and hauled him back to the  hotel. I told the security guy in Chinese “Jing cha! Jing cha!” (police! police!). he at once called and within five minutes they arrived. They listened to me while the guy I apprehended was locked into the back of a police car. They eventually took him away and the officer clapped me on the back and said “good job!”. Made my week I can tell you. Oh, and the other two? They disappeared into the night, didn’t stick up for their buddy.

    1. I was in a similar situation, but my Chinese was so bad they thought I was asking for green tea. When they brought it, I scalded my attacker and escaped.

  4. The other thing that works is just all the dick moves that are illegal in any kind of formal fighting.  Step on the other guys leading foot – not to stomp but just to pin the foot, and it’ll screw up his balance.  Do the kung fu thing of just grabbing the opponent’s guard and immobilizing it while you punch with the other hand.  Headbutt (not like in the movies). Punch for the throat.  And remember that the first guy that lands an elbow is usually the winner.

  5. Also know to size up your opponent, there are people out there (most likely to be looking for it) who can take your best shot and come back like terminator.

    1. You got to watch out for little guy that works as lumberjack who can toss you like a sac of groceries, look out for the mechanic whose grip you won’t able to break. 

      1. Oh yeah and watch out for those cartoon characters with 4 fingers, they can pull a frying pan out of their coveralls and clock you a good one.

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