In This Hub:
Adrenal Decay
of Violence
Alpha Behavior
An Intro to Self-Defense
Attracting Bullies' Attention
Cults in RBSD
Fantasies About Fights
Fighting Facts
Fighting, SD, RBSD & MA
Hollywood Macho vs. Real Life
How NOT To Get Shot
Manufactured Tough
Pro vs. Amateur Knifers
Provoking An Attack
REAL fighting = Bullshit
Real Life Street Monsters
Realities of Street Violence
Sanity in RBSD
Stigmatization of Violence
Tough Enough?
Technique vs. Attitde
Traditional MA vs. Real Fights
Training Won't Fix Your Life
Violence Geeks Blog
Where I Am Coming From
Knife Fighting Hub
Martial Arts Hub
Self-Defense Hub
NNSD Home Page

Search the Site

Marc MacYoung?
Dianna Gordon MacYoung?
Animal E-list
Crime Avoidance Lectures
Crime Blog
Colorado Classes
Contact Us
Hosting A Seminar
   Crime Prevention
   Expert Witness
   Knife Defense
   Law Enforcement
   Martial Arts
   Movie Consulting
   Women's Self-Defense
Our Linking Policy
On-line Store
Train with MacYoung
Terms of Use
Topics of Interest


Better hold on
because she's up to her tricks,
playing Russian roulette
but she'll load all six.
                     Gun Love
                    ZZ Top

Fighting facts

On this page:
Differences between movies and reality | Pee-Wee Football vs. the NFL | If he didn't think he could win, he wouldn't be there | Expect the average asshole | Fighting fair | The need to win | Long-term damage | Your turn in the barrel

Let's start with the unpleasant truth that an overwhelming amount of what is being taught as self-defense panders to middle-class, Hollywood-fueled fantasies, misconceptions, insecurities and fears.

Putting that simply, they aren't teaching you how to handle violence, they are teaching how to handle what you think you know about violence.

Not only is most of what you are being taught
   a) physically ineffective,
   b) has little relationship with how violence actually happens,
but, mostly, it's about making you feel good

It's a grigris (pronounced: gree-gree, it's French).

In case you aren't from New Orleans, a grisgris  is a voodoo amulet, talisman, charm or mojo bag to ward off evil. A more modern interpretation is an irrational, unable to be proven belief that gives us emotional comfort. We're talking:
"What's that thing around your neck for?"
"It keeps the vampires away."
"There aren't any vampires!"
"See how good it works?"

Well unfortunately, most of what is being taught out there as self-defense (or 'combatives, reality based self-defense, fighting, etc) is about that realistic too. It's grisgris training that feeds into a cycle of emotions and self-deception. Instead of teaching you how to effectively deal with the actual problems, complications and factors of violence, it's teaching you to how to confront the boogey-men of your imagination. and of your own creation.

The irony of this is even though you've reduced your self-induced fear, you haven't actually reduced the danger. Nor have you even learned about the problem. All you've done is learn fantasy answers to fantasy problems.

Actual violence is not only scary enough, but it's got a list of real problems that come with it. Problems that don't have simple answers. Now here's the really bad news, these problems are often made WORSE by bad training.

By this we mean, an untrained person will often look at a situation and go "!" and run fiercely. Whereas a person who has grisgris training will often say to him (or herself) "I don't have to worry, I know (fill in the blank)" and then proceed to do an incredibly stupid and dangerous act.

This is why we are such advocates of knowing how to find good self-defense training that covers many aspects beyond just punching and kicking. (And most of all training that explains what self-defense is and isn't)

We're about to give you a list of factors involved in crime, violence and fighting. If you want to see how good your 'self-defense' training is, check how many of them are brought up in the training. And more importantly how many of them are supported with reasonable, researched and -- most of all -- realistic solutions.


Most violence is participatory


When it comes to fighting: It isn't a matter of "if," but of "when" you will get hurt. More specifically: How long will it be until you are seriously hurt?

From there the next question arises: How bad will it be when you are really hurt?

Fighting is literally Russian roulette. Somewhere along the line, it is going to go "bang." And when it does, it is going to be wet, messy and really, really painful.

No matter how good you are, the longer and more often you engage in that game, the more likely the odds are going to catch up to you. If not sooner, then later. But catch up they will.

Here are some realities about fighting that your martial arts teacher won't tell you.

The differences between movies and reality
I want you to sit down and think of all the action/adventure movies you have seen where the hero faces a pack of toughs. Suddenly, in a series of blindingly fast moves, he proceeds to open a can of 'whup ass' on them..

Recognize that these stunt men are paid to lose that fight. I have worked in the movie industry and on martial arts flicks. Professional stuntmen who get their asses kicked regularly on film are, in real life, often far, far better martial artists than your favorite clean-shaven, studly hero. And as stunt men, they are far better at physical movement and taking pain.

Think about it: Professional bad guys like Al Leong, Gerald Okamura and Jeff Imada have gotten their "butts kicked" by more martial arts stars than those stars have been in movies. Sure, super stud has three movies, but these guys do that in a year...and they have been working for many many years. They have to be in constant training to take that abuse and pain.

In the movies, the hero wins under these conditions. In reality it doesn't work out like that. Here's why...

Pee-Wee Football vs. the NFL
I am often asked by the young and inexperienced "How can I become a better fighter?"

Before I go into why what they are asking is about as smart as pogo sticking through a minefield, I want to talk about perception. In the Middle Ages most people didn't travel that much. A person could grow up, live his entire life and die an old man without having traveled more than 50 miles from where he was born. Most of what that person saw in his life was the horizon. Sure there might have been mountains, forests and such, but over all it looked flat.

Along with this the Church's official position that the world was flat. So what you have is a self-reinforcing cycle. To people who didn't get out much, it looked flat and if they asked they were told by the greatest authority of the time that it was flat. So a lot of people nodded their heads and went about their business thinking that the world was flat.

The reason I took this little side trip is to point out how -- from a limited perspective -- you can see something and think that it is one way when it is actually another. From a young, inexperienced (or traumatized) perspective, being a good fighter might seem like a good way to achieve social status and not to feel bullied anymore. Looking at a "tough guy" who is intimidating you, the idea of learning 'how to be a good fighter' seems a logical solution. Man, if you can just become a 'better fighter' than him then you won't be scared anymore.

To give this an extra boost, like the Church of old with the idea that the world was flat, there are all kinds of paranoia pimps out there who will confirm the false belief that becoming a better fighter will improve your social status and self-esteem. They'll promise you all kinds of things -- if you study their ultimate system -- that will chase away your fear.

It doesn't work that way.

The reason is looking at that tough guy is like looking at the horizon. Yes it may be all that you can see, but that isn't all there IS to see. What you can't see is what is beyond that guy that you are afraid of. And in this case, what you aren't seeing is that there is a bigger, meaner, tougher guys behind the boogeyman you fear. What people don't understand is that to the tough guy that is intimidating you, these guys are HIS boogeymen. They are doing to him what he is doing to you. Therefore, what seems like a good idea, (learning to fight) will only move you over the horizon to face these guys.

The analogy I came up with is the difference between Pee-wee football and the NFL (1). Many people think that by learning how to fight, they will become the equivalent of being an NFL player in a Pee-wee league game. They think that by increasing their skill level they will be able to plow through the competition. They figure they are going to be top players in the game. What they don't realize is that as you advance in skill level, so too does the competition. You graduate from Pee-wee leagues and go into a High School team. From there onto college and from there into the NFL. At every level, the level of force, skill and complexity increases. By increasing your skill level, you're no longer playing against children or amateurs, you're playing against professionals. And pros play hard. Much harder than the Pee-wee leagues.

So the idea of becoming a better fighter to assuage your fears about the punk in your face, is not the best choice. Living your life to get out of the limited reach of these kinds of people is a far, far better strategy. You WIN by getting out of the game! That way you can watch football on the TV from the safety of your living room instead of being out there getting the snot pounded out of you. Return to top of page

If the guy didn't think he could kick your ass, **he wouldn't be there in the first place!!!!**
This is probably the least understood element of fighting. And yet it is a cornerstone of most martial arts training. They train to fight inferior opponents!

You are *not* going to be fighting an accountant. You are not going to be fighting someone you punch once and he will freak out! People who do that, don't fight. People who fight, don't do that. So if it's looking like a fight is coming, guess which one you got?

Animal's important safety tip: *Never* judge what your opponent will do based on what you can and can't do!

Nor should you assume that just because you wouldn't dream of doing something doesn't mean he won't be willing to do it - as many people who have had their guts blown out discovered the hard way. He not only can and will do it, but do it in a heartbeat.

On the Stigma of Being Tough page, I mentioned the 90/10 rule. You won't be facing anybody from the 90 percent. You will be facing someone from that 10 percent who causes 90 percent of the trouble.

And that means odds are you will be facing a tough, experienced troublemaker. He's someone who probably has something up his sleeve that *will* hurt you if he gets a chance to use it. And the chances are *damn* good that he will figure out how to use it.

Return to top of page

Expect the average asshole
Does this mean the guy you will be facing will be an unstoppable juggernaut? No far from it. You do need to realize, however, there is a hierarchy of toughness; there are some people who are tougher than others. The higher up someone is on this hierarchy, the more dangerous and difficult he will be.

Unfortunately, most martial arts training masquerading as self-defense doesn't take this into account. Instructors either assume that the person you or they will be facing will immediately roll up in shock at the first sign of resistance. Equally dangerously and unrealistically they assume that every person they face will require a total blitzkrieg counterattack. That sort of counterattack will put you far over the legal standards of justifiable use of force. Thereby putting you in either prison or serious civil legal trouble

There is no "you just do this" answer when it comes to self-defense. That is because you *never* know where on the hierarchy your opponent will be *until* you have actually engaged! You must judge the appropriate use of force on the fly! Not enough and you will be hurt; too much and you are legally defined as the aggressor!

Nor will you know to what extreme he is willing to go in order to *win* until he has done it!

There are cues that such a person will give, but it requires a lifetime of experience and training to be able to see them, recognize their significance and react appropriately and in time. Even by people whose job it is to regularly confront such assholes, mistakes are made and sometimes there is too much force, and sometimes not enough. When the former happens the perp dies or is injured. When the latter happens the professional dies or is injured. Either way someone is hurt or dead.

So let's assume that you are not in a profession where you regularly have to confront troublemakers. What should you train for in self-defense?

Train for the "average asshole."

That means you should assume the guy you will be face will be a bullying, half-drunk, construction worker -- who is about your size or slightly larger. He'll be someone who is physically tough enough to take some punishment (hell, his work will abuse him more than most punches by martial artists). He isn't smart enough (or is too drunk) to realize that his course of action is going to have long-term repercussions. All he is concerned with are his immediate feelings of anger, frustration and wanting to take things out on your face. He wants to win, and, if he has to use your ass as a mop, he will gladly do so. The longer this goes on, the more extreme he is going to get. If he doesn't get his way, there is a good chance he is going to escalate the confrontation - often by using a tool, like a gun or a knife.

This isn't your worst case scenario. In fact, far from it. It is, however, a pretty typical asshole.

And that is who you better assume you are going to be facing. With this in mind, you might want to go back and re-examine your training thus far to see if what you are being taught would work against such a person. Because if it won't work on this guy, it sure as hell isn't going to work on a real bad ass.

Return to top of page

Fighting fair? Try stacking the deck
Where I am from the Marquis de Queensbury is street hustling, gay prostitute giving blow jobs behind the Pizza Hut on Sunset Blvd for $20. And you can guess what you can do with the "rules of fighting"

The idea of a fair fight is ludicrous to a streetfighter. And trying to do a stand up, mano y mano, one-on-one fight like you are training for in you MA school will have you waking up in the hospital.

You better expect multiple opponents, weapons, ambushes, blindsiding, "backing up on you" and underhanded dirty tricks when facing a streetrat. A streetrat is the guy who will get a piece out of the average asshole. He's got many clashes with average assholes under his belt. Doing these horrid things is how he survives out on the streets.

If you thought the average asshole was bad news, wait until you meet the next level. When you are dealing with someone from this culture, assume that he will show up with assistance and weapons, because that is how you survive out on the streets and against his ilk -- *not* by fighting one-on-one.

How do you tell the difference? I can tell at a glance. So can other pros, but unless you have years of experience, you won't be able to tell the difference.

A street rat will often "back up on you," which means he will back away from direct confrontation when the odds are not in his favor, but return with something that will guarantee his victory. Whether this means friends, a weapon or waiting for you in the shadows with a shotgun when you walk out the door depends on the streetrat, what he thinks he needs in order to win and resources he has available to achieve this goal. (This is also why you should *always* immediately leave an area or establishment after an altercation. It's not cowardice, it's a survival strategy).

That's the reality of what you will be facing in a "real fight."

Return to top of page

The need to win
People don't like to lose, and an asshole even less than most people. A pathological *need* to win is a common and defining trait of assholes. It is something that they will go to extremes to ensure. If they think they have lost face, they *have* to prove to themselves that they didn't. They are often literally driven to seek revenge and get in the last "lick," thereby proving their superiority over the person who has caused them this pain and shame.

And that means the bastard is going to keep coming at you until he has, in his mind, proved to himself that he has won.

That last sentence is grammatically clumsy, but it means a very specific thing. And that is that it doesn't matter what other people think is reasonable or appropriate, "winning" is solely determined by him. It is within his own mind without checks, balances or common sense. He is the one who will decide whether you have suffered or paid a stiff enough penalty for daring to make him look bad. And depending on how much of a sociopathic little prick he is, this could very well mean the only thing that will satisfy him is your death.

This isn't an exaggeration. Before you even think of tangling with these kind of people, you had better understand how they think. Because once the dance starts, they will keep on coming after you. It is the same pathology that will make them stack the deck in their favor by using numbers, weapons or dirty tricks. They don't care what the cost is to you, just so long as they win.

Return to top of page

Long term damage
When you are young and think you are tough, you can take damage, shake it off and keep going. But, you don't ever shake off damage. You just ignore it. And like a courts summons, just because you ignore it doesn't mean it goes away.

It will be there waiting for you.

When you are older you begin to realize this...and by then it is too late. Damage is cumulative. All those injuries you ignored to keep going don't go away, they stay there. As you get older, you are less able to ignore them because they have been slowly adding up.

Breaks, fractures, strains, pulls, concussions, etc., etc., no matter how big or little, do heal, but muscles and bones are never as good as they were before injury. In time you will become a human barometer, able to predict weather changes because of the pain and ache. And there is nothing you can do but suffer.

Even microscopic fractures begin to ache when the weather changes. You will never be as flexible or strong after torn ligaments and sprains, and yet, they too, will hurt as you get older. When you are young and buff, your muscles hold damaged joints in place. As you grow older, and your muscle tone fades, things will easily slide out of position, and need to be popped back into place. The groaning, popping and creaking of old age is the sign of someone who in youth put themselves through physical strain.

If this happens just from working physical labor jobs, imagine how much more damage you will take if someone intentionally tries to hurt you.

It is here that you need to realize this is the end result of "hard core training." Somebody who encourages you to pay them money in order to train like this is setting you up for this result. Such people are not likely be in your life ten or twenty years from now. So it doesn't matter to them the damage that you take by involving yourself in their program. They will have had taken your money and given you a lifetime of aches and pains.

Return to top of page

Your turn in the barrel
You will never know when the guy you thought was just an average asshole will turn out to be something far, far worse.

If you are lucky, you will survive. The quality of your life afterwards, however, will largely depend on how badly you miscalculated.

Current medical procedures and technology has greatly increased your chances of survival if you seek immediate medical help. So there is a very good chance that you can physically survive -- even if you are shot. This is in fact, why murder rates have gone down. Not that people aren't trying just as hard to kill each other, but the 911 system and emergency triage procedures usually get the victim to help in time.

That person, however, often shits in a bag for the next year until he has recovered enough for the doctors to re-attach his intestines. Or he breathes through a lung and a half for the rest of his life. Maybe he runs on one kidney from then on. The damage is done and it will never be the same.

Emergency surgery is designed to keep you from dying once you have been wounded. Corrective surgery to try and fix the mess caused by the bullet or knife can take years -- if you have the money or insurance to pay for the various procedures. If you don't, you will be alive, but will be pretty much a basket case for the rest of your life.

Oh, just as a side note, unfortunately, about 80 percent of the people with fatal head wounds walk into the hospital (which is why you should always go to the hospital if knocked out). And don't be surprised to discover long-term effects of traumatic head injuries include memory loss, cognitive function interference, migraines and constant headaches.

Fighting hurts...and you better know what you are putting yourself in for if you intend to participate. Even if you win, you are looking at cumulative damage...if you lose, well you have this to look forward to.

And just remember, at least half of the people who engage in a fight are going to lose. If the guy brings his buddies or a weapon, the odds are even worse.

Return to top of page

1) For non-US residents, Pee-wee leagues of American Football, is like the children's futball teams in your country -- ages from about 8 to 12. the NFL is the National Football League is like your national soccer team. This is unless you're Canadian, in which case, substitute Hockey. Return to Text

Cheap Shots, Ambushes and Other Lessons
Learn More >
Order Now!

A Bouncer's Guide to Barroom Brawling
Learn More >
Order Now!

Violence, Blunders And Fractured Jaws: Advanced Awareness, Avoidance and Street Etiquette
Learn More >
Order Now!

Experience- & Reality-Based Self-Defense
Learn More >
Order Now!

Fists, Wits And A Wicked Right
Learn More >
Order Now!

Real Fighting
Learn More >
Order Now!

Fighting Arts of Indonesia
Learn More >
Order Now!

Fighting Dirty
Learn More >

Order Now!

Street Fighting Essentials
Learn More >
Order Now!

Surviving a Street Knife Attack
Learn More >
Order Now!

Minimum Damage, Maximum Effect
Learn More >
Order Now!

Beyond Brazilian Jujitsu
Learn More >
Order Now!

Pukulan Pentjak Silat
Learn More >
Order Now!

Taking It to the Streets
Learn More >
Order Now!

Combat Sanshou: Striking
Learn More >

Order Now!

Street Smarts, Firearms and Personal Security
Learn More >
Order Now!

Dead Or Alive
Learn More >
Order Now!

Indonesian Fighting Fundamentals
Learn More>
Order Now!

Ending Violence Quickly
Learn More >
Order Now!

Real World Self-Defense
Learn More >
Order Now!

Fighter's Guide to Heavy Bag Training (DVD)
Learn More >
Order Now!

Fighter's Guide to Heavy Bag Training (Book)
Learn More >
Order Now!

Surviving a Street Knife Attack
Learn More >
Order Now!

The Deadliest Men
Learn More >
Order Now!

Escape Combatives
Special Bonus Feature
Learn More >
Order Now!

Street E&E
Learn More >
Order Now!

Terror at Beslan
Learn More >
Order Now!

About navigating this site | Animal List | Bibliography | Bullies | Burglary while on vacation | Classes in Colorado | Car Jacking | Children and Martial Arts | Child Safety | Criminal Mindset | Cults in MA/SD | De-Escalation | E-mail Dianna | E-mail Marc| FAQs | Have MacYoung speak about crime avoidance | Home Page | Home Defense | Hosting a Seminar | Fear | Five Stages of Crime | Knife Fighting | Legal Issues | LEO/Correctional Officer/EMS | Linking policy | Links | Martial Arts | Photo Gallery | Property Crime | Psychology | Rape | Robbery | Safe Dating | Self-Defense Training | Selling your books/DVDs on NNSD | Seminar Schedule | Stalking/Domestic Violence | Street Fighting | Terms of Use | Testimonials | Train with Marc MacYoung | Who is Dianna Gordon MacYoung? | Who is Marc "Animal" MacYoung? | Victimhood | Workplace Problems | Zero Tolerance