Hello Everyone, I'm Alex I'm new to the community, I'm a practitioner of many styles of martial arts and keep on adding more to my curriculum. I started training at age two and have trained in a very traditional way with many great masters with more than 50 years of experience in the field. I have trained both at home and traveled around the world training from the source, I was very luck that granpa is very rich and dad is even richer. I'm the owner of a private security company and hold two B.S. one in Mathematics and the other in Physics from Northeastern University. First of all while I've never been on an actual street fight, grade school brawls do not count, I have been in a rather disturbing number of confrontations, lucky for me I've never had to take the offensive. Now that that is clear, as I work in the private security business Self Defense is a topic on which I'm often consulted and have studied religiously to give a proper answer. Street fighting is a rather complex topic which for the sake of practicality I'll not get into all the details. I am often asked as a MA practitioner and a private security businessman what MA should someone learn to protect themselves and just as often I find myself getting lectured on why MA doesn't work in real life. It is hard to give an answer as they are making the wrong question or spouting biased claims. I'll address the topic from my perspective as a traditional MA and my expertise in Private Security. So let's get down to basics. Street fighting 101: A street fight, which we could define as a physical confrontation between two or more individuals needs to be broken down for us to properly understand. I'll break it down to three levels to keep things simple. The levels do not represent difficulty or danger level but rather the physical proximity between both parties. Level one "Assault": The first level is rather tricky, many people don't consider this possibility. What it mostly entails is an assailant looking forward to damaging a certain individual and to this end he makes preparations. Most likely the assailant will want to pass unnoticed by the target and any sort of witness he will cover up to prevent ID, will look for an opportunity (when his target is most vulnerable), will look to get at point blank range, most likely will not engage bare handed he will most likely carry a concealable weapon be it a small knife or gun, and at the moment of the attack he will just attack said victim. This assailant is not looking for a confrontation or a fight, he just wants to eliminate his target quickly, without being noticed, with as few witnesses as possible, and finally escape. Defending against this guy is very different from fighting, the best you can do is dodge a fatal blow to the best of your ability, while most likely sustaining a grave injury, and fleeing somewhere safe. Should fleeing not be possible rather than confronting the assailant, nullifying the threat as quickly as possible is the go to move it doesn't have to be pretty, it will get messy and gory but you have to be effective about it. The assailant does not want a fight and the stage you are in is not one of combat it is countdown until either one hits the ground. Level two "Brawling": You often see these at bars, high-schools, public events, etc. First of all a menacing person demanding your earthly possessions is a mugger not a brawler I will delve a bit ore into muggers latter but to be perfectly clear. Do not engage a mugger! Giving the mugger your wallet, phone, car, any other valuables of the sort without resistance is the right thing to do, I'll write the defense mechanisms for such inconveniences. Back to brawlers, a brawl can be triggered by a number of things: A verbal argument, a joke, an insult, or simply staring at someone. In such cases the first course of action is Word Fu, mediating and talking your way out of the problem even if you have to compromise on your ideals is better for everyone involved, should that not work try the first technique I learned from my first Master "Running really fast, really far, away from trouble" If you have been training properly running should be within your capabilities. Most of these could have been brawls have a rather harmless origin no need to use violence over result of the Super Bowl. When should you use force? I strongly believe that force should only be used when you find your live and integrity at risk, when you find the life and integrity of someone important to you at risk, escaping is no feasible, and you are unable to reach local law enforcement or a good samaritan willing to give you shelter. I believe that only under the previous conditions the use of force is acceptable. You should be mind-full of the situation and fight in a smart fashion, remember that self defense can be easily turned into man slaughter. Dimension the size of the problem at hand and act accordingly. A bar fight against a drunkard? A judo throw should suffice. A bar fight against multiple drunk assailant? Knock out, breaking bones, and dislocating joints should be enough the heat of the fight will wear down rather quickly with a few injured, no need to seriously injure anybody as it can be used against you in a court of law. Be mind-full of your surroundings and of emerging treats such as weapons, and new opponents you may need to use more force depending on the level of danger also making good use of the layout is a basic martial arts and military strategy. Now let's go to an extreme situation, the more dangerous the situation the least likely to happen they are. Should you find yourself cornered in a dark alley far away from help surrounded by armed assailants with no means to escape, let's say a local gang with baseball bats, knives and maybe a gun has you and your loved one cornered in a one way alley, first and foremost most likely they are not Martial Artists and most likely they have zero combat training, they are still very dangerous do not be mistaken while they lack on training they may get into fights on a regular basis, it is also very likely that they have recently consumed alcohol and narcotics, it is very difficult to do bad things while fully concious. If their objective is to compromise your life and integrity or that of your important person who is standing behind you I'll say go straight for the kill no holds barrel. It will not be like a randori, kumite, sparring, or competition match of any sort be mind-full that getting hurt will be part of the deal but you have been trained to do serious damage while using your techniques will be important as they are designed to be effective to hurt people, your ace on the sleeve is your combat instinct, they way you handle yourself in battle will be crucial. No need to keep them safe like your sparring partner your objective is to take them out, while it will be hard it is feasible let me tell you why. You are aware of your situation unlike what happened to the guy in level one, you have trained to move in a biomechanically correct fashion for offense, defense, dodging, and moving, you work out regularly, you know how to keep your cool during a fight, you have been taught to fight in an strategic fashion, you are no stranger to taking a hit correctly and powering through the pain. Having that in mind fight smart, they may be armed and most likely will come at you all at once rather than one by one like in the films, so being aware of that handicap use your instincts to gain the upper hand. The combat aspect of martial arts is not about randomly swinging hits, it is about analyzing and taking control of any given situation, basically these guys are sharks and you are fighting in the ocean, don't do that! Be smart and strategically drag the sharks into a horse track to run a race, even if yo are not a horse you have two legs so you can run the race. Arrange the fight using the field, your opponents, and everything within reach to turn the group assault into one on one bouts. Move around and be sure to really damage them killing them will not get you jail legally speaking. Even with blunt and sharp weapons dodging attacks should not be a problem wait for an opportunity to counter be quick about it and be ruthless attack the neck, liver, groin, eyes, solar plexus, jaw, any part of the body that has no natural defenses and thus is a no go in competition and sparring. As for the guy with the gun be prepared to be scared, guns are really loud but a weapon is only as strong as its wielder firing a gun is not as easy as it seems you need practice, an untrained shooter with a handgun is more likely to miss a 10 feet shot than to hit a still target, the recoil, visibility, and you moving around will not help him so approach a bit at a time while taking cover and moving around a lot, you may be graced by a bullet but when you get close enough you have a chance, however be mind-full that when you have your shot you are at point blank range so do not hesitate. You have high chances of dying, and high changes of getting seriously injured, you have a low chance of succeeding but should you just give up dying and being seriously injured become the only chance. Level three "A Duel": These are rare in this day and age but still manage to happen in some way or another. First don't do it while I do believe in dueling and that maintaining your principles is very important you can duel in a peaceful way, when I say duel do not think of the middle ages, while the essence is the same the situation is completely different. A duel needs for conditions to be met. 1.- Something important to both parties is at stake, whatever it may be. 2.- Both parties consider themselves of equal standing, people don't duel with someone they consider to be bellow them. 3.- Both parties are going all out. 4.- A duel does not need to be a physical confrontation. A battle of wits, dance, chess, or anything where both parties are considered to have equal skill can be dueled with. But we are here talking about fighting. 5.- Both parties have given consent to participate in the event. Should a duel where combat is the chosen way to settle the score happen, first of all call me I have yet to see one myself, should it happen it is not mandatory that both parties train the same style of martial arts or any martial art whatsoever both parties should only consider each other as capable fighters. When it happens first it will get very ugly so having some martial arts expertise will at the very least not hurt you, training martial arts if anything doesn't make you weaker. Just as I explained in scenario two your combat instinct, biomechanics, athleticism, intent, knowledge, ability to take control the situation, etc. These will help you get an edge against an untrained opponent. Should both parties be practitioners of the same MA or of different MAs it will get even uglier so while you should not be dueling in a violent manner as I explained earlier, should you have no other choice but to fight, which you do since as I noted above you have to consent to it, but let's imagine that you live in a film and the guy you have to duel has kidnaped your sister to coerce you into dueling, and the cops only ignore you, go ahead and fight him all out while being smart since as I said self-defense can be easily turned into man slaughter. Do enough damage so that he can't move but not enough for you to go to jail. Now we have covered three categories of street fighting before we start the martial talk lets get technical: 1.- All these can be avoided, do not wrong people so they don't assault you, be nice in sensible spaces like a bar, avoid walking through dangerous areas, reprove violence settle your scores in a creative peaceful fashion. 2.- Most likely your opponent is not trained in combat. MAs of all kinds, law enforcement personnel, military, and other individuals who train a way of combat are rather peaceful they tent to lead healthy lives, and are aware of the horrors of combat they are unlikely to pursue them just for kicks. 3.- The state of law heavily punishes acts of violence. 4.- Earthly goods are not as important as your life. 5.- Most of the time fighting is a choice. 6.- MA combat is not the same as street fighting. 7.- The term street fight is to broad to enclose in just that term, people mostly associate street fighting with a duel, and as I established those are very rare, we have Hollywood to blame for that misconception. Before we talk martial arts I am a man of my word, I promised to teach you how to defend against muggers: 1.- Give them what they want as long as it not your life, integrity, or that of a third party. 2.- Be compliant, be a yes-man the moment he get's your stuff he will leave in the meantime he want's arms up and against the wall, do it, murder and assault are penalized heavier than armed robbery, killing or injuring you is not convenient for him. 3.- Do not look at him, he doesn't like being ID. 4.- When he leaves run away in the opposite direction. 5.- Do not chase him. 6.- Don't carry to much cash, $40.00 USD is good enough for everyday needs, should need arise pay with your card or go to the ATM. 7.- Get protection for your stuff: Lowjack for your car, insurance for your phone, write down in paper the phone number of your bank, the cards call center, card numbers, insurance policy, etc. 8.- Get a land line at home. 9.- Call your emergency analog address book to notify your bank so they freeze the account you can pick up a new card the next day, call the police and lowjack and follow procedure to get your car back within the first 24 hours you have a good chance, call your phone's insurance so they erase your data, block the stolen device and get yourself a nice upgrade. Preventive measures like these will make departing with your stuff easier as you will be able to recuperate or replace several of them. 10.- Some artifacts will be hard to retrieve be mind-full that some may be lost forever, if you don't want to risk it don't tae them on a walk. Things like jewelry, watches, belts, and the like while high end fashion has a serial code these guys will sell it at a pawn shop you might find them or not. Now lets get our Martial Arts talk on: Talking from my personal experience as a more Traditional MA inclined practitioner I can assure that MA are effective in real combat situations, I to have delved a bit in MMA, Hybrid MA, and Military MA. I can assure you that practicing some form of organized combat will give you an edge on a street fight as these arts while they have many aspects to them besides combat, combat is a mayor part, so much that they where used in wars and the "New MA" of today re either based on the "Old MA" or composed by parts of them. I too understand that currently there is a trend where many claim that TMA are ineffective, inefficient, just for show, etc. To that I have to say that there is a bit of true however the whole truth is rarely explored. After the Martial boom when for the first time in history free practice started, those who don't know at the beginning of last century there was a bit of racism involved in practice, Chinese MA were only taught by and to the Chinese, same with Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indi, etc. At the beginning of the last century MA were very well kept and not for strangers eye after that changed a wave of whom today are great Masters started their training at a tender age all over the world thus learning all aspects of the MA of their choosing they learned the whole thing as it was taught at the source. Some may be surprised but all styles of MA before that Martial Boom had a full curriculum where the student first learned to protect themselves and move around, how to break a fall from different positions, Tai-sabaki, Ashi-sabaki, etc. Then they learned hand to hand combat, (striking, grappling, small joint manipulation, floor techniques, ways of attacking vulnerable areas, etc.) True Tae Kwon Do has grappling techniques good enough to face Judokas, each MA has preferences but MA traditionally teach all aspects of unarmed combat. Then the students learned armed combat mostly starting with the famous bo staff and building up to more complex weapons, so those who completed the curriculum were more well rounded fighters in the same fashion they learned to fight against armed or unarmed opponents while being armed or unarmed with any given weapon taught in the school. Many of the techniques that get called overly complex, just for show, magic, or myths actually work, the catch is that thye are rather advanced and very difficult to learn, much more difficult to master, but if you train them long enough with full determination and are committed to them they will become very powerful weapons. My Tae Kwon Do Sabonim can drive his hand in the knife position through ballistic gel just like a knife stabs a person. My Kung Fu Shifu can rip flesh out of the bone with his tiger claw (ballistic gel and prop skeleton), all my Masters are capable of this crazy feats. Now learning the techniques was not all there was to it, Body conditioning which includes but is not limited to weight lifting, running, swiming, cardio-vascular training, flexibility training, strength training, coordination training, sensorial training, mobility training (Taihen-jutsu is the original parkour), several body enhancing techniques much like the Iron bone training, correct biomechanics and breathing (Kata, Poomsae, Taolu), amongst many others. In the same fashion the students strengthened their minds by studying, quite literally reading books. Books from the founder of the style and other famous practitioners, many children where required to maintain a certain GPA at school to be allowed to train. Practitioners earned about strategy, learned to asses difficult situations, learned problem solving, learned effective improvisation, among many other useful knowledge. This made the practitioners well educated individuals. They also trained the spirit, meditation in any of it's forms has always been a part of martial arts, just like we meditate after class in the dojo, dojang, or kwoon for those who practiced HEMA prayer was the equivalent. Meditating and praying have the very same effect on the human psyque when done correctly. They built character, courage, teach you to keep calm and collected, teach you to always find a way, resilience to adversities, managing frustration, dealing with your demons (impure thoughts, traumas, the darkness in each of us), not to mention that they fill our bloodstream with Oxygen which is very good for your whole body. The students studied the philosophy of their school and learned to follow a Bushido or Chivalric code of sorts, they learned ethics, learned that peace is to be sought and to avoid violence, learned to appreciated the world around them for it is precious, the importance of gratitude, the disciples learned about foreign cultures their religion, traditions, manners, history, etc. this opened their eyes to a bigger world. The students learned proper etiquette as MA have many rituals, they learned proper manners, prudence, body language, patience, humility, respect, timing, proper speech, mediation, conflict resolution, etc. The students learned responsibility as they had to clean the school and keep it in good conditions. The students back in the day really went to town on sparring basically all that was learned was allowed but they learned Kime, to stop the strike just before it made contact, with less lethal techniques full execution was encouraged. They practiced their whole art against an opposing adversary, against a willful adversary, against a striking pole, etc. Also tournaments were a regular thing even if they were small "fighting is the best way to lear how to fight" in these there were more strict regulations. The tournaments were either restricted to practitioners of the same Art or open to practitioners of different arts, thus learning how to fight against different styles and people with different builds, weight classes, and heights. Joined practice with different styles and other schools where common. It was a cultural exchange of sorts. Just as the aspect of proper combat against a trained practitioners was taught regularly each art has a part of the curriculum called Personal Defense, Goshin-jutsu in Japanese, in that part of the training the student learns to defend themselves against an untrained assailant holding a using of weapons. You may wonder why this is important? It is rather simple, a trained fighter has a rhythm, a pulse, sort of a very organized presence learning to read that to foreshadow your opponent's next move is crucial for a MA however only after several years of rigorous training does one devises his own rhythm as it is different for everyone. Someone who has no training is rather arhythmic, has an uneven pulse, his presence is disorganized, basically he is all over the place thus to the trained eye he becomes unpredictable. The Self Defense training regime of every MA is designed to simulate the arhythmic assailant and teaches the students how to read that unorganized rhythm and act accordingly. As you can see TMA are very well rounded and very complex. Why do they not work on the streets? Why do they loose miserably in the cage? The reason is simple what we call TMA now a days is but a very small fragment of said MA. This happened for many reasons one being the big one, the money issue, Running a school like that is crazy expensive so as years passed the Masters started trimming parts of the curriculum to be more cost efficient, eventually several organizations now called federations saw money in the tournaments and did the same they took the most cost efficient aspect of each MA trimmed the rest and opened for business. Many con-men saw the opportunity and with little to no training rented a space, bought a black belt, and opened a school where they teach squat. There is also the commitment issue, not many people are willing to go trough the whole thing as it is very taxing you have to work very hard and advance rather slowly thus reducing the number of clients. The final issue is time itself, as the student body diminished and cost grew higher the number of true Masters declined, there are very few truly traditional schools left. Many of the remaining masters exercise Private Practice as there are people willing to pay a lot for the whole thing thus leaving the pool of heirs rather small. Just as true Masters and practitioners are on decline, more and more Sport oriented practitioners rise, and even more MCDojos surface every day. The fact that most martial arts schools today are sport oriented is not a bad thing they chose to practice for sport and that is awesome from what I see they do a bang up job MAs are on an ever growing popularity high because they have become more accessible thanks to the sport oriented curriculum. Understanding that it is unfair to claim that MAs are no good for real combat, because they are they are designed to be so. It just so happens that today's trends are oriented towards sports and not actual combat. They are two whole different things apples and oranges quite literally. I'm a lucky guy, from day one I've been practicing the whole shebang of many TMAs, they are a part of my life I know that I am trained for actual combat just as I am trained for every other aspect of TMA. I believe that they are effective for a street fight, maybe a bit to much, but not many people have access to them and they take a very long time to learn let alone to master I'm talking about a lifetime of work. Now I know that the whole thing works but how about the Sport Oriented version. I say yes! It works! Even if you didn't learn the whole thing you still workout regularly, you develop biomechanical correct movements, you develop fighting instinct, learn to keep calm when punches are raining on you, and learn how to manage yourself during a confrontation. At the very least you will be able to do that if you are serious about your training, thus when facing a threat that we have established to most likely not be properly trained in combat if you fight smart you are good to go. I said that I have never been in a street fight, but I have been in several confrontations, while I make it a point to avoid danger sometimes danger just waltz in. When I have had to face brawlers without a scape all I do is take control of the situation avoid damage and when the aggressors figure they have not been able to lay a finger on me they retreat, or the police will turn first. I have never had to punch anyone. I am very happy for being able to always train under the Masters that learned the whole MA it really is different, they may be pushing 70 but oh boy you don't want to mess with them they are just ridiculously strong. Oddly enough because of their strength I learned that MAs are not about fighting but about growing and improving yourself every day. I want to conclude by stating that I believe that street fighting in most of the cases can be avoided, I do not approve of senseless violence, many of those fights could have had peaceful solutions. Thank you for reading my very long Script, these is my personal opinion born of my personal experience, I would love to know your points of view regarding this matter. I welcome all responses.