5 most important factors of a fight

Feisty Mouse

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Jun 15, 2004
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I'd modify "strength" to reflect psychological as well as physical strength.
I think this is an important point (and something I've harped on in other threads on self-defense). How someone psychologically reacts or interprets what is happening will dictate to a large degree their physical abilities. Which is something I am trying to get over myself - I am more of a self-doubter. I think if I doubted less, I could just let my body react and do its thing.

Touch Of Death

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
May 6, 2003
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Spokane Valley WA
DeLamar.J said:
#1. Technique

#2. Strategy

#3. Speed

#4. Conditioning

#5. Strength

These are the 5 things I think are the most important in a fight, and I wanted to share this with all of you and get your opinions on this, and the order they are numbered.
#1.I feel that technique should be #1 because without good techniques to use in your strategy, what good is strategy? So that is my only reason for putting strategy at #2.

#2.Once you have mastered your technique, (wich is almost impossible IMO because a martial artist is always inproving) a great strategy combined with great technique can always prevail no matter what the speed stregth and conditioning of your opponent is IMO. A good example is Ali vs Forman, although Ali had most all the other toolto, Forman had extreme strength, good speed, and good conditioning, Ali's strategy and technique one him the day.

#3.I feel speed is #3 because with good technique, strategy, and the speed to land your attacks, you can beat someone with extreme strength and conditioning. But technique and strategy must come first or your style will have extreme weakness.

#4. Conditioning, being able to take a good blow is very important in a fight because if you fight you are going to get hit 90% of the time. And if your body is not properly conditioned, your in trouble. Your body also must be conditioned to attack, I have hurt my hands a few times punching someones hard noggin. You also must have good endurance if you need to fight a long fight. Conditioning is very important but I feel it should be at #4, because having all the tools of #'s 1 through 3 will make you victourious over someone with 4 and 5.

#5. Last but certainly not least, strength. How hard you can hit is very important, but is below the others because everyone has the power to do damage with proper technique and speed. While being able to pick up your opponent and slam them on there head is certainly a great way to end the fight, a big strong guy is not going to be able to grab a little person with cood Technique, Strategy, and Speed. So strength is at #5 IMO. Although alot of people disagree strongly. Strength is very inferior to technique, strategy and speed, but alot of people dont understand this, most who are martial artists do.

So what do you all think about this? Are they numbered correctly in your opinion? Are there more factors that should be added to the list?
I think you will be better off using the word tactics instead of technique. Tactics are a broader term that implies that you may employ non viloent means to carry out your plan. And with that, the order should be Plan, strategy, and tactics. Besides your thoughts and tactic repitouis, the four thing you need to be succsessfull in a fight(or in any endeavor) are Attitude, Logic, basics, and fitness.


Green Belt
Aug 19, 2003
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Baton Rouge, LA
Great thread! I think that the five most important factors that each person chooses for fighting will depend directly upon how you fight. Meaning your overall strategy will directly affect what you believe are important in fighting. When I was younger my list would have appeared almost exactly, or exactly, like the initial one posted. Now that I've become stronger, a bit slower and more sophisticated, my list is different.

1. Mental Attitude. You could be a great technician, highly sensitive, strong as a bull, excellent conditioning, but if you don't have the mindset you simply won't, or can't, make it work. Strictly psychological on the part of the fighters.

2. Sensitivity. Mental (awareness) and physical sensitivity. BJJ, wrestling, silat, kuntao, fencing and other arts use tactile sensitivty quite often and is crucial to avoiding dangerous situations and capitalizing on great opportunities. The mental awareness part also plays into perception of perceived threats that register in the brain without physical contact.

3. Mechanics. You must be able to hit and grapple effectively and efficiently while maintaining your base, and hopefully controlling your opponent's to minimize his effectiveness. Once a fighter learns how to do this with all of his techniques it is amazing how easy everything else becomes.

4. Physical ability. This includes conditioning, speed and strength. This is because with weaknesses in one, enough of the others can make up for it, however, should you be woefully inadequate in any one thing, the others just can't cope. A fighter can be fast as lightning with great endurance, but if too weak won't be able to do much, if any, damage while he will be crushed by someone much stronger; someone very strong with fair endurance will not be able to touch someone much faster; etc.

5. Timing. You can even be slow if you have good timing. A counter fighter doesn't need speed; just wait and when the time is right as the person moves in do what becomes apparent. Some sensitivity at all levels will be necessary to make timing work; of course, everything else requires some type of sensitivity at some level.

Brother John

Senior Master
Jan 13, 2002
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Wichita Kansas, USA
1. Heart! (Fudoshin)
2. Preparation! (includes training/tactics/experience/conditioning...all in one)
3. Location
4. Location
5. Location

Your Brother


Orange Belt
Feb 5, 2017
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Richmond VA, USA
If you are looking at this from the perspective of martial arts full contact sparring, or bar fights, I guess any of these lists are fine. But if you look at just pure self-defense against a violent attacker, such as taught by William Fairbairn to spies and commandos in WWII, up to Tim Larkin today, they are mostly irrelevant. Barry Drennan, who teaches the Fairbairn Protocol in Canada, has a great video on the "The Four Lies of Self-Defense." I agree with it.

Conditioning is not critical. Street fights are won and lost in the first few seconds. If you don't get taken out immediately, you have to take the other guy out immediately. The fight doesn't last long enough for conditioning to play a role. Strength is not critical. Anyone can take out any attacker if they hit a target area correctly. All the critical targets: eyes, vagus nerve, solar plexus, etc. can be hit by anyone to take them out. Famous WWII spy Nancy Wake was a petite woman, but she killed a German officer with one knife hand strike to the throat.

Speed is not that important in real SD. The technical difference in speed between a champion boxer and the average person is a fraction of a second. Look at Mike Tyson. He had decent speed, but not Ali-level speed. Tyson fought a lot of guys who were faster. The secret is timing, not speed. Technique is important, but not having a lot of techniques. Just one effective technique for each critical area of the body. Like 5-7 techniques total. But those 5-7 have to be drilled and drilled.

My list for real SD against deadly violence would be:
  1. Awareness: On the street, that is part of the fight. The sooner you know it's on, the better for you.
  2. Decisiveness, Aggressiveness, Ruthlessness, etc. You have to decide to kill or maim the attacker. Scoring points doesn't count. You have to go all out. Even most martial artists can't do this. They follow the rules they are taught in class. This is harder than most people think. Decent people are conditioned to be "nice" no matter how tough they are.
  3. Coolness: Keep your wits about you, Even in the chaos and even with the violence. You lose your head, you lose the fight.
  4. Surprise and Timing: Yes, even when the fight is already on. You have to do things the attacker doesn't expect, things he doesn't think you would be capable of, when he doesn't expect it.
  5. Techniques: As I said, only 5-7 of them. Keep it simple.
This approach is proven in some of the most heinous situations imaginable. Tim Larkin talks about a college gal he only got to train for three hours. She wound up killing a serial rapist who broke into her dorm room. There are countless stories like this.