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How To Realistically Train For A Street Fight

One of the things I always emphasize is that you fight as you train. This means that how you train is how you will respond in a real-life threatening situation. If you are lackadaisical in your training, you won’t perform well in a real fight. Remember: if you slack off when you are training for a situation you likely won’t be prepared for it when it occurs. You must make your self-defense training realistic, and you must make it count. To do that I will provide you some valuable tips.


There are MANY instructors out there teaching self-defense and REALITY fighting who have NO CLUE as to what a real fight is like and have probably not been in many as adults. Therefore, having a teacher who has had firsthand experience with violence and understands the effects adrenaline plays on the body is who you as a student want to learn from. Now I know this is not easy, but you want an instructor who has been military and/or law enforcement like myself, or people such as bouncers, bodyguards, and even ex-convicts who can give you realistic tactics that will work in a full out violent attack because they have experienced violence and know what works and what doesn’t.

The last person you want giving you advice on how to survive a real fight is an instructor who runs a strip mall martial arts dojo. They focus on technique, tournaments, and trophies, have usually had no experience with violence and just work based on “guesswork” theory.

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I recommend that you train wearing the types of clothing that you would typically wear while going about your everyday life. During a street fight you won’t get the chance to take your shoes off (I wouldn’t recommend that anyway), put on a white martial arts uniform and stretch before your enemy attacks you. Clothing will restrict your range of motion and the speed of your techniques. This is important to know BEFORE an attack, and you should be practicing your techniques while wearing jeans, boots/shoes, and a jacket on to give you a realistic feel of what it’s like to fight wearing restrictive clothing.

Training Environments

I also recommend that you train in real-world environments. Set up your training area like an apartment or back ally setting. Or better yet, train in an apartment, back alley, or small space with objects and furniture such as bricks, bottles chairs in your environment made of plastic, foam or sponge, so you don’t injure your partner while using them. This way you will learn how to fight in confined areas such as inside a house, night club or back alley and use your immediate environment to take out your attacker. There are always weapons around us if you can pick it up, use it to beat the snot out of your attacker. I was once attacked by three guys and I used a pop bottle I found on a stair to defend myself.

You can train in a dojo if you set up some realistic scenarios. The problem I have with training in martial artists dojo’s is that you get used to fighting in large wide-open spaces. Instead, put furniture around, so you simulate losing focus on your attacker and begin focusing on how restrictive the areas that you are in so that in a real situation, you are ready.

Weapons Disarming Training

When training in weapons disarming train, I suggest you train with rubber or plastic knives that have ink, food dye or lipstick on the blade. This way you will see where you were cut. Have your partner perform random attacks on you so that you do not know what weapon they will use and when they will pull it out just like in the real world.

I also train with real metal (BUT UNSHARPENED) training knives to my students can mentally condition themselves not to freeze up when cold steel is presented to them. It’s a great way to mentally condition yourself, so you are not afraid of knives.

When executing gun disarming techniques use airsoft guns, this way you can see if you got shot while trying to disarm your attacker. Remember to use protective goggles and masks when training in this method.

When practicing pipe, pool cue and machete disarming tactics, use pipe insulation. This will do the trick as they will be softer on impact. This way, you can swing the pipe insulation at full speed using your full range of motion without worrying about hurting your partner or getting hurt.

Weapons Training

I run a Facebook group with over 3,000 Ninjas in it. They practice with ancient ninja weapons and talk about how practical their training is for today. I tell them that the funny thing is that modern ninja would train with MODERN weapons today as they used what was available and practical at the time. When it comes to YOUR weapons training do not get caught up training with weapons that were used hundreds of years ago. No one walks around with bo staffs, samurai swords or Kama’s, or ninja stars anymore.

Learn how to use modern-day weapons such as batons, guns, knives, and pepper spray. Practice drawing your weapon during training sessions and pulling it out while your partner randomly attacks you. Use weapons made of rubber, foam, and containers filled with water to represent pepper spray. There are also pepper spray trainers available that actually sprays water on you.

Crisis Rehearsal

When you are training for realism, randomize your attacks just like in a real-world situation. How many of you are old enough to remember the Pink Panther movies? Inspector Clusoe had a sidekick named Cato who would randomly attack him when he least expected it to keep him sharp. I am not saying to go to this extreme, but you must learn how to improvise to become a skilled street fighter. Your training partner should not tell you how or when the attack is going to happen. You may start on your feet, but it may end up on the ground. While on the ground your partner might pull out a needle, knife or gun. Also train against multiple attackers so you know what to do in situations such as these.


Mindset is VERY important for combat training. Before executing your street fighting tactics, you want to trigger your “killer instinct mindset,” so you become aggressive and control fear. What you want to do is get angry before executing your tactics, this way you are angry, and fear doesn’t set in when you are threatened. By having a trigger image, word or a piece of music that goes off in your head and makes you angry before executing your techniques correlates a habitual response to become upset when a threat occurs and before you execute your tactics. Remember we respond just like how we train.

These tactics will help you prepare for real self-defense much more than what you will get at your local martial art school. I hope you read this article carefully and implement some of my ideas into your training regimen.

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