12 tips on how to survive in a brawl

The self-defense scenario: a brawl

In no case we should be the ones triggering a fight but it may happen that we are involuntarily involved in a brawl.

The self-defense scenario we want to discuss can be, for example, a dispute already started where it is no longer possible to resolve the issue in a peaceful manner (read Self defense: 10 correct attitudes during a quarrel).

In the context of a dispute, our “collateral” involvement can be of various kinds:

  • Casual – We ended up in the middle of a brawl by chance (eg. during a dispute between drunken people)
  • Specific – We are trying to get out from a dangerous situation for us and for those around us (eg. a friend of ours has been attacked)

What to do: a few tips

Without any pretense of completeness, here are some ideas and advice:

  • Protect ourselves – It does not matter what is happening (a verbal quarrel or a physical confrontation), the first thing is to maintain under control the scenario (read Constant attention: what is and how it works) and the second is to always be ready to defend ourselves (read A self-defense trick: the secret guard stances)
  • Assess the situation – We have to quickly assess the situation; what level of violence has been reached (pushes, slander, beating, sexual violence, etc.)? Can our intervention improve or worsen the safety of involved people? To what extent is it legal and reasonable to act?
  • Evaluate the extent of the danger – Let’s rapidly see how many people are involved and how many others can take action later, what are the risks we are running (obstacles, preparation of the aggressors, their psychophysical state, possible weapons, etc.)
  • Plan a safe strategy – Making the necessary assessments, it is necessary to establish an action plan (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method); in a matter of instants we need to identify an optimal solution for us and those who are close to us (eg. a way of escape, read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), as well as a safe mode to achieve it (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • Use negotiation – If possible let’s always try to lower the tones, at any stage of the fight (read Self Defense: 10 Things to avoid in a quarrel); offering a dignified and / or reasonable “exit of scene” for the aggressors (even after the earliest blows exchanges) can save our lives and / or the one of all other people involved (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)

What to do if we have to fight

Unfortunately, not all self-defense scenarios can be solved without recurring to the application of violence, let’s see a few suggestions:

  • Asymmetric fighting – If we have to fight (and this is the last chance, read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence), we must try to gain a strong advantage over our opponents (eg. an improper weapon); the greater the advantage will be, the more we will have the opportunity to prevail (or even to induce the aggressors to desist)
  • Keep the guard high – Let’s always try to keep the guard high (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), a correct distance, a variable rhythm / pace, rational directions of movement and to never end to the ground (read How to avoid the ground fighting); until we continue to move, the attacks of our opponents cannot reach their full potential (if they are not skilled)
  • Keep the aggressors in our vision field – Even if we are strongly attacked we have to continue to see what is happening in the fighting scenario and especially, we must try to do not let ourselves be surrounded; if we do not want (we cannot) escape it is better to have a wall behind us (at a reasonable distance, not attached) than an opponent; the idea is to do not focus only on the adversary we are facing, we need a broad view (read The overall view: see everything, do not look at anything)
  • A good movement strategy – Pitfalls can come unexpectedly from every direction and at any time; let’s choose a free, secure and open motion path that ensures us the best control over space and time; let’s never stop moving but without wasting uselessly energy; let’s move circularly and never in straight lines, this forces (low-level) fighters to lose their attack power (especially if the opponents are more than one let’s move laterally and curvilinearly, so that the opponents hinder each other)
  • Use the surrounding at our advantage – Let’s stay away from all the possible active / passive scenario’s criticalities (eg. stairways, sharp obstacles, etc.); on the other side, if possible, let’s opt for a space displacement that provides tactical advantages (eg. maintaining the sun behind us, safely forcing the adversaries on dangerous terrain, etc.)
  • Do not waste energy – We have to be patient; we have to try to economize the forces, a normal confrontation consumes a lot of energy but a clash that can get involved more opponents costs exponentially more; we do not have to use explosive power (in movements and in striking) if we are not more than sure of the efficacy of the specific action; let’s use credible faints playing on rhythm / pace changes instead that on speed; the best thing is to use the opponents’ strength against them (or, at least, to force them to waste their energies in useless efforts)
  • When the attacks are successful – When we open breaches in the opponents’ guard let’s attack decisively, in sequence, explosively, trying to reach the most sensitive points; the idea is to stop only when we have a “surely safe” option to flee (everything more or less in relation to this can become a serious problem for our life, read Best martial arts for self-defense)
  • Use the right level of violence – To save our life and physical integrity does not mean to violate the others one unnecessarily; even it is hard, it is important to always calibrate our aggressivity in relation to the actual danger level; it makes no sense to strike to the throat someone who has simply given us a push as it makes no sense to be unsure against someone trying to pierce us (or others) with a knife
  • Flee, as soon as possible – As soon as we have the chance to leave the fighting scenario let’s do it; let’s eliminate every desire to fight (regret, rage, etc., read Revenge and resentment, knives taken from the blade side); the transition from reason to wrong is extremely light (especially from a legislative point of view)

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • It should never be forgotten that no one learns how to fight in the street suddenly especially against multiple opponents (as often happens, read How to fight with more than one opponent at the same time) or worse against prepared ones
  • We need daily training, to be prepared for the fight (through sparring) and above all, have tactics / strategies ready for the adaptation / application (through simulations of assaults as realistic as possible)
  • Let’s study, experiment, prepare our bodies and above all let’s learn to prevent the most common critical situations (maintaining rationality and serenity)
  • The world is not such a horrible place, we just need to be rational and pay the right attention

In the next articles of this series, we will deepen the topic.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever seen / faced a brawl?

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