Self defense, martial clash and war clash

The most brutal types of fighting

After having described the peculiatiries of declared techniques, sparring and sportive fight (read Declared techniques, sparring and sport competition), we conclude the discussion about the 6 general types of martial confrontation with:

  • Self-defense
  • Martial clash
  • War clash


Normally it is not a voluntarily chosen fight (read Self-Defense: is it possible to always be ready to fight?), almost always it is againt unexpected people (with more or less experience, more or less weapons, often poorly determined):

  • Protections – Almost never we are lucky enough to wear protections if not improvised (eg. a jacket draped over our arm)
  • The battlefield – These clashes occur in random places (at home, in the street, in a club, etc.), devoid of boundaries and filled with dangerous obstacles
  • Level of danger – According to the casuistry the blows have middle-low speed / power and the aggressors have middle-low level of technique and determination (naturally, if we talk about street criminals, the danger increases considerably); in extreme cases the opponents directly attempt to our lives (eg. a vengeance)
  • Weapons involved – In case of involvement of weapons (firearms, cutting, acids, etc.) these are obviously real, or at least, realistic enough to fool us and apply for persuasive and / or life-threatening purposes
  • The goal – Our goal is to flee and / or to make the most inoffensive as possible the opponents, not directly to prevail on them (the idea is to protect our integrity and the one of those around us, read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method)
  • How it ends – In general, the clash ends with the escape, the yield, the lock of the attackers (immobilization, ko, etc.) and / or the arrival of law enforcement
  • The rules Self-defense fighting has no rules beyond wrong or right, to decide to fight on the street is a choice to consider carefully because in addition to expose us to serious physical dangers (from physical pain to, for example, the contact with infected blood), it also exposes us to countless legal problems (excess of defense, etc., read Best martial arts for self-defense)
  • Law – Self-defense is permitted by law but at the same time, strictly regulated (it is very important that each martial arts practititioner gets informed about what he can or cannot do in his country)
  • Level of mental stress – Emotional stress due to the clash (that is 90% of the times unexpected, unwanted or emotive) is extremely high (read Self-defense and mental preparation: what they do not tell you)

The martial clash

The most clear example of martial clash is the classic duel between warriors (eg. as was the case in the past between the ancients samurai):

  • Protections – In some cases armors are weared (metal, wood, woven fabrics, etc.), in others not
  • The battlefield – Sometimes the fight is spatially delimited but these clashes can take place everywhere; they can be in public places (arenas, battlefields, etc.), in the middle of nature (eg. in a forest), etc.  but normally in an area which is suitable for the type of combat (not randomly chosen)
  • Level of danger – The martial clash happen norbally between expert warriors, so it can involve high-level speed, power, technique and extreme determination; in many cases the opponent is mutilated or killed
  • Weapons involved – In case of involvement of weapons these are almost always real (firearms, cutting, etc.) and are applied for lethal purposes
  • The goal – The goal is to prevail at the cost of living
  • How it ends – The battle may end with the surrender, death, through the mercy of the winner or the unexpected intervention of third entities (potentates, allies, etc.)
  • The rules – This martial confrontation can have specific written rules, may have some tacitly implied, or none at all but in a lot of cases it still maintain the “martial respect” of the opponent (eg. balanced clashes 1 vs 1)
  • Law – Any type of real martial clash is (rightly) not allowed in any civilized country and it is severely punished by law
  • Level of mental stress – Emotional stress due to the clash is extremely high but if the involved fighters are true warriors, they should be used to manage it

A note by Master Kongling – Although the duels may appear to be a legacy of the past, it is not so uncommon to hear reports of martial clashes ending in death (or serious injuries). I remember in particular a fight filmed by surveillance cameras in a parking lot (between 2 Filipinos) who fought for no holds barred with real traditional edged weapons.

The war clash

It is the worst type of combat, it occurs in the most horrible situations of war (or guerrilla) context and tends to be devoid of any ethical or moral limitations:

  • Protections – In many cases reinforcement are weared (bulletproof corsets made in metal, new generation materials, etc.), in others not
  • The battlefield – Clashes occur in any kind of place, they are never delimited nor temporally nor spatially; they are almost always in the presence of random dangerous obstacles (eg. dilapidated houses) or imposed (eg. traps)
  • Level of danger – The combat dynamics could include speed, power, technique, extreme determination and often furtivity; the opponent can be captured as a prisoner and / or killed
  • Weapons involved – In case of involvement of weapons (90% of the times), they are always real (firearms, cutting, etc.) and are applied for lethal purposes or immobilization (eg. capture of prisoners)
  • The goal – The goal is to prevail at the cost of life, by any means or deceit (preferably disproportionate)
  • The battle may end with the surrender, death or capture of the opponents
  • How it ends – The war confrontation has no rules and rarely involves respect for opponents (despite the presence of international conventions)
  • Law – In a civil environment, the war clash is (deeply) illegal and severely punished; its only “legal” application can take place within a military body under army jurisdiction
  • Level of mental stress – Emotional stress due to the clash is the maximum conceivable (this kind of battles can last days, weeks, months, etc.); many soldiers suffer severe psychic trauma, due to prolonged exposure to a level of mental stress outside the norm

Final notes

  • There are a lot of intermediate types of clash / fight (for example, clandestine fighting) but this is only the rational scheme we will use to describe the whole range
  • We want also to stress that 6 Dragons Kung Fu hates and refuses violence, its improper use and promotes peace (read Violence and martial arts); once Bruce Lee said “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war”
  • One of the main reasons why it makes sense to understand these distinctions is that no matter how tough a sporting match may seem, it will never come close to the level of stress, complication and danger of a clash without limitations (read What is the difference between real fights and combative sports)

A note by Master Kongling – Remember: in no case does it make sense to voluntarily look for what goes beyond sparring or sports competitions. The use of violence represents the worst humiliation of the human intellect (read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence).

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What is the most dangerous combat type, in your opinion?

Author: Master Kongling

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