We hope you never find yourself in the position where a physical altercation is inevitable. But if you do, it’s good to have a backup plan, in case you end up face to face with some irrational dick at a bar, or baseball game, or wherever else tensions run high. Here, we talk to some experts on how to come out on top, how to do so quickly, and how to get the hell out of there.
Avoid the Obvious
“Mitigate your risks,” says Patrick Lockton, director and co-owner of the Krav Maga Institute in New York City. Since the best way to win a fight is to stay out of one, he says, be aware of your surroundings. Staring at your phone with your headphones in makes you an easy target on the walk home. And of course, trust your instincts, especially if you’re alone in an unfamiliar area. “Don’t be afraid to say no,” he says. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s best to get the hell out of dodge.
Learn a Quick Combo
If you do find yourself in a fight, we have some bad news for you. Just reading this article alone won’t help you when it’s time to start swinging. “The first thing I’m going to say is that people should practice,” says professional fighter and UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten, who should know. Rutten says that even after he trained for years, he has no recollection of his first few fights because in times of high stress, your adrenaline kicks in and clouds your brain. Luckily, if you practice a short combination a whole bunch — he suggests a knee to the groin, a jab, and an uppercut — the chance of your body just acting without you thinking about it is much higher. At the Krav Maga Institute, Lockton includes stress training, using your skills in high-intensity scenarios or drills that simulate real-life situations, so that when you’re in a moment of high pressure, you’ll have more control over your senses.
Don’t Be Too Proud for a Knee
Both Rutten and Lockton called out a knee to the groin as the easiest, quickest way to end a fight. Rutten, somewhat charmingly, calls it a knee to the pills. “The trick is not to load up,” Rutten says, meaning to give yourself away by shifting your stance to a striking position. “Just throw it. If it connects, you can always deliver a second one where you load up.” Because a knee can be done in close quarters, it’s a great way to do damage and then create distance between you and your opponent. “It’s an obvious vulnerable point,” Lockton says, pointing out that places like the eyes, nose, and ribs are sensitive no matter how muscular your opponent is, and should be thought of as points at which to focus your aggression.
Talk With Your Hands
Talking with your hands in a stressful situation can do two things. First, it will make you unpredictable to your opponent, since, if they’re used to a lot of motion from your hands, then a sudden punch may be an unexpected surprise. Second, keeping your hands moving in front of your body acts as a sly defense. It’s harder to land a punch when a person’s hands are already up, ready to block an attack, right?
“Always use a follow-up,” Rutten says. That means if you’re able to land a punch or a knee to the, uh, pills, drop another one. After all, it’s better to ensure your opponent is down for the count — or, at very least, stunned — before getting out of range and to safety. And about that last part, Lockton says don’t be afraid to be vocal, to draw attention to yourself, and to run away. “Don’t be afraid to run from a situation,” he says. “Some people feel embarrassed, but you should feel no shame.” After all, you’re a grown man: At the end of the day, keeping all of your bones in tact is more important than pretending you’re the Mike Tyson of the corner bar.