Sports Fighting Versus Self Defense Fighting Part II: The Techniques


Sports fighting can be amazing to watch. Participants in MMA and UFC competitions have to train rigorously in order to be able to win. However, the skills necessary to survive in bad street situations are not the same as those needed to win in martial arts tournaments. If you’ve read the first part in this series entitled “Sports Fighting Versus Self Defense Fighting Part I: The Context of the Fight” you know that the situations surrounding street self-defense are very different from those of sporting tournaments. However, the techniques used are different as well.

In a martial arts event, fighters are matched by weight. However, an attacker who is picking a potential victim does not select someone who is roughly equivalent in size. In fact, the opposite is the case. attackers pick opponents who are going to be physically smaller and weaker than they are. This means that the tactics used are very different. Imagine a woman in her 40’s or 50’s who weighs only 115 pounds. If she were matched with someone her own age and weight, she might be able to win a tournament-style fight. However, what if she were attacked by a 250 pound male who has recently gotten out of prison? She would be outranked in size, strength, and experience. What kinds of self defense tactics could she use?

First, some tactics she wouldn’t want to use. It will not work well for a small woman to try to exchange blows or kicks with her attacker. Even if she is very well trained, this approach will not work well simply because of the enormous size difference between her and her attacker. If she were out of training, the situation would be even worse. Even someone roughly the same size as an attacker would not want to trade punches with someone who had a knife or a gun. Relying on out-punching or out-kicking an opponent through a long series of blows simply won’t work.

Furthermore, wrestling won’t work well either. This is not just because of possible strength and weight differences. It is also because some self-defense situations involve multiple attackers. If you get tied down by wrestling one attacker, other attackers can easily attack you from other angles.

Real self defense will teach techniques that would never be used in any kind of sporting event. If a 115 pound woman were attacked by a 250 pound man, no one would think less of her for using eye-pokes or groin kicks or other techniques that might seriously injure or even kill her attacker. She might have to attack in ways that would be far more vicious than any technique that would be allowed or used in any tournament fight. Sport fighting events cannot allow their participants to regularly kill or seriously injure one another. However, successful self defense may require the use of these kinds of techniques.

Self defense also requires techniques that can be used in an instant from a very short range. Sport fighters know exactly where their opponent is and when that opponent is going to attack. Self defense practitioners do their best to be vigilant, but this does not completely exclude the possibility that an attacker may surprise them. Real self defense will involve learning to respond to punches or kicks that are thrown with little or no warning at all.

While there is some overlap between sports fighting and real, street self defense, there are some radical differences in technique. People trained in self defense must know how to deal with a larger, stronger attacker as well as how to deal with guns, knives and other weapons. Self defense will require the use of techniques which rapidly respond to attacks as well. While sports fighting is about winning a match, self defense is about staying safe, avoiding attacks, and, if they occur, ending them quickly and getting away safely.

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