How I Won Every Street Fight in My Life (Without Breaking a Sweat)

Listen…

Would you believe me if I told you I’ve won 100% of the street fights in my life?

It’s true.

This might sound weird – I know what you’re thinking:

“OH MY FREAKING GOSH! I didn’t know Jesse-san was a vicious street fighter! “

Chill out!

You’re right.

I’m not a “street fighter”.

In fact, I’m a total wuss; in 9 times out of 10 I prefer to stay home, eat a slice of carrot cake & read my Karate books instead of rolling through the hood with the homies.

But…

It’s also true that I’ve won 100% of the fights in my life.

How?

By never allowing them to happen.

Because to win without fighting is the greatest victory.

You see…

I’ve had many friends who’ve been kicked down, beaten up and even robbed.

From hearing about their horrible experiences, I’ve noticed something strange; no matter how much they bench press, or how many boxing classes they take, they keep getting into stupid fights.

It’s like some people attract violence!

Why?

I believe they lack something critical:

Awareness.

Like I said, the reason I’ve never been defeated in a real fight is because I’ve never allowed myself to end up in a situation where a fight was likely to happen.

And that’s how I win – over and over again.

I literally don’t let people know they could have fought me!

How?

By following 5 simple steps of awareness.

Check it:

  • Don’t frequent shady places. But if you do, stay away from drunk people and weirdos. If you’re out clubbing, go home before the bar is empty. You don’t need to stay until closing time.
  • Never walk, talk or act like a potential victim. Have swag. Carry yourself with an aura of strength. Don’t look like easy pray. Ooze confidence. Just don’t do it in people’s face, because that might actually provoke them. Try to sense peoples intent and adjust accordingly.
  • See the trees, not the forest. Instead of looking right in front of your nose, try to see what’s going on twenty steps ahead. Take note of details. Like Wayne Gretzky, the legendary ice-hockey player, once said; “I don’t skate where the puck is. I skate where the puck is going to be”. Make it a habit to observe people’s body language from a distance. That way you can be proactive in your choices and actions.
  • Swallow your ego. There have been many instances where I could have ended up in a fight. But I avoided it by letting the other person think they “won”. Many fights start verbally, so if you let the agressor think they won with words, you don’t have to make your fists talk. Ignore your pride. It’s better to have a broken ego than a broken jaw.
  • Surround yourself with good people. The saying “you’re the average of your 5 closest friends” is very true. If you surround yourself with short-tempered, insecure and emotionally unstable people, you’re likely to end up in fights. A lot of violence is domestic. So make your environment safe and enjoyable – including the people in it. Stay away from loose cannons.

The list goes on and on…

Again, it’s all about a-w-a-r-e-n-e-s-s.

The bottom line is simply that I don’t enjoy fighting people. I hate getting hurt & I hate hurting others. That’s why I do my best to avoid it – without acting paranoid or crazy.

Don’t be a “martial artist”.

Be a smartial artist.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue your enemy without fighting.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War (6th century B.C.)

Avoid fights.

You win.

43 Comments

  • Ryan-san
    I find this post funny because this is exactly what we were learning during training today. coincidence?!?!?
    • Great minds think alike? ;-)
      • Pete Mercado
        Our mind is our strongest weapon. Martial arts training helps develop it in a way that surpasses physical strength alone. Thank you for shedding light on this most important topic. Children and adults can benefit from this important lesson.
  • A great point, sir. When guys brag about about how many fights they've been in, I always think, "Man--you're doing something wrong!"I mean, shouldn't a self-defense expert be the guy who knows how to avoid dangerous situations instead of always fighting his way out of them? Yep!"A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it." Albert Einstein
    • Talaniel
      Yeah, isn't it something even Funakoshi said? To avoid fighting is the best way?
    • Our mind is our strongest weapon. Martial arts training helps develop it in a way that surpasses physical strength alone. Thank you for shedding light on this most important topic. Children and adults can benefit from this important lesson.
  • arjun
    This is nice one Jesse. We should always control our mind. We know karate it does not mean we end up with stupid fights. Only during critical conditions we should use our skills. That's what in shotokan we say " refrain from violent behavior"
  • True story: I pulled over to help a baby black bear that was hit by a car and dying, it's twin was already dead. There was a line of slow moving cars going by. One car stopped and a man with a long telephoto lens got out and started taking pix of the dying bear. I stepped in between him and bear to block his shot. My wife and he exchanged words and he became aggressive, shoved my wife aside and came at me. He shoved my wife....bells and whistles in my head go off! Every fibre of my body wanted to tune this guy up. I raised my hands up in front of me in semi-defensive posture and simple said...."you might want to rethink this as I have a "black belt". There was no ego in my statement only calm words of fact that he could see on my face I think. I'm not a big guy and he had only seen an easy mark until I spoke...then he backed down and got back in his car and it was over. I won without fighting by using my head not my emotions. I tell this story to my student to highlight how karate can diffuse a situation hat seems inevitable as log as you keep your cool and use your head. Now in retrospect I probably should have never antagonized him by blocking his shot...that would have avoided the situation altogether. I only thought of protecting the dignity of a helpless creature. Thinking back as well I would NEVER tell anyone that I even practice karate unless the situation had already reached inevitable confrontation...that could only provoke somebody to a challenge. That being said, I've never had to use my physical karate, but I get to use my karate everyday to avoid negative things and promote positive things in my life...how cool is that. Thanks for this post Jesse.
    • Aaron jackson
      You shouldve fought him with a strong technique, because he assaulted your wife
      • Gonçalves
        I have to disagree, he coulda've killed the guy, just because of a shove? not worth the years in jail for one simple shove. He did the right thing, that was defuse the situatio, as we should all do.OSS
    • I do something else .I tell everybody that im a cop and backup is already on the way
  • Rob
    Perfectly timed article! Just last night at training, one of our young students (about 12 years old) asked me if I've ever had to "use my karate." His eyes lit up when I told him that, in fact, I've had to use it several times. Then when I reminded him that our first goal in karate is awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation, he wasn't quite as happy with the answer. LOLI told him, "I think the question you really wanted to ask was whether I've ever had to use violence to defend myself?" When he said "yes". I then replied, "no, thankfully, I haven't and I hope I never do"
  • Josep
    Rule number 2 is very good, very important.But I will leave the disco when I get bored, not before hehe.
    • tanner
      look im 6'4" and bench 650 but i have still had people attempt to mug me , why i carried myself like a little bitch so i agree with #1.
  • Regarding your observation about people getting into "stupid fights"; I once spoke with a Master of Genwakai Karate. He explained the philosophy of their style to me in that aggression and violence from another person was the result of something they were missing in themselves, which they sensed in another person.Instead of asking that person for "help" in learning what was missing, it caused anger, resulting in aggression.He went on to explain that aggressive people deserve our compassion when possible, not violence.All that he said, made perfect sense to me and seems applicable to what you've said in your blog post.Swallow your ego -
  • Ben Brown
    16th precept of Master Gichin Funakoshi:When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.It's not paranoia , simply awareness.
  • Ossu! [bow] Choosing not to fight might have saved my life once... http://abeginnersjourney.bloggersonline.com/?p=28 [bow]
    • Alex
      Thank you for that post (both part 1 and 2)! Though Jesse's intentions are in the right place, it does simplify the nature of violence in society, especially the most common kind - domestic.Staying away from bars and dark alleys is easy enough, but what if home - the place most of us think of as our safe haven - is somebody else's hell on Earth? What do they do? Stay aware? I think they're aware enough and terrified enough to tide thousands of "aware" Karateka over.Whatever way a person can find to get out of such a situation is worth infinitely more than the "stranger danger" or "Bar War" approach we have in general, and frankly, if the Karate community wants to claim that it understands Self Defense, that's where it needs to look. Self defense, not just in the parking lot, but Self Defense in one's entire life and every aspect of it. If Karate truly can play a part in that, that's great. If awareness plays a part in that, that's great.But ultimately the issue is of such a grave nature - and unfortunately I use the term "grave" intentionally - that I don't care if the solution comes from Karate (though I love Karate). I would just be happy to see a world where everybody can feel safe in their homes. Think on this - for some people, Christmas Eve is the most horrifying day imaginable. It's going to take a lot more than Parking Lot Fu, to solve the cause of that.
      • Agreed, Alex-san. Thanks for the input. I actually tried to include domestic violence in my last point - hope it made sense.
  • This post just reminded me of The Little Black Book of Violence (you can read parts of the book on publisher's site: http://ymaa.com/files/B1293-Little-Black-Book-Violence.pdf )The first part is all about how to avoid fighting. Even the parts that talk about fighting, supposing the reader didn't manage to deescalate the situation and avoid it (the other two parts are "during the fight" and "after the fight") always warn the reader that fighting is a terrible solution, how to end it sooner and how to avoid getting into another fight.
  • Good morning, bonjour!I'm 10000% with you on this one. Sadly, too many people have an ego bigger than themselves and avoiding a potential fight doesn't sound cool or manly to them. Well i'd rather be safe than "manly", always...Btw, Jesse-san, i've just read (10 min ago) this quote by Iain Abernethy: "Self-defence is not about fighting so you win; it's about winning so you don't fight".Coincidence? As you said, great minds think alike. Great post, as always!
  • Aihki
    While acting like sober and with confidence is OK, there is one better, be a grey man in the back ground just barely visible but dot stand out. Possibly a confident grey man would be even better.
  • James Garr
    Regarding the importance of confidence: I got in fights when I was a kid all the time. Why? Most of the time because I was bullied. Why? Because I was physically very small is what I thought was the reason at the time. Now, I realize that's not entirely true. It's true I was always the smallest kid, but there were other kids that were small that did not get bullied, but as a kid I didn't think about that.I got bullied because I was afraid and I let everyone see it. I didn't walk or talk confidently, and I had a very poor self image. At the time I thought of myself as a victim. In hindsight, I was an annoying person; I didn't trust or like other people. How could I when I didn't like myself? Bullies go after those they think are weak, usually to impress or amuse others, and if that person is socially awkward or annoying it waves a red flag in front of them because it becomes socially acceptable to bully you. If you dislike yourself, you can't expect anyone else to like or respect you.Find out what you hate about yourself and work on it. I hated being small so I lifted weights and gain 80 pounds of muscle over many years. I hated being defenseless, so I learned to fight. Now I don't need to, at least not so far.
    • Israel
      James- I had a similar problem when I was younger. The difference being that I was not really all that small. But I lacked confidence, I showed that I was afraid. It took me some time to realize this and to learn to show confidence even when I did not always feel it. Now, between martial arts and my time in the military I know how to show confidence at all times. And have not been in a fight since.
    • Wow! We share a similar story. Thanks for having the courage to tell it. Your insight on "bully-behavior" is right on as well. There are so many stories about why many who train in martial arts started Their journey. Ours is not unique but important to share. Thank you
  • Singh
    Jesse-san This is amazing. It is very true. My sensei told me that saying and it was correct. One of my best friends is so aggressive if you poke him he'll try to punch you
  • Jude
    Like many of your posts, great advice and insightful. Thank you.Humbly, I believe to take in the 'big picture' and be aware of one's surroundings, you would want to 'see the forest, not the trees' as the old adage implies.Thank you again, Jesse-san.
  • bw docta
    thank you Jesse...you are the best mate.. i've just started reading your karate articles and hey im enjoying everyone of them...learning a lot of stuff...thank you
  • Tiago
    Sometimes I didn't predict a fight, so I was kinda "forced" to enter on it, but I didn't fight, I just block the dude so he didn't do nothing and then called the police, anybody got hurt and I was congratulated more then if I won the fight really fighting. I know that sometimes is hard to do it, but I think the best way is the Jesse-Way.
  • N.D
    That being said, when Sun Tzu said "fighting without fighting", he was referring to logistically depriving your opponents from sustenance or poisoning their well water...So, someone might interpret that as "hitting the big dude in the back of the neck with the lead pipe is safer than trying to step in the cage with him".Sun Tzu was about efficiency, not pacifism. He also said, "attack what is weak, avoid what is strong". (I think that's a basic mugger 10 commandments)-from the other side of the fence.
  • N.D
    Choki Motobu would have had a thing or two to say about all this, I'm sure.
  • Jay park
    To be fair I was quite annoyed at this article, I was looking for actual tips since I have a competition coming up. :/ you can't exactly win a fight by not being in one in a FIGHTING competition. URgHNice post for peaceful hippy stuff tho.
    • A competition is not a street fight, Jay-san. A plastic trophy cannot be compared to your life. Keep this in mind. Good luck in your competition!
  • Hickson son
    Guys confident or not, whether it shows or not. If people pick on you or did that's pathetic. Sure it happens when you're a kid but of it happens after then those people de just weak effed up pussies. Have a few red bulls and I feel like a wreck, my confidence goes and I'm over thinking. I do feel a bit weak when that happens. It's interesting because pre red bull I'm very confident, relaxed and strong, unphased. But I know what you mean. I feel like in this state I'm vulnerable and people can see that. It's funny how no one would fuck with me before that, but in my " weak " state they would do stuff they normally wouldn't do. People are scum. Try and take advantage. I can't stand when random strangers look me in the eye when this happens because they deem me as " weak " so yeah people will prey on others. No red bull when I'm relaxed and confident no one states me down because they can see I'm relaxed and confident.Lucky I'm a nice guy and avoid fights because I could easily fuck them up and have in the past, on red bull or not. After growing up and getting into some fights you get smarter and wiser want to avoid it, not to damage and make amends from the past.Enough rambling. Street fighting is about seizing the moment. If you do not seize it, unless natural reactions take over you will not " win " a street fight can break out in an instant in many different ways. One fight to the next can be completely different. It could be in a bar, at a football game or in a side street. You can't be a nice guy on the street. You have to be a cold blooded killer. Don't be a dick head if the guy has had enough stop. It's not point sparring, it's not a boxing match where you're devising strategies etc. It's seek and destroy. I just read another article before this one. Good advice " don't think on what he could do, assume he's a great fighter and good at everything. Focus on the here and now "Don't pump the guy up to be something he's not or could be. Focus, and fight the fight for what it is. Chances the pretty damn good he's no Floyd mayweather or Jon jones Jnr.
  • Hickson son
    Be brutal. Seize the imitative and the moment IF YOU HAVE NO CHOICE. You can't be a nice guy on the street. Be a nice guy and feel bad after the fight and you are safe. Be brutal and ruthless. Once the threat is over be sensible and don't hurt the guy anymore than you have to. Get the hell out of there ASAP as well.Punch to the face Grapple and knees to he head and body Don't over analyse Throw a combination then cover up if you havnt landed Always expect attacks coming backOne-two punch followed by leg kick and reverse are good tools to use
  • Hickson son
    For those that have been bullied i feel for you. I can assure you it came back to those bullies and five times worse!!!!!Train hard but train effective. Dedicate to your training. But that means adequate rest too. Meditation is awesome and stretching! Also there is no substitute for the real thing and no I'm not telling you to get into fights. You just don't know how you will go until you're in that situation which is hopefully never. Firing a gun at paper targets under no pressure can be easy but in real life when a criminal is firing back at you and your life is on the line the pressure is really on. You will be dealing with stress and adrenaline.Breathing and focus very important in a fight. If you feel very threatened and think your aggressor is going to attack you, then you become the aggressor and turn the tables on him. Strike first.Cobra Kai " strike first, strike hard , no mercy sir "Lol From. Karate kid. That's actually true .
  • As always a simple & amazing article! Simply amazing :) Keep up the legendary work Jesse, Your also one of my teachers now im applying most of your simply amazing theories into my schools. I get into issues all the time which some are unavoidable.. but karate has saved my life. Thanks :)
  • Karate nerd cuber
    this is very true. i do this every time
  • am eager to know those techneeks, but i have no support,
  • RagdeTT
    Hi!How do you know karate works?
  • Just remember that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. That goes true to fighting someone for whatever reason (defending your life or that of a loved one excluded). Especially if your skill level is high, why beat someone you know you can right? That makes you the bully.
  • Colin
    Nice article. I used to be that kid who had no confidence and had taken one beating too many, so I signed up and started my journey in martial arts. This alone gave me the tools to defend myself - not with violence, but with confidence in myself...The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities… It is best to win without fighting. Sun Tsu - The Art of War
  • Judith
    "Swallow your ego". I want to add in this point, if you are hurt because of some verbal fight, you can praise yorself fore one minute. Which good qualities do you have? Maybe you are a good frined, maybe you are smart, maybe you are funny, etc. At least I find I feel hurt for far less time.

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