Everybody says they know that action movies are fake, but they secretly, deep down believe that’s what fighting is like. But in the real world, it turns out …
Your fist are not full of just fury
A punch should be the easiest thing in the world. Just make a vaguely ball-like shape with your hand and let the beatings commence. In the movies, everyone from lab scientists to sassy sidekicks throw punches all the time, with no ill effects to anyone but the recipient, who tends to be knocked out without a hitch. The worst case scenario is that the punch has no effect and the opponent will simply be amused.Here’s the problem — the hand is a pretty delicate thing. A fight-worthy fist is a lot more than just a bunched-up hand — developing your curled fingers into a punching tool takes years of training. Even real boxers get it wrong often enough that the most common injury caused by punching failure is known as boxer’s fracture.
So, what’s the worst that could happen? Well … everything, really. There are at least as many ways to break your own fist with your opponent’s body as the other way around. Say you align your fingers ever so slightly wrong. Too bad, they are now broken. Hit the target with the wrong knuckle? Enjoy the dislocation of said knuckle. Get the angle wrong? Congratulations, you now have a broken wrist.OK, you think, you’ll just have to get it right in one shot. You’re not going to go 15 rounds with the drunk in the bar, after all. You’re just going to punch him right in the face and knock his ass out with one blow. Well, the problem is …
Punching Someone in the Head is a Bad Idea
Socking a dude right in the jaw tends to be our default response to a physical threat once the “fight” side of the fight-or-flight response takes over. And a lifetime of movies has taught us that a hard smack in the jaw can end a fight in seconds.
For the average Joe like you, attempting the classic knockout blow to the head is distilled stupidity. Think about it: The head is a small, moving target — and therefore pretty much the dumbest place you can attack. And missing your punch is what happens if you’re lucky.As the head is basically the hardest part of the human body, a connecting blow actually means you stand a better chance of breaking a hand (yours) than breaking a face (your opponent’s). Aside from all the “your fists are as fragile as toothpicks” stuff we just finished talking about, remember that the human skull isn’t just hard, it’s also sharp. Angle your punch wrong, and you might drive your hand directly into the teeth. Hey, that’s why you just want to kick the dude, right? Well, the problem there is …
Most Kicks Are Pointless
We accept that this point is a lot harder to believe. After all, a kick is bound to pack a lot more power than a punch, if only because the leg is so much bigger and stronger than the arm. Surely, your legs are an ultimate weapon when push really comes to shove. Once again, we have stumbled upon a common misconception, fueled by a gazillion Hollywood action stars and video game protagonists.Sure enough, a properly delivered high kick or roundhouse can be an instant game changer … if you’re an accomplished martial arts master in a controlled environment, that is. Are you that? Probably not.Kicks are hard to master and execute properly. In fact, the effectiveness of anything that could be considered a “high kick” in a real self-defense situation is under debate, even in the martial arts community.For the average person with no practical training under their belt, kicks (especially high ones) are slow, cumbersome, easily avoidable things that lack power, take a lot of energy and leave you in an extremely vulnerable position for a counterattack.
The only kicks that are considered relatively effective when both people are upright are the fairly low ones to the shins and (of course) testicles, which even your average citizen should be able to execute semi-correctly on the second or third try.
Your Opponent Really Does See It Coming
Telegraphing is your body’s natural reaction in a fighting situation. In other words, your DNA is literally conspiring against you in a fight. You can’t help it, any more than you can help that sharp intake of breath before a sneeze. Before you strike, or do anything, your body automatically goes through a series of giveaway preparatory motions. What exactly these motions are vary on the individual and the attack. Some of them just throw the opponent a tip about what’s about to go down, such as cocking your arm back before a punch or shifting your weight before unleashing a kick.The overall effect amounts to the opponent being able to easily avoid or counter your blows, if they are paying attention to the situation at all (and once you start throwing punches, it’s a safe bet that they are). Even if they’ve never been in a fight in their life, it doesn’t take Bruce Lee to see that your sudden, aggressive, full-body convulsion is an indication that it’s time to dodge.
By this point you might be a little confused, because by debunking every little technique, we’re making it sound like fighting isn’t even a thing, like fights don’t even occur in the real world. And of course they do, you’ve seen YouTube videos of them.But what we’re trying to say is…
Not Everyone Can Win a Fight
The reason is that most of fighting is being willing to fight. The good fighters are not necessarily big and strong — size and strength are in fact far less important in a real fighting situation than we commonly believe.
There are three ways to prepare for a fight: learn fighting skills, have the confidence to face an opponent and know when to walk away.