If you want to learn self-defense, you must ensure you are taking the time to properly learn how to defend yourself.
When your life is on the line, one of the worst things you can have is a false sense of confidence.
Being the tough guy and having self-taught fighting skills that have never been pressure tested in a real fight is a recipe for disaster.
This article will help you understand the pros and cons, how to start learning to fight, and the best fighting styles and help you get started.
Can I teach myself to fight?
Yes, you can teach yourself to fight on a limited basis. However, there is only so much you can learn without having someone to help you.
That being said, self-defense is not about fighting. It’s about surviving and getting away from a dangerous situation.
In order to be truly effective at self-defense, you need to be proactive and not reactive. In addition, you need to have the proper mindset and think quickly on your feet.
You also need to be in good physical shape and have the proper training.
The Pros of teaching yourself to fight
Here are some good things about teaching yourself to fight at home:
Muscle memory is critical when it comes to self-defense.
You can start developing this by throwing punches at a heavy bag and learning proper hand placement and footwork.
This will help you develop the muscle memory needed to properly defend yourself in a real-life situation.
There is a reason you see even professional fighters get winded a couple rounds in.
Fighting is tiring, both mentally and physically.
While practicing your striking, you can also work on your cardio by running or doing some other type of cardiovascular exercise.
This will help you build up your endurance so you can better defend yourself when you are tired.
Suppose you can defend yourself and last longer than your attacker. In that case, you have a much better chance of surviving a dangerous situation.
Self-defense training is a great way to get in shape, lose weight, and improve overall health.
You will be surprised at how much better you feel when you are physically fit and have the proper training.
Not only will you be able to defend yourself better, but you will also have more energy and stamina in your day-to-day life.
You’ll be able to move better, think more clearly, and just feel better overall.
The Cons of teaching yourself to fight
There are also some drawbacks to self-defense training:
Learning to fight at home can give you a false sense of security and doesn’t help at all with situational awareness.
You need to be constantly aware of your surroundings, especially if you are in a rough area.
Suppose you are not paying attention and picking up on cues. In that case, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation without even realizing it.
Street fighting is unpredictable and dangerous.
Training with others can help you understand these cues and make you aware of potential dangers.
Lack of Sparring
No one can hit you back when you are training at home.
This can make it difficult to properly gauge your skills and progress.
You need to be able to spar with someone who can fight back in order to get a realistic idea of how well you would do in an actual self-defense situation.
Sparring will also help you learn to control your emotions and stay calm under pressure.
You are not likely to develop Bruce Lee level skills where you are never touched. However, staying focused while taking a few punches will help you become a fighter.
Training at home can give you a false sense of confidence and unrealistic expectations.
You need to understand that self-defense is not about fighting. It’s about surviving and getting away from a dangerous situation.
Fighting should always be a last resort.
Although you may feel like you can properly throw a punch. It is likely you are not properly executing the technique.
A fight coach can help you with your form, footwork, and hand placement and help you learn how to fight the right way.
They can also help you understand the proper mindset for self-defense and how to control your emotions in a fight.
To really level up and have a better chance of protecting yourself in a bar fight, you need to be pressure tested in a safe environment.
A coach can provide this for you and help you learn techniques that actually give you the ability to prepare for any future fights that may come up.
How do I start learning to fight?
If you must begin learning to fight at home by yourself, there are a few things you should do:
Get in Shape
You need to be physically fit to properly defend yourself.
If you are not in shape, you will tire quickly and will not have the strength or stamina to fight back.
Start by doing basic exercises to get your body moving and build up your endurance.
Adding interval training and weightlifting will also help you build endurance, muscle, and power.
Practice punching and kicking a heavy bag, focus mitts, or Thai pads to get used to throwing punches and kicks with proper form and technique.
Watch Videos and Read Books
There are a lot of great self-defense books and videos available that can teach you the basics of fighting.
Some good self-defense books include:
- The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker
- When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake by self-defense expert Tim Larkin
And a good self-defense video include:
Learn the Basics
Before you start trying to learn complex techniques, you need to understand the basics of fighting.
That flying roundhouse kick looks great in the movies, but it may not do you much good in real-world situations.
You need to learn how to throw punches and kicks properly.
You also need to understand the psychology of fighting and what it takes to win a street fight.
Street fights can be brutal, and there is no room for mistakes.
You need to be able to think quickly, make split-second decisions and understand that everything goes.
Join a Gym or Take Classes
The best way to learn how to fight is to join a gym or take classes from a self-defense instructor.
A good self-defense class will teach you the basics of fighting, including properly throwing punches, kicks, and elbows.
You will also learn about different self-defense situations and how to get out of them alive.
Even if you want to start at home, getting in a few self-defense classes here and there can dramatically decrease the timeline for learning proper fighting techniques.
What is the best fighting style to learn?
It can be tough to know the best martial art to learn.
Every person thinks the other guy has a less effective self-defense system.
The truth is, there is no one perfect self-defense system or martial art.
It really depends on your own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
That being said, some martial arts are more effective than others when it comes to self-defense.
Here are some self-defense methods to consider:
Mixed Martial Arts
Mixed martial arts offers a lot of benefits when it comes to hand-to-hand combat.
You will learn how to throw punches, kicks, elbows, and fight when your back is against the wall.
You will also learn grappling and ground fighting blocking techniques. You want to stay off the ground or be able to get to your feet as quickly as possible in real fights.
A mixed martial arts fighter could have a better chance of winning a street fight with enough training.
It is also said that a lack of focus on one technique could also be a downside to learning mixed martial arts.
Muy Thai has a lot of the same benefits as mixed martial arts, but Muay Thai fighters also learn how to use their knees and elbows effectively.
This martial art is known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because fighters use punches, kicks, elbows, and knees in their attacks.
Being able to fight with your knees and elbows can be very useful in a street fight because you have more weapons to use.
Muay Thai fighters also learn to throw powerful leg kicks that can take an opponent down.
It is said that a downside of Muay Thai is that they are not trained in ground fighting.
Boxing is one of the most well-known fighting sports in the world.
Boxers learn how to throw punches with speed and accuracy.
They also learn how to move their head to avoid getting hit.
This is an essential skill to have in a street fight because you want to avoid getting hit as much as possible.
A bonus is that you can find a boxing gym in almost every city.
The downside of boxing is that you only learn how to use your hands and not your elbows or knees.
The downside of boxing is that boxers are not trained in kicks, elbows, or knees.
They are also not trained in grappling or ground fighting.
Krav Maga is a self-defense system that was developed by the Israeli military.
It is designed to be an efficient and ruthless hand-to-hand combat system.
Krav Maga teaches you how to fight when you are outnumbered, defend yourself against weapons, and “fight dirty.”
Krav Maga is not a martial art that focuses on winning trophies or competition. Instead, it is solely focused on real-world self-defense situations.
The downside of Krav Maga is that it can be hard to truly pressure test these techniques. It’s hard to know how you will truly handle being stabbed without actually being stabbed.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on ground fighting.
It is an excellent self-defense martial art for smaller people because it uses leverage and technique to defeat larger opponents.
BJJ is also a very effective martial art for women because it can help them defend against larger and stronger attackers.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters learn how to take an opponent down to the ground, control them, and submit them with submission holds.
The downside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that it can be challenging to spar with a partner who doesn’t know how to properly grapple. This can lead to injuries if you are not careful.
They also don’t focus on striking, which can be helpful in de-escalation or giving you the space you need to get away.
I’ve seen a couple well-placed punches to the face make the aggressor realize this likely will not go well for him, and he back down.
This video is fascinating, and I bet you can’t guess which martial arts techniques are considered the best by this former officer and self-defense instructor.
How long does it take to learn to fight?
It can take three years to master martial arts, depending on which art you choose to study and how much time you put in. If you are starting off home without instruction, it can take twice as long.
However, suppose you are just looking to be able to defend yourself in a street fight. In that case, you can learn the basics of many martial arts relatively quickly.
Controlling the distance of an attacker and giving yourself room to move is extremely valuable.
These are important because they can hit you if you are too close to an opponent. But on the other hand, keeping your distance gives you more opportunities to stay safe and minimize damage.
Another example is learning how to roll and fall properly. This can help you avoid getting knocked out or seriously hurt if thrown to the ground.
There are a lot of martial arts and self-defense training out there, so it really depends on which one you want to learn.
Each martial art has its own focus and techniques.
Decide based on your goals and what you want to learn. For example, an obvious choice would be something that doesn’t have a competition focus if you want to focus on self-defense.
How do you get good at fighting?
The best way to get good at fighting is to spar with a partner or take martial arts classes.
You can learn by studying videos and books, but nothing beats real-life experience.
Sparring gives you the opportunity to try out different techniques and see what works and what doesn’t against a live opponent.
It allows you to figure out what you are good at so you can hone those techniques to be more effective.
Maybe you realize that you can effectively use a leg kick to set up a right hook, for example.
If a fight starts now, you have knowledge that can end a real fight quickly and give you the opportunity to get away.
This is not about going multiple rounds and standing toe to toe like in a boxing match.
Your goal is to stay safe and get away as quickly as possible.
Learning how to fight takes time, dedication, and patience.
You need to be willing to put in the work if you want to be able to defend yourself properly.
Start by learning the basics and slowly adding more complex techniques to your repertoire.
Use home training only as a starting point if finances or time is an issue.
Doing something is better than nothing but martial arts classes will give you a significant edge.
Take the time to find a good instructor you can trust and with your best interests at heart.
Ongoing training is essential to maintain your skills and keep your techniques sharp.
Remember, the goal is not to become a martial arts master or professional fighter.
The goal is to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones in a real-life situation.
With that in mind, martial arts training can give you the skills and confidence to stay safe and protect those you care about.