We've all watched fight videos on YouTube. It's new to our culture that we get to document random fights as they happen. A few short years ago, before every person in modern society had a HD camera in their pocket, fights would only be "stories" we told other people.
After watching plenty of YouTube fight videos, I realized one thing that I've always known but now realize is more prevalent than I originally thought:
Most people can't fight
I've practiced and studied martial arts and boxing for most of my adolescent and adult life. Below are some of the most common mistakes these YouTube fighters make from what I have seen. These tips may be useful for you if you ever find yourself backed into a corner (I assume these mistakes are probably universal for most of the untrained population).
Now keep in mind, I don't recommend fighting and you should avoid it at all costs, but if you are ever backed into a corner, you have the responsibility to defend yourself.
A few tips on how to not suck in a fight:
1. Punch straight
Most amateur punchers swing their arms wildly--often with a bent wrist-- trying to punch a target. Not only does it look inefficient and sloppy, it is both of these because it's simply incorrect technique.
A correct punch is straight and through your target. Try this: Clench a fist, now with a straight wrist and bent elbow, punch your open hand from left to right slowly. Your wrist and forearm should be a rigid spear thrusting into your hand with no bend or give at the wrist. You will be able to feel the power possible from this simple exercise.
Seems like that would hurt coming fast and with some muscle behind it, right? Only if it comes fast and straight will your punch deliver the power (and actually hit your target).
Don't swing your arm like a bat; your arm isn't heavy or dense enough to be swung like a bat. It must be thrusted through your target; straight, fast, and hard, like a spear.
2. Know how to wrestle and grapple
They say 90% of fights end up on the ground. Just watch MMA and you will see this statistic in action. Learn how to handle yourself on the ground and how to keep a solid center of gravity when someone has you in a clench and is trying to take you down. Footwork, balance, and flexibility are sleeping giants here. (I bet you never thought how your improved fitness will help you in a physical altercation... actually, some of you definitely have.)
3. Know footwork
You must be able to move forward, backward, and pivot side to side. Simple footwork is what makes the best fighters the best. Muhammad Ali would literally dance around his opponents. They could never initiate a solid attack against him because he was always shifting around them. It was impossible to attack him straight on. Knowing how to move towards, away from, and to the side from a forwarding opponent is integral in stand up combat.
4. Know how to breathe and pace yourself
People who don't fight will be tired in the first minute of a real fight. The amount of demand on your system is incredible, and once the adrenaline wears off, forgetttta about it: you are done for. Be conscious of your breathing and your energy levels. Try to keep distance and give yourself time to rest and focus. This will help you fight smarter instead of harder. Those that try to fight harder will always lose to an opponent fighting smarter.
Words of wisdom: avoid fighting at all costs
You can accidentally kill someone, or yourself--neither are useful outcomes. You could also get sued or arrested. It all sucks.
Defend yourself if you feel you are in danger but always try to flight instead of fight. Fleeing is an intelligent response to a threatening situation and it says nothing of your character other than you are more intelligent than the moron trying to engage you.
Don't let a lessor being get you involved in something that could totally ruin your life. That's giving someone else power to control your destiny.
Real self defense should come ONLY when you feel your life is in danger. When that happens, you must be willing to kill your assailant. If you aren't, or don't feel it's necessary, than you should just leave. Simple as that.