Street Wise Survival


            Most Martial Artists can train for a lifetime and never have to use their training skills. Smart folks know that if they avoid troublesome areas or dangerous situations, the possibility of physical confrontation is at the lower end of the self-defense scale.


            Also, by apologizing when a possible flare-up could occur, or by simply walking away, a bad situation simply may just fade away. This is the ultimate method of self-defense. No one gets physically or emotionally hurt.


             However, it is always best to be prepared for that one chance in a hundred, a flat tire that happens in a bad neighborhood, The angry motorists that is filled with road rage, the drunk that you meet on the street, the school or work bully, the stalker, the rapist, the holdup, the house break in, etc. Many times these events come out of nowhere and happen in a split second. This is the time when you suddenly discover whether your martial arts training dealt with actual street survival or whether you are a paper tiger.  You may be good at winning tournaments, putting on exciting demonstrating, or are an excellent instructor in your particular style or art, but can you really save your life or your loved ones when the bad guys strike? At MPKA, we divide our training down this middle, half is for the art and half is for the street. What works in the street depends on the individual, and what his/her skill level is. Personally, I emphasize, stick to the basics, practice them until they become second nature, and find class time to practice reality street stress training. This includes surprise attacks employing hands, feet, chokes, grabs, takedowns, weapons, partners and gang attacks. The attackers may be angry, shout out loud commands, and do erratic things.   


            Now is not the time for the defender to think of techniques that might work in a given situation, it is the time to just react and to perform over and beyond your skill level. Now how do we do this? There is a major difference between performing technique with a class partner and using technique against a vicious street attacker.  This is exactly what we are going to deal with here, the saving of a life. There are certain underlying factors that determine victory or defeat in the streets, going home or to the hospital, or worse, to the mortuary.

  1. There are no street rules, so fight dirty. Scratch, bite, claw, hit, kick, spit, and tear, whatever it takes. If your life is in danger, look around for a weapon to use, instead of your bare hands. Remember the old adage, “I rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.” Survive first, and worry about the legal system later.    
  2. Target areas are eyes, throat, groin, or whatever it takes to save a life. Don’t waste time; make your defense short and quick. If your attacker is full of rage and fury, only the most crippling techniques will work.
  3. The best defense is a strong offense. If you must defend, then use the element of surprise and attack first. Remember, you are dealing with a violent criminal who is determined to end your days on earth.
  4. Kick low and kick hard. Work on the attacker’s legs and bring him down to his knees. No fancy high kicks as seen on the TV or in the theatre. Simply kick his legs again and again.
  5. There is nothing to be said to a violent attacker. Do not warn him to put him on the alert. Act immediately. The criminal sees a warning as a challenge and prepares himself for battle. Do not let him have the upper hand mentally.
  6. Expect to absorb some punishment. Your goal is to emerge victorious with less injuries than your attacker. When flesh meets bone in hard contact, injuries will occur.  Keep them to a minimum. Muggers and criminals are tough people, and they are experienced in the ways of the street. There is a vast difference between being cut with a knife on the arm, and being stabbed in the stomach, one is an injury, the other may end your life.
  7. Stay in top physical shape. The tough have a good chance of survival. The weak have no chance at all. Your martial arts training should include rugged physical workouts. I have often said” The way you practice in class is exactly how you will defend, (or not defend) in the street.” Practice hard, you may survive, practice soft, and you will lose.
  8. Keep a watchful eye on your surroundings, every moment of the day and night, especially if you find yourself in unfamiliar territory or situations. Be alert, be prepared, and be safe. The rules are, there are no rules. Information can be found on and also in my book “Riding the Wind.” (Now under revision)


Simple Examples are:

    1. Walk down the middle of the sidewalk.
    2. Check the inside of your vehicle before entering.
    3. Follow all home security guidelines.
    4. When eating out, always sit facing the door.
    5. Look around when shopping.
    6. Always be observant and notice the little things that could determine a dangerous situation.
    7. There is no defense against a sucker punch or a surprise attack, be alert and sharpen your mental and physical reflexes.


  1. Stay on your feet. Determine not to end up on the ground. Even though 90% of all fights end up on the ground, if you are properly trained, act swiftly, are in good physical condition, and know your basics well, strike first, strike fast, and if possible, vacate the danger area as rapidly as you can, your chances of survival are greatly increased.
  2. Visualize various methods of attacks, in different surroundings, and imagine how you would react mentally and physically. Once your mind records these imaginary scenarios, your reaction time and stress management will vastly improve. This earthly body is the only one you will have, and life is short enough without outside influences trying to shorten it even more. Become the tiger, the ninja, or whatever it takes to survive. Check your martial arts training and ask yourself if you really believe that you could survive a street life and death confrontation. Don’t ask your instructor, just ask yourself. If the answer is, “I am not sure.” Than begin that special training NOW.


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This page was last updated on 07/05/07    

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