Fighting should be avoided, but not at all costs. There comes a time when the best course of action is to lay someone out. When that time comes is not the time when you want to figure out how to do it. Being good at violence is not the same as being violent. If you’re unable or unwilling to use physical force to defend yourself and those around you, then you live at the mercy of those are able and willing.
Defuse the Situation
Your first goal in any threatening situation should be to attempt to defuse the threat without fighting. Being able to walk away from a situation is always preferable to throwing fists. Getting into a physical fight means that you failed to defuse the situation. You were unable to talk the aggressor down and you were unable to walk away from the situation. Your only remaining option was to defend yourself.
Draw and Hold the Line
Before you lift your fists or throw a punch, draw a line in your mind that, if crossed, authorizes you to punch the aggressor. Say to yourself, “If he pushes me or bumps his chest into me after I’ve told him not to, he’s crossed the line.”
You can choose to inform the aggressor how much you’re willing to tolerate and where the line is, but this is often seen as a challenge rather than a warning and will often cause the aggressor to intentionally cross the line just to see if you will hold it.
If the aggressor crosses your line, it’s time to fight. At this point, you accept that you’re going to have to punch the aggressor and that there will be consequences. In your decision making process, you’ve chosen that the consequences resulting from the fight are preferable to the consequences of not fighting.
Throw a Punch
The line has been crossed and it’s time to fight. If you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right. Knowing the mechanics of throwing a punch is important, but actually practicing it is much more important. If you don’t have a punching bag, you can rig one up fairly easily with duct tape and an old pillow.
Make a Fist
To make a good solid fist, start with your fingers outstretched and curl them all in except your thumb which should be extended out like you were making the “thumbs up” sign. Then curl your thumb in too so that it rests on top of the last knuckle joint on your fingers. Make sure that your fingers do not cover your thumb or you can break your thumb when you connect with a punch.
Keep it Straight
In order to transfer as much force from your body through your arm and fist and into the aggressor, it’s important to keep your wrist straight. Imagine a straight line drawn between your knuckles and your elbow. If you bend your wrists when you punch, the tendons and ligaments in your wrist will absorb a lot of the impact and will hurt you at least as much as you hurt the aggressor.
To throw the punch, start with your fist up next to your shoulder, your wrist straight, and your elbow tucked in close to your side. Extend your arm straight forward towards the aggressor and rotate your hand as it travels so that your palm would be facing down at the ground if you were to open your fist.
You should aim to have your fist contact the aggressor about one or two inches before your arm is fully extended. This is the point in your strike where you’ll be able to transfer the most force into the aggressor.
Remember to keep your fist clenched tight and your wrist straight. The path your fist travels from your shoulder should be as straight a line as possible. Big, swinging arcs look fancy, but are slower and easier to see coming and avoid. A straight punch or jab from the shoulder is faster and more likely to transfer effective force into the aggressor.
Keep Throwing It
One punch may be enough to stop the aggressor if you catch him by surprise or bloody his nose. It’s likely, however, that it will take more than that to deter the aggression. At this point, you’ve committed to the fight so you had better make it worth it. Keep punching the aggressor until it’s clear that he is no longer a threat.
Once you start throwing fists, there’s a good chance that the aggressor will hit back. Being hit is one of the more surprising things that a person can experience and you need to be expecting it so that you aren’t stunned by it. Don’t let getting punched deter you from your goal of removing the threat. Accept that it happened and keep fighting.
Once the fight is over, there’s a good chance that an authority figure will step in and take control of the situation. When this happens, comply with their instructions and accept responsibility for your action.
Explain your decision making process and the steps you took to defuse the situation and how they failed. Explain the line that was crossed and why you chose to accept the consequences of the fight rather than the consequences of not fighting.
Being able to explain your decision process is critical. It shows that you were thoughtful about what you did and weren’t acting out of anger or hate. It shows that you tried to avoid a fight, but were unable to do so and were forced to resort to throwing a punch. You may still find yourself in some trouble, but it's better to get in trouble for doing the right thing than to go about your day knowing that you did the wrong thing.