Street Fighting Mistakes: Not leaving

There are a lot of street fighting mistakes you can make and in this video, you’ll see perhaps the biggest one: not leaving when you should.

Before we go on though: the guy’s an idiot. We don’t see the beginning of the altercation so who started it isn’t clear, but it does look like he throws the first slap. So at first glance, it looks like he‘s the instigator.

What is definitely clear is that he has the chance to walk away. But he chooses to engage again, prolong the conflict and escalate it by throwing the first punch. So there is no way you can view this as self-defense:

  • His opponents walk away first.
  • He walks away next.
  • Then he returns and escalates the conflict, not them. They hang back and aren’t threatening the guy.

If you have the opportunity to flee, the law says you should take it so this is not a self-defense situation; it is street fighting. If you’re dumb enough to do that and pick on two guys who are clearly backing away, what you get next is probably a good lesson to learn.

Here’s the video:

Street Fighting Mistakes: not leaving

Not leaving when you have the chance is a crucial street fighting mistake to make. The guy has plenty of opportunities to walk away; it’s clear the two other guys are backpedaling. All he needed to do was take five steps into the crowd and they wouldn’t be bale to catch up even if they wanted to.

Instead, he decides to humiliate them and take it to the next level, probably certain of his victory over those “pussies”.  Truth be told, he probably would have “won”.  He seemed aggressive and fast enough to get the job done. But he makes the fatal mistake of thinking he’s the only aggressive guy around.

Invariably, when people fight in public, they attract a crowd.  If it happens during some sort of public event (like seems to be the case here), the crowd will gather much faster and will have more people on the sidelines. In every such crowd, you can be sure there’s somebody just itching to get a free shot in. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Either way, there’s always that risk.

In this case, the guy was so wrapped up in his “I’m gonna kick your ass and look cool doing so.” vibe that he was oblivious to the sucker punch coming his way. Mind you, he couldn’t have prevented it as it was well done: good timing, good angle and full power to a vulnerable target. If all those factors are aligned in an ambush, the odds are low you’ll get out of it in one piece.

There is one sure-fire way to prevent this from happening though:


Just go away the second you have the chance. There is no upside to prolonging a conflict such as this one. The only thing that will happen by not leaving is the odds of you getting hurt increasing with every second.

Or even better: don’t start this kind of crap to begin with. There’s no gain to be had, you don’t get any prizes. On the contrary, look at what happened to this guy:

  • He got knocked unconscious. Concussions are no fun, neither is permanent brain damage.
  • His head hits the pavement. You don’t see it but you can hear the thud over the noise of the crowd. A cracked skull often leads to an extended trip to the hospital or worse, to the morgue.
  • He gets arrested. There were plenty of witnesses who will have explained to the cops that the guy started it. Hence the cuffs and a trip down to the station.
  • Potential lawsuit. If the two guys press charges, he’s only at the beginning of his troubles: in front of a crowd of witnesses and dozens of cellphones capturing everything on video from different angles, the guy attacks them. He won’t be able to claim self-defense, the evidence just won’t support that claim. Paying damages sucks…
Street Fighting Mistakes: Not leaving

Street Fighting Mistakes: Not leaving when you have the chance.

Street fighting mistakes like this one are exceedingly common but they apply to self-defense just as well: as soon as you can, leave. As you can see in this video, it can go horribly wrong in a fraction of a second, even when you think you are “winning”.

Make sure you don’t end up like this guy and practice avoidance, evasion and de-escalation as your primary self-defense tools. They will give you the skills to effectively do the smart thing, which is leaving. You’ll be happy to laugh at the whole incident later when you’re sitting on your couch at home, sipping a beer.

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  1. Hugh Wallace says

    Nice observations Wim.

    Another thing I noticed was it looked like one of the two guys who were the victims (in a red t-shirt) actually steps in to stop another on-looker (in grey) kicking Mr Angry in the family jewels. In fact I saw two people kick at him on the ground and it could have been so much worse for him because he couldn’t protect himself from bring stomped if the crowd was really ugly.

    A second observation, and unconnected with your point, was after the police arrived an onlooker is heard to make some critical remark about them not knowing what to do and standing by while the guy ‘slips into a coma’. Apart from the fact the video shows paramedics on scene as well, I am not quite sure what first aid intervention anyone could apply to stop someone with a brain injury going into a coma. Just goes to show that if you get yourself into a bit of bother and rely on witnesses to support you you might find your witnesses are idiots!

    • Yup, they got their licks in too. Predictable as the sun rising, which is another reason why you shouldn’t prolong a fight.
      I’m no EMT so I can’t comment on the coma question. From the first aid training I did receive, I don’t think there’s all that much you can do.

  2. A good article with great analysis.

    Only one thing that I think I can add when you say ‘there’s somebody just itching to get a free shot in’ is if they feel justified in doing so. The guy that threw the sucker punch was building himself up for it due to the aggressive behaviour of the guy that he hit. He crossed some line in the sucker puncher’s head and gave him the permission to do so.

    One time on the bus coming home from training, there was this idiot on the top deck that was going round and threatening to punch whomever he sat beside. I noticed he was picking on females and rather small Chinese students. I was undecided on whether to intervene as I could make the situation worse as their non-response to his aggressive behaviour seemed to be working but I had made up my mind that if he sat beside me and threatened to punch me that I would punch him first. However, the tactics used by the people he threatened in not engaging him seemed to worked. So when I was getting off the bus I told the bus driver of this jerk’s behaviour which he said he had been monitoring through the mirror or the camera on the top deck of these buses due to such incidents.

    There is a story in Stan Schmidt’s Spirit of the Empty Hand were he had been sparring with a friend and he felt that his friend had hit him too hard in sparring which made him very angry. This feeling persisted over the next couple of days and led to him cutting off another driver due to this distracted state of mind which led to that driver getting in front of him and confronting him due to the fact that he felt he could have been killed by being cut off like this. He was feeling totally dominated by this driver’s anger but when the driver swung at him he managed to block it. And now because he felt the driver had transgressed some boundary he said firmly that he had already said that he was sorry: The driver backed away and drove off.

    Anyway feeling weak and confused, he felt the urgent need to speak to his sensei as they were preparing for a competition. The sensei said that the fact that you were wrong caused you to have a negative spirit and feel weak. The fact that the driver ignored your apology and tried to hit you made your negative feelings become positive. Remember one thing: The cause must be right before the spirit can be right.

    So I think the sucker puncher felt wrongly justified in hitting him so good as you point out the dangers of smashing your head on the pavement.

    • Marc,

      That could be the case but in my experience, the motivation is often more about lashing out because they can do so with impunity. As in “I’m pissed about something and want to punch somebody. That guy’s an asshole. Nobody will get on my case if I hit him, I’ll be the good guy.” Or he might just be an aggressive asshole who likes hitting people without getting hit back, meaning a coward.

      I’m sure some people act out of a feeling that the offender crossed a line. But I wouldn’t go so far as making that the default reason of this behavior. Just my thoughts, not gospel.

      • Yes, now thinking about it some more these are reasons I hadn’t consider before and would explain some past situations.


  3. What a retarded situation.
    One monkey poking people in the face, while clowning all over the place.
    And then he finds it weird another bloke knocks him down.
    I am starting to lose my faith in humanity watching these vids.

    Pretty cruel that all those other guys immediatly grab their cell phones and start filming ad taking pics instead of trying to help.

    Oh and for the first aid:
    Brother might have received some serious concussions and/or injuries to his spinal areau.
    So I think noth move if he is conscious.
    However if the is unconscious he might swallow his tongue and suffocate.
    So than he should have been moved into a recovery position.

  4. The only thing better than leaving is to not be there in the first place!


    Stay home and practice, my friends! :)

  5. j. a. mullins says

    hey wim,
    drawing on my personal experiences i feel that the 3 biggest mistakes jackass’ like myself make are as follows….
    1. I’m right, your wrong- the self induced belief in your superior social position. Of course that guy had it coming and i’m the guy to give it to him. Right, just remember that the other guy feels that way too. First put down your ego, then put down your, then walk the hell away.
    2. Stepping on someone’s toes- i have often stepped out of the crowd of my fellow bystanders to back or state a given position in regards the current social fracas leading to the situation to violence by trying not to. When you’re out of it, stay out of it.
    3. Check it out!- don’t go running over to check out the fight, shoving your way to the front of the crowd to see the flying fists and tumbling competitors often leads unintended encounters. When you’re out of it, stay out of it.

    been here, done that, got the medical records to show for it. but, the scars are cool, the tales are funny, and i just happened to live through it all.

    • j. a. mullins says

      so sorry, in 1. it should read …,then put down your bee. poor editing on my behalf. thanks

    • Gotta disagree with you a little bit: the scars and medical records become a lot less funny when you start to feel the weather change in your bones. :-)

      • j. a. mullins says

        i already feel it. i’ll be 42 in july. i still work for a living. and some days are a lot more painful than others.

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