How To Win A Street Fight – Tips & Tricks To Survive

Street fights are not something to take lightly. There are many things you can’t control when you decide to engage in a no-rules fistfight. 

Before diving deeper into how to win a street fight, you should first redefine the concept of “winning” in a street brawl.

Replace the term winning with surviving. The goal here is not to score points; all you have to do is get home safe.

So before even considering engaging with someone on the streets, it’s a good idea to de-escalate, check your ego, and walk away. However, you may run into someone who is unreasonable and violent. 

When it’s time to defend yourself in a street fight, you need to be prepared because anything could happen. Read on to make sure you don’t miss the tips and tricks to better survive a street-fighting situation with no weapons involved.

Tips to Win a Street Fight

When it’s time to go, you may be aware that you are about to face a violent situation, but that’s not the only thing you should pay attention to. There are six core principles to remember when you’re engaging in a street fight:

how to win a street fight

1) Don’t Forget to Check Your Surroundings

When you’re about to engage in a fistfight in the streets, your situational awareness needs to be on point.

Ideally, it would be best if you fought against a wall to reduce the possibility of someone attacking you from behind. If that’s not feasible, you need to be alert at all times and make sure to consistently check your surroundings.

2) Stay Out of The Danger Zone

Whoever controls the distance in a fight controls the damage. You want to make sure you are out of reach, especially with a stronger opponent who could knock you out with one punch.

It’s a smarter strategy to fight from the outside, go in to throw two or three punches, and then go out. If you’re within reach never leave your face unprotected.

3) Pay Attention to Your Fighting Stance

A good fighting stance could be the difference between ending up on the ground, getting kicked in the face by the dude’s friends, or being able to stay on your feet to find a way out.

It would be best to go with a boxing fighting stance with your palms open, hands up, knees slightly bent, and feet shoulder-width apart.

4) Don’t be Afraid to Play Dirty

Remember that the goal here is not scoring points. There are no rules and no judges on the street. It’s fine to use any objects around you as a weapon.

Sticks, bottles, and rocks, for example, could all be used as weapons. You can use whatever you find that might help you defuse an attack. It is also not a bad idea to be the guy who throws the most effective attack first.

5) Avoid Going to The Ground

As a BJJ practitioner, this might sound counterintuitive, but you should avoid the ground at all costs. Going to the ground can put you in a situation where other people can kick you and easily knock you out.

That being said, if for some reason the fight ends on the ground, it is useful to know your way around grappling. When the fight goes to the ground, don’t play the guard. Look for sweeps and strive to be the guy on top.

Transitions work better on the street as you can use that momentum to land some quick ground and pound and stand up again.  

6) Stick to The Basics

A street fight is not a ring or an octagon. You need to save all the flashy kicks and spinning back fists for your next sparring session. 

The fancy techniques you usually use might leave you vulnerable to specific attacks. You want to stick to simple and effective techniques. In street fights, effective moves include:

  • Head butts.
  • Jabs.
  • Crosses.
  • Elbows.
  • Low kicks.
  • Standing grappling. 

How to Win a Street Fight

Two common scenarios could happen in a fistfight on the streets. You could be in close range or long range. Often, if you’re fighting from close range, there’s a good chance that you still have the element of surprise on your side.

Close Range Street Fighting

Street bar fight

The fight is about to go down, the guy is talking trash, and maybe he’s trying to push you or grab you. When we’re talking about a guy that is close to you, the go-to should be a head butt. This is extra effective if your attacker is taller than you.

The idea is not to move your head back to charge power and then go in to engage. That takes too long, and the idea is to surprise the attacker. If you charge your head back, the attack won’t be a surprise.

You need to do a movement that is closer to a spear attack with the top of your head. This region is tough and can cause severe damage. 

You can easily break someone’s nose with this movement, give them black eyes, and even knock them down. Don’t go crazy if that’s the case. If you land the head butt and the guy goes down, try to get to a safe location and still be aware of your surroundings.

The head butt in close-range street fighting is an effective and quick way to end the fight.

Fighting From The Outside in a Street Fight

The fight is about to go down, and you both know it. There might even be a crowd around you. There also might still be a little bit of talking here and there, but you are not within close range to land a head butt, or it might not be your first option at the moment.

At some point, the guy probably wants to close the distance. If we are talking about an untrained attacker, which more often than not will be the case, he’ll play it stupid.

People often overestimate their fighting ability. He might charge trying to get a sloppy double leg takedown or might try to hit you with super telegraph power punches.

What To Do When They’re Closing The Distance?

If the guy is closing the distance, you just hit him with an overhand right to the chin or the nose, no questions asked. This is not the time to be messing around. Avoid high kicks because they can catch you, and you might end up on the ground in a bad position.

You want to throw two or three solid punches and then step out of reach in this situation. There are instances where you will deliberately close the distance and engage with Jiu-Jitsu lapel control in the jacket or t-shirt of the attacker. 

You can start pulling and pushing to take them out of balance and begin delivering damage similar to a hockey fight. Be careful here and make sure you’re in control before landing any punches.

Don’t over-commit with the punches. Focus more on controlling the opponent. That’s where the success of this technique is.

Where to Attack for maximum demage

weak spots to attack the body

Best martial arts for Female self defense

Common Strategies From Street Fighters And How to Neutralize Them

how to win a street fight

The following strategies are not the only ones you would see in a street fight. Fights are alive, and things are chaotic. 

Punches are coming at you in all directions, and the average person won’t fight you like in a boxing match.

However, there are common trends you’ll see if you research street fighting videos, and it’s useful to know them and how to react against them.

The Telegraph Power Punch

Often, people will try to land a big right-hand punch in the face. They will try to clear the way with their left hand while loading the punch far from behind. You’ll see this coming from miles away. 

One of the best ways to defend this is anticipating the punch and jabbing your way to the right side while circling away. 

Leaning Back to Escape From Punches

This is common in ghetto street fighting videos. Untrained attackers don’t know boxing head movement or footwork. You’ll see them leaning back with their arms in very unorthodox positions while trying to protect their chin.

It is somewhat useful; the head is out of reach. If you’re facing someone that is doing that, forget about the head. Focus on the body and legs instead. You can land painful body strikes and kicks. 

Overcommitted Headhunting

It is not unusual to see people just charging with rage, throwing punches left and right at full power. If this is the case, change levels to get underneath the punches while keeping your head protected.

It is not recommended to let the fight go to the ground, but it might be safe and easy to land a body lock to take the guy down. 

Just make sure to throw them with power while you stay on top to land a few extra kicks or punches before resetting to check your surroundings and find the closest exit. 

The Sloppy Takedown

Another common scenario is when people charge at you while trying to land a poorly executed takedown. To succeed, they need to pull your legs toward them. To defend effectively, you need to sprawl. If you’ve seen an MMA bout, you know this move. 

The move is similar to a burpee with your hips lower on the ground. This allows you to pin the attacker to the ground with your upper body.

From there, you can circle with your legs while landing punches to the face and body to eventually push and get back on your feet.  

Shirt Grabbing

We covered this technique above. However, your average street fighter won’t control you like a Judoka or Jiu-Jitsu guy. They will grab you and start going crazy with punches. 

In this situation, you need to stay calm and engage with the timing because one hand is busy grabbing you, and the other is throwing crazy punches that you need to counter.

If you want to stay away, which is always a good idea, you need to break the grip by extending your arms with a two-on-one control to the risk. Be careful because you’re probably under a storm of punches. If you don’t feel comfortable with close-range fighting, break the grip.  

The Best Martial Art For Street Fights

The short answer is that there’s no such thing as the best martial art for street fights. All combat techniques come with downsides and flaws

Some Kung-fu moves are too complex to execute against a resisting opponent. A Jiujitsu guy might unconsciously look for sport positions that leave him vulnerable. For example, a striker might punch as if he has Muay Thai gloves and break his hand. 

All martial arts have elements that make them unrealistic for a street fight because practitioners usually train within a set of rules. This doesn’t mean that learning them isn’t useful.

When the time comes to stand your ground on the streets in hand-to-hand combat, you’ll have at least a 15% advantage over your opponent. That advantage can go up depending on your skill level and athleticism. 

I had contact with different martial arts styles, and I must say, in hand-to-hand combat, with adjustments for a no-rules situation, nothing beats Mixed Martial Arts.

Mixing Things Up

The idea of MMA is that each practitioner takes the best elements from different arts to create his unique way of fighting. Any dedicated mixed martial artist will be proficient in grappling and striking. 

MMA practitioners practice sparring often, and they’re used to the stress that comes with combat. They learn how to take punches properly while remaining calm and focused. All of those are priceless skills to have in a street fight.

That doesn’t mean that if you’re a Karate guy or a Judo player, you won’t stand a chance in a street fight. A dedicated Judoka could take a violent opponent to the ground with ease and send him to the shadow realm while causing a severe concussion.

But, MMA touches a wide range of techniques that come in handy in several fighting situations

Is Karate Effective In A Street Fight?

Karate is one of the most popular martial arts out there. One of the reasons why it’s so popular is the fact that it’s more accessible than other martial arts out there. Kids, adults — basically everyone can get in on Karate very easily.

There are a few reasons why one would want to try Karate. It can be to lose weight. For many people, however, the most common reason to enroll in a Karate class would be because they want to be able to protect themselves if they have to. 

This begs the question, is Karate effective in a street fight?

Using Karate In A Street Fight

Karate is a striking martial art that focuses more on kicks. However, punches, throws, and blocks are taught to students too. 

In competition, Karate adapts a point fighting system. In some cases, participants can be disqualified for knocking out opponents as well.

That said, Karate teaches you offensive and defensive techniques usable in street fight scenarios. If you’re against an aggressive attacker, you can use Karate kicks and punches to keep them afar. If they get within clinching distance, you can also use Karate’s throws to get them off you.

Katas are very popular in Karate. This displays what you know in Karate, and it’s the sport’s form of shadow boxing. While this does not help in a street fight, it does help you get a better feel of the techniques.

Regarding physical capabilities, keep in mind that Karate is a rigorous form of exercise. Like most martial arts, it does work your entire body during each session. That means you’ll have the strength and endurance to fight back when needed.

Karate exercises also help with flexibility for the legs, allowing you to kick opponents in the head. Karatekas are also excellent at distance management, which is an essential skill to stay safe on and off the mats. 

The Roll Of Kumite

There are various forms of Karate out there. However, if you want to focus and learn more on self-defense, we suggest going for Shotokan or Kyokushin Karate.

Both Karate forms practice what’s called Kumite. This is basically a form of sparring in Karate. Some gyms allow students to go hard during sparring as long as the strikes are limited to the legs and body.

Hard as it may be, this form of sparring is essential if you want to get a feel of what it’s like to use the skills you learn in class. It can also make you more mentally tough to be steadfast during dangerous situations.

What’s great about being engaged in Kumites is that it lets you simulate in a controlled environment what the stress of a fight looks like. 

Like street fights, Kumites can be very unpredictable. This enhances your fight IQ and response time when getting hit.

If you can fight and beat an equally skilled fighter, you can definitely beat an untrained person in a street fight. However, Karate, like most modern sport-oriented martial arts, tends to neglect other self-defense techniques like knife defense. 

This isn’t exclusive to Karate but is a downside to consider when training any martial art to survive in a street fight. 

Overall, Karate is an effective martial art for self-defense and in street fights. Giving you both offensive and defensive techniques will better equip you for such scenarios.

But, be careful our there. Just because you know Karate that doesn’t mean you can stop bullets or bend knives with your hands. If the opportunity presents itself run.

Is BJJ Effective In A Street Fight?

BJJ is an excellent tool once the street brawl hits the ground. The wide range of sweeps, positional control, and submissions will also keep you safe on the streets, provided there are no weapons or groups involved.

The major downside of BJJ in a street fight is that it doesn’t prepare you for striking. It is not a bad idea to cross-train with a striking martial art like Muay Thai to develop a well-rounded game.

However, if you ever use your BJJ in the street, don’t act as if you were in a tournament. Get some fast scrambles and get up as soon as possible. Even better if you can run to your nearest exit.

The best position in the street is a transition position. Try to establish a solid control position rather than going for the submission. It might leave you vulnerable if you need to disengage and run.

However, overall, BJJ is an effective martial for street fights. You just need to understand the limitations and benefits and roll with them. 

Street Fights FAQ


No matter if you are winning the fight or not, if a knife or gun comes up, run away fast and don’t stop until you get to a safe place. Nothing is worth more than your life.

No legit martial art teaches you how to stop bullets. And even if you execute a textbook knife defense, you might still get severely cut, which could result in lifelong consequences.


When possible, avoid the fight itself. However, when that’s not possible, avoid excessive violence. You knock out the guy? Don’t keep punching the attacker on the floor, as you might face serious legal consequences.

Avoid fighting if you’re drunk or on drugs; that won’t end well for you. Also, avoid fighting if you’re with someone you love. You might get knocked out, and no one will be there to take care of your loved one’s safety. 


For the untrained fighter, it might help. However, if you’re a trained martial artist and competitor, you know that a calm emotional state allows you to perform at your best.

If you’re emotionally invested in the street fight, anger will lead you to lose focus and make mistakes that can cost you the fight and even your life. Stay grounded and in control of your emotions at all times, and remember to breathe.

Final Thoughts On How To Win A Street Fight

Most street fights are avoidable. When you face an untrained opponent, you have the upper hand, so don’t let your ego dictate your actions. Even if you’ve been training martial arts for years, the risk of injury is very high on the streets

But if the fight finds you, now you have some great tips on how to win a street fight and get home safe. 

Finally, you can watch videos and read all the articles available, but nothing replaces self-defense training and drilling. Defending yourself isn’t always about fighting, but if you want to use martial arts as a self-defense tool, you need to be willing to work hard for it. 

It will take years of practice to feel comfortable using your martial skills outside your dojo. If you found something of value here, please share it with all your friends. Train hard and stay safe! 

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