Anyone who has undergone martial arts training or have common sense know and believe you should do everything in your power to avoid street fights. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. There are existing real-world situations where an individual has more to lose by avoiding one.
All reason and common sense are out the window once the first punch is out. It doesn’t matter who started it at this point.
The only thing that matters is winning the fight. Idealists and lawyers have a lot to say on the matter, but that is another topic altogether.
Winning the fight is the only way to ensure that we protect ourselves and what we hold dear. Martial Arts training, such as a TaeKwonDo, gives an advantage. Naysayers who have seen too many Chinese Kung Fu movies and MMA tournaments would argue that martial arts are never useful in a real street fight.
It would be impossible to execute and connect flashy moves such as Jumping Spinning Kick in the real world. Otherwise, it would be used a lot in sanctioned MMA fights.
TaeKwonDo is a Korean Martial art that emphasizes on strong kicks. The moves are big and comparatively slower than a crazy punch. It utilizes the fact that legs are stronger than arms to deliver striking blows. While street fights, especially running street fights have no such emphasis.
Some argue, especially with weapons, that flashy leg moves are worthless. Anyone with martial arts or military training know that weapons aside, three factors decide a fight.
They teach the foundations of all three; mental, physical, and technical, TaeKwonDo is no different. Everyone starts with a white belt and a lot of students drop out at this stage because it’s painful and boring.
Physical Conditioning of a Martial Artist
The start of physical training is painful for any sport, including martial arts. Tae Kwon Do require great flexibility to execute flash kicks. Half of its physical conditioning involves stretching. Real stretching. There will be pain and boredom involved. TaeKwonDo practitioners will count forward and backward to twenty repeatedly like Sesame Street.
Stretching develops flexibility and speed. Loose joints move faster, kick higher, and allow fluid body motions. The body gets used to a quick abrupt movement and strengthens the ligaments and tendons.
In a real street fight, TaeKwonDo and other martial arts practitioners perform simple fight moves faster without hurting themselves. Stiff joints cannot perform actions that the brain require. If it does, it could result in an injury.
TaeKwonDo practitioners also practice basic kicks and punches repetitively. It develops endurance and muscle memory. Real Street fights do not have three-minute rounds.
Though real fights rarely last that long, there are cases of running street fights that require a lot of endurance. Regular martial training develops cardio-vascular health and stamina.
The second factor in winning a fight is mental strength. Paralyzing fear will pretty much guarantee you will lose a fight. Combat soldiers train daily to overcome deadly situations and move in the presence of fear.
There is a lot of big talk about adrenaline and how it makes a person stronger and faster. Adrenaline does not overcome mind-numbing fear. It contributes to it.
TaeKwonDo practitioners consistently spar with each other for training and to prepare for friendly competitions. Constant exposure to a controlled fight develops mental fortitude in a real one. It doesn’t happen overnight, like combat soldiers, it develops over time.
Full Contact competitions train the body to strike with intent to harm. There is a subconscious will in our brain that prevents our body from striking without hesitation.
It is the reason crazy people and drug-induced individuals exhibit exceptional strength in unarmed combat. That part of their subconscious thought is not functional.
There is a hypothesis that the hesitation is our moral conscience controlling our primal killing intent. Recent studies believe it is simply the body protecting itself from harm. Striking an opponent does damage, true, but it also damages at the point of impact of the striker. The subconscious believes punching a wall or a face will harm the fist in the same way.
Only exposure and experience in actual fights can overcome it. TaeKwonDo full Individuals fight full contact matches wearing headgear and body armor. Participants strike with intent to maximize power and speed. It is one of the closest controlled simulations a person can have to a street fight.
Pain tolerance is also more of a mental fortitude than a physical one. Continuing to perform hostile actions in the presence of fear is one thing, but continuing in the presence of pain is another. Every TaeKwonDo training sessions start with long bouts of stretching.
Other than improving flexibility and preventing damage to the body, it also develops tolerance to pain itself. It is the reason a lot of students quit early in the game. They cannot handle and continue the painful experience the first time your body tries to perform a front or side split.
Technical skills that can be used in a street fight
It takes years of training to execute flashy kicks, and it takes even more years of experience to recover from those kicks when something goes wrong. In a real street fight, it is a risky move with a low chance of success and recovery. That single fact is why, naysayers believe that TaeKwonDo, or any martial arts for that matter, is not useful in a real street fight.
The time it takes for a TaeKwonDo expert to execute a jumping spinning hook kick, takes the same amount of time an amateur with no training can execute a hook punch. Naysayers would argue that if the pinnacle of TaeKwonDo technique is the same to the simplest street fighting move, what is the point in learning it?
TaeKwonDo is a self-defense art, it is also a sport. Big Flashy kicks are martial training to push the limits of the human body for its own sake. It is a competitive sport just like any other, the big flashy moves are as useful in a fight the same way a windmill dunk is useful in a basketball game.
It’s already discussed that the move itself is not important, but the physical conditioning and training that results in a physique capable of executing such a move.
There are technical aspects taught in TaeKwonDo, albeit not exclusively, that is useful in a real fight. It can save a life.
Defense in a Street Fight with TaeKwonDo
The Fighting Stance
Most competitive martial arts teach many different stances. The fighting stance is the most adaptable in executing offensive and defensive movements. Countless sparring matches using the stance protects the body from fatal openings in a real fight.
The side step is a defensive move to evade blows and then counter-attack. The move itself is self-explanatory. Perfect execution is sharpened through practice matches.
The spear, a wrestling move, is a common attack used by amateurs in a street fight. TaeKwonDo side step is a long stride (since it is assuming that the defender should move far enough to avoid an opponent kick), it is a useful counter against the spear.
Tae Kwon Do teaches a lot of skips and footwork like the side step. The assumption that the opponent in a TaeKwonDo competition will use the full length of their legs will put smaller fighters at a disadvantage.
To mitigate this problem, skipping in and out of kicking range is a basic TaeKwonDo drill. In a street fight, this is useful against opponents armed with short knives. Think about it.
Blocking strikes is instinctive. The body will raise the hands and arms to protect the head and face. Besides protecting the face, the body will prioritize the eyes and close it.
TaeKwonDo is based on the premise that the legs are stronger than the arms. TaeKwonDo blocks protect against this premise. It is designed to deflect the energy away from the defender, instead of absorbing it in a non-lethal part of the body (such as Boxing school).
Blocking drills also keep the eye open and the legs ready for a counterattack. Proper blocking reduces injury to both the defender and attacker while maintaining balance and composure.
Tae Kwon Do moves opens the body up for a counterattack and compromises balance during a kick. Every practitioner is aware of this weakness and to mitigate this weakness, they practice quick recovery into a defensive stance. They repeatedly practice quick recovery during drills.
Offense in a Street Fight With TaeKwonDo
The Axe Kick
This move is a perfect example of big devastating moves that Tae Kwon Do is known for. The axe kick lifts one leg as high as it would go -at least 12 o’clock position. Push forward with the base leg to shift the center of gravity then drop the whole weight of the body with the heel of the kicking leg (Like an axe) to the opponent’s temple.
There are cases of MMA knockouts using this move. In a street fight, the Axe kick is best used when the opponent is crouching or down on all fours.
It is dangerous to approach an opponent in either position. They can either pick up a weapon or counter-attack with the full spring of both legs for a powerful blow. The Axe kick will let you bring your full weight on them without getting too close.
Side / Back / Turning Side Kick
This is one of TaeKwonDo’s most basic and effective kicks. It extends the full power of the leg similar to how a horse kick with their hind legs. In a street fight, this is the only way to protect yourself against multiple opponents.
No other move in any martial art (that does not have this move) will let remove a threat attacking from behind as fast as this move. It also drops the leg into a perfect recovery position against more attackers.
The 45 (roundhouse) kick is another basic TaeKwonDo kick that attacks the body. Opponents with any level martial arts training will protect their head. It only leaves the lower body open for a first strike.
The 45 kick is easy to execute with a fast recovery that attacks the lower body. The military teaches this move since it is operating on the assumption that the opponent will have martial art training. In a street fight, while not as powerful as other TaeKwonDo kicks, it is fast and keeps the opponent guessing where your attack will go.
Final Thoughts on Taekwondo and Street Fighting
Avoiding street fights regardless of your martial training is still the best option. Most street fights do not last longer than ten minutes, but that is enough time to lose life and limb for people without the proper physique, experience, and mental fortitude to survive a fight.
If a fight did last longer than ten minutes, It is a good idea to use the endurance and muscles of a TaeKwonDo practitioner legs to run away. Police arrive within that time and with that is potentially a criminal record and expensive lawsuits.
Saving your life and the life of those you care about is most important. Be aware of your surroundings, no amount of martial arts training, TaeKwonDo included, will protect you from an uninformed responding police officer arriving on the scene whose first duty is to stop anyone who looks like they are hurting someone else. They will arrest everyone they deem dangerous and sort out everything later.
TaeKwonDo will give you the physical, mental, and technical edge to win a fight even against trained or armed opponents. Competitions and drills will give you the confidence and awareness to overcome dangerous situations. It will also teach you common sense and responsibility. That too, is important, especially in court.