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Why “Martial Arts” Can Get You Killed In A Real Fight On The Street

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One of the things you will never learn in the average dojo around the world is that, no matter how often you train a certain “technique”, if it’s complex — if it’s not “monkey simple” — it will almost never work in a real life fight.

And this has nothing to do with your intelligence, either. You can be the smartest guy in the world, and you still won’t be able to pull off complex moves in a real fight.


Because when you get tossed into a stressful situation your whole body changes. There are natural bodily reactions which affect all of the systems in your body — including all your organs and chemical processes which keep you alive and breathing. Emotions and adrenaline rage out of control. And it becomes very difficult to think on anything but a primal, instinctive, “animal” level.

So what does this mean?

It means, if you’re trying to be fancy in a fight — trying to perform flashy kicks, strikes, throws or joint locks and manipulations — instead of using gross motor movements that are simple and fast — such as throwing an elbow to your attacker’s face or putting your knee into his testicles — you’re probably going to end up eating the pavement and getting beaten to a bloody pulp.

I’m not saying traditional martial arts won’t help you out. They will. But don’t bet your life on them. Don’t expect an attacker to fight like people spar and train in a dojo. It just doesn’t happen that way. People fight dirty on the street and there are no rules or respect for tradition.

Bottom line:

In a real fight, when your honor, your safety, your very life is on the line — focus on simple, non-complex motor movements that are easy to perform and require little or no thinking.

Leave the fancy stuff for the stunt guys in Hollywood.

Sifu Matt Numrich is one of only a few instructors in the world with Full Certification in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, and also the Filipino Martial Arts. His students include everyone from Federal Air Marshals and military elites to small children and 65-year old ladies. Matt also offers free weekly street-fighting lessons by email at

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  • Posted On January 16, 2007
  • Published articles 283513

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