How to Survive a Street Fight

How to Survive a Street Fight

The following is from Mike Cernovich's now defunct Danger and Play blog. This is life saving advice and needs to be on the internet.

As someone who's been in 3 street fights personally over the course of my life (one in America, one in Thailand, one in Vietnam), who does Muay Thai training regularly, I find that Mike has outstanding advice so I'm reposting it here with my own commentary as needed.

Mike now publishes "The Other Side of Fear" - I highly recommend his writing. So checkout his Substack and consider subscribing.

He also published "Gorilla Mindset" which became a best seller and it's part of my essential books for men reading list.

I’ve been in over 100 street fights.

I’ve knocked people out, split eyes open, and been rendered unconscious after being struck with brass knuckles. I’ve had my eye swollen shut multiple times. I’ve had my nose broken in boxing and MMA matches and not flinched.

You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. – Vince Lombardi

hat is background not bravado. Street fighting is idiotic. Let me rephrase that. To the extent I am a bad ass, I am also a dumb ass. It really is completely and totally moronic that I’ve gotten into so many fights.

I’ve almost died twice. Over nothing.

Do not fight in the streets. But if you must, follow these fundamental rules to survive.

The Three Rules of Street Fighting.

Rule 1. Do not fight unless your life or health is at risk.

Rule 2. Proceed with extreme violence.

Rule 3. Get the Hell out of there as soon as it’s over.

Rule 1. Only Fight if your Life is at Risk.

Do not fight unless the situation is life or death. A bruised ego is not a risk to your health.

Fighting isn’t worth it.

Why should you only fight unless it’s like or death?

Because you might die in the streets. Yes, fighting literally risks your life.

In high school someone was talking shit to me. He approached me and cornered me next to my friends purple Chevy SUV. Outnumbered, I reluctantly backed down.

He started walking away and mouthed, “Bitch.” The world around me went black.

The wolf that lives inside me and that must constantly be retrained took control. Instinct and a desire for blood overwhelmed my conscious desire for my safety. The wolf attacked.

I immediately went after him.  A trained boxer and martial artist, I threw a jab-jab-overhand right combination to his face.

Completely unprepared for this show of force, he started falling back into the crowd of onlookers. He had to be held up, as he was almost unconscious.

That’s the last thing I remembered.

Then I was on lying my back with someone standing over me. I felt like I was in outer space. Everything around me – whatever “me” exists when you are unconscious – was black. My third eye was moving through a field of stars.

I heard someone calling to me. I tried moving towards the call but couldn’t answer it.

I finally came to. “Do I have all of my teeth,” I asked her. She laughed that relieved laugh people give when the situation is more dire than you realize. “You have the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.”

Someone had jumped out from behind a car. Witnesses saw him put something over his hands – either a hand pack to give him more oomph to his punch or brass knuckles; we never found out for sure.

He contacted with a  clean sucker punch. The back of my head collided with the concrete, making a terrifying thud that sounded like death.

It is very common for people to die after colliding with the concrete parking lot as I had. My eye was completely swelled shut for a week.

I almost died. Over what? At the time I would have told you that I almost died over honor. And indeed I would have gladly died rather than suffer dishonor.

But we do not live in an honorable world, my friends. In this a amoral hellhole called modern living, I almost died over nothing. 

Rule 2. Proceed with extreme violence.

 ”If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” -Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

Since your life is at risk (see Rule 1), you don’t have time to be a nice guy. You don’t have time to hesitate. You must smash the other person with absolute resolve.

As Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest samurai of all time wrote in his Book of 5 Rings, “When you decide to attack, keep calm and dash in quickly, forestalling the enemy…attack with a feeling of constantly crushing the enemy, from first to last.”

Where to attack? How to attack? My answer as a trained fighter would differ from your answer. If you understand one thing, however, you will understand everything you’ll need to know for an ordinary street fight.

People do not like getting punched in the face.

Brock Lensar is a beast.

The beast was exposed as a bully when he encountered a fighter he couldn’t throw around. Once Brock Lesnar got punched in the face, his career as a UFC fighter was over.

Swing hard for the chin. Lean into the punch, throwing all of your weight into it. A punch doesn’t come from the arms. A punch come from your toes and the force passes through your hips, extending all the way to your fist.

In fighting parlance, the area right around where your chin and mandible connect is known as the button. Always, always, always aim for the button.

Even if you do not knock your opponent out, you will stun him. He wasn’t prepared for you to throw the first punch, but you did. Keep punching him until he falls to the ground. Overwhelm his face with punches and destroy his will.

Again, people hate getting punched in the face. Even trained fighters do all they can to a avoid getting punched in the face.

“I don’t like to get hit, who likes it? I probably wouldn’t do this sport if I was getting hit that much.” - Wladimir Klitschko

Rule 3. Get the Hell out of there as soon as it’s over.

I almost died a second time when I failed to follow this rule.

A rather jacked black guy was talking shit to one of my friends. It was just the type of get-in-your-face-but-no-one-will-fight bullshit guys do. I didn’t like it, however, and baited the guy to get into my face.

Once he did, I unleashed a flurry of punches. He started running backwards. Since it wasn’t a life or death situation (violation of Rule 1), I couldn’t take him to the ground and pound him unconscious (which Rule 2 would require). I’d have gone to jail at worst or been sued at best. It was a lose-lose situation. Foolish.

Rather than taking my victory and continuing the party, I let my ego took over. I had to gloat:

Punching your face felt so good. Your face is soft. It felt like velvet on my hands!

He took off and I stood around bullshitting with my friend (violation of Rule 3). I heard something that sounds like horse hooves hitting the ground in cowboy movies. Someone screamed, “Look out!”

Then I was looking up at someone and felt liquid dripping all over my face. I grabbed his ankle and prepared to sweep him when the fight was broken up. (I would have obeyed Rule 2 with glee.)

Although I was only flash KO’ed, the back of my head narrowly missed a large metallic water spout protruding from the spot near where my head hit. If I had fallen back another inch to the right, my head would have been split open and brain damage would have been assured.

If I had left, all would have been well. I’d have yet another good street fight story to tell and could have kept partying. Instead I put my life at risk.

If you fight someone, get out. Not only might the person come back with a knife or gun or with friends, but the police might arrive. Get the Hell out.

Six thugs beat up two hippies in downtown Austin, TX

Sign in to YouTube watch the video.

Let’s look at Rule 1: “Do not fight unless your life or health is at risk.” Is the guy’s life at risk? You bet your ass.

Whenever multiple attackers are involved, your life is at risk. A one-on-one fight is a fair fight. It’s how men of honor fight.

When two men approach you, they have said they do not have honor and they have no respect for civilization or the social contract. They are not men. They are hyenas.  

They deserve to be shot like the filthy animals they are.

When your life is at risk, you must proceed with extreme violence (Rule 2) and then get the Hell out of there as soon as it’s over (Rule 3).

Even though there are 6 thugs in the group and only 2 hippies, the hippies could have won had they attacked first.

Look at the Group Dynamics

Look at how spread out the six thugs in the video are. They are in a single file line and some of them even have their hands in their pockets. They are not Spartans arranged in a disciplined, well ordered formation.

They have no group cohesion or unity. They are six individuals rather than one team. Use this to your advantage.

 you’ve ever watched a boxing match, you’ve heard about fighters “finding their rhythm.” The same is true of groups.  A group, if given enough time, will find its rhythm. Do not let this happen. Attack before they find their base.

Smash the Alpha of the Group

The alpha of the group is the one who is in your face. The others who are talking shit and egging him on aren’t alphas. They are hecklers.

Remember your Bible classes? “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.” That is also Rule 42 of the 48 Laws of Power:

Law 42 Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter
Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoned of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them.”

The alpha of the group is the shepherd. Smash his face in and the other guys are neutralized.

Watch what happens in the video. Rather than strike the shepherd, the white hippies try talking their way out of the situation. Because they do not proceed with extreme violence, they get smashed.

Learn from those disgusting hippies. The streets are not the place to talk or chat or make friends. When thugs approach you, they aren’t trying to be pals. They are trying to hurt you.

Strike them first. Strike them hard. Violence of action.

Now let’s watch a video where the rules of the street are followed.

Boxer v. Two Men

Here, as with 6 Thugs v. 2 Hippies, we have multiple attackers. This is not going to end well for the boxer unless he strikes first.

The boxer proceeds with extreme violence (Rule 2). He then leaves the situation (Rule 3).

The only thing the boxer did wrong was not following “Pride Rules” by stomping the guys’ heads in while they were down. This allowed the two men to regroup. What if one of the men had a knife? Now the boxer has lost his offensive advantage and is at the mercy of two petty criminals who have nothing better to do with their day than smoke cigarettes and hit women.

Maybe the boxer will get stabbed. Maybe he’ll bleed out on the sidewalk while the two men rape his girlfriend. He left his life in the hands of two criminals. That was a potentially fatal mistake.

Do not do this. When you attack, be ruthless. Take your life in your own hands. Do not allow the person who initiated the attack to decide if you will live or die. Take him out of the fight before you leave.

If two men attack you, you can legally do whatever you want to them. You can almost kill them. Soccer kick them in the head. Remember, they are the ones who dictated the appropriate use of force. When two men attack you, they are telling you they have no honor and are scum. Show them no mercy.

Hurt them. Maim them. Cripple them.

Rule 0 of Street Fighting.

I omitted the most important rule. “To win without fighting is best.” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War.) 

Get big and you’ll find that people are much less interested in fighting you.

You should also avoid negative situations.

Leaving the bars early is an easy way to avoid a street fight. If I’m out with friends, I leave before last call. At last call the streets fill with drunk losers who have no game and who lack the self-discipline to not get piss drunk.

In sum, don’t fight. It’s not worth the risk. If your life is truly in danger, then smash the people in the face with violence of action and get out.

Conclusion - My thoughts and summary

Take to heart the idea of only fighting when your life is in danger, this alone will save your life. I've backed away a few times from hot situations as needed.

Always stand up for yourself, I'm not saying be weak or a coward, but talk down situations and avoid conflict at all costs.

"A bruised ego is better than a bruised body."

If you have no choice then it's time to fight like a demon. Be careful when punching someone in the head btw, you want to aim for the jaw or the cheek. Hitting the jaw with ferocity is how you know someone out, the cheek is a good spot too because it's softer than the rest of the skull

Otherwise, punching someone in the head is like punching a wall, you're going to break your hand.

Last, Mike Cernovich is a big guy.

I'm 5,10 170 lbs when in shape and I'm just not a physically intimidating person. But if you do have the genetics to get big then you should follow that advice ASAP.

Being in shape is just a better way to move through the world. You'll look competent, be treated with more respect and are a less likely target for violence if you look capable.

Finally, checkout his Substack "The Other Side of Fear" and consider becoming a paid subscriber.

Also get yourself a copy of "Gorilla Mindset" which has a ton of practical information men 20-40 years old need. It became a best seller for a reasons and it's part of my essential books for men reading list.