Every child needs to be taught how to fight.  There’s clean, schoolyard fighting, and then there’s Dirty Fighting or Street Fighting or Prison Fighting — where everything and anything goes.  You can fishhook, you can eye-gouge, you can slam a guy in the groin with a shovel.  Hair-pulling and fingernails-scratching are never allowed in any informal fight arena.

One of my Columbia classmates is a personal trainer and, the other day, we were talking about the best way to defend yourself if you’re on the street and someone tries to start something with you.  Forget the rules of fighting fairly.  You need to get down and dirty with them because they’re already getting nasty with you.

You don’t want to use a knife or a gun.  You don’t want a long confrontation.  You want to run away if at all possible.  Give up whatever they want from you.  If they just want to hurt you, fight with you — harm your body — then you need to find the best way to disable the aggressor so you can run away in the opposite direction.

Since most street fighters are taller and heavier than you — they don’t pick on people their own size — you need to level the playing field by disabling them and getting them on the ground.  If they’re hurt, they can’t chase after you.

The best way to disable an aggressor, with the least vulnerability for you, is to use your foot to kick them in a knee.  The knee is a weak joint.  A knee can easily be disabled even if you don’t strike a direct hit.  Tall and heavy people have to carry all that weight and height on their knees, so hurting their knee hurts them right away and can disable them for a long while — and that’s why kicking someone in the knee is considered dirty fighting.

The great thing about going for disabling a knee is that one of them is always stationary.  If someone wants to hit you or kick you, they have one vulnerable knee locked to the ground so they can steady their weight.  You want to aim for that vulnerable knee.  If both knees are available, you want to kick the knee closest to you.

Kicking someone’s knee can take some practice — so practice with a stuffed duffel bag or something similar that will give you resistance without hurting your foot.  Try to kick on the side of their knee for maximum effect, or you can kick behind their knee to take their their feet out from under them.  A direct hit on the kneecap is always effective, but that usually means you need to perform a side kick or a heel strike — which are more technical kicks than just “kicking a ball” that happens to be someone else’s knee.

If you miss with your kick, that’s fine.  Your aggressor will know you are prepared to defend yourself and, if they have a bad knee, they’ll back off.  If they become enraged that you aren’t rolling over, then get ready to keep on kicking them until you can run away.  Remember, you only need to land one solid hit.  Don’t try to do any more damage.  Kick and run.  Kick hard and run away fast.

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