[Street Combat – This Ain’t No Game is a SurvivalBlog exclusive.]
Growing up, most of us have witnessed school yard fights. These usually amounted to a shoving or wrestling match. However, every once in a while, things got serious and punches flew. In some instances, one opponent will do something “dirty” to win the battle. In the eyes of school children, this is a “no-no”. In real-life, it’s another story. Remember, this is Street Combat – This Ain’t No Game. Also, as mentioned in the last chapter, there is no “second place winner” in this sort of combat.
I’ve witnessed more than my share of bar fights, and I’ve even participated in a few (in my “young and dumb” days). I have yet to hear any participant of a bar fight claim that the other opponent fought dirty. You do whatever you have to do to be the victor. Sometimes bar fights are nothing but stupid disagreements, or sometimes patrons have simply over-indulged in spirits. Words fly, and fists soon follow suit.
Other times, bar fights turn deadly serious. Guns, knives, clubs, baseball bats, motorcycle gangs, and other things determine the circumstances involved and the outcome.
My Uncle Dave was a terrific guy, whether drunk or sober. He was just a lot of fun to be around. However, whenever he and I would go bar hopping, the alcohol would usually take control of his common sense. After hitting several bars, Dave would be feeling pretty tough and would then pick a fight with the meanest and toughest “regular” in the place. Dave always lost! There were usually no hard feelings after the fight; there’d just be a ’round of drinks for everyone, which Dave bought.
In one particular bar we had not previously patronized, Dave had the misfortune of picking a fight with a regular patron called “Cheetah”. It was in short order, that Dave learned how Cheetah got his name.
As was the usual routine with Dave, he would ask who the meanest or baddest guy was in the bar. (Honestly, that’s how he did it.) Someone was always willing to step forward, especially in view of the fact that Dave was only about 5′ 6″ and 150 lbs, if soaking wet. There was never a want for an opponent.
Cheetah stepped forward at the invitation and was more than willing to oblige Dave’s request for a sparring partner. Within moments, Dave and Cheetah were outside the bar, and the battle was on. Within less than a minute, Dave lay on the cold concrete sidewalk, dazed and bloodied. It was night time, and I only saw a flurry of punches from Cheetah. After I picked Dave up from the ground and tended to his bloodied face, a ’round of drinks was forthcoming, and Dave and Cheetah became good friends.
First of all, don’t ever pick a fight with anyone called Cheetah. The odds are that they earned that name and not because they’re soft and cuddly like a little kitten! Secondly, keep an eye on your attacker’s hands. You never know when they might conceal a roll of coins, a knife, gun, stick, et cetera to use against you. Lastly, don’t go around to strange bars picking fights. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll always lose, and there’s always someone willing to take it on the chin and land you on your behind!
Cheetah had been a former prize fighter. He had lightning fast hands, faster than any of Dave’s other opponents. Added to the incredible speed was a roll of nickels in Cheetah’s clenched fist. This gave him a rock-solid hand to punch with. There were no hard feelings after the fight, but I believe Uncle Dave learned a valuable lesson that night.
I hold black belt ranks in several styles of martial arts, which include but are not limited to: Judo, Goju-ryu Karate, American Kenpo Karate, American Combat Karate, and others. However, I teach my students and am of the opinion that it’s always better to use your hands and/or feet as a last resort.
If you can secure some type of “equalizer”, such as a stick, rock, sap, black jack, baseball bat, baton, or any other such weapon, it’s better to use that than your bare hands or feet. When attacked, the attack will come viciously, without warning, with blinding speed, and the odds are that you’ll be outnumbered. So, why shouldn’t you have some sort of advantage in your hand when the deck is stacked against you?
Yeah, in my drinking days (now long gone), I was known to frequent bars in all types of neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods weren’t exactly friendly to folks of other races, either. Some figured if you were crazy enough to walk into their neighborhood and bar, you were “bad” enough to take any and all challengers on.
My childhood friend, Moe, and I were in just such a bar one night. Moe is Mexican– not your South-of-the-Border variety but the kind born and raised in Chicago. Like myself, he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. As a matter of fact, I can at least order food in a Mexican restaurant in the language of the people; Moe can’t! So much for the Mexican blood running through Moe’s veins.
Sober, I can barely shoot pool; after I’d had a number of drinks, I was virtually impossible to beat. Most of my friends would refuse to play pool with me after I’d gotten drunk. Moe, on the other hand, was a pretty fair man with a pool cue. His dad, Gunner, had a pool table in his basement that Moe used daily to get plenty of practice.
While drinking in an unfamiliar bar, Moe and I were challenged to a game of Eight Ball by some of the local patrons. At the onset I was fairly sober, but this changed with the consumption of several Cutty and water drinks. The locals had won several games from us, which was all fine and dandy. We were only playing for a few bucks a game. By the way, the local patrons were all white, but Moe isn’t! We should have known there would be problems when we first walked in and all the attention was focused on Moe.
The stakes were raised after several games of pool. The locals were feeling pretty lucky. Unfortunately, I was starting to get on the stick with my usual drunken accuracy. We started winning the (now) bigger table stakes. This didn’t bode very well with the locals. They were sure we had set them up by losing the first few games.
A pool cue is a pretty dandy weapon, when wielded properly– much like a bo or staff. I’ve always favored a stick over a knife, because it keeps your opponent farther away from you during a fight. Unfortunately, a stick is a bit hard to conceal and carry with you all the time. Luck was with me this time around, as a “stick” was already in my hands.
Words were exchanged. Remarks were directed at the “Mexican” I had with me, and fists started to fly, as did my pool cue! Moe is a fairly good-sized fellow; although not a trained fighter, he could give a good accounting of himself with his bare fists.
The fight wasn’t limited to the four of us; other friends of the locals quickly joined in. Within less than two minutes, the entire affair had been settled, and the Chicago Police were on their way. Moe and I jumped on our motorcycles and left, pronto!
First of all, I was a bit of a hard-headed individual in my younger days. I always thought it was pretty exciting to go into other neighborhoods and bars to drink. I thought of myself as being rather indestructible. My martial arts background and training had given me a pretty high self-confidence level. I could better handle two or three opponents easier than I could just one. When fighting multiple opponents, they tend to get in one another’s way, at least in my experience.
Don’t go looking for trouble; if you do, it’ll ALWAYS find you! As my Uncle Dave learned, you can always find someone willing to step outside with you.
Although Moe and I weren’t looking for trouble, we found it. We had simply wanted a change of scenery by going into this bar. It was located in a middle-class area of town. Still, trouble ALWAYS has a way of brewing after alcohol has been consumed. If you have no business being in that particular part of town, then stay away!
If you have no business (or friends) in a particular bar or tavern, then stay away! One of the best ways to avoid a fight, is not to be there when one starts.
I’ve always been a fan of down-to-earth, simple, basic techniques. The Hollywood movies would lead you to believe that nothing works in a fight except fancy, high-flying kicks and make-believe “mysterious” punches. Such is NOT the case!
You should always attempt to direct your attack at your opponent’s most vulnerable areas, too. This is the essence of “dirty fighting”. In the above fight, one of the best vulnerable areas was the groin. Don’t ever be afraid to attack your opponent’s vulnerable areas.
As with any physical skill, you must master the basic techniques. Without mastery of basic physical skills, advanced skills will not be learned (properly) or mastered. In my martial arts classes and seminars, I constantly instill the importance of mastering the B-A-S-I-C- skills and techniques before moving on to a more advanced one.
The bar fight Moe and I were involved in ended rather quickly, thanks to the weapons– the pool cues– we had in-hand! Moe made a good accounting of himself simply by swinging his pool cue like a baseball bat or club. I, on the other hand, used several simple moves.
One of the most effective is the horizontal stroke. This is exactly like the old military horizontal butt stroke, performed with a rifle. The pool cue is swung horizontally toward your opponent’s head or body area. (In my case, I aimed for the head.)
The next easiest and very effective move is the vertical stroke. Again, this is exactly like the military vertical “butt” stroke with a rifle. The pool cue (or other stick-type weapon) is brought up from the ground in a straight vertical movement. Your two target areas are the groin or chin. In the above fight, I went right to the groin area.
In my U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Unit, we had a black drill sergeant who would occasionally teach our so-called “hand-to-hand combat” classes. He would always tell us to strike, kick, or hit the enemy in the “groan”. Obviously, he was mispronouncing “groin”. However, when you stop and think about, it really is a strike to the “groan” area. I just thought I’d mention this little tidbit for “historical” purposes. (PSG Johnson, if you’re out there, thanks for the “groan” lessons. My opponents have always “groaned” when hit in the “groin”.)
Donald was a great big guy, standing well above my 5′ 11′ height. However, he was younger and obviously not very bright. I don’t exactly recall the circumstances that brought him into the life of our family, but somehow or another he was dating one of my sisters.
A feud broke out between me and this sister; it was merely sibling rivalry and nothing serious. This sort of thing always happens between brothers and sisters!
Donald happened to be standing in our front yard and heard the commotion. He was determined to be my sister’s hero by calling me out. That was a big mistake!
I flew out the door and didn’t touch a single step leading down to the walk. In short order, I had Donald on the ground, unable to breath, speak, or follow through on his challenge. The fight was over in a blink. Luckily, my dad arrived on the scene and broke up the whole affair. Otherwise, Donald might not have survived my attack.
Be merciless and unrelenting in your attack. Surprise and the first blow often wins battles. In Donald’s case, he didn’t really expect me to take the drastic action I did. He had no idea I would bound through the door and launch such a vicious attack on him. I suspect he thought the fight would be nothing more than a huffing match. You know the kind– two men standing there threatening one another to see who would back down first.
Although an adversary may be bigger and stronger than you, surprise and aggressiveness (on your part) may rule the day. In this incident, I knew that Donald was much bigger and stronger than me. I knew that he considered himself some kind of tough guy. I also knew that if a person couldn’t breathe, they couldn’t do much harm.
Go for the throat! If a person can’t breath, they’ll break off any aggressive action in rapid order. I immediately grasped Donald’s windpipe in a death grip. I could have easily crushed his trachea without any resistance from him.
At the time, I used all four fingers and my thumb to subdue my opponent. I’ve since learned an even better and more effective technique.
First of all, it’s extremely difficult to get all four of your fingers behind and around the trachea. With sheer brute force it can be done. Master martial artist John McSweeney, however, has developed a better (and easier) technique, called the Eagle’s Talon or Eagle’s Claw.
This technique is executed using only the thumb and index finger (of either hand). Using a pincer motion (like a lobster does with its claw), you grab the windpipe with the index finger and thumb. It is now very easy to apply a grasping motion and pinch the windpipe between the finger and thumb. This technique is deadly if performed with any amount of force. You can easily crush or rip-out a persons windpipe, thereby killing them!
I want to warn all readers that this is a deadly technique, and it is one to be used only when deadly force is being used against you. If a doctor or medic is on hand when this technique is used, they may be able to save your opponent’s life. If, however, no trained and properly equipped “medico” is on the scene, it’s going to be the end of the line for your attacker! This is dirty fighting at its best!
You’re gonna love this tale. I wasn’t involved, but I was a witness, and what I’m about to tell you is 100% true!
The west side of Chicago, Illinois is a part of town you don’t want to be caught in after dark, even if you live there! This is one tough area, to be sure. I was in this area while working a temporary job driving a dump truck. While assigned to work with the Streets & Sanitation Department, I witnessed a brutal attack.
It was like any other summer day in Chicago– hot and humid! The work crew was finishing up a patch job at a street corner. Our crew was made up of whites, blacks, and a Hispanic fellow. We were not quite the U.N., but we were close. The neighborhood we were working in was, for the most part, made up of blacks.
While waiting (in my truck) for the crew to finish their job, I saw a young black man (probably in his late teens or early 20’s) standing across the street from us in front of a hamburger stand. Another black man, probably in his late teens or early 20’s, come up behind the first black man. I saw that he had a baseball bat in his hands. This wasn’t going to be pretty, because no one involved had a baseball glove or ball.
The second man got into the most picture-perfect batting stance I’ve ever seen. He took a full swing and struck the first man square in the back of the skull. The first man’s head went flying across the street, as you would expect… NOT!
Much to my surprise and amazement, the fellow who had been attacked by the of full force of the baseball bat went down to his knees and then almost as quickly came right back up swinging at the man who attacked him. I don’t know the details of the entire affair; I’m guessing it was probably a drug deal gone bad or some sort of love triangle.
I beeped my horn to alert the work crew to the incident, and we high-tailed it out of the area as quick as everyone could get on the truck. To this day, I don’t know the outcome of the fight, but my money was on the guy who got hit with the bat.
At least we had a racially-diverse work crew. This is somewhat acceptable to the residents of certain (racial or ethnic background) neighborhoods in Chicago. The Ward Supervisor, in his wisdom, had seen to it that our crew had this racial mix. As a matter of fact, I believe we had more black men on the crew than whites.
I believe it was prudent on our part to high-tail it out of the neighborhood when the fight broke out. Remember the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, CA a few years ago. Poor Reginald Denny found himself in the wrong part of town at the wrong time. It nearly cost him his life.
After this incident, I started carrying my 6″ Colt Trooper, .357 Magnum revolver with me. I kept it under the front seat of the truck. I just didn’t have a lot of faith in my little Colt Detective Special that I kept in an ankle holster. I was of the opinion, at the time, that bigger was better. If one gun was good, then two were better.
Well, as for our part, we got away from the troubled area as fast as we could. There was no sense in our work crew staying in the immediate area to cheer on the contestants.
The technique used in this attack, by the second man (with the baseball bat), should have been a sound one, but it wasn’t. The law of physics would seemingly dictate that the first man’s head should have been cleanly removed from his shoulders or at the very least his skull should have been crushed by the blow, but it wasn’t!
I can only imagine the surprise and sheer terror that the second man experienced when the man he hit with the baseball bat went down on his knees only to come right back up swinging! That’s enough said.
I teach my students the importance of ALWAYS carrying some type of weapon with them, even if they don’t realize they have a weapon. This part of my class is simply called “Improvised Weapons”. Students are taught to take what they have on hand and use it as a weapon against an attacker. In my class, I give the students 10 seconds to find an improvised weapon and explain to the rest of the class how they’ll use it. This procedure is repeated several more times throughout the first hour of this particular class, until everyone gets the idea. We then spend the second hour of the class building much more sophisticated, improvised weapons, some pretty deadly, too! A little common sense and thought have produced some real interesting, improvised weapons, even by my very young (5-12 year old) students.
I think I already mentioned that I was a bit on the skinny side when I was growing up. (I’ve since made up for it, though.) While I was a freshman in high school, there was one particular senior who thought it was fun to pick on me. Oh, he never beat me up or anything like that’ he just found ways to embarrass me, mess up my hair, and you know, things like that. Every school has one of these guys. This fellow was probably six feet tall and outweighed me by at least 50 or 60 pounds.
I was always fortunate enough to have this character sit with me during study hall and lunch. I guess no one else wanted to be his “friend”. Lucky me. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was also “fortunate” enough to run into this guy between classes in the halls.
It’s simply amazing what a rolled-up magazine can do to a fellow. I had finally had enough of this monster bullying me, and I let him have it, right in the belly with a rolled-up gun magazine. To this day, I remember that it was an issue of the “NRA’s AMERICAN RIFLEMAN” magazine.
Don’t ever let a bully get the best of you. No matter how big they are, they can be taken out, especially if you catch ’em by surprise. The longer you let things go on, the harder it is to correct the situation. I didn’t want to make waves in my new school, because my folks were paying some serious money to send me to a private Lutheran high school. I didn’t want to blow it, but there has to come a time when you take a stand.
As already mentioned, I rolled up a magazine and jammed it into this guys gut. Oh, it didn’t kill him or anything like that. However, there is immense power in something so simple, like a rolled-up newspaper or magazine, if used properly. I completely caught this guy by surprise and knocked the wind out of him. He was NEVER a problem after that. He still sat at the same table in study hall and at lunch, but he had a new respect for me after I fought back.
A rolled-up newspaper works just as well as a magazine; it might be even better, because you can get a real good two-handed hold on it when you thrust it into someone’s gut, face, throat, et cetera.
You can also use it to slap someone across the face. Now, while this won’t stop their attack, it will divert their attention long enough for you to find a better target, like the groin, gut, throat, et cetera.
A ball point pen can be used to stab someone in the face or eyes. An attack to an eye socket will just about guarantee an end to the attack. If they can’t see you, they can’t hurt you.
I also teach my students to use their keys to strike at someone’s eyes. The ripping motion can blind a person. The blood from the ripping motion can also run into an attacker’s eyes, blinding him.
Women, for the most part, carry an arsenal with them in their purses. Nail files, hair spray (when sprayed into the eyes can permanently blind a person), car and house keys, and even the purse itself can be used as a weapon when swung at the head area. Have you ever picked up a woman’s purse? They’re heavy.
How about a hand full of change, flung into someone’s face. It can injure an eye, and at the very least give you a moment to escape or plan your attack. A few rocks carried in your coat or pants pocket can also be flung into an attacker’s face.
The list of improvised weapons is only limited by your own imagination. Take a few minutes right now to inventory what you have in your pockets, purse, or within your reach that can be used as a weapon.
Right now, if front of me, I see two pairs of scissors, numerous magazines and newspapers, PC disks (that can be flung), a briefcase that can be swung, two staplers that can be used as striking weapons or for that matter how about a few staples (stapled) into an attacker’s face? Ouch!
If I look to what I’m carrying as weapons right now, my right front pocket has an Ernest Emerson Commander folding combat knife (clipped inside the pocket, for rapid deployment) as well as a lot of loose change. My left front pocket has a Gerber (Applegate-Fairbairn) Covert folding knife (also, clipped inside the pocket) and two sets of keys. In my left rear pocket, I have my wallet, which contains my private investigator’s badge (I still take on a few PI cases every now and then). This badge has a 7-point star, and it could be flung into someone’s face (ala, martial arts throwing stars), or it could be used as a stabbing device to a face. On my right hip is Glock Model 26, 9mm pistol with a 10-round magazine plus another spare magazine in my jacket pocket, both loaded with Norma (made by Black Hills Ammunition) 9mm 124 gr. Plus P ammo.
The above should give you some kind of an idea as to what type of improvised weapons you have with you for immediate use. Don’t be afraid of being a “Dirty Fighter”. At least you’ll be a live fighter after an attack.
Remember, this is Street Combat – This Ain’t No Game!