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Paul Vunak - Anatomy Of A Street Fight

The First Minute of the Fight
Encounters can be broken down several different ways. In this case we are going to be emphasizing how a fight actually starts and what to do in the very first minute.

In order to facilitate this we are going to divide a street fight into two areas. One is a mugging type energy, in this sort of fight you go from 0-100 in a nano-second. In this sort of fight one is walking down the street and they are literally mugged. This type of encounter dictates that we circumvent the preliminary analysis and pot shotting and go directly into the rally. This kind of encounter happens so quickly, in many occasions, one doesn’t even get the chance to feel that typical adrenaline dump. Like a knee jerk, if I started and you ended it, using just the rally. This particular type of fight happens less than two percent of the time. In far more cases physical altercations are preceded with a minor vehicular collision, name calling, verbal abuse, pushing, and eventually escalating to a full blown street fight.

So now let us address this type of scenario, once again which in deed will happen 95% of the time. Using Bruce Lee’s lexicon, the first twenty seconds of the match is called
Preliminary Analysis. One’s goal during this stage is two fold.

Take several deep breaths and calm yourself down. While you are doing so, from the very safe distance, analyze your opponent. Get a feel for how this fella is moving. If he is squared off with his knees bent, and an obvious look on his face that, “I’m going to come at you with a double leg takedown”, you will smell wrestler.

If his hands are down, with know sense of distance or form, and swinging wild elliptical blows, you will sniff out that this guy is a street fighter. And finally if he is in some low convoluted stance with his hands on his hips, then the answer to your analysis is Karate Man.

Once these first 10-30 seconds have gone by, and we have taken several deep breaths, calmed ourselves down, and have a sense for who we are fighting, our next goal is to dictate the range and cadence of this match.

And the two best tools to do this are, a jab and a shuffle kick. We use these two tools because, the Jab can equate to the eyeballs, the shuffle kick can equate to the groin, both tools can be flicked out with an excellent risk to reward ratio.

Again this stage of the match is called pot shooting. Picture that you have figured your opponent out and you stick him in the face with a couple of jabs, then you fake a jab, and come to the groin. Then Fake the groin, come back with a jab. This continual attack enables us to go high-low-high, engaging progressive indirect energy. And at the same time, if either of these blows land, it could end the match. Now that we have our opponent, flinching, scared, nervous, and biting on our fakes. It is time to close this deal and go home to our family. Enter Rally…

The termination of this fight that we call a rally, is best executed by a straight blast, with a succession of head butts, knees, and elbows, from a Thai clinch (sound familiar). In conclusion, the first 20 seconds of this fight we stay at a safe distance, take several deep breaths and check out this fella. Next we go to pot shotting, where we stick him with jabs and shuffle groin shots. And finally, after one of said shots connects, we follow up with the rally. And during this final stage of rally, should be our greatest explosion of punches, knees, head butts, elbows and face bites. And just like a math problem, if we ever want to test Bruce’s theories, just multiply your division by watching a world class MMA match. These same principles are now being applied some 40 years!


What is the best weapon to hit somebody with, should I go to the eyes or the groin first? Is it true that a better first shot is initiated if we can fool the opponent to look the other direction either verbally or with our eyes? Which lead should I be in when I initiate my first shot? Questions that all have this general tenor, assume one thing, and that is that we are in a range to already hit our opponent, furthermore it is us that gets to choose which blow and which target. The problem with this is a simple one, if you can hit the opponent he can hit you. If you can jab the opponents eyes, the opponent can jab your eyes. Therefore the first rule of Jeet Kune Do is to Intercept. In order for an interception to occur, we must be outside the range of our opponent.

If an altercation looks like it’s going to escalate into something physical, in those first seconds of the match one needs to get in a safe range (Bruce Lee named this period Preliminary Analysis).

Now our particular altercation takes us up to, stepping out in to a safe range during our preliminary analysis, taking a deep breath and beginning Phase 2.

Phase 2 has us relaxed in a fighting stance, breathing, and in safe range. Conversely, our opponent is doing none of the above, and out of rage and stupidity, the opponent is encroaching upon us, in order for his attack. Now using Bruce Lee’s # 1 principle of
economy of motion, we strike with our longest weapon to the opponent’s closest target. This is of course the shuffle kick to the groin.

This will do one of two things. It will either end the fight completely. Or create a relationship between you and your opponent, where you are the puppeteer and the opponent is your puppet. When you hit the groin, the opponent’s in pain. When we fake the groin, the opponent drops his hands, and then we attack the eyes. Then we reverse this process, fake the eyes, and then go to the groin. This second stage of the fight Bruce appropriately named “Pot Shotting”.

I will begin Phase 3 by answering a few questions. I stated that our phase 3 termination was elbows, knees, head butts, and biting. This facilitated several questions… Is there anything more violent than that? Is that the very limit? My answer is a definitive no, hell no! If one is in the middle of their phase 3 rally, with head butts, elbows, and knees, and know that there are two other guys in the wings while our assault out of the Thai clinch is occurring, one may step it up by of course grabbing a bottle, breaking it, with repeated jabs and soonketties to everyone’s face in the bar, combining this with projectile weaponry, pool balls, bottles, and Kina Mutai face bites that would make Hannibal lector look timid.

One escalates the game to these heights to protect their family during a lethal mass attack, once any of these blows land, people tend to scream and bleed profusely. And we use this asymmetric military paradigm to affect our escape. I hope this answers all of your questions…


Stress Inoculation
“In any kind of combat situation, be it military, weapons, or empty hands, the emotional dimension is first and foremost the most difficult obstacle to overcome. How one deals with physiological responses, has very little to do with natural ability, and everything to do with a desensitization process. Basically what I am saying here is, the more you do something, the less it rattles you emotionally!”.

Certain training methods that I originally devised for SEAL Team 6, were created to desensitize these young soldiers in their early 20s to the rigors of combat. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most intense, the methods that I am going to share with you would be somewhere between a 2 and a 3. The following is one of my favorite stress inoculation drills for ground fighting. Our ultimate goal on the Ground is to be emotionally relaxed in any position. And this task is impossible when one is so uncomfortable, so claustrophobic, and exhausted that they are in a panic. Therefore our goal with Stress Inoculation is to get the subjects brain chemistry in that same panic modality. And then gradually and progressively increase this level of stress until an actual emotional/physiological inoculation occurs.

Step 1: Turn up the heat in the room.
Step 2: Wear three layers of sweat clothes.
Step 3: Wrestle with your friend – (who is shirtless cool and comfortable) to the point of extreme exhaustion (no finishing holds).
Step 4: Do this twice a day for a month. Each time try to double the length of time you were able to endure.
Step 5: Repeat Step 1 through 4, and now get an additional person. You should now be wrestling two shirtless opponents while still wearing 3 sweatshirts. The heat should be blasting.

Once you are pretty much able to play defense indefinitely under these conditions you can truly say that you are on your way to understanding the concept of stress inoculation and the eventual mastery of the “emotional dimension”.

Stress Inoculation Standing-Up
Most beginning martial artists learn, within the first 6 months of their training, that when somebody throws a punch at them they are going to flinch. This response from flinching gets slowly desensitized as the students get more and more punches thrown towards their face (in a small way this is stress inoculation). Obviously with our military paradigm, while training Navy Seals, everything has to be ramped up to the ninth degree. After the beginning student gets used to taking punches and kicks, now we spar two on one.

In the beginning everyone is going about 50%. Gradually this sort of sparring can be escalated to whatever degree is appropriate. It is important to know that the team of two, are acting as coaches and teachers at the same time, and must work in tandem when assaulting one individual. Sometimes knowing when to give the man a little rest and let him up, other times intuiting when to really put the “screws” in.

Once one has put in roughly 10 hours of 2 on 1 sparring, and then they go back to sparring with just one individual, the feeling is deliciously indescribable. The usual issues that intimidate you don’t any more, moments that you would normally be in an uncomfortable or panicky position, you aren’t any more.

When you have twice as many punches hitting your face, it almost feels like a machine gun. Just as you get out of the way of one guy, it seems like you are stepping right into another guys punch. One’s line familiarization, reflexes, agility, footwork and of course pain tolerance (the ability to take a punch) are all tripled as a consequence of this type of training.

Once this is accomplished kickboxing, the absolute same principles can be applied with single stick, double stick, stick and knife, etc… Most professional fighters will tell you, the most challenging issues of training is finding a sparring partner that even resembles the abilities of the fella you are fighting. Well when you are sparring two people, that issue becomes irrelevant. So in conclusion stress inoculation training, I consider to be one of the very very highest principles relative to training someone for actual functional combat. I wouldn’t recommend allowing your students to run rampant with this type of training, as this is advanced teaching, and should be done by advanced teachers...


The Accordion Drill – “The bread & butter backbone of all of our drills.”

The accordion drill is the most complete and realistic drill that we have in our arsenal. The one thing that is guaranteed in a fight is that nothing is guaranteed. The only constant in a fight, is the knowledge that there are no constants. Real combat, flexes and undulates, in perpetual motion. And as this real fight flexes, and “breathes”, so do the weapons, number of opponents, and actual fight locations. As Bruce would say, “be like water and be able to adapt to any container”, I would say, in my slightly less ethereal way, “be complete”. If you are a complete fighter, you can now adapt to the various changes and permutations that occur during most fights. In order to be complete, we must first, ascertain what types of fights there are in the real world. And basically we have, weapons fights, which can be broken down into blunt, or edged weapons, we have stand-up fights, which can be broken down into, one on one, or mass attack. Then there are ground fights, which can be further broken down into one on one or mass attack or with weapons (a blunt weapon such as a stick in most cases is a hindrance on the ground, we find edged weapons more viable).

In real combat, which is fighters bent on each other’s destruction, most fights vacillate between all of the above mentioned scenarios. One moment, we are standing up with the stick in our hand, the next moment we are tackled to the ground and in a world of jiu-jitsu, perhaps we can do a quick bite, come to our feet and be chased for a half of a block, end up fighting two guys, and maybe somewhere in there you find another weapon and this entire violent encounter recycles.

As Bruce said, “
one will fight the way they train and train the way they fight”. For this reason the accordion drill is the ultimate training method for this end.

Directions: Load two of your students up with a stick in their hand, and put a knife in the back of their pants. Now initiate long range stick fighting, allow your students to spar for about 30 seconds, and then have them seamlessly throw down their stick and pull out their knife.

Now allow them to knife spar for about another 20-30 seconds, and then have them kick box, let this continue for a while, and perhaps instruct them to clinch, allow them to do the Thai clinch and pummeling while they are sparring, and perhaps yell “hit the ground”, now your students are practicing sparring on the ground, using mainly their jiu-jitsu, hopefully simulating their Kina Mutai. And the teacher, if he or she chooses, can instruct their students to come to their feet, and start all over again with a knife. It is important to know as a teacher, you are allowed to… in fact it is your duty … to literally makeup these various sparring permutations on the spot.

Your students should never know what they are going to do, till you tell them to do it. Eventually when you have some of your top guys, going full speed through out this entire accordion drill, going from knife fighting to ground fighting to biting to kickboxing, back to stick, etc. etc…

It is of dire importance, that the students know, that this drill must continue through all the transitions (Don’t break the flow!!!) of one weapon to another. In other words, one cannot stop, put down the stick, stand-up, scratch-their butt, pull out the knife, bow, etc… What they should do is viscerally and effortlessly flow from thing to thing.

Your higher-level students will come to the correct conclusion that every time they come to class they are actually in a street fight, hidden by a group class. The proverbial broccoli inside the chocolate...



The "U-Drill" our most empowering drill
90% of the battle of teaching someone how to defend themselves lies within the emotional dimension. Once someone has the self confidence that what they do will work the odds of that happening are increased exponentially. Any coach in any sport can affirm this belief. So now the all important question becomes, how do you instill self-confidence in students in a quick and efficient manner?

Since self confidence is an attribute, and attributes are developed by drills then the question becomes, what is the best drill? After 30 years and 30,000 drills later my humble answer to you is the “U-Drill”. For those of you who don’t know, the “U-Drill” comes from our knife training. One side has a knife, one side does not. The person without a knife, gently place or rest one hand on your partners forearm (the forearm holding the knife). The person holding the knife is the teacher executing the drill. The mission of the teacher with the knife is to slowly take, slices at your partners stomach. Think of these slices resembling a tennis forehand and backhand stroke (the mechanics of this action resemble a U). The recipient doing the drill, should switch from right hand back to left hand, occasionally both hands can be checking the knife. As the knife feeder, as you notice your student effortlessly deflecting the blade, you eventually start to speed up. Soon you will find, that your students body is moving nimbly, moving with agility, nimbleness and cat like movement. Once the teacher as ascertained the students maximum speed, it is now time to put on a pair of goggles on your student and grab a live blade. Start out slow again feeding, and work your way up in speed. I will give you my personal guarantee, that as a teacher, when you feed this drill properly to a student in front of a class, going full speed, using a live blade for about 2 minutes, and then stop and the whole class screams out with applause, your students eyes, are as round as quarters. Their heart is pounding, and they themselves are amazed at what they just accomplished. Again in my most humble opinion, I believe this to be the most profoundly and powerful drill, that one can do for self-confidence. And all of this can be accomplished in one hour.


The Nut Cracker (The best drill in the world against the street ground & pound)
Notice in our title, we say street ground and pound as apposed to sport ground and pound. The expression ground and pound refers to two things. First a takedown, and secondly repeated punches on the face. When one is in a sport situation, they are only fighting one opponent, and that opponent always starts in front of them. In a street situation, the actual takedown can flank you from the side, the blind spot, or from directly behind you. When we are takedown from any of these aforementioned angles it is a completely different experience. More like the feeling of being tackled in football, and less like the feeling of being in a wrestling match. However in football, like in street fighting, one can be taken down from literally any angle. However once this occurs in football the play is over. Once this occurs in a street fight you have just begun. The nano second that one hits the ground, from some unseen angle their objective is to try and land softly on the cement (as opposed to slapping out), and instantly spin and pull guard.

While we have landed safely and are spinning the opponent in the guard, we must simultaneously grab their head and wrap one arm. Once this maneuver is achieved, we hang on for a while, and at the appropriate time do a face bite and kick off and simply come to our feet.

This is the best and safest thing any human can do against another human attempting a ground and pound. However with that said as with all techniques this maneuver should be trained repeatedly and intensely. So as to become hardwired in the subconscious. The best way that we have found to do this is the nut cracker. The nutcracker drill means we have between 6 and 12 people participating, one person in the middle. The person in the middle is roughly 10 – 15 feet away from everyone. Each person around the circle is given a number, and the instructor arbitrarily calls these numbers out. When your number is heard, from whatever angle you are at, relative to the man in the middle. You simply shoot in and attempt a ground and pound. The guy in the middle will spin, pull guard, wrap the arm and neck, hang on for 5 seconds, then they instantly stand up and within 3 seconds the instructor is yelling out another number. This entire process is repeated, 10 to 20 times on each poor bastard in the middle. But by the end of the day, this and an apple will keep the doctor away.


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