But if attacked or forced to fight for your safety and for your family's safety, I don't believe that ANY rules exist. Unlike the Dojang where we operate under a set of moral codes and with honour; on the street, all those rules and codes cease to exist and your survival or the wellbeing of your loved ones should be your only concern. That's why when we practice self-defence techniques in the Dojang, sometimes it seems odd that we are talking about striking the groin or kicking the knees or striking the eyes!
On the street, every situation is different and no matter how good you are as a Martial Artist, you are out of your element in an unfamiliar situation and the assailant facing you truly wants to hurt you. So, remain aware of your situation and your surroundings, constantly assess what is going on around you, be dynamic and adaptive as things change.
For those of you (and I hope this applies to 99.9% of you) who have not been in a street fighting situation, the following are some guidelines to consider improving your odds of survival.
- Do NOT show off or show your knowledge of Rhee Tae Kwon Do
When confronted, do not step into a back stance with a knife hand guarding block and KIAP at your assailant! While many people believe that showing off their knowledge of Martial Arts will make their attackers panic, most likely it will escalate the situation and take away your element of surprise, that one lone attacker you were initially confronting might pick up a weapon or call more of his friends or become more aggressive now that he knows that he is facing a "Martial Arts Expert"! So, remember the "I don't want to fight" position and keep your element of surprise in your pocket.
- There is no honour in a "street fight"
The mentality of "I will let the assailant attack first, and I will block that attack and then counterattack" very rarely works in a street attack! The "I will NOT use any objects around me to help me defend myself" or the "I will fight fair and won't kick them in the groin or hit them when they are down", are all points that work against you in a real fight situation! When your life is on the line, being honourable will get you killed! When you are fighting for your life or to defend the life of a loved one, fighting fair means, doing everything that is possible to survive!
So once again, remember you training, strike the vital points, punch the groin, grab the testicles, poke the eyes, pull the ears, bite, kick below the belt, pick up a stick to give you advantage and range. Do whatever is needed to survive this ordeal.
- No expectations
Do NOT believe for a second that you have the advantage! Do not underestimate your opponent! That person facing you could be bigger than you, stronger than you, faster than you, smarter than you, he could be a 5th Dan Martial Artist or thug with a knife. So do not expect him to act or move like your Dojang training partner. The whole "he will step and punch, I will sidestep and perform a knife hand strike and the whole thing will be over" never ever works out that way. So have no expectations, your assailant will move differently to you and attack differently to you, so be ready! Remember your basics and your training. Have no expectations and there will be no disappointments!
- You will be hit
I'm sorry to say that, but the possibility of you walking away from a street fight untouched and unscathed is very HIGHLY unlikely! You must be psychologically prepared that you will get hit, that you will be hurt. You must focus on the outcome and keep fighting through the pain. Never give up! You are fighting for your life. The good news is that your body will be pumping so much adrenaline, it probably won't hurt very much, but it works both ways! Which leads me to the next point ...
- One Hit Wonder
As adrenaline will be coursing through your veins and the veins of your attacker, it will be very hard to gauge your assailant's resilience and ability to withstand pain and punishment. So don't think that this whole ordeal will end with a One Hit. Once again remember your training, remember your combinations, remember how in self-defence we attack multiple areas and vital points. This is not a movie, this is real life and violence in real life is ugly, so now is not the time to be flamboyant or to show off, now is not the time to do your first spinning heal kick to the face or try new techniques you have never done before. The higher your kicks, the more easily they are to be caught and the more off balance you could be, especially if you are wearing tight fitting clothes, dresses, or skirts! So, keep your kicks low and fall back on your tried and tested drills and remember keep your guards up and your centre of balance low.
As I have first mentioned, there are no rules for self-defence and every situation is different and dynamic. Use your head (in more ways than one), be situationally aware, stay dynamic and adaptive, and I truly hope that you never have to use your Tae Kwon Do skills or self-defence techniques in real life!