My question is an extend to the question, How do you prepare for the stress of a real self-defense situation?

The thing is, fighting is not a thing to be taken lightly, even in a perilous situation.

On a boxing ring, if a competitor is being knocked out, people from the medical staff take immediately care of him. In a real fight situation, the guy that gets knocked out:

  • Could fall on concrete.
  • If he can't get up by himself, he has to wait for about 10 minutes until an ambulance shows up.

That's why I'm asking, in a case where you have to face more than one opponent, in a case where putting someone into submission is not enough to end the fight:

  • Does knocking someone out by leading a punch to the chin (or somewhere else on the head) is willing to be lethal ?
  • Could a brutal blow to the solar plexus leads to death ?
  • I heard that a solid kick to the groin could also lead to death.
  • Is it ok to break someone's arm (it won't kill him) if you are given the opportunity ? (Through a submission or something.).

How to be a fighter without being a murderer ?

Of course if such an opportunity is given to you, the best way not to loose a fight is to run away. I don't encourage people fighting when they can avoid the fight.

  • 1
    "How to be a fighter without being a murderer?" - Surely your goal in a 'steet fight' shouldn't be 'to be a fighter'? It should be to get away from the dangerous situation without getting hurt. Fight as little as possible to facilitate running the heck away, not to 'win the fight'!
    – Tussles
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:22
  • Sure, but in the case you can't run away ? Worse, in the case you have to defend a friend ? Your girlfriend ? Your son ? Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:29
  • 1
    Even then your goal should be to get them and yourself away from the fight, not to 'win the fight'. If you have to punch a guy in the face to do it then fine, but don't be thinking that there's a 'safe' way that involves fighting. Heck, even just sticking your foot out and tripping someone can be dangerous if the ground is concrete and they fall badly.
    – Tussles
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 11:44
  • 2
    Your question is either unclear (my close vote) or way over broad with no possible "right" answer. In the former: Are you asking for legal advice? Are you asking for a range of possible responses to a threat? What kind of threat? There are thousands of way to answer your question. If the later, the only sensible answer is either do not be there or do not get caught. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 16:07
  • 2
    By definition, in a street fight, everyone's life is in danger. Only way to avoid that is to end the street fight ASAP, by the most expedient means available. Here's what I think you really meant: "How can I survive a street fight without permanently injuring or killing anyone?" If that's what you meant, you should edit the question to make it clearer. Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 16:50

12 Answers 12


In a case where you have to face more than one opponent, in a case where putting someone into submission is not enough to end the fight:

If you're more comfortable with the idea of using submissions, then you can train for that: arts/skills such as Chin-Na, some schools of jujitsu, hapkido, aikido... all teach joint locks that let you control one opponent while you're still standing, so you're better able to watch and react to attacks from any other opponents. If they have "friends", you could attempt some negotiation as they hopefully won't want their friend hurt. At a very high level of skill, you may be able to pin multiple opponents.

That said, you have to be massively better than your opponents to use these arts effectively against multiple opponents - and if you're asking about options on here you're at best a decade of hard training away from that. Striking or wrestling is easier to learn and apply.

Does knocking someone out by leading a punch to the chin (or somewhere else on the head) is willing to be lethal ? Could a brutal blow to the solar plexus leads to death ? I heard that a solid kick to the groin could also lead to death.

Any strike (and many other forms of attack) might be dangerous... especially when the opponent is untrained, and may have a medical condition. In very general terms, a strike to the head, neck or throat is going to be higher risk to life than a strike to the torso, which is in turn more dangerous than to the legs or arms, but the specifics of the situation tend to be more important than these generalities.

As a point of departure, I'd prefer to kick someone once or twice in the thigh and see if that debilitated them before escalating to other targets. As a kyokushin stylist, I have plenty of experience on both ends of such kicks, and know the average person who doesn't train for them should quickly find their thigh corked and be little further threat unless armed. You can generally do that while defending your head and torso with your arms, and don't have to get as close as you do to punch to the head; there's relatively little risk. And it's much easier than hoping to target specific nerve groups or "pressure points" with strikes or joint locks, the real-world effects of which are famously variable.

But I say "point of departure" pointedly - if you bother to form a mental model of how you'd prefer to manage a fight, many fights won't obligingly fit in. It's good to get used to the unexpected (e.g. by forcing yourself to mix up your strategies/tactics during sparring). As one example - against one charging opponent I charged back with a deliberately gentle gliding side thrusting kick to the chest, the opponent landed pretty heavily and may have hit his head, but not too hard - he could stand up again a few minutes later and walk off.

With the low mawashi geri / roundhouse thigh kick, if you accidentally hit the knee, or if they fall hard or stumble in a dangerous environment - the damage could still be far greater than intended.

All that contrasts with breaking the arm... to be in position to do that usually means you've already taken - or had thrust upon you - many other risks and a longer period of close quarters attack and defence.

Is it ok to break someone's arm (it won't kill him) if you are given the opportunity ? (Through a submission or something.).

Whether it's "ok" is partly between you and your local laws, partly you and your conscience, partly whether you're prepared to deal with all the other consequences. It's good that you're researching and thinking about it beforehand so you're not spending crucial time debating such things with yourself during an actual attack, or under- or over-reacting to a situation in a way you'll come to regret. Once you've got some general ideas about what you think's sensible, talking about it with people whose opinion of you you most value is a good idea too - you want to be comfortable with how they react if you ever have to do something, and it can't hurt for them to know that you are reluctant to injure people and wouldn't do it gratuitously - they'll be more likely to assess any incident from your perspective, then be sympathetic and supportive.

If I had to summarise my impression of the general consensus in the martial arts community, I'd say it was that doing the minimum that's necessary to escape significant physical harm - or protect others from it - is normally "acceptable" to the community, your family, friends and the law, but there are certainly exceptions.

The more skill you have, the lower that minimum usually is.

Whether breaking arms specifically is a better strategy to aim and manoeuvre for than a striking-jaw KO, solar-plexus strike etc. from the perspective of doing "responsible" damage is a very tricky question - arguably needing a statistical analysis in which the specifics would again outweigh the generalities. For me personally I'd never aim for an arm break - though I've train a few years in joint locking arts, I've trained a few decades in striking ones, and it just isn't my go-to skill set or fighting style for serious situations.

All up, if you're in danger and the opportunity presents itself first, and the fight seems desperate enough that you may not get other opportunities, it may be reasonable strategically to take the opening - if you think they intend similar or greater violence. That said, in positions from which you can break, you sometimes have the chance - if you have the skill to maintain control, the time and no other opponents pressing - to let the opponent know that and give them the choice to settle down, or wait for other parties to arrive. That's clearly more responsible than breaking as soon as you can.

  • I found your comment very useful and interesting. Considering you are a well trained martial artist do you think that "spinning" moves such as spinning hook kick, spinning punch, capoeira compasso win efficiency against multiple opponents ? I think it gives you sight around you while keeping most of the opponents at a distance. Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 16:10
  • 2
    @Vae_newbis: no... spinning attacks tends to be risky, and unless you have a dramatic advantage in size, speed and experience - many spinning techniques are easily blocked, countered and/or caught. If the situation's escalated into full-on violence, I recommend taking any chances to step into an opponent's "blind side" (moving behind the line of their shoulders) - striking or tripping them then - all other things being equal - turning whichever way's natural to remain facing them (on the ground): you'll tend to get a bit of a look around as that happens.
    – Tony D
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 7:27
  • 1
    I like the point about kicking the thigh. And that point stresses another; your approach will be different depending on whether or not you are facing trained fighters or brawlers. In my opinion, true martial arts practitioners are not brawlers. It goes against the philosophy of martial arts.
    – JoSSte
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 10:22

There's two goals here, and they don't necessarily overlap.

Less harmful techniques

The techniques less likely to result in serious injury or death for your opponent(s) are to restrain them. Unfortunately, restraining them requires tying up part of your body to do so - limiting your mobility and your ability to defend yourself against others.

These techniques are also often easier to defend legally, since they usually also result in less harm. ("often", and "usually" are key words here. If you tear out someone's shoulder, even accidentally, the final result weighs in a lot.)

Reducing the number of attackers quickly

The techniques which quickly stop people from being threats... are usually pretty harmful - bone breaking, joint damage, or weapons. When you look at methods for dealing with multiple attackers, the goal is often to hurt them bad, quickly so that you don't have multiple attackers anymore.

In many places, a lot of these techniques are harder to defend in the eyes of the law.

Given that... then what?

1) Run

2) If you can't run, push/trip/throw them into each other so they fall down, so you can run.

3) If you can't push/trip/throw them into each other, you'll have to choose what level of harm you will do, to keep yourself safe, so that you can run.

There's no magical answer here. If anyone knew "the one trick/strategy" to beat multiple attackers, everyone would do it.

You don't really "win" assaults from multiple attackers - you survive it. Not getting hurt is winning. Getting hurt only a little is winning. Not getting put in the hospital or dead, is winning. Self defense is about risk reduction, at the point when you're jumped by multiple people, you are basically making the best of the worst possible situation.


Personally I've never been concerned for the opponents live. Remember they are the one attacking you! I say that with tongue in cheek. Because as you know you should be doing everything in your power to defuse or remove yourself from the situation. Now if you are find yourself within a fight use enough force as you feel is needed to protect yourself. I know this isn't black and white, but every situation is different. Trust yourself, if you are a true martial artist will know how much to use when.


The actual way to win a street fight with minimum injuries is to not fight at all. In fact, if you are faced with a choice or situation that would put you on the spot for a brawl, the first thing that you should always do is to flee or negotiate with words. Only on occasion that there is no choice and there is a chance to win, I guess you should do something. I would recommend grappling in such occasions. Most grappling techniques are made to restrict movement and put your enemy into submission and would be perfect for ending fights quickly. Martial arts such as Krav Maga and even Greco-Roman Wrestling deploy grappling, so you should look into those.Grappling is you're best bet if you want to end fights without killing anybody. (Though you can injure people badly with grappling)

But even masters of Krav Maga say that avoiding a fight is the best self defense. Just my two cents.


How to win a street fight without putting anyone's life in danger?

The only way to win a street fight without putting anyone's life at risk is to avoid fighting altogether.

•Does knocking someone out by leading a punch to the chin (or somewhere else on the head) is willing to be lethal ?

Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, being knocked unconscious is always a very bad thing. There is always a risk of death when that sort of trauma is caused to the brain and/or spinal cord.

•Could a brutal blow to the solar plexus leads to death ?

There is always the chance that something like this can cause serious injury or death. That is why one should use the absolute minimum amount of force necessary in defense of self (or another).

In the United States (and other legal systems based on British common law) there is a legal concept known as the Eggshell Doctrine, and it essentially states that a victim's frailty is not considered an extenuating circumstance to tortious damages. If you slap someone on the cheek and they fall down dead because of a bizarre preexisting medical condition you are just as guilty of homicide as you would have been if you beat his head into a closed-casket pulp.

•I heard that a solid kick to the groin could also lead to death.

Under the right circumstances this can happen. There are a lot of blood vessels in and around the crotch/inner-thigh region, and sufficient trauma can cause a potentially lethal internal bleed.

•Is it ok to break someone's arm (it won't kill him) if you are given the opportunity ? (Through a submission or something.).

Define okay. Are you looking for permission, or a blessing, to go around breaking arms? As a general rule, one should always use the least amount of force to resolve a physical altercation. When the amount of force appears excessive, authorities tend to take notice. The more skill and experience someone has, the less damage they generally need to use to end a conflict. In many ways, a more skilled opponent is a less dangerous one.

How to be a fighter without being a murderer ?

The best way to be a competent combatant without being a murderer is to build your skill and experience to the level that you can effectively assess a situation, and then resolve the conflict with as little harm done as possible.

Of course if such an opportunity is given to you, the best way not to loose a fight is to run away. I don't encourage people fighting when they can avoid the fight.

That is exactly right. Causing harm should always be a last resort. One should cultivate a discerning eye, and learn to recognize the warning signs when a situation is headed towards violent confrontation. Hostility should be defused when it can, avoided when at all possible, and settled quickly and decisively when it must.


An interesting question. But all your options are deadly really.

Why don't you think of back side kick or major punch in his stomach, and then move to the other one for a head punch and so ..

A hit to the back of the leg, or on the exact nerve of the arm are also good options, all freeze the opponent and doesn't kill him. Yet he would leave you.

Don't go extreme ; as proofing you was in self-defense situation with an opponent who has multi bones crashed isn't always easy ... Beware of that .

I hope this answers your question.

  • It does answer my question thank you, I'm still waiting for some feedback about real experience though. Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 8:49

The best way to fight is always by "without fighting". Negotiate and talk your way through because your ultimate aim is not getting yourself (or your friends) hurt. If you have the option to run/escape, do so!

Is it ok to break someone's arm (it won't kill him) if you are given the opportunity ? (Through a submission or something.).

In the country where I reside, the law implies that if you hit back, you are at fault too. For instance, a thief that has stolen something from you and runs away. You catch up and break his legs to stop him from running away. The breaking of legs will be a case against you because you have intentionally caused bodily harm.

How to be a fighter without being a murderer ?

Murder in Chinese is “mou sha". The first word "mou" implies an intention, and the second word "sha" implies 'to kill'. Putting the words together it directly translates 'to kill with intention'.

A fighter (or martial artist, for that matter) should always practice self-control because he is surely able to kill or heavily injure an opponent, but there must not be an intention to kill. A fighter protects himself and the people around him, defends from attacks, but does not plan to murder.

Easier said than done, really. I figure it will be hard not to cause hurt on the opponents if they charge at you. My instinct would be to take on one at a time and floor them down as quick as possible. If I'm alone I will definitely run, but if I am with friends I will make sure they run first.


I agree with Sy_UK fighting is too unpredictable. I do my best to avoid it and have done a great job. If I am in fear of my safety, I will be the one throwing the first punch (this makes the fight a little more predictable as I'm the one starting it).

In any case, I will do as much as I need to do to escape or protect myself and my family.


This is pretty much a copy-paste from my answer on another similar question. It is very relevant for the OP here as well.

How to be a fighter without being a murderer?

You should not give this any concern in a real-life situation. You neutralize the attacker, and no more. If there are multiple attackers, you should be excessive on the first so that he will not return to the fight, but never do excessive harm to the last person you are fighting, i.e. don't kick them on the ground if they are alone, or if their partner is already out of the fight. Just stop them from causing danger. It is easy to know when you've done the minimum amount of damage to you opponent. It is the point when they are either no longer threatening you, or no longer standing. And never take your eye off those who have left the fight, they always come back. But don't instigate if they don't.

So long as all you did was the minimum to ensure your safety and the safety of those with you, then don't overly concern yourself with your attackers' wellbeing. Had you done any less harm to the attacker(s), you would have been hurt more by them. Had you done more, you would have been reckless. Also, you will improve your own confidence (and your respect if others see the incident) by not going overboard. Think of all your favorite action heros. When the opponent is down, do they continue kicking or do they give the opponent opportunity to get back up and walk away quietly?

As a matter of prudence, of course I should mention what the other posters are mentioning: the best way not to loose a fight is not to get into one. If you walk confidently then those looking for a fight will be less likely to pick on you. If you don't wear jewelery, then you are less of a crime target. If you don't wear clothes with a political message, then people will have less reason to confront you.


Ignore all advice, fighting is to unpredictable, particularly so in a street environment. Just do your best to defend yourself and in doing so, god willing you can walk away.

There are points on a person that will knock them out with minimal pressure, but this could potentially result in death if their head breaks the fall.


These things are so unlikely to happen that you shouldn't even worry about them. On the extremely rare occasion that someone has died following a street fight, it was usually because he was severely and repeatedly beaten. A single strike won't kill. It's theoretically possible to kill someone with a single punch or kick, but it is extremely unlikely. Maybe in Mike Tyson punched you in the exact right spot, but for the rest of us, it's really not worth worrying about.

  • 2
    I disagree vehemently with this approach. As martial artists we do train to hit hard. There have also been numerous cases recently in New Zealand and Australia where people have died from a single hit - this has lead to the introduction of laws known as "king hit" laws which stiffen the penalties. To advise that this is "so unlikely to happen" and "is extremely unlikely" is misleading and downright dangerous.
    – slugster
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 0:12
  • Well, it is your right as a faceless entity on the internet to disagree with me. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 7:15
  • 1
    -1. Source: Micheal Yon's Danger close, chapter 1: One punch, one dead. Sure, this is just one such event and thus statistically insignificant. To get actual medical data, you should look at the Journal of Trauma: Out of 17,453 persons admitted, thirty-eight people (0.2%) died of their injuries. So, unlikely but still something you want to worry about. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 7:46
  • They didn't die from a single punch. Which was my point. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 8:26
  • 3
    This March 2014 article in The Telegraph (UK) states 'The spate of “king hits”, now known as “coward punches” at the request of the victims’ families, have caused 91 deaths in Australia since 2000'. The article implies they're not from prolonged assaults. That's in a population of around 20 million. I'm not saying that's a significant risk; I'm not saying it's insignificant - just sharing some stats for perspective.
    – Tony D
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:07

In response to the question if a punch to the solar plex can kill, the answer is yes...if the conditions are right. The angle must have be perfect, you have to do it with a knuckle strike, at an upward angle, and know how to do the one inch punch. Also, it should be said that accidents happen in street fights, there are no rules. If your apprehended by law enforcement, you're looking at mutual combat or assault and battery. If you do end up killing, even on accident, you'll be charged with manslaughter.
All that being said, I know one guy who killed a bigger guy at a bar by striking to the solar plex. The dude who died had health problems and the strike didn't help.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.