6 Painful Things Nobody Tells You About Fighting

Everybody says they know that action movies are fake, but they're lying. For proof, just get a couple of drunk males in a confrontation and you'll quickly realize they did in fact think Hollywood fight scenes were grim depictions of reality. They'll throw haymakers and roundhouse kicks with images of Jean-Claude Van Damme spin-punching a guy through a plate glass window dancing in their heads.

Thirty seconds later, they're laying on the floor, gasping and hissing in pain while rubbing some body part, perhaps while crying. This is when they realize the difference between choreographed movie fighting and real fighting. Because in the real world, it turns out ...

#6. Your Fists Are Fragile Flowers

A punch should be the easiest thing in the world. Just make a vaguely ball-like shape with your hand and let the beatings commence. Hell, babies do it on accident.

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"The only accident is that you're still alive."

In the movies, everyone from lab scientists to sassy sidekicks throw punches all the time, with no ill effects to anyone but the recipient, who tends to be knocked out without a hitch. The worst case scenario is that the punch has no effect and the opponent will simply be amused, like that giant Nazi Indiana Jones couldn't hurt without a plane propeller. Right?

Of course it's not right. Have you read this site before? Is it ever "right" when we ask like that?

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Not saying that we wouldn't love to live in a word where it is.

Here's the problem -- the hand is a pretty delicate thing. A fight-worthy fist is a lot more than just a bunched-up hand -- developing your curled fingers into a punching tool takes years of training. Even real boxers get it wrong often enough that the most common injury caused by punching failure is known as boxer's fracture.

So, what's the worst that could happen if we get it wrong? Well ... everything, really. There are at least as many ways to break your own fist with your opponent's body as the other way around. Say you align your fingers ever so slightly wrong. Too bad, they are now broken. Hit the target with the wrong knuckle? Enjoy the dislocation of said knuckle. Get the angle wrong? Congratulations, you now have a broken wrist.


Things might've gone differently in the real world for John McClane.

OK, you think, you'll just have to get it right in one shot. You're not going to go 15 rounds with the drunk in the bar, after all. You're just going to punch him right in the face and knock his ass out with one blow. Well, the problem is ...

#5. Punching a Guy in the Head Is a Terrible Idea

Socking a dude right in the jaw tends to be our default response to a physical threat once the "fight" side of the fight-or-flight response takes over. And a lifetime of movies has taught us that a hard smack in the jaw can end a fight in seconds. Hell, we've seen the same thing in boxing and MMA matches, right?

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Fighting ain't hard.

Yep. Rare, perfect blows ... out of hundreds thrown. And those guys are professional fighters.

For the average Joe like you, attempting the classic knockout blow to the head is distilled stupidity. Think about it: The head is a small, moving target -- and therefore pretty much the dumbest place you can attack. And missing your punch is what happens if you're lucky.

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Think those teeth are any less sharp at high speed?

As the head is basically the hardest part of the human body, a connecting blow actually means you stand a better chance of breaking a hand (yours) than breaking a face (your opponent's). Aside from all the "your fists are as fragile as toothpicks" stuff we just finished talking about, remember that the human skull isn't just hard, it's also sharp. Angle your punch wrong, and you might drive your hand directly into the teeth. This is called a fight bite, and it can cause serious damage -- first with a nasty gash in your hand, and then with an even nastier infection. Why? Because the human mouth is disgusting.

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Unless you can afford a really advanced toothbrush.

How nasty is it in there? You'll be unhappy you asked! Human saliva contains as many as 100 million organisms per mL, composed of nearly 200 different species. Species! In your mouth! And now you have those swarming into the open cut in your dainty, womanly fist.

Hey, that's why you just want to kick the dude, right? Well, the problem there is ...

#4. Kicks Are Useless

We accept that this point is a lot harder to believe. After all, a kick is bound to pack a lot more power than a punch, if only because the leg is so much bigger and stronger than the arm. Also, the foot tends to be encased in a shoe in a real-life fighting situation (unless you're being beaten and robbed specifically for your new Jordans), so the fragility factor shouldn't really apply here. Surely, your legs are an ultimate weapon when push really comes to shove. Eat crane kick, motherfucker!

Once again, we have stumbled upon a common misconception, fueled by a gazillion Hollywood action stars and video game protagonists.


Most people don't carefully lean back to let you kick their chin.

Sure enough, a properly delivered high kick or roundhouse can be an instant game changer ... if you're an accomplished martial arts master in a controlled environment, that is. Are you that? Probably not.

While there indeed are bona fide, for realsies kicking experts out there, they are a lot more rare than, say, MMA fighters who prefer to rely on punching and grappling, using kicks mainly as distractions, last resorts and crowd-pleasing flashy moves. The reason for this is simple: Kicks are hard to master and execute properly.

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Unless you're a high-powered businesswoman. Then they're just second nature.

In fact, the effectiveness of anything that could be considered a "high kick" in a real self-defense situation is under debate, even in the martial arts community. If for some reason you're thinking about going out and literally "kicking" some ass, read the previous sentence again slowly. The people who get paid to whomp ass aren't even sure if kicks are worth the effort. If that doesn't give you some pause, you've probably been kicked in the head so many times that another beating won't make much of a difference. So, by all means, kick away.

For the average person with no practical training under their belt, kicks (especially high ones) are slow, cumbersome, easily avoidable things that lack power, take a lot of energy and leave you in an extremely vulnerable position for a counterattack (the recipient of which is usually your dick, because that's what happens when you attempt a move that leaves your groin area open in a real fight).


Finish him!

The only kicks that are considered relatively effective when both people are upright are the fairly low ones to the shins and (of course) balls, which even your average citizen should be able to execute semicorrectly on the second or third try.

In theory, that is. In reality, even lower kicks tend to be laughably easy to avoid, as it turns out that ...

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