6 Painful Things Nobody Tells You About Fighting

#3. Your Opponent Knows What's Coming

Did you ever play Mike Tyson's Punch-Out? Remember how the game used to help you out by making each fighter do this really obvious animation a second before he threw his punch so you'd know it was time to dodge? In a real fight, that's called telegraphing, and you do it whether you know it or not.

The point is, when the guy opens his mouth three times and drops his shorts, swing big.

Telegraphing is your body's natural reaction in a fighting situation. In other words, your DNA is literally conspiring against you in a fight. You can't help it, any more than you can help that sharp intake of breath before a sneeze. Before you strike, or do anything, your body automatically goes through a series of giveaway preparatory motions. What exactly these motions are vary on the individual and the attack. Some of them just throw the opponent a tip about what's about to go down, such as cocking your arm back before a punch or shifting your weight before unleashing a kick. Some are actual, Punch-Out level "attack me now, I'm all open!" ticks, such as tensing your shoulders, taking a sudden, noticeable deep breath or even widening your eyes and raising your eyebrows, comic-book-villain style.


The overall effect amounts to the opponent being able to easily avoid or counter your blows, if they are paying attention to the situation at all (and once you start throwing punches, it's a safe bet that they are). Even if they've never been in a fight in their life, it doesn't take Bruce Lee to see that your sudden, aggressive, full-body convulsion is an indication that it's time to dodge. You might as well scream, "I'M PUNCHIN'!"

Thanks to telegraphing, being the aggressor actually puts you at a disadvantage in a fight. Again, it doesn't take a fight expert to know that fortune is going to favor the person who gets to react to a missed punch. Once that Honeymooners style haymaker that you thought was going to end the show misses the mark, you're basically in optimum "punch me in the face" position, even if only for a second. That punch, unfortunately for you and your overly aggressive fight plan, is far more likely to land squarely on your soon to be bloodied face.

"Wait, no, that's not how I planned that at all!

By this point you might be a little confused, because by debunking every little technique, we're making it sound like fighting isn't even a thing, like fights don't even occur in the real world. And of course they do, you've seen YouTube videos of them.

But what we're trying to say is ...

#2. It Takes a Very Specific Type of Person to Win Fights ...

There's a whole breed of people who excel (insofar as such a word can be used) in street fights. They're called "criminals."

The reason is that most of fighting is being willing to fight. The good fighters are not necessarily big and strong -- size and strength are in fact far less important in a real fighting situation than we commonly believe.

"Are you ready to die tonight? Because I've already made dinner reservations with Satan."

And they're not martial artists and MMA fighters -- although skilled and technically well-equipped for a fistfight, those guys tend to find it extremely difficult to adapt to an actual fighting situation because they're used to restraining themselves. When you've spent years mentally preventing yourself from axe kicking your annoying neighbor through the drywall he keeps drilling on Sunday morning and have only unleashed your skills in controlled dojo and competition environments with strict rules, it's pretty hard to tap into your primal rage all of a sudden when a real-life self defense situation arises.

"I've HAD IT! As soon as we go over some ground rules, I'm going to kick your ass!"

We say primal rage because that's what it's about, deep down. Real fighting is a lot less about skill and talent and more about attitude. Ferocity. The will to fight when a rational man wouldn't, the ability to flip on your brain's fight-or-flight instinct and act without hesitation.

See, while even the most inexperienced layman has a primal fight-or-flight response at their disposal, enabling them to "wake the beast" when the situation arises, there is a problem. The fight-or-flight response is such a huge deal in everyday life, triggered by so many trivial aspects of modern culture from traffic to technology and manifesting in so many ways, that we're pretty much unable to use it as the "Hulk-out mode" it is designed to be.

"Hulking out" isn't very useful when your day-to-day is server maintenance.

So it takes a certain type of person to circumvent this psychological block in order to unleash their berserk ferocity and win by any means necessary. They are the people "winning" street fights, but also the people who are constantly instigating them. They're the kind of people who actually think fighting is a god damned good idea and are therefore losing in all other aspects of life.

#1. ... and You'd Be an Asshole to Want to Be One

Now, there is one way for an inexperienced fighter to release the beast within without actually having other, bigger beasts bash your face in for years first. Sorry, did we say "inexperienced" fighter?

We meant intoxicated. Because that's what it takes. You'd need to get drunk.

But please, please read the rest of this article before filling up on liquid courage and unleashing bare-knuckle hell on your neighborhood bully.

"Man, that plan sounded much more solid when I was shitfaced."

Because most humans aren't full-on sociopaths, alcohol and drugs are pretty much the only way a regular person can override their inhibitions and become an effective fistfighter, whatever that term is worth. It's happening somewhere right now -- guys get wasted, release their inner pit fighter for whatever reason and decide to deal out damage, Fight Club style.

Only in real life, your opponent isn't able to take an Edward Norton-issued barrage of blows, no matter how weak said blows are and no matter how much your face would be messed up afterward. The damage of such fearless, drunken, all-out punches is nothing like the wary bitch slaps you'd throw while in your right mind. And the damage those blows can do is way beyond superficial, especially with inexperienced fighters who don't have the training to block, avoid or absorb a punch. Or, as the case may be, with people who are taken by surprise because they suddenly are taking a punch to the face right in the middle of what they thought was a peaceful Trivia Night at the pub.

"I told you the answer was Matthew Perry! You're a DEAD MAN!"

And if said drunken fighter does know what he's doing? Watch out. Just take a gander at this story about an MMA instructor who was charged with murder after a bar fight got out of hand and he just straight up killed someone.

Everything we said about martial arts experts controlling their inner beast means dick when everybody involved is hammered. At that point, it's not you against a professional fighter; it's you against a fellow drunken imbecile who could remove your spine with his bare hands. And even if the dude tells you he breaks bones for a living, you'll probably be too drunk to be bothered by it. And then one of you dies and the other goes to prison.

Where, ironically, you'll learn quite a bit about fighting, whether you want to or not.

Of course, you won't remember any of these warnings when you're in that drunken deathmatch state of mind. So really we're just leaving this here so we can say "We told you so" later on.

For more things glorified by Hollywood, check out 5 Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do and 5 Things That Aren't Nearly As Dangerous As Hollywood Thinks.

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