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How to Beat a "Tough" Person in a Fight

Three Methods:Handling Life-or-Death SituationsFighting a Bigger OpponentWinning a Fair Fight

Sometimes you may find yourself in situations where you can't avoid a physical altercation. In general, a "tough" person as anyone who is bigger and/or stronger than you. Many people looking to pick a fight target anyone who they perceive as weaker than they are, so it's likely that you'll face an opponent with a physical advantage. Luckily there are a few ways you can even the odds, whether you've been jumped on the street or challenged by a rival.

Method 1
Handling Life-or-Death Situations

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    Make the first move. Don't ever wait for someone to attack first. If you sense an impending attack, hit first and hit hard. This will surprise your attacker and help to level the playing field.[1]
    • Consider the legal consequences of your actions. You must be absolutely sure you are in danger and there is no way of escaping before you strike a would-be attacker. Otherwise, you cannot justify your actions as self defense, and the other person may win a civil suit against you.[2]
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    Go for the eyes. Try to jab at your attacker's eyes with your fingers. Not only is this painful, but the reflex to cover the eyes is often incredibly strong. This may give you an opening to land a serious blow or possibly cause your attacker to drop a weapon.
    • The best technique is to grab your opponent by his or her ear and press your thumb across the entire nearby eye. Push down forcefully. This move is much more painful than a simple poke to the eye and may buy you enough time to get away.[3]
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    Lash out at the nose or shins when attacked from behind. Attackers often jump their victims from behind to surprise them. Turn this disadvantage around and use it to forcefully attack your opponent's weakest areas. These techniques are especially helpful for getting out of an attacker's grip:
    • Throw your head back to bash the nose with a head butt. Your skull is a lot denser than the cartilage of your attacker's nose and can do a surprising amount of damage. Aim for the bridge, as a blow to it will be the most painful.
    • Rake your foot forcefully along your attacker's shin bone. This is an especially good option if you are wearing high heels. Alternatively, you can simply try to kick backwards against his or her shins. While less painful than a hit to the nose, a shin kick is much easier to land.[4]
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    Focus your blows on other pressure points. Strike out at the especially vulnerable parts of your opponent, which include the eyes, ears, temple, nose, chin, throat, neck, and groin.[5] If you can land a solid hit, there are a few ways of incapacitating an opponent:
    • An uppercut to the jaw under the chin will twist the head quickly, potentially causing a loss of consciousness.[6]
    • A jab to the temple is the most surefire way to knock someone out. This spot is very vulnerable and can easily cause internal bleeding. Keep in mind that this type of blow can seriously injure or even kill the other person.[7]
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    Protect your own vulnerable areas. Remember that your opponent can also target your own pressure points. Pay close attention and don't let your attacker's hands get anywhere near your face and neck.[8]
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    Keep moving. Above all, you shouldn't let your attacker touch you. Don't stand still. Move from side to side as erratically as possible to confuse your opponent. Avoiding the attacker's blows should take priority over getting in your own. Every time your attacker missteps or fails to land a punch is a potential opportunity for you to run.[9]
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    Use any available object as a weapon. If you carry pepper spray, a knife, or a palm stick, strike with those. If you don't, do your best to improvise. Anything hard and/or sharp can work, from a car key to a nearby rock.
    • High heels are an especially good choice for an improvised weapon. If you can, pull them off your feet to give yourself more maneuverability.[10]
    • If the fight is taking place on sand, soil, or gravel, grab a handful and throw it at your attacker's face. If you manage to get grit in your attacker's eye, it will temporarily blind him or her. You will have time to get away while your attacker attempts to clear his or her vision.
    • A sturdy flashlight makes for a great improvised weapon at night. Shine it directly into your opponent's eyes to blind and distract, giving you an edge. If that isn't enough to get away, turn the flashlight around and hit with it.[11]
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    Pull on long hair. If your attacker has long hair, try to yank it as hard as you can. This can cause pain by itself, but it also allows you to move your attacker into a better position to land a knockout blow. If your attacker wears his or her hair in a ponytail or large braid, it will be easier to grab and hold on to.
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    Get away when you get the opportunity. No matter what, you should always leave the area as soon as the fight is over. If your attacker flees, he or she may come back with a deadly weapon or a few friends in tow.[12] You also need to keep in mind that self defense is only legally justified when using reasonable force in the face of inescapable immediate danger. If your opponent is on the ground, you are no longer in danger and should have the opportunity to run. If you strike an incapacitated foe, you open yourself up to a civil suit even if that person attacked you.[13]

Method 2
Fighting a Bigger Opponent

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    Prioritize evasion. Under most circumstances, avoiding strikes is a fundamental aspect of fighting. Evasion becomes even more important when facing a bigger or stronger opponent in a clean fight. A tough fighter will have the advantage of power and may hit you hard enough to end the fight quickly. Make sure to be quick on your feet and move away from incoming blows.
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    Use tai sabaki. Tai sabaki are a set of movements found in Japanese martial arts. Fighters use tai sabaki to avoid incoming strikes while putting themselves in the best position to launch a counter attack. When fighting a bigger opponent, counters are your best option to gain the upper hand. Two basic tai sabaki movements are:
    • Nagashi – This simple move is best used to counter an unexpected frontal attack. From a forward-facing stance, use your left leg as a pivot and slide your left behind you in an arc. Your body should swing like an opening door. As you put your foot into position, raise your arm to strike.
    • Hiraki – This step is best for an unexpected attack from a short distance. From a forward-facing stance, slide your foot furthest from your opponent towards the same direction. Slide your other foot closer to the first, then turn your second foot towards your opponent. As you move your feet, turn your hips towards your opponent and raise your arms to strike.[14]
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    Lean back when kicked. If you're fighting with a style involving kicks, such as muay thai, the most effective technique you can use against a taller fighter is to lean back to evade their higher kicks. When your opponent's kick flies over your head, you will be in a good position to strike back as he or she is momentarily thrown off balance.[15]
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    Neutralize your opponent's reach advantage. Another advantage a taller fighter has is a longer reach. There will be a zone between the two of you where your opponent will be able to land hits while you can't. It's important to stay out of this area. Spend as much time as possible either far enough away that your opponent can't hit or close enough that you can, too. When moving between these two zones, be sure to keep your defenses up.[16]

Method 3
Winning a Fair Fight

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    Establish a clear set of rules before you begin. If your opponent uses dirty tricks, there's no reason why you should hold back. When in a planned fight, you and your opponent should come to a mutual agreement of what is and isn't allowed in the fight. You can also get an impartial third party to help lay down the rules and act as a kind of referee for the fight.
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    Make a fist correctly. Before you even think about throwing your first punch, you need to have a perfect fist. Curl your fingers inward onto your palm and make sure your thumb is on the outside, folded across the bottom knuckles of your first few fingers.[17] If your thumb is on the inside of your fist, you are likely to break it.
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    Prevent your opponent from landing hits. Unlike a street fight, letting your foe make the first move is a reasonable strategy. Make sure to avoid every strike you can and spring back with a counterattack. It's important that you keep your body in motion, making punches difficult to land. A proper fighting stance will also make you harder to hit by creating a smaller target. Instead of facing your opponent head-on with your shoulders in parallel, stand to the side with your dominant half forward.
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    Minimize the damage of blows you can't avoid. You won't be able to dodge every punch. For the hits you have to take, absorb the shock as best as you can to make them less effective.
    • When taking a body blow, brace for impact by tightening your abdominal muscles. Shift your torso so that your opponent's fist lands at your abdominal muscles to the side rather than at the center near internal organs.
    • For blows to the head, flex your neck and jaw muscles and lean into the punch. Make sure the hit lands on your forehead, which is incredibly tough. Above all, never let a strike land at your temple, jaw, or nose.[18]
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    Avoid dirty tricks and potentially lethal techniques. Although it's not generally acknowledged, there is an unspoken rule between men that strikes to the groin aren't acceptable in fair fights. It's considered to be a dirty trick along with other actions like eye gouging and hair pulling. If you come out on top with these methods, your friends are unlikely to consider it a legitimate win.
    • Weapons should also be off-limits unless they are agreed upon beforehand.
    • While blows to the face, head, and neck are legitimate in fair fights, it's best to avoid using them outside of officially-sanctioned matches. An uppercut to the jaw or a jab to the temple can win you a fight quickly, but these strikes can also cause permanent brain damage. Without medical personnel ready to assist a downed fighter, you should reconsider using such techniques.


  • It's important to train using real life situations. No amount of solo training will condition you for the chaos of an actual fight. To practice, take a self-defense class or join a martial arts club.[19]
  • To win any fight, it's important to stay in shape. You don't need a ton of muscle, but you must be able to move quickly and with enough force to do some damage. Exercise a few times a week, doing both aerobics and light strength training.
  • Don't buy into the myth that shorter fighters are inherently faster than taller ones. Smaller professional fighters often are faster than average, but it's because they've trained themselves to be in order to compensate for their size.[20]

Article Info

Categories: Self Defense