Streetfight Study 5: Pre-Emptive Striking

Posted: August 30, 2014 in Streetfights
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes you just gotta throw the first punch … and the second, third, and fourth, if need be!

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that I’ve discussed a wide range of topics revolving around confrontations that develop into self-defense situations. We’ve covered the concept of giving would-be attackers a face-saving exit if you don’t want to fight. We’ve also discussed the myth of perfect technique as well as the fact that your zip code doesn’t make you tough and other related topics. Tonight, I’d like to discuss a topic that’s near and dear to my heart because it’s one that I believe is WIDELY misunderstood: pre-emptive striking. This is perhaps the most important thing you need to know if you find yourself confronted by an angry street thug or just about anyone else who wants to knock your head off your shoulders.

The concept of pre-emptive striking simply means being the one to punch first. This is a touchy topic in martial arts circles as well as amongst the general public because the traditional belief is that you should “let the other guy throw the first punch.” I’ve never understood why people feel this way. Maybe it’s because they think that will protect them if the police get involved, or perhaps they just don’t want to look like “the bad guy” for being the first one to act. For whatever their reasons, the concept of striking first when the bad guy is barking and snarling in their face is a foreign one. Then, there are some people, such as the man in this video, who understand its effectiveness.

Peach Shirt did the right thing by clocking White Shirt when WS got in his face. He also did the right thing by not stomping and/or hitting WS while he was down on the ground, as THAT definitely would’ve invalidated any self-defense claims. The only thing PS did wrong was not getting the fuck outta there after he knocked WS down the first time. He walked away slowly, perhaps proudly, allowing WS the chance to get up and chase him down. Luckily, PS put him down a second time and WS didn’t have any friends around to “take up” for him by swarming and attacking PS.

In my experience, assailants stand in front of you, barking and snarling for two reasons: 1. They want to see how frightened/nervous they can get you before punching you in the face. 2. They’re also working THEMSELVES up to attack. As I’ve said before, only a predatory criminal or sociopath will just smash someone in the face completely out of the blue. In most cases, your attacker will pull the ol’ bark ‘n snarl routine to draw a crowd and pump up their own courage to attack. In most cases, they’ll push you first, then go for the haymaker (a big punch to the face) after you push them back. The pre-emptive strike short circuits this whole routine and it’s usually the LAST thing your attacker is expecting.

I’ll bet this pimp didn’t see the chop to his carotid artery coming. It definitely cut off the flow of blood to his brain, though:

WARNING: a pre-emptive strike might win the battle, but you’ll have a hard time proving your innocence in a court of law. The criminal justice system should be renamed the criminal justice industry, because that’s what it is. Police, prosecutors, and judges will all have dollar signs in their eyes if they get involved in a situation where you delivered a pre-emptive strike. Be prepared for the possibility of having to defend your decision to “knock that motherfucker out” in a court of law. That same 6-foot-tall animal that was going to smash your face in will be sitting in the witness stand, looking like an innocent little lamb. And the story he’ll tell will not be ANYTHING like what really happened at the bar a month before. And prosecutors have a penchant for asking nasty little questions, such as, “But how did you know the victim was going to hit you, Mr. Ribner?” There’s no good way to answer it.

So if you decide to deliver a pre-emptive strike, don’t say I didn’t warn you. It may or may not be legal under the statutes of self defense in your state. Use at your own risk. Only you can make the decision whether your life is truly in danger … and only you will have to live with the consequences. That said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Until then, stay safe, good people!

  1. I definitely agree that preemptively striking might win the battle but may be hard to prove in a crimina/civil case. However, if the individual can properly articulate why preemptively striking was the only option, that individual will have a much better chance of winning.

    One drill that I like to do is run a scenario and have the student articulate exactly what happened and why he/she believed the actions taken were necessary. It’s important to cite local codes (RCWs for me) and use proper terminology for techniques, use of force and pre-attack indicators.

    One piece of advice I usually give for any altercation, never say anything to anyone until you have seen your lawyer (hopefully you have one on retainer). One simple phrase will do, “I will cooperate 100% but I have just been through a tramatic experience and will provide you with a written statement at a later date.” Now it may not keep you out of jail at that moment but it may save you during criminal/civil action down the road.

    Went on a ramble for bit, sorry about that. Good post! Thanks for sharing!

    • johnribner13 says:

      First of all, feel free to ramble on my posts as much as you want. I welcome the feedback and always love a discussion with like-minded individuals.Your drills sound interesting; would love to run through them sometime and learn something new. As to pre-emptively striking, it’s something I have done in the past in situations where I was certain the other guy was gassin’ himself up for an attack. It also didn’t hurt that he was saying, “C’mon, faggot! Let’s go right now.” Oh, I also had about 20 friends with me (it was a friend’s b-day party at the bar), so I was confident that I would have at least a few witnesses on my side. As it turned out, the clumsy carotid artery thump wobbled him enough to make him change his mind about the whole thing, and it was one of those bars that had a “no snitching” policy. LOL

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