H2H FIGHTING: Lessons Learned From an Ass Kicking

Its all fun and games until you get your ass beat

So there I was balled up on the ground bleeding like a stuck pig and getting repeatedly kicked in the head. The last thing I remember thinking before getting knocked out was “how the fuck did this little guy kick my ass? – I didn’t even get a single punch in, how embarrassing”

A little while later, I woke up in my buddy’s car on the way to the hospital feeling like I was hit by a rhino. I had a tooth knocked out, 2 cracked ribs, broken nose and a gash above my eye that has left a scar to this day.

Even better was the fact I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so I spent the next 8 months hustling EP jobs to pay off 7 grand in medical bills. I also looked so bad the following two weeks that kids would point at me like I was some sort of sideshow freak.

So how the hell did I – a highly experienced H2H fighter and trained PSD Agent who had been in tons of fights get pounded on by a dude that was half my size?

LESSON #1: I Underestimated My Opponent

This happened when I was in my mid 20’s, like many younger guys that work in “tough guy” jobs I had an inflated perception of myself. To put it simply: I was an arrogant fucker with a chip on his shoulder who never even considered that someone else could possibly kick my ass.

The guy who laid this massive ass-whooping on me was about 5’5” and weighed 120 pounds soaking wet. So in my mind I had already whooped this guy’s ass and went back to drinking, it never once crossed my mind that he would have a snowball’s chance in hell beating me 1-on-1 H2H.

It turned out that he was a boxer with a few pro bouts under his belt and a hook that could snap a telephone pole in half. Basically he was a highly trained fighter that fought professionally to put food on the table – and I never considered him a threat until I was bleeding.

Lesson Learned:

No matter how physically small someone is or how experienced a fighter you are, never underestimate a [presumably] weaker/smaller opponent. Always go into a fight with the mindset that your opponent has equal or superior H2H skills.

I have seen tons of guys get their ass beat by smaller opponents, the look of shock on their face as they ball up on the floor is always humorous to me because, I imagine that I must’ve had that same look on my face.

Underestimating an opponent is one of the main culprits of defeat both in H2H and War. Don’t let your ego get your ass kicked.

LESSON #2: I ignored Obvious Warning Signs My Opponent Was a Trained Fighter

When we squared up he went into a classic boxing stance and started to lightly bounce back and forth from his front and rear leg. That right there should have set off the alarm bells in my head.

But due to my ‘No one can kick my ass” attitude I completely brushed aside this blinding warning light and rushed right into a jab square in my nose that basically ended the fight right off the bat.

Lesson Learned:

If you have had any sort of formal H2H training then you can spot a trained fighter by the way he walks, stands and squares-up. Now if you have already learned lesson #1 then you should already have the mindset that you may be facing a superior opponent at this point anyway.

So when you see a guy go from “drinking a beer” to “standing in a perfect Boxing/MMA stance then alarm bells should be going off in your head like a mother-fucker.

LESSON #3: I Fought While Impaired

Yep, you guessed it, I was drunk at the time – actually I was on one of my famous 3 day benders. Even if my mind and motor skills were not muddied by the booze and lack of sleep, I would have probably still gotten my ass beat because he was the superior fighter regardless of my drunkenness.

But if I was thinking clearly I would either have just walked away from the fight altogether or seen the warning signs that he was a trained fighter and just cracked a chair over his head.

Lesson Learned:

Don’t get in a fight when you are drunk off your ass, you may get lucky, like I have many times, and win most of your drunken brawls but sooner or later you will end up in the hospital on in jail.

And if you were like I was [I was an angry drunk in my 20’s] then drink at home. I have been in way more fights when I have been drinking than I care to admit to; eventually I realized that “James G. + Drinking in Public” is a bad mix; so these days if I decide to go on a bender I stay at home.

CONCLUSION:

If you have to fight someone than for fucks sake do not underestimate your opponent just because he is 5’3” and 100 pounds and you are some kind of “tough guy”. Pay attention to your opponent in the crucial few seconds before fists start flying, if you see telltale signs that he is a trained fighter then pick up a chair or be prepared to take a few in the face. And if you can’t go out drinking without acting like an ass-hole with a chip on your shoulder then invest in a home bar.

Here is a bonus lesson:

LESSON #4: No Matter How Experienced You Are Ya Can’t Win Them All

Yep, if you fight enough [or even rarely] sooner or later you will get your ass stomped. This is as guaranteed as Death and taxes. So just accept
it, make sure your health insurance is paid up and chalk it up to a great learning experience. And hey – the ladies like scars.

Out…

—————————————————————————————

~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and stocking up his home bar. James G. on FACEBOOK

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32 thoughts on “H2H FIGHTING: Lessons Learned From an Ass Kicking”

  1. James – well said. Hardest I was ever hit (kicked, actually) was by a lady maybe 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. She had studied Karate for years and years…. had no idea I could go from standing to crushed that fast.
    Good idea on just walking away.
    David

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  2. Sign me up as experienced ! I have had it happen a few times , even as a cop .People with cell phone cameras suck ,you have to think, LOL! Really there are just too many variables to consider . The tell tale signs of grooming , stance adjustments are a few signs .

    I honestly went up to a smiling fellow that gave no signs ,and got blasted in the face !It was an all out brawl until back-up arrived.

    I Luckily never have had the problem of drunken fighting sounds fun ,but damn I am too Fucking old now !

    Cheers!

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    1. Ughhhhh… dude, I used to get into bar-fights all the time, it was ridiculous.

      Now I just drink at home away from civilized society

      ~James G

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  3. Hey James,

    I was a regular bar brawler once. I had many scraps, sometimes with other established scrappers. Oddly enough, I used my old fencing training, in respect of distance, to good effect. I never lost a single scrap, and didn’t even pick up a bloody nose.

    The wisest move I ever made, was the day I said “no more”, and turned my back on it for good. I’ve no doubt, my day was coming, and I just baled before it happened. Guess I was lucky.

    Cheers.

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  4. I had the fortune of being initially trained largely by men that were barely over 5ft and a smidgen over 100lbs. So I had a decent knowledge to never underestimate someone that is small. I had it beaten (literally) into my head that intelligence and technique will trump being big and bad 9 times out of 10.

    I have had my butt kicked a number of times by guys that were jus truly better than me. And I am glad to say that they are all learning lessons. But I thankfully learned the cardinal rule of never underestimate your opponent, ever. Not by age, gender, size or race. And to pick up on the signs of a skilled fighter, or at least someone that has seen a fight or two. Key identifiers are stance, distance, which a lot of people even fighters don’t fully understand, keeping that reactionary gap and mirroring the movements of the opponent ie they step left you step right. etc. Also the hands, are they scarred, do their knuckles look like they have hit a few people. Has their nose been broken. Stuff like that should be like bright red flashing signs if you are about to get in a fight.

    And for me at least, never. Under any circumstances get so inebriated that you: A. can’t pick up on these signs and B. not be able to fully defend yourself. For me I like to be aware of my surroundings too much, and would never cede such a advantage over to an opponent. People question me on that. But I know too many guys that are amazing physically and outstanding fighter that as soon as they have six or so drinks can easily be pushed over.

    Couple all of that with the ability to talk my way into and out of most situations. I am thankful to have a lot more checks in the win column than the loss column.

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  5. I was always the little guy on the painful end of the ass-beating I learned early to meet disproportionate force with disproportionate force aka no such thing as a fair fight ( a respectable challenge isn’t a fight as much as it is an exhibition). I learned some very dirty tricks and even carried a blade,baton,bullets since an early age due to people that bring a group to fight somebody they can’t handle by their self You make a great point about not underestimating the “weaker” opponent as you don’t exactly know what that person has been through. Also being a 90lb ninth grader I learned to use my legs, feet, and speed to my advantage. If somebody is lucky they would get caught in the throat or some smaller bones broken a little force in the right place is better than alot of force in the wrong place.

    PS
    The topic brings Bruce Lee and such to mind.

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  6. Great article, James.

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    1. Thanks Ruben

      ~James G

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  7. Damn James G. Me and you sound like the exact same dude when we were in our 20′s. Now when I drink it’s at home. I rarely go out to bars unless I’m with a group of friends. Nothing but trouble out there when alcohol is involved. I can tell you that I have walked away from many fights in the past few years. It takes total self control to not bash a mofo in their big relaxed jaw when they talk shit but I feel like a champ when I wake up the next day. Now I take my aggressions out in training classes. Although sometimes it can’t be avoided.

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  8. I’m a little on the small side myself, but the worst I ever had my ass handed to me was 20 some years ago by a guy who COULDN’T have been 5′ 3″ and carried no discernible muscle at all. And my hubris was as much to blame as his skill. Former rodeo cowboy, former pro stuntman, current bouncer… I had the goods; I remember thinking I couldn’t believe the munchkin was even stepping to me. And that’s the LAST thing I remember thinking that night.

    He and I actually became pretty good friends out of it, but it’s a lesson I never forgot… everyone knows to watch out for the bears, but you need to learn to respect the badgers too.

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  9. I understand some of the comments here about situational awareness ,Hell I’ve taught the classes ! I have to say though I have never net anyone who is on all the time ,it isn’t realistic . You would never get laid and look like you were a secret service agent all the time . The article was spot on , when people tell me they haven’t lost a fight ! I can only think in my short 42 years of life ,and my 25 years as a Police officer of one sort or another!

    As Yoda said you will !

    Cheers, hit it with your purse!

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  10. One of my old pals – he’s deceased now – was a
    Tunnel Rat. Maybe 130 pounds, skinny, and hard as nails. We were in a civvie bar a few years later, three big young jock-types were basically wandering around getting in everyone’s faces. Then one of them asked my friend ‘what are YOU looking at, f*ckface?” Two minutes later, big guy was on the floor bleeding a LOT from mouth and nose, broken jaw, head tilted strangely to one side and I was afraid he was dead. One of his buds was about to jump in but I persuaded him with a small Gerber boot knife pressed snug to his throat that he would do better to sit this one out.
    We left and one of Florida’s finest put us in his car but after he heard the story ( his own Dad had been a Ranger) he let us go.
    And I agree – unless you are with a group of friends, bars can be bad news. Too many drunks and badasses with something to prove.

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  11. Good article James, you are absolutely right on all point’s. I’m 5’5″ 130 I have been involved in boxing/kick boxing and MMA since I was a child. Size doesn’t matter as much as most think. But I have definitely taken my fare share that’s for sure. But to me i get a kick out of it weather I win or lose, I just like to fight! I quit drinking a few year’s ago, it was more trouble then it was worth lol.

    Stay safe.

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  12. took martial arts while in the Philippines and sparred with Filipinos who hit hard and are much faster than the average American, i learned my lesson early.

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  13. I am 6’2″ and 210 lbs, but the hardest I have ever been hit was by an old guy who stood about 5’6″ and probably weighed a buck twenty. I thought I had been hit by a 2×4 wrapped in steel. I learned long ago that it is far easier to puss out and avoid the trouble. Even when I have been the “winner”, I usually ended up getting hurt. In today’s world if you win you have to worry about getting shot in retaliation later, or hauled off to court for pounding some guy’s @$$. If I truly have to fight, I will. But 90% of the time if you haven’t ventured into a place you shouldn’t have been, you can just walk away.

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  14. One other thing, if someone is talking shit and they are within arms reach then they are a threat. I never claimed to be the baddest dude in the room but I guaran-fuckin-tee you that I will be the first one to throw a right cross or power slap as hard as I fucking can. No matter the size if you throw first then your chances of winning and going home to your family increase dramatically.

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  15. One lesson that can save you a world of pain is that if your opponent is sober, relaxed and confident, you are likely in for one hell of a fight. Ask me how I know…..

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  16. I’m right there with ya. At 5’8″ 155lbs I don’t fight “fair” with the minimal training I have I wouldn’t survive if I did. I worked as a bouncer not too long ago and can speak to the truth that alcohol turns the biggest baddest dude in the bar into a stumbling loud mouth fool that can be put down very easily. I carried and ASP for awhile, but fortunately never had to use it. I’m all about knees, neck and groin when it comes to fighting a bigger guy and this has kept me out of a few scrapes.

    I’m not one to loose my temper, but I’m a smart ass so having a guy square off wasn’t a rarity. However once I informed him that he’d be receiving a kick in the groin or the side of the knee if he decided to throw down, the usual response was to back down (luckily for me.) I’ve talked my way out of more fights than I’ve been in prefer to keep it that way, because I’ve lost more than I’ve won when it actually came to blows.

    James,

    Props to you pimp for being man enough to admit you got beat down and learned from it. Not many internet ninjas out there are willing to admit this and I think it speaks to the type of people here at DVM when stuff like this is brought up and discussed. Got nothing but respect for ya!

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  17. Like daddy always said, “Boy, there will always be someone smarter and tougher than you are!”

    Good Lessons for the Day!

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  18. Great Article!
    I remember a quiet little guy in my basic platoon who was being harassed by a big dim-witted neanderthal. The little guy just ignored the bully until one day on the way to formation he got kicked behind. Little guy spins on his left, throwing a beautiful roundhouse to Neanderthal’s head and peppers him with 3 or 4 punches on his way down. Platoon Sgt. must have known what was up, since he left the guy laying there through the formation and then had us bring him to sick call after we were dismissed. Didn’t see that coming..

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  19. Never had that problem. In every single fight I’ve been, I was the small guy.

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  20. Speaking of things Daddy always told me: “Son, don’t you ever start a fight. Ever. But if someone else starts it and won’t let it go, you better by-God finish it!” Can’t say I’ve been in all that many, but DVM has certainly increased my odds the next time some drunk fool can’t keep his hands off my wife or her friends at the bar. I’m usually the DD for various reasons, but sober=champ in a bar setting most of the time.

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  21. A near perfect article, James.

    The only thing that I think you missed was a picture of Patrick Swayze
    from the scene from Roadhouse where he’s giving the “expect the
    unexpected” speech.

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  22. hah
    the first time i was “educated” i was 19 6ft tall and bullet proof. i was hitting on a guys wife,with him standing there and of course he got upset and after exchanging a few words he invited me outside to finish the conversation.being the billy bad ass i was, i walked outside first ready to teach him a few lessons,hahah well as i turned to talk shit and get the first lick in,, he calmly reached behind his back and placed a little snub nose in my face and told me it was my lucky night and was not going to kill me for being stupid… i told him thanks.then he was kind enough to let me wait outside the bar till my friends realized i was mssing…..3 1/2 hours later..i got to tell my boys the embarrassing story and hear them laugh their asses off at me,

    lessons learned
    1. no need to finish it outside might as well get it over with inside.
    2. never be the first out the door
    3. ALLLLL ways let your boys know whats going on or before you go outside ..

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    1. Rudeboy – with respect, I think number one might be “Don’t mess with a guy’s wife, period. Two reasons. One, he may not be amused, like the gent in your encounter. Two – what if the karma thing comes around and somebody’s hitting on yours?

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  23. Size isn’t the only factor that might make a guy underestimate an opponent. Have you so soon forgotten Way Of The Gun? The only thing you can assume about a broken down old man is that he’s a survivor. I’ve seen a grey-haired holdover hippie knock out a college sophomore douchebag who bumrushed him. The kid’s legs were wobbly for at least 10 minutes. Old men have learned the hard way how to make it through a scrap or two.

    As for size, I’ve also seen a shoplifter get the snot beat out of him by a very short carry-out boy. The shoplifter turned out to be a local trophy-winning taikwando champ – seriously. This taught me that having “martial arts training” doesn’t mean anything in a real fight.

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    1. Depends on the martial art and it definitely does not hurt to know one. Tai Kwan Do is a competition style art. Yes it was derived for battle many years ago but is now more for competition. That’s why you see Tai Kwan Do schools for kids everywhere. If you are fighting someone that has a high level ranking in something like Krav Maga then your chances are not good. That is real world and it teaches a mentality to get violent and win by all means necessary when in a confrontation. That’s one of the differences between reality based systems and competitive systems like TKD. I do agree that people without training can be bad mofo’s also. Some people are just hard and can inflict damage when confronted. Now if you get that type of hard person who has street style martial arts training then your best bet is to stay out of their way when the SHTF.

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  24. The best way to avoid a fight is to treat everyone in a dignified manner no matter the circumstance. People deserve, and, consciously or unconsciously respond favorably to a person that remains calm and treats them with respect.

    A person can be stern yet respectful. I believe whole heartedly that, most of time, when a person is treated with dignity, respect and honesty they will do the right thing. When the exception to this rule rears is it ugly head be as prepared as your busy schedule allows. I believe that most conflicts, violent or otherwise result as an externalization of fear.

    Fear can be put to rest by your disposition, kind or complementary words. If it takes two to fight and both parties are scared it becomes a volatile situation. One must be able to identify and mitigate the influence of fear in all its many forms.

    At the root of every ugly human tendency or proclivity, arrogance, absusiveness, anger, distorted self image is fear. It takes a long, long time to master it and I feel like I’ve just started down that path.

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  25. Thank you Aristotle, very insightful despite my use of irony….

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  26. I totally agree with your statements. I told my BJJ class that if there was anything I learned from taking martial arts is that you shouldn’t start a fight with anyone because you never know who has a blackbelt or psychotic rage. We have one guy in class that if you saw him you would just assume that he is a run of the mill middle age guy with glasses. Nothing to be scared of, right? Well, brother, let me tell you if you get in a fight with him outside of class you are leaving with some broken arms and a concussion.

    You just never know so unless it is life or death it’s always better to let cooler heads prevail.

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  27. I am a martial arts instructor who strives to keep his training as reality-based as possible. When you run into a trained boxer, there are specific things to need to to. The first is DO NOT GET INTO A PUNCHING CONTEST. You will only be playing up to his strengths.

    This means that, if you are wearing heavy boots or shoes, begin kicking his shins immediately and repetitively. When you are in striking range of his hands, MOVE AGGRESSIVELY FORWARD WITH YOUR HANDS UP, ELBOWS DOWN, TOWARDS THE MIDDLE OF HIS CHEST! Your arms should form a protective cage around your head, and the impact of your forward movement should be designed to back him up.

    This will take much of the power away from his punches. You may eat something on the way in, but if you falter or retreat, there is a damn good chance you will be knocked out anyway. Finally, once you’ve charged in and backed him up (or at least temporarily smothered his punches), throw the type of blows that boxers aren’t accustomed to, and therefore don’t defend well. These would include palm smashes under the chin, and elbow strikes.

    I had a student, who was not particularly talented, but obviously paid attention to the lesson when he was attacked by a boxer. He tried to punch it out at first, but was getting outclassed as the boxer easily avoided my student’s punches and hit back with accurate combinations, breaking his nose.

    My student remembered what I told him, ‘balled up’ his guard and rushed inside. He took a few on the way in, but the first elbow strike he landed as the boxer was trying to figure out what to do now that he had no room to tee off stunned him, which left him susceptible to six or seven more elbows, which left the boxer unconscious, with a dislocated jaw, broken nose and no front teeth. My student was afraid he had killed him and took off.

    He sent a friend to check on the scenario. The assailant was alive, but had to be taken away by an ambulance. Whew. Hope this was useful.

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  28. I’ve made this mistake (luckily not in a REAL fight) and learned these lessons the hard way. Squared up against a Law Enforcement Explorer buddy at his house back when I was in the program. I figured hey, I’ve done karate, I’ve done Krav with spec ops guys and cops, I’ve sparred with a bunch of other guys in different styles, he’s just been in a few Defensive Tactics classes in the PD, what’s he got on me? Well, I got my ass taken to the ground and ended up in cuffs. Never going into a fight with that attitude again.

    Great post James!

      Dillon(Quote This Comment)

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