Being able to defend yourself is always a good idea -- if you want to be safe in Amerika, it might be a good idea to learn some basic self-defense.
While this guide is better than nothing, its still best to obtain regular instruction from a live and experienced coach.
Many cities have open enrolment free or freewill donation boxing gyms run by pigs or other organizations with an interest in keeping kids off the streets. Additionally, martial arts classes are beneficial, so long as you find a worthwhile instructor, and can often be found at YMCAs and similar organizations. Not all martial arts are created equal, however. The easiest indicator of a worthwhile class is full contact (Which means you fight a non-compliant partner who is fighting back) sparring. If there's no contact, or even limited contact, run. You will never learn to fight unless you actually do it. There are a million variables in a fight, and doing drills will not teach you any of them. Boxing, kickboxing, MMA, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and judo all generally have full contact sparring. Boxing gyms are usually the easiest to find, and you will get good instruction for low to no cost, however that's not to say Boxing is the best. Any gym which has full contact sparring will also stress physical conditioning, which is of vital importance for anyone who actually wants to fight. Assuming both fighters have basic training, superior conditioning beats pure skill most of the time.
See the parkour chapter for unarmed and unequipped escape and evasion skills.
A proper fighting stance is essential to maintaining balance and power. Various fighting systems recommend different basic stances. The one presented here has the advantage of being simple, intuitive and adaptable. I've broken it down into six parts because the little things are important. This is an orthodox stance, which is the standard most fighters will be taught. However, if you get real coaching, you may find a more effective stance for you. Many great fighters have used the peek-a-boo, philly shell, mummy, karate and hands down stances to great success, however you can't know if you can do any of these well unless you regularly spar.
Step 1: With your opponent directly in front of you, turn 45 degrees to the right or the left, toward your stronger arm. Spread your feet slightly more than shoulder-width. Your feet and body should both be facing 45 degrees from your starting position, with your toes parallel and your weight evenly distributed. This angle is important because it gives you forward-to-backward and side-to-side stability, making you harder to take down or knock over. It also presents a narrower profile to your opponent, limiting the target area.
Step 2: Relax your arms and shoulders, and sink down into your position, bending your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity. Your weight should be distributed equally on your right and left legs.
Step 3: Turn your head toward your opponent, keeping your chin low and slightly tucked behind your shoulder. Your torso and hips should stil be facing 45 degrees. Bend your body very slightly toward your opponent.
Step 4: Make a fist with your strong (rear) hand, curling your fingers tightly into the palm and then tucking your thumb over your second knuckles. Draw up your rear hand so it's almost touching your cheek. Keep your elbow tucked against your ribs, protecting them.
Step 5: Make a fist with your other hand and hold it out in front of your face, just below the level of your nose, and at least two fist-lengths from it in distance. Your elbow should be bent slightly more than 90 degrees, leaving a good distance between your fist and your face. This elbow should also be turned in toward the center of your body, affording better protection.
Step 6: Raise your back heel very slightly. This will put a little spring in your step, and help you to absorb blows.
Practice this stance until it feels natural and you don't have to think about it. Then practice moving forward and backward, side to side, using small steps and without losing the distance between your feet (they should always be shoulder-width apart, 45 degrees from your opponent.) Move in L shaped motions and NEVER let your feet cross, as this will make you trip and fall. When you feel comfortable, practice the stance with the other foot forward.
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