How to Overcome Fear in Street Fights

How to Overcome Fear in Street Fights

Most people train martial arts because they don’t want to be hit. In fact, they spend most of their time training against pretend punches in the hope that they will never be hit in the real world. Then how do you overcome fear in street fights? Does this approach help your self defence?

I often say to my students, “You must expect to get hit in a real fight. If you think it’s not going to happen then you are living in a fantasy world. Even if you are dominant in a violent encounter, you are likely busied, your clothes ripped. There’s no winning in street fights.”

So how do you overcome fear? Well firstly you have to accept this fact. Secondly you have to change your mindset (see 3 Ways in Which Intention Can Make or Break Your Fight Game). In this article we are going to discuss some simple ways in which you can overcome fear in street fights.



The reality of violent encounters is that is very rare that you’re going to hit someone and they fall to the floor. Most people would experience adrenaline. They will take punches and hit you back. If you accept this, then you will have the starting mindset to defend yourself. You’re going to be resilient to change an changes in the situation. Nothing that happens, will be a surprise. So that is there to be fearful?

How to Stop being Scared of Punches

Nobody likes being hit, not even experienced fighters. Although experienced fighters don’t panic when they’re punched in the face. What they do is accept it. They know it’s part of the process. It’s like making scrambled eggs, right? You can’t without cracking the eggs open.

Real fights are brutal. But if you accept, you’re going to get hit. Then you’re less likely to panic, flinch or freeze. Even if it does happen. I’ve seen far too many martial artists teachers who’ve invested more time into fancy drills only to panic when they are hit square in the face in a real fight. Some of these guys have literally turned their back on their attacker in shock.

Some Myths in Dealing with Fear

Getting beat up in sparring, doesn’t make you a better fighter. It might make you tougher, but it might also make you a more psychologically damaged fighter. Your ego can only take so much abuse after your self esteem has been damaged. I can bet you right now that the most confident fighters you see in a gym are probably not going to be the most beat up ones.

Sometimes the reason why good fighters are scared of getting hit is because they’ve subjected themselves to getting hit hard in sparring. They think you need to get hit hard in order to learn how to fight. Is this true?

Now, what we do know from psychology is that when you have a flexible way of thinking, you are much more resilient to changes in a violent encounter.

Develop your Mental Resilience to Deal with Fear

The takeaway is that you have to get the balance right to overcome your fear of getting punched in a fight. Psychological resilience comes from accepting that fact. Getting punched is not a good thing, but you’ve got to experience this in a safe context. It’s like learning to swim. You can’t learn to swim by watching YouTube videos. At some point, you need to get into the water.

How to Overcome Fear in Street Fights

My tip is to train against live punches that are intended to hit you. Not miss or fall short. Essentially, you need live sparring with intention, not one step fancy drills. Surprisingly, you should spar with people of your own level. Students of your own experience, avoid more experienced fighters.

Don’t go faster and harder than you can handle. Don’t fight a guy with far more experience, size, speed and strength from you. It’s not a matter of toughness. It’s about building your reflexes developed by keeping in your comfort zone.

As I’ve said, in many videos, your comfort zone is a balance between emotions and a task performance. The problem is there’s far too many martial arts students that train for a real fight that never actually hit each other. Don’t be that person.

Thanks for reading.



The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>

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