Street 101

by George Mattson

by Darren Laur



In preparing this post, I have attempted to put into writing some of the information that I have gleaned over the years specific to self protection and the “way of the street” In doing so , I had the opportunity to integrate a number of ideas and concepts from others in the field. To say that all of the information in this post was totally mine, would only ignore those people who have made this work possible.

I believe that there is no such thing as the “ultimate” fighting form. Every combative system has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. I believe the secret is to recognize and acknowledge those weaknesses and then go elsewhere to strengthen them. In doing so, there are a number of people who I must thank for the content of this post. Some of the below noted instructors/coaches/teachers I know personally and have trained with, others I only known through their own published works. It is because of these people that I have been able to strengthen my weaknesses and make this post possible:

Albert Carty
Gil Puder
Tony Blauer
Bradley Steiner
Marc McYoung
Peyton Quinn
Sammy Franco
Richard Dimitri
Geoff Thompson
Jim Grover
Jerry Van Cook

Taking It To The Streets


The Police:

First of all, I am a police officer and have some knowledge in this topic. Most people believe that the police are the first line of defense. In a perfect world this may be true, but the fact is “YOU” are going to be the first line of defense. It is a fact that most police department are far more “reactive” to crime than “proactive.” Although I would love to see a police officer on every corner, the fact remains that this will never happen. In our world, there are more criminals that there are police officers, this is why we call what we do the “thin blue line”. Police officers understand that if the criminal element was to ban together as one cohesive entity, such as what happened in the L.A. riots after the Rodney King incident, there would be little police could do to regain control in the short term.

It is also a sad fact that unlike 30-40 years ago when most of the criminal element feared the police, today most do not and only see us as an “annoyance” to their criminal activity. Most of the experienced criminals know how not to get caught as well. We in policing usually catch the inexperienced, why?, because the experienced criminals have learned from their mistakes. The next sad thing is that even if the police do catch the criminal, many are soon released.

The Courts:

Even if the criminal is caught red handed committing the crime, the next step is court and the Criminal Justice system, or should I say “The Criminal’s Justice System.” Many criminals see the justice system as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Why?, because most, including their lawyers, know the ins and outs of the judicial jungle, especially when it comes to a legal technicality or plea bargan. The fact remains that in some countries the criminal has nothing to loose but everything to gain by going to court. In some cases the punishment from the courts, if found guilty, does not deter the criminal from continuing on with their actions. The term “let the punishment fit the crime” seldom exists, but even if convicted to jail, there is a very real chance that the criminal will only have to serve 1/3 of their sentence anyways.

Who is the Street Predator:

So who is the Street Predator? The answer is “anyone”, but the average inmate housed in the Canadian Correctional system for violent crimes is:

  • male between the ages of 15-24 years
  • 5’9″ – 6’0″ tall
  • 175 – 190 lbs

Most street predators can be split up into two categories; “The Amateur” and “The Professional”

The Amateur:

The amateur is an “ego” based animal who is looking for a fight “just because.” To be preyed upon by the amateur you do not have to be doing anything wrong, you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This beast is usually very identifiable;

  • usually walks with attitude
  • elbows pushed away from body
  • verbally aggressive and rude to people within a few feet
  • confrontations are usually triggered by eye contact

Some of the “Ritualized” combative signs that are apparent from the amateur prior to contact, but not limited to, include:

  • splaying arms to express exclamation
  • beckoning with finger
  • nodding of head, usually accompanies finger beckoning
  • bulging eyes
  • acquires innate fighting stance
  • will close distance during confrontation

The Professional:

The professional street predator is someone who I like to identify as the serial mugger, serial rapist, serial killer. These beasts usually attack for profit and not because they want to fight. These animals are a little harder to identify as they merge into society quite well and usually prey upon targets that have “no” situational awareness. When the professional strikes a target they usually follow a seven step process of target acquisition:

  • Step #1: victim selection:
    • looking for subjects with no situational awareness
    • attacks usually occur in sparsely populated locations out the view of witnesses and therefore reduces the chances of being seen heard or caught
  • Step #2: Victim Stalking:
    • Once a target has been identified the professional will usually stalk first
    • They are waiting for the time and place that suits their need for privacy and control
  • Step #3: Victim/Predator Positioning:
    • the professional must place themselves in position to either attack by surprise or engage in a “street Interview”
    • remember this beast is a lazy animal and does not want to fight but totally overwhelm

The professional will usually use one of five “relative” positioning tactics to set their intended victim up for attack:

    • 1) Closing:
      • Most common, walks directly up to target to get as close as they can
      • the closer they get the more success he will have in his abilities to overwhelm and control
      • this is why the “reaction gap” is so important once you have identified a person as a threat. If the threat has breached the gap when you have told him not to, he has clearly announced that his intentions are not good
    • 2) Cornering/ Trapping:
      • this is the second most commonly used tactic
      • will want to corner you between himself, you, and any safe exit point
    • 3) Surprise
      • Surprise is the primary tactic that an attacker depends upon for full advantage
    • 4) Pincer:
      • usually used by two or more criminals
      • one circles while the other distracts you
      • one attacker follows from behind and while you are focused on them, there is a second attacker just up ahead
      • things to be aware of, two people standing across from one another in a narrow space such as a hallway, staircase, or alley
    • 5) Surround:
      • most common in “packs” or “swarms”
      • one in the pack will distract while the others surround
      • instead of a fast swarm, the pack will usually drift towards you so as not to alert you to their intentions
  • Step #4: Testing the Waters:
      • only used if the element of surprise is not available
      • here the predator will use one or more “street interviewing tactics” to see if you are a low risk high gain target
    • A) reasonable request interview:
      • will ask you for the time, match, cigarette, spare change, directions
      • as you are complying with their request, the attacker moves into a surprise attack position.
      • This is a classic “distraction technique”
    • B) The Distant Interview:
      • takes place from a distance
      • attacker is assessing your body language and awareness level
      • the professional uses this method regularly to identify targets of opportunity
      • most criminals are in plain view but because of no “situational awareness” the intended victim fails to recognize the fact that they are there
    • C) The Escalating Interview:
      • usually takes place in a pack situation
      • starts off small but builds to the boiling point
      • weapons are usually involved
      • men are really bad for this because of “ego”
    • D) the Bully Interview:
      • will say things to you such as ” what the fuck are you looking at”
      • the attacker hopes that by saying this to you, you will respond in kind thus giving them the reason that they were looking for to engage you either verbally and or physically
      • this interview usually starts with the eye glare which then moves to the bully question which then leads to an escalating interview and then goes physical
    • E) the Bully Interview:
      • Continual eye contact made (non-verbal challenge)
      • The bully interview: what the fuck are you looking at
      • The approach towards you
      • The bully question reiterated
      • The response from you; usually a verbal challenge
      • Escalating interview back and forth
      • Actual physical challenge: let’s fucking go right now
      • Single syllable replies back and forth
      • The actual attack; usually a hooking sucker punch
      • During the last few stages prior to actual physical attack, not uncommon to have finger pointing, arm flailing, and slight one or two hand pushes. These are done as an intelligence gathering technique to ascertain your intentions and abilities to fight back
  • Step #5: The Assesment Stage:
    • if after steps 1-4 there is a positive assessment by the professional, they will usually attack using the element of surprise. If there is a negative assessment and the victim appears to be ware of what is going on, the attacker will usually abort their attack and move onto another safe target
  • Step #6: Using Threats Of Violence:
    • If a positive threat assessment has been made by the professional in step #5, it is usually followed by verbal threats which are sometimes aided by a weapon or an accomplice or both
    • These threats are very direct and extremely violent in nature using very course language
    • The professionals “goal” here is to create a state of “hyper vigilance” to cause you to go into “brain fart” mode. Why ? because the professional understands that the mind guides the body. If they can get you into brain fart mode their in control.
    • It is also very common that the attacker will promise not to hurt you if you comply with their requests. Why? They don’t want you to make a scene that increases the risks of them being seen, heard, or caught.
  • Step #7: the Attack:
    • after step #6 the professional now engages
    • some of these attacks may be minimal, intended only to freeze you allowing them to take what they want. Most, however, will be frenzied and severe with onw intent, to totally disable or even kill you before you can launch an effective counter attack

Although both the amateur and professional attacker are two different beasts, both will exhibit one or more pre-assaultive signs (Ritualized Combat) that if you know what to look for are real good indicators ( warning bells) to let you know what may be happening:


Ritualized Combat Signs That An Assault May Not Be Imminent But Possible:

  • head, neck, shoulders go back
  • face is red, twitching, jerking
  • lips pushed forward bearing teeth
  • breathing is fast and shallow
  • sweating
  • thousand mile glare
  • exaggerated movements
  • finger pointing/ head pecking
  • totally ignores you
  • gives you excessive attention during normal conversation such as direct uninterrupted eye contact
  • goes from totally uncooperative to totally cooperative
  • acts stoned or drunk
  • directs anger towards other items such as tables, chairs, walls

Here create distance, awareness level up.

Ritualized Combat Assault is Imminent:

  • face goes from red to white
  • lips tighten over teeth
  • breathing is fast and shallow
  • change of stance, body blades and shoulders drop
  • hands closed tight into a fist ( usually autonomic)
  • bobbing up and down on feet, or rocking back and forth
  • target glance to your body parts
  • putting head and chin down (protects eyes and airway)
  • stops all movements
  • dropping of their center or lowering of body
  • shedding cloths ( very common)
  • full sentences to one syllable reply

If you see these signs and can not walk or talk your way out, you take FIRST STRIKE and continue with compound attack.

Five tactical Advantages Of The Criminal:

Remember, most attackers have five very real advantages over most of their victims:

  • Advantage #1: Confidence
    • will usually not attack unless he has full confidence in his abilities to win the physical encounter
    • Confidence comes from ability to use the tactic of the sucker punch or the the ambush to his full advantage
  • Advantage #2: Experience
    • Experience comes from actual street application rather than a training studio or martial arts school
    • Experience comes from real lessons learned on the street. Both good and bad
  • Advantage #3: Competence:
    • Most have one or two techniques that they have mastered to some degree
    • This mastery comes from actual application in the real world
    • Because of this fact, they know what works most of the time, and what does not
    • Their combatives training is learned by doing under “real” street conditions
  • Advantage #4: Tactics:
    • a criminal’s tactics are that of simplicity, the simpler it is the better it will work
    • when they do physically attack, it is usually a continuous attack until the intended victim has been knocked out or grounded
    • physical attacks are usually very brutal and violent
    • usually the criminal uses the advantage of FIRST STRIKE
  • Advantage #5: Psychological:
    • Most people believe that this shit will never happen to me and because of this fact when attacked, go into a state of hyper vigilance which is a huge advantage to the attacker

So Why Do Street Fights Occur:

  • Pride and Ego reasons are most common. Why?
    • a person perceives that their ego has been challenged
    • need to save face by fighting the person who they see as their challenger
    • this is especially true if the person who’s ego was challenges is with a peer group/gang. It is important when dealing with groups, a challenge to one, is a challenge to all
  • Alcohol and Drugs:
    • The number one contributing factor as to why fights occur is alcohol and or drugs
    • I like to call alcohol “liquid courage”
    • Both alcohol and drugs override a person’s thought process to the point where reality and fantasy are one in the same. Both remove a person’s common sense factor
  • Property, Body, Life:
    • Here the attacker could want specific things from you including:
      • Property:
        • money, wallet, credit cards, jewelry, clothing
      • Body:
        • Pride and ego assaults, Sexual Assaults, Enjoyment Of A Violent Act
      • Life:
        • Self explanatory

Real Fights Are Not Pretty:

  • not choreographed like you see on T.V. or in some martial arts schools
  • Most are very sloppy, fast, and gross in appearance
  • Most are not back and forth occurrences. The first person who gets in the first good neutralizing blow usually wins the fight
  • Even a well trained combatant’s technique will usually get very sloppy after the first or second shots are thrown
  • This is why in a street fight, “functionality of technique” is far more important that “perfect technique”. If what you do is pretty and perfect but not functional, what good is it going to be in the real world

Most Street Fights Are Over Very Quickly:

  • most fights are usually over within the first 5-10 seconds
  • Very rare to see a street fight last longer that 10-15 seconds

Most Street Fights Are Decided By A Strike to The Head:

  • most street fighters are head hunters
  • they understand that the brain is the computer of the body. You knock it out and the body will follow
  • this is why in a street fight you “MUST” protect your head and neck

Most Street Fights If Not Over Quickly, Can Involve Grappling And Ground Fighting:

  • if the fight is not over quickly, it can end up in a grapple and then go to ground
  • Why?, if a person is getting the shit pounded out of them, they will usually want to close the distance in an attempt to smother/control the punches that they are being hit with
  • Once grounded, you will usually be shit kicked “curbed” by the attacker, if he is standing, and his friends if any. These kicks are usually targeted for the head and upper body.
  • This is why “ballistic” ground fighting techniques are essential for getting back onto your feet as quickly as possible. Unlike the UFC we can NOT spend a lot of time on the ground

The Multiple Opponent Factor:

  • Most attackers will have some kind of back up to help them out if they find themselves in trouble
  • If you fall into the trap that you are only fighting one person, you will become tunnel locked, and the next thing you will find out is someone is on your back
  • Always be aware of the second or third opponent in a street fight
  • MUST always be thinking multiples on the street

The Weapon Reality:

  • There are more and more fights taking place where a weapon was brought to use before, during, or after the confrontation. Especially knives
  • Always be aware and prepared for a weapon in a street fight at anytime

The Unwanted Friend Factor:

  • most fights usually have friends and acquaintances looking on from both sides
  • these friends will often attempt to separate combatants in an effort to stop the fight
  • this is very dangerous to you due to the fact that as your friend is pulling you away, they are tying you up giving an advantage to your attacker
  • this can take place before, during, and after a fight as well
  • Although your friends may be trying to help you, unless on the same page tactically, they are in fact placing you at a disadvantage

The Offensive Mindset:

  • more often than not, the combatant who strikes first and maintains the offensive mindset, usually win the fight
  • in a street fight do not go defensive, attack the attack, go offensive, you deploy FIRST STRIKE and continue with a compound attack

So there it is, my two cents, I hope you enjoyed it

Strength and Honor

Darren Laur
Integrated Street Combatives

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