Street confrontations are often unexpected, unpredictable, and dangerous, with far-reaching consequences in terms of your safety and legal ramifications. Whether or not you should strike first depends on the specific situation and should be approached with caution. In this post, we will explore situations where striking first is justified and how to prepare for it.

Situations Where Striking First Is Justified

Street fights are unpredictable and dangerous. There are no rules; you don’t know the aggressor’s fighting abilities, whether they have a weapon, or if they have an accomplice nearby. You could be a 5th Dan with lots of fighting experience, but that day could be your unlucky one, and you might be the one ending up unconscious on the ground. Therefore, as a general principle, street fights must be avoided at all costs.

You should only get into a fight when this is absolutely no other way of defending yourself. If this is your judgment when facing with a threat at the time, a decisive and effective preemptive strike may be warranted to neutralize the threat or create an opportunity to escape.

Below are a few examples of situations where striking first might be justified.

1. Clear and Imminent Threats

If someone is advancing towards you aggressively with a clear intention to cause harm, striking first may be necessary to create a window for escape.

For example, despite you repeatedly stating that you do not want to fight, if the aggressor keeps advancing toward you, issues verbal threats or invades your personal space, you’re justified to defend yourself by striking first using an appropriate amount of force to neutralize the threat and escape.

2. Surrounded by Multiple Threats

When faced with a group of individuals who appear to pose a threat and there’s no opportunity for verbal de-escalation, a preemptive strike might be the only option to create an opening for escape.

In these scenarios, it might be best to focus on quickly disabling one attacker by targeting vulnerable areas like the eyes, throat, and groin, thus creating an opportunity to make a swift and safe exit.

3. Weapon Threat

If the aggressor is reaching for a weapon and there’s no opportunity to flee or negotiate, a quick and decisive strike may be necessary to disarm or incapacitate the threat.

For example, if the attacker is brandishing a gun or a knife with a clear intention of harming you or your loved ones, and you can’t run or talk your way out of it (e.g. stating your intention of not wanting a fight or handing over your belongings as demanded), it’s time to take action and take your chance to escape.

4. Relocation Threat

If you have been compliant with an aggressor’s demands hoping for a non-violent end, and they are now insisting that you get into a car or the back of a truck to be relocated to another location, striking first to create a window for escape may be warranted for your personal safety.

5. No Escape Route

If you are backed into a corner and they are in your way, blocking your exit route, preemptive action may be necessary to create an opportunity for escape.

6. Protecting Others

If you witness a loved one in immediate danger and striking first is the only way to prevent the attacker from harming them, it may be justifiable to intervene.

For instance, when the safety of vulnerable individuals such as children, elderly family members, spouses, or siblings is threatened, or the aggressor is armed and you have no time to call for help or reason with them, taking preemptive action to temporarily disable the aggressor can be warranted.

Training Your Preemptive Strikes

Once you’ve determined that it is necessary to strike first to defend yourself, your strike should be executed timely with speed, power and aiming at the right targets. Your strike should also persist until the threat is neutralized, providing you with the opportunity to escape safely.

First, let’s discuss the timing of your strike. As soon as the aggressor issues verbal threats, are about to invade your personal space, or physically threatens you by shoving, pushing, or spitting, take immediate action. Do not allow them to enter your personal space, avoid hesitation, refrain from telegraphing your intentions, and never let them hit you first. Striking first when the aggressor does not expect it will give you an enormous advantage. They will be taken by surprise, unprepared and unlikely to muster effective defense.

Secondly, your strike needs to be executed with speed, power and the right targets. If your strike is slow, there is a good chance that the aggressor will see it coming and react in time. On the other hand, if your strike is swift but lacks power, it will be ineffective, irritating the attacker and leaving you more vulnerable. Therefore, your strike must be both fast and powerful. Additionally, aim your strike at the attacker’s most vulnerable areas, such as the eyes, ears, nose, throat, groin, kidneys, and solar plexus. Swift and powerful strikes targeting these vulnerable areas can cause significant damage and likely shorten the duration of the altercation.

Initiating the first strike allows you to take control of the fight, and executing it effectively enables you to conclude it swiftly. As mentioned earlier, street fights are unpredictable, and the longer they persist, the greater the risk you face. You only have one opportunity to strike first, so ensure it counts and works to your advantage.

Thirdly, you should continue your strikes until the threat has been neutralized and you have enough time to escape safely. While a single powerful strike may momentarily incapacitate the attacker, there remains the risk that they could recover and pursue you during your escape. As long as the aggressor has the capability to resume the pursuit, your life remains in jeopardy. Therefore, while being mindful of potential legal consequences, always ensure that you have done enough to guarantee your secure escape. If you happen to overdo it in the heat of the moment, it is still better to spend some time in jail later on to make up for it than to spend the rest of your life in a coffin.

To achieve this goal, you will need a lot of regular practice before hand.

Imagine yourself being in a street confrontation and determine the best preemptive strikes for you based on your physique, strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, if you opt for a sequence of jabs (kizami tsuki) and hooks (mawashi tsuki) targeting the throat, ears, and nose, repetitively practice this combination.

Each practice session should involve visualizing a real-life scenario on the street. Practice these strikes until they become ingrained, second nature to you. This way, when faced with an attacker, you can execute this combination swiftly, powerfully, and instinctively, without the need for conscious thought.

Arguments Against Striking First

Some people argue against initiating a strike first in a street confrontation, advocating for a defensive strategy where one waits for the attacker to make the first move.

It is true that the moment you strike, you become vulnerable to counter-attacks. For example, executing a jab may lead the opponent to sidestep and counter-attack the side of your head. A hook punch might leave a significant area of your chest exposed, and a kick could make you susceptible to a throw.

However, waiting for the aggressor to strike first means letting them dictate the fight and taking a gamble with your life. If you fail to react swiftly enough, the consequences could be severe; you could get seriously injured or even killed and then it’s game over.

Personally, if I know a physical confrontation is unavoidable, I would prefer to seize the opportunity, be proactive, and act aggressively rather than allowing the attacker to determine my fate.

Perhaps, if you have reached a mastery level and have absolute confidence in your ability to patiently wait and react promptly to the aggressor’s attack, a passive strategy may be a preferable option for you.


In general, it is advisable to prioritize avoidance and de-escalation tactics when possible. Striking first should be a last resort when all other options have been exhausted, and you genuinely believe it is the only way to protect yourself or others from harm.

Legally, you have the right of self-defense, but always aim to act within the boundaries of the law, using reasonable and proportional force only as necessary to defend yourself. If you find yourself in a situation where preemptive strike is necessary, it’s essential to consult with legal professionals afterward to ensure that your actions were justifiable and lawful and to prepare for potential legal issues in the aftermath.

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