How Long Do Street Fights Actually Last? We Watched 200 of Them to Find Out.
I’ve been wanting to expand High Percentage into the self defense realm since the beginning. That’s why I called this site High Percentage Martial Arts and not High Percentage Jiu-Jitsu.
Pure self defense martial arts have a major limitation: their isn’t enough data for people to really know, even anecdotally, what to expect in a street fight.
In our sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you will often run across people who have competed dozens or even hundreds of times. They are regularly getting feedback on their techniques and tactics, then taking it back to their gyms to refine their skills.
But in the self defense arena, you just can’t do that. The best you can do is trust your instructor. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some bullshitters out there.
So the need for strong, objective data is more important in self defense, because we usually don’t have a wealth of verifiable experience to fall back on.
Last year, I wrote an article on a site called MartialJournal.com where I watched one hundred and fifty street fights and gave a little breakdown. It was a surprise hit, and I knew I wanted to circle back to the topic someday and maybe refine it based on some feedback I got.
For this article (and some subsequent ones), I used the same data, but expanded the fight count to two hundred to beef up my sample size. I’m happy to report that the overall data didn’t move much with an additional fifty fights, but I’m not opposed to adding more in the future, especially with females.
Our main limitation in these two hundred fights, was only thirty one of them were between females, which is 15.5% It’s not as big of a sample size for females as we would have liked, so we’re going to go back and look at another hundred or so fights just between females.
Our second notable limitation was the chaotic and subjective nature of street fighting verses what we usually do, competition matches. This got particularly tricky when it came to determining when fights “begin” and “end.” Because of this, consistency was very important. Here’s the rules we went with:
Fights Begin When:
1) participants take a clear fighting stance
2) they take an action that COMMITS them to the fight such as a punch or tackle
Fights End When:
1) one participant is not able to continue
2) they are broken up.
3) the video ends (if the video cut off in the midst of significant action, we didn’t use it).
These limitations taught us a very valuable lesson of street fights, their is often an extensive “warm-up” period.
That said, here’s our big five takeaways from watching two hundred street fights.
1) The Thirty Second Rule.
17% of the fights ended in a knockout (down from 23% in my last study, which is notable), with another 14% of fights ending with a participant being incapacitated by strikes (think “TKO”). In both of these cases, they happened most often within thirty seconds (that was the median time).
After thirty seconds, the chances of a knockout or TKO dropped sharply. So essentially, once you clear thirty seconds you’ve survived the worst.
2) Fights Rarely Last More Than A Minute.
The average length of all fights was forty seven seconds. Fights that happened exclusively between two participants lasted an average of forty eight seconds. Fights involving three or more participants lasted an average of forty five seconds.
Forty-one fights (20%) stretched past the one minute mark. Most of those fights ended indecisively.
3) Most Fights Have No Clear “Winner.”
It’s shocking how anticlimactic and predictable most fights are. Men usually charge at each other with power punches, fall to the ground, and continue punching until they get tired or knock each other out.
Women typically charge at each other, grab a fistful of hair with one hand, and then exchange punches until they fall over. On the ground, the person on top continues punching until they get tired or knock each other out.
All in all, 51% of the fights ended with no real conclusion. Exhausted fighters walking away with labored breathing and a bloody nose.
4) Males are Far More Likely to Seriously Hurt Each Other.
Half of all fights (51%) between 2 males had a violent conclusion such as a knockout, being incapacitated by strikes, or by a choke or jointlock of some sort). But only 8% of fights between two females had a similar outcome.
In 88% of female fights, the fight was either broken up or ended indecisively.
5) Female Fights Tend to Go Longer.
Female fights were ten seconds longer on average than male fights. It might not seem like much time, but given that fights are lasting mere seconds to begin with, it’s notable.
But What About. . .?
Don’t worry, this is just the first article in a series that we will do on street fights and self defense. Other questions we are looking for answers to include:
Do third parties tend to get involved in fights?
Do fights go to the ground and what happens when they do?
Do women fight differently than men?
I promise I’ll get to all of these, and if you have request with the data or future articles, please let me know. I livestream my research every week on our Facebook page.