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How To Fight Even When You Are Tired By Derek Smith

When I was attending my Federal Police Officer’s Academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) we used to do what we called “3-minute Wars” where for 3 minutes we would battle all out with our fellow officers using the defensive tactics we were being taught.

Sometimes we would fight multiple attackers as well. 3 minutes does not sound like a long time, but needless to say, we were exhausted afterward.

The goal was to push us to our limits and then teach us keep going… pushing past the exhaustion. We could barely move our arms or legs after several rounds of this.

Today, I train in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Krav Maga four times per week and in the BJJ class we do anywhere from 3-5 seven to ten minute rounds. At 53 years old, rolling with guy’s half my age for 21 minutes is ROUGH, but according to my instructors, if we can do 7 minute rounds in class for 21 minutes straight, then a 5 minute BJJ match will be easy (although at my age I won’t be competing.)

Now I realize that most of you reading this don’t train like I do, so if you find yourself in a self-defense situation you will probably face total exhaustion. Adrenaline rush causes exhaustion to occur even quicker. Instead of panicking and getting your ass kicked, I can teach you how to fight your way through the exhaustion.

Fighting while you are exhausted is one of the toughest challenges you will ever face if attacked. The challenge is both physical and mental. Even if you can train hard four days a week like I do, you may still manage to get tired during battle.

Your body will quickly tire and your mind will tell you to just quit and give up… trust me, I have been there. But when you are in a life or death situation and not in the ring where you can just tap out and live to see another day… your mind will have to get you through this… making your body give you a little more.

So what does it take to keep your mind mentally strong and carry you through when your body has given up on you?

Read on as I give you a few training and fighting tips to help you keep going.

1. Mentally Prepare For The Battle

Much of the fight is mental. You need to prepare yourself in advance to know you are going to find yourself in a battle and you will be quickly exhausted.

Think about it when you’re at the end of your regular workouts and you are dog tired. Imagine yourself in their place. Expect it and push through it. Being prepared is half the battle.

2. Stay Relaxed

Now I know this is a tough one because if you have ever been in a real fight you know your adrenaline will be flowing and it will be hard to relax. When you fight for your life your body operates in a way that is beyond your control. You need to train in such a way that allows you to operate in this “zone”.

Did you know that a typical adrenaline blast lasts only 30 seconds?

Then you need about 3 minutes to recover.

That is a lifetime when you are fighting against weapons, multiple assailants, broken glass on the ground, snow, etc.

Relaxing was the hardest lesson I had to learn in my BJJ class. Weighing 250 pounds I either tried to out muscle everyone or if I was on the bottom of the fight I panicked and tried to fight my way out to avoided getting submitted.

Neither of these worked against trained BJJ fighters and only wore me out quicker allowing for the submission anyway. My instructor continuously told me to “relax.” If you practice often and learn to relax during your training, it will be easier to do it during a real attack.

Also visualize attack situations. Personally, I train for the meanest, toughest SOB I can imagine. I picture him kicking in my door and attacking my wife and kids. If you picture this I guarantee you that if someone is standing between you and your family, there’s no question what the outcome should be.

3. Keep Your Eyes On The Attacker

Long ago I got my nose broken in a sparring session. For years when a punch was thrown at my face I would flinch and turn away. The thing is that the punch was coming anyway, and since I was not looking at it I was definitely going to get hit.

I know it is a natural reaction, but don’t do it. Stare down your opponent. Maybe none of your other body parts are still working, but you can damn well keep your eyes on your attacker to see the punch or kick coming.

4. Don’t Run From Your Attacker

If you are exhausted and feel you cannot fight anymore, you may try to run. There is nothing worse than being dead-ass tired and trying to run.

Don’t do it.

Instead keep your feet moving. You won’t have the gas to bounce, shuffle, pivot, or move quickly, but you can damn well walk. So do that instead. The goal is to avoid giving your attacker a standing target.

The more you walk, the less chance you have of taking a hard shot and it gives you some time to get your breath back.

5. Keep Your Defenses Up

Even if you can’t throw punches or kicks anymore, keep your defenses up, meaning keeping your hands up. Instead of attacking at this point, go into a defensive mode.

If you get cornered because you’re not walking like I told you in step 4 and are taking a bunch of hard shots, keep your head and body covered as best you can, keeping your elbows in tight. Let the opponent tire themselves while you rest for YOUR next attack.

6. Move INTO Your Opponent

I know you probably feel like you want to move away from your opponent so you won’t get hit or kicked, but after studying grappling arts like BJJ, and Hapkido, and then trying this in real life, I have learned that it is sometimes good to move closer to your attacker.

What this does is dissipate your attackers power in his kicks and punches. Most people cannot fight at this range and their blows will be shorter and therefore not as strong or hard as they normally would be.

If possible, grab them and clench with them. Lean on them with all your body weight and tire them out. But stay relaxed so you can rest and use step number eight coming in a moment.

7. Interrupt Their Game

One thing I do when I spar or fight is that I put my hands in my opponent’s face so that he cannot see me or so that I can interrupt the technique he is trying to execute. It is hard to hit someone if his hand is in your face.

If you don’t have any power left in your own punches, just get your jab out there. It will interrupt your attacker’s offense and slow him down.

8. Fight Dirty

Finally, my last tip is to fight dirty. There are no rules in fighting. Bite, scratch, jab eyes, elbow, head butt, and do whatever else you can come up with to protect yourself. I teach all these things in my self-defense course by the way. Above all, do what you must to protect yourself and survive the encounter.

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22 thoughts on “How To Fight Even When You Are Tired By Derek Smith”

  1. When I was younger I got my butt handed to me almost every fight .
    I started working out on the speed bag .
    I incorporated this into my fighting technique
    When I could not avoid the actual fight , as soon as my opponent attacked me I would speed bag his face with small rapid sensational punches that would disorient him and not let him see me , basically because he’s getting hit about 20 times a second . Then you go for the power blows iand the fight is over . And at over 50 that’s a good thing . You’re absolutely right about blinding your opponent , it works every time guaranteed . The fight of our life is just ahead of us , I appreciate your website and all you do !!!

  2. Do you get close like that even if they have a knife? Because in knife training, a knife is deadliest when closer to the opponent…

  3. This is great stuff and it really works. I’m 65 and use to fight for fun until I was about 35 and i used many of these techniques let my opponent wear himself down. Then I could get the upper hand. No more fighting the dental work is too expensive but I think I would use the same techniques thanks for the reminder.

  4. I am a psycho-threapist. I ask most of my clients if they have every been a physical fight 75% say they have never BEEN IN A FIGHT. I need to refer my clients to your site.

  5. Move off center it will remove one of your opponets arms out of the power range and confuse them. It won’t be brute force vs. brute force. Block with strikes it saves energy. There is one martial art that walks in training. It also fights dirty.

  6. Great lessons to know. I definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness to share this. I am 61 but I have arthritis and fibromyalgia from my neck down to my feet. It is hard for me to move a lot. So, sharing this helps me to figure out what I may need to do if I get attacked. It was more than I knew before I read your tips and that is very appreciated. Ron

  7. Absolutely sound advice. Inexperienced guys don’t understand that all real world fighting is dirty, which is why I avoid it. I am a former football player, what you said about adrenaline is absolutely true. I’ve also trained some in Aikido, and everything you said about disrupting attacks was very accurate and any good fighter would agree. Nothing complex will work during an adrenalin rush or when you are dog tired, only gross motor movements. The simpler the technique, the better and more effective it usually is. Let’s hope your students can avoid having to use your teachings. God Bless.

  8. Thank you for this info, it’s a big help and it’s good to know that you need to relax when in a stressful attack situation. This is something I haven’t heard before now. This is good.

  9. Being, that I’m in my mid 50’s these 8 tips are great advice for us older guys. I do have some Martial Arts experience. But, I’ve been in 3 confrontations overseas… and just not backing down and keeping a cool head, and didn’t let it escalate or piss me off to the point where I made a mistake on my part . I’m here to tell you I survived.

  10. excellent suggestions. I trained in Krav for a few years . I am 66 years old now and am not sparring anymore but try to keep up my skills. I carry legally and have won some competitions but you might have to fight to your weapon so all the tricks and skills come in handy. So thanks for your thoughts.

  11. You teach a very practical and experienced way to handle a lot of encounters.iam decabled and don’t like walking the streets like I used to. The thought of an encounter leaves me uneasy. iam not the young buck any more.!

  12. Very informative, not to say enlightening, and I find myself looking over what you have written and I am going to bring this to the fore and make it a part of me, thank you so very much, you are very helpful at fight fast. ! Thanks Heaps, yours Most sincerely David Alan Schuman.

  13. THANK YOU for this article. I am a single mom and disabled. I am learning a few self defense moves that I may have to do to keep my two daughters safe. I will be returning to this article to refresh and to share with my daughters.

  14. I remember my days at FLETC as well. I was there during the 911 attack. I was one of the older students there. I remember a graded practical where my partner and I had to arrest a resistant young guy. We were his first scenario training of the day so, he was fresh and strong and was not going down if possible. it wasn’t long at all before we were all exhausted and thinking and ready to just give up which would have failed the practical but, then I just reached down inside, as did my partner, knew we could do it and pushed on. We finally got him down and cuffed. What you indicated in this article is true. You have to keep going or else.