Competition vs Street Self Defence

I’m sorry to say that a lot of people confuse dojo sparring and traditional competition sparring within martial arts and that of street self-defence.

They believe that if you are a great roundhouse kicker and able to smash boards then this makes you an expert in self-defence on the street.

The reality is that competition sparring and dealing with a street attack is worlds apart.

Based on my and others experience in both…

Let’s look at each one and break it down:


All actions by the competitors are controlled by a referee

Officials are there to impose restrictions and regulations in the bouts

Only certain strikes/actions are permitted

Out of bounds areas on the human body for safety

Depending on the rules of the competition – takedowns or sweeps not permitted

Comfortable and loose uniform

Warmed up prior to competing

Mentally and physical prepared for your sparring opponent

Clean and level floor with mats

Medals, trophies and awards.


None of the above!

It’s a nasty business if you have to protect yourself in a street attack.

Brutal frenzied attack with biting, head butting, eye gouging, spitting, stomping.

Knives and or blunt weapons may be used against you.

High on drugs and/or drink.

More than one attacker.

You are a few seconds away from serious injury or death.

Rules don’t apply and you may need to use extreme violence depending on the threat.

Confronting psychologically and physically.

Post attack there is going to be a period of stress and anxiety.



Family involvement in the aftermath.


As I have highlighted above there is no comparison to sparring and self-defence.

Just visualise a sports competitor who is in a deep stance with their fist on their hip ready to fire off a reverse punch in comparison to a thug/s on the street fighter who will rush you in a frenzy with the aim of wanting to kill or seriously injure you with no warning.

Keep training and be safe out there and implement alert states and self-defence principles so that trouble doesn’t come your way.

Shihan Martin Day

P.S.     Wishing my students well with their promotion assessments this weekend.

It’s been nearly 6 months since the last one.

Darrin is going for his 2nd Dan Black Belt!