Eye gouges, groin strikes, bites, scratches, throat strikes, hair pulling: why “fighting dirty” is not enough in reality

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Reddit discussion and video

Groin strikes, eye gouges, and other “dirty” street fighting techniques are often overestimated in their effectiveness, and are not reliable substitutes for fundamental fighting skills.

The key issue with these techniques is that they rely on pain to influence behavior, rather than directly incapacitating or controlling an opponent. Real fighting scenarios (see videos) show that people can endure severe injuries, including serious maiming, and still continue to fight. This resilience is especially true when the stakes are high.

Gaining a controlling position increases the effectiveness of any technique, including those banned in sports. Without a dominant position, attempts at “dirty” tactics are more likely to fail.

Consideration must also be given to what happens when these tactics fail. In a fight, once a certain level of violence is introduced, it can be reciprocated, potentially leading to more severe consequences.

Real-life examples illustrate these points. Fighters have continued to compete even after sustaining significant injuries like broken limbs or blindness. The effectiveness of these tactics is unpredictable and can vary greatly depending on the situation and the individuals involved.

While “dirty” techniques can be part of a fighting strategy, they are not reliable or decisive. Effective fighting requires a combination of skills, including striking, grappling, and a strategic approach to positioning and control. Simply relying on pain-inducing tactics is insufficient for real combat scenarios.

Here we have a man arguing with police, and he throws a knee to the groin. You can see the officer’s hips move back as the energy from the strike transfers to his body. The officer responds with a punch which knocks the man unconscious. This is a stark illustration of the difference between doing something that simply hurts a lot, and something that takes away your capacity to fight completely.
A jeweller is stabbed and attempts to stop the attacker by using groin strikes and eye gouges, which have no effect. Neither man is able to clearly dominate the fight before the stabber eventually gives up and walks away.
This man entered an MMA gym and challenged them to a fight. When he gets caught in a guillotine choke, he attempts to eye gouge his opponent, who continues to choke the man unconscious.
In Japan 1995, 5’7 Yuki Nakai fought 6’5 Gerard Gordeau in an MMA bout. Gerard illegally eye gouged Yuki, which left him permanently blind in his right eye. Yuki continued to fight with one eye, and won by heel hook in the fourth round. He never let officials know that he’d been blinded.
Full fight where a man’s ear is bitten off, and the biter loses by submission when he is unable to escape from a bad position, demonstrating the importance of basic grappling skills no matter the rule set.
A man’s lower lip is bitten off in a street fight; however, by the end of the video he is keen to continue fighting, while it is the biter who walks away.
Man has his ear bitten off in a street fight and does not stop – by the end of the video he is in a dominant position and continues to fight without issue.
A man who is allegedly a pedophile according to onlookers, attempts to bite and eye gouge while underneath the mount of his opponent, which fails. His opponent – the man in a controlling position – eye gouges and blinds the other man, demonstrating the importance of positional control no matter what rules of lack thereof.
Two men are fighting on the ground, one has his eye gouged out – however, he continued to fight and at the end of the video, he is in a controlling position and is now gouging the eyes of the other man.
Multiple unanswered strikes to the groin which appear to have no effect
Source of video thumbnail – by MMA photographer Esther Lin
“After the fight, Werdum said the poke didn’t hurt or affect him – and even if it had hurt, he might have lied to the ringside physician and said he was fine out of concern the bout would be stopped. Werdum, who won a unanimous decision, says he thinks some fighters embellish the severity of a poke to get out of the fight and that offends him to some degree.”


German police use wrist locks on protester

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The German police have employed wrist locks on a protester, promising to release him if he stands and walks. However, the protester is engaging in passive resistance; he’s neither attacking nor attempting to flee, but simply refusing to comply by staying down and using his body weight to resist. Despite the intense pain from the double wrist lock, the man remains unfazed and has even wet his pants, likely from being in the situation for an extended period. His commitment to his cause appears to outweigh any physical discomfort.

This scenario highlights the limitations of pain compliance techniques, which aim to induce compliance through inflicted pain. Such methods can be ineffective against individuals who are either highly committed or in an emotionally heightened state, as they may choose to endure the pain. The police could have opted for dragging the protester away, achieving the same result without causing pain. This suggests that a more effective approach for law enforcement would be to focus on mastering basic, fundamental grappling skills rather than relying solely on pain compliance techniques.

The Norway Incident: Cop charged with assault after failing to control on the ground

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Bystanders and the court of public opinion

The failure of wristlocks and armbar takedowns

News coverage of the incident from Norway:

On October 30, Kevin Simensen, a 26-year-old man, was subjected to violence by the police. Initially, no one believed his account, but new surveillance footage has emerged that supports his claims.

The footage shows a police officer in his 30s repeatedly striking Simensen outside a gas station in Kongsberg. This video has gained significant attention recently. TV2 has also obtained another video that shows what happened immediately after the first surveillance footage. Simensen believes this second video was taken after he was pepper-sprayed and before his friend Kristian was hit with a baton.

Due to the surveillance footage, the case has taken a turn. The officer has been charged with violence and gross negligence in the line of duty. The police chief, Ole Sæverud, stated that the charged officer has not been in active duty since the video came to light.

Both Simensen and his friend Kristian Teigen appreciate the media attention the case is getting. They believe it’s crucial for people to realize that such incidents do happen in Norway. Teigen also mentioned that the police deleted some of the footage they had initially captured.

Simensen, who has been dealing with PTSD since the incident, is slowly reintegrating into society. He had previously served with NATO in the Mediterranean for six months.

The officer’s lawyer, Gry Schrøder Berger, stated that the video doesn’t show the entire sequence of events and that her client is currently struggling emotionally.

The case is now pending court evaluation.


The Buskerud District Court ruled that the officer’s use of force against Kevin Simensen was lawful. The officer had been accused of gross bodily harm after forcibly restraining Simensen, who was pepper-sprayed and hit multiple times with both a baton and a fist.

The ruling was not unanimous; one of the judges dissented, arguing that the officer’s actions were not in line with the police law’s guidelines on the use of force. The court’s majority opinion emphasized that Simensen did not cease resisting arrest and that the officer had little time to consider alternative actions.

The Special Unit for Police Affairs, which had been prosecuting the case, stated that they would review the court’s reasoning before deciding on whether to appeal. Kevin Simensen and his legal team expressed disappointment with the verdict, stating that it could further erode public trust in the legal system.

Ole Sæverud, the Police Chief in Kongsberg, has not yet commented on whether the acquitted officer will return to duty. He mentioned that the officer is currently suspended and that they would need to thoroughly review the verdict before making any decisions.


How Police Training Got It Wrong: The Failure of Wrist Locks & Armbar Takedowns

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00:05 – Intro
01:44 – Citizens arrest a man – what methods do they use?
02:21 – What are wrist locks and armbar takedowns?
03:36 – How do they differ from other methods?
04:10 – Arm drags are not equivalent to armbar takedowns
04:28 – Performance in combat sports
04:44 – So why do police train this way?
06:08 – Why do we teach police this way if it doesn’t work?
07:17 – Fighting is impossible to understand without doing it.
08:14 – Discussing examples
09:41 – Safety concerns
11:43 – Do wrist locks and armbar takedowns have any use at all? 12:41 – What should we teach instead?

How to fight multiple opponents

How effective groups operate vs single opponents

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It is essential to first understand how to effectively take on a single opponent from the other side – as a group – before considering the best approach as a single defender.

There are two core roles:

  1. Primary – Engages / draws attention
  2. Secondary – Performs flanking movement / blindside attack
One engages while the other attacks from a second angle – just like the raptors in Jurassic Park

Engagement could mean anything from a physical attack to body language and verbal engagement.

As we can only face one direction and effectively fight one person at a time, we are vulnerable to any secondary attack from whoever we are not focused on.

When you are operating in a group against a single opponent, divide yourselves between these roles. One takes their focus, allowing the other the other to attack without repercussion.

Engage simultaneously, give them two problems at once and find opportunities to hit them when they aren’t looking at you.

Method as single defender

Now we have an understanding of basic group tactics, how do we address it?

The often-repeated advice is to “line them up”. Although this is not a bad idea in principle, it can be difficult to achieve maintain as your opponent will counter this movement. Any improvements to position are temporary and will result in a back-and-forth struggle.

As a result, we will often need to capitalise on more subtle positional shifts.

Position (Angles + Distance)

ANGLE: Use movement to keep opponents within a 90 degree angle to front, as much as possible.

DISTANCE: Maintain a staggered distance. They may never perfectly “line up” for you – however, if one is within striking range and the other is not, we have achieved at least a fleeting moment where we can address a single opponent, without being attacked by the other.

Angle and distance management require constant movement.


Target switching

The ability to target switch is more important than positioning. Good position can be difficult or impossible to attain for more than a fleeting moment.

We must identify, prioritise and engage with the secondary. Failure to do so means you will suffer a blindside attack.

Identify the secondary opponent. Maintain awareness of opponents moving in your peripheral vision; they will be positioning to attack while you are focused on their friend.

Prioritise the secondary. Even if you are physically fighting with one, when you sense the secondary is committing to their movement, prioritise and address them.

Rapidly disengage from your primary, engage the secondary.

This could mean nothing more than eye contact, or a physical attack.

Check their movement, stop the attack, do not allow them to take the initiative.

Do your best to maintain good position (angle and staggered distance). This may not always be possible, but do your best.

It is paramount that you rapidly switch targets to check their movement, stop the secondary attack, and take back the initiative.


Another method they might use is stalling. It will shut down your movement and ability to target switch.

This involves one opponent simply holding on and not doing much while their friend does the real harm. This can often happen on the ground, but is a problem whether standing or ground.

To combat this, you need to learn how to grapple – clinch, sprawl, break grips, break contact, wrestle, defend and stand up.

If you don’t know how to clinch, wrestle and fight on the ground, you are defenseless against being taken down and held on the ground.

Crossing the line

The two opponents can work to set up the their blindside attack, but we also have to be cautious not to put ourselves in that position.


Do not press forward to pursue a retreating opponent if it will expose your flank.

Final note

Above all, you need to be better at fighting than all of your opponents combined, because that is literally what you are up against. All the tactics and knowledge in the world won’t matter unless the size, skill, strength, speed, experience etc. disparity between you and the other party is large enough to overcome them.