A fight is different from self-defense. In self-defense, you are defending yourself against an attacker; you have no choice in the matter. In a fight, you are entering into mutual combat with another person; you have chosen to fight. While you may not have been seeking a fight, if you enter one, then you have become a willing participant in it. If one of the participants simply walks away, there would no longer be a fight. If the aggressor attacks you as you walk away and you defend yourself, you are not fighting, you are defending yourself.
How fights start
Fights begin for many different reasons: jealousy, threats, intoxication, bullying, disrespect, territorialism, machismo, etc. Many times, a fight begins over something trivial, such as accidentally bumping into someone or not using a turn signal. Fights usually start with angry words. Then they escalate into yelling, followed by pushing, and then by throwing punches to the face. Although not likely, there is always the possibility that a fight may become deadly.
Most people have never been in a fight, but some people seek them, and some people seem to attract them. If you are confident in yourself and your abilities, usually you will never be involved in a fight, you will just walk away from a confrontation– a fight avoided is a fight won. One way to avoid fights is to avoid places where fights usually take place, such as sleazy bars, rowdy fan gatherings at sporting events, and places where people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Fights are personal
Fights are usually not planned; they evolve from a minor disagreement and then escalate to violence. This means fights are up close and personal; the opponents are in each other's faces. The first attack is usually a push followed by hand attack, such as a punch or slap to the most offending body part–the face. However, not all fights progress this way, so be prepared for an unannounced attack and do not get sucker punched.
In fights, kicks are rare. Since the range is so close, there is not enough room to execute a kick. A knee to the groin is a possibility, but generally, people want to attack the person, and the body part that most defines the person is the face. Low kicks may work, such as stomping the foot, raking the shin, or side kicking the knee, but since fights end so quickly, it usually never comes to this.+
After a few punches are exchanged and the fighters begin to feel the pain, they start grabbing and holding and jerking each other around until they drop to the floor where they begin struggling and rolling around. This is usually when spectators or bouncers begin pulling the fighters apart to break up the fight.
Martial arts and fighting
Many martial arts such as taekwondo were developed as self-defense martial arts; meaning they were developed as a way to protect oneself from an attack, not to be an attacker. Modern taekwondo is much different from the way it was when it was developed in the 1950s when a martial art was viewed as a method of combat and way of life. Today, combat is considered politically incorrect; aggression, even in self-defense, is considered inappropriate.
Modern taekwondo has become a sport with an emphasis on competition, fitness, and fun. It is a business focused on profit, which means its emphasis is on getting and retaining paying students. To keep students, mostly children, standards have been lowered and combat is seldom, if ever, emphasized or mentioned, so most of today's "black belts" are sports players, not warriors.
When taekwondo was developed, it was based upon centuries-old empty hand self-defense fighting techniques. Humans have not evolved significantly in the last few hundred years, so these fighting techniques are still pertinent today. Traditional taekwondo, while used in competition, is still effective for empty hand self-defense against untrained attackers. Sport taekwondo is mostly for competition free-sparring; its effectiveness for empty hand self-defense against untrained attackers is questionable. Neither version is great in a fight (as explained later) but some of their basic techniques are applicable, but then taekwondo practitioners should not be entering into fights.