If you’ve spent some time in watering holes, chances are you’ve seen a bar fight. And if you’ve spent a lot of time in said watering holes, then you have possibly even been in a bar fight.  A guy thinks you said something to him, dissed him, or worse, thinks you winked at his girl…and the next thing you know you’re in a bar tussle. Most of these fights end after a couple of punches or until one of the dudes trips over a table. But sometimes the guy attacking you is in it to win it and you need to be ready for it. Our advice? Turn to mixed martial arts.

Unless you’ve been living in exile for the past couple of decades, then you know what MMA is all about.  It’s the sport that has made fighting exciting again. It’s fun to watch, but it’s also a good way to defend yourself, stay in shape, and most importantly, win a bar fight. So we decided to get some tips from Renzo Gracie Brazillian Jiu Jitsu BlackBelt Joe Alhert, who is also an MMA instructor with Team Renzo Gracie. Now when the bar fight goes down, you will be able to handle it like a real MMA fighter.

Stay Away from Weapons

Weapons in a bar fight are just stupid. Either the fighter just wants to look cool by wielding a chair or he’s playing for keeps with that broken beer bottle in his hand. Whatever the case may be, avoid the weapons. Your goal is to end the fight without too much damage happening and certainly without a charge of assault with a deadly weapon on your permanent record. If someone comes at you hard with a weapon, remember that all they are fighting with is that weapon. They are not thinking about kicks or punches. Use this to your advantage.

We asked Joe for tips on disarming a man with something like a bottle or a knife after you have dodged the strike. It starts with the wrist. “You must control the wrist of the knife with BOTH hands. Lock out arms fully and keep your hips away,” Joe advised. “Once you have the knife hand secured with both hands. you can use low kicks to the legs to distract him and cause his body to turn. With both hands still on the wrist, go to his back as he turns away from the ongoing low leg strikes. Keep both hands on that wrist and pin it to his stomach.” Low kicks will be addressed below and they can be very effective in a bar fight.

Joe also cautions about other dangers when the fight ultimately goes to the ground: “We must make sure that there is no threat of his friends jumping in or weapons like beer bottles and chairs that could be used against us while on the ground. Keep your distance and assess the situation until it is safe to take it down to the ground.”

Utilize Low Kicks

When kicks make an appearance in a bar fight, they are usually from some guy trying to show off and do a high kick, or they are when someone has already hit the floor and the guy standing wants to add insult to injury with some swift kicks to the ribs. Professional MMA fighters can end a fight with one well placed high kick, but you shouldn’t try it in a bar fight. For starters, they take years of training to perfect. Secondly, bars usually have little room to move around in, so you won’t be able to execute a high kick like it needs to be done. The key for you is low kicks. The pros use these every fight and it will kick ass  for you in your bar fight.

While squaring off against your new fight buddy, keep enough distance to avoid his jabs, but keep close enough where you can extend your leg enough to kick him below the knees. These kicks are quick strikes and come from the side. A well placed low kick can actually snap a shin bone in half — which is likely pretty painful. Don’t try and be a hero and break bones. All you want to do is weaken or distract him enough to take him to the ground or until he quits because you made his high school football injury flare up again.

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Get the Action to the Ground

A trademark of bar fights are the wild, uncontrolled punches. The guys usually just aim for the fences from the imaginary opening bell. This is no way to ever win a bar fight and it’s certainly not any form of mixed martial arts. Throwing haymakers and hoping they land will only open you up for taking a punch and also expend a lot of energy early on. If your opponent wants to utilize this sort of ‘style’, let him. Keep your guard up to avoid taking one of these to the head and pick the moment where you want the fight to be: on the ground.

You don’t need to have a wrestling background, but you can finish most fights in a bar by getting to the floor. “An untrained aggressor will come forward and put his chest in your chest,” Joe says. “This is bad for him as it allows you to clinch him. Bear hug under both arms, wrists pulling his hips in towards you just above the tailbone, your head and shoulders driving his body forward in the opposite direction. This will unbalance him and cause him to fall backwards. When he falls, follow him down into the mounted position.”

If the guy doesn’t bump chests, Joe has another option for a takedown. “If he keeps distant and steps forward to throw a punch, lower your level and shoot double legs to take him down.” Once he’s on the ground, Joe instructs us to instantly be on top of him.

“From the mount, use open hands to strike him with palms. This will prevent you from breaking your hand, and more importantly, prevent facial bruising and bleeding which are sure to land you in jail when the police arrive. The palm strikes will make him very uncomfortable and cause him to panic and roll to his stomach. From there, sink in your hooks, feet under and through his thighs, and sink in the rear naked choke.”

The rear naked choke is one of the moves you can perfect without being a professional MMA fighter. Learn them and practice them so you’ll be ready.

Rear Naked Choke

This move is fairly simple and requires for you to be behind the other guy. After sinking in your leg hooks as Joe advised, you need to get one arm completely around his neck, while the other arm goes behind his head — specifically, the forearm goes behind his neck. Hook the hand of the ‘choking’ arm through the crook of the arm behind his neck so you can tighten the python around his neck. You squeeze with the arm around his neck and push down on his head with the other arm. He’ll be asleep in no time.

Lazy Arm Bar

There are a few different versions and positions for arm bars, but a simple one will do for you since you will not be in a professional MMA match. You’ll need to be on top of him for this and close enough to his torso to protect yourself from any punches. When he has an arm raised to your body or face, hook your arm around his, trapping it to the side of your body. Then use your free hand to push against his chest.

The next move is the easiest. You fall to your side and lay on the floor. Make sure to keep his arm trapped and your other hand pressed against him. Once you are on the floor, roll onto your back and extend your body. If you can hook a leg over his chest and use it to push away from him, even better. He’ll be screaming in seconds.

Heel Hook

Joe recommends beginning this move as soon as the aggressor is on the ground and you are above him. You start by getting both your legs around one of his legs. Let’s say you loop your right leg inside and under his left, then flip your right leg back over the top. Then your left foot will go into the bend of his right leg.

Keep the ‘triangle’ you have formed on his leg tight, his left foot should now be under your right armpit. “This will lock him in place. Put your right tricep down over his toes so that only his heel is exposed. Now the right wrist hooks his left heel and the hands clasp together.” Pull your hands up and towards your body, twisting, so that his heel is pointing up and away from your chest. Twisting more puts serious pressure on his ankle. He’ll either cry for mercy or have some ankle problems the next morning.

Use the Bar Furniture as Leverage

You should use your surroundings as leverage against your opponent when the fight is on the ground to give yourself a little extra assist. You don’t have to get fancy with it, but there are a few things you can do leverage-wise to assist your ground game. For instance, if you are on your back and your opponent is on top of you, using the foot rest railing along the bottom of the bar or a chair to help you push your body weight upwards, can get you back on top of your nemesis. You put your foot against the object — or both feet — and push your upper legs into the air. At the same time, you use your shoulders on the floor to force your torso to buck into the air and roll. If you do it all in one swift motion, you will likely catch him off guard and flip him off of you.

The same leverage principle is important for executing moves. Using your feet braced against a wall to throw your weight into the pressure of a rear naked choke will speed up the effectiveness. Same could work for an arm bar. Once you are on the ground and the arm is locked, if you can adjust to where you can place your foot against the wall and push while you are pulling his arm. You have now given yourself even more of an advantage. You may not always have something to use as leverage, but if you do, use it.

Stay Focused & Calm

It may be too much to ask from some people to stay focused after hanging out in a bar with their buddy Jack Daniels, but when in a bar fight, you must stay focused and calm to properly execute some of your MMA moves. Your adrenaline will be pumping, which will wake you up, but can also cause you to be too sporadic and mistake-prone. From the onset of the bar fight battle royale, calm yourself. In fact, Joe instructs us to be calm before a fight has even begun. “Even though the other person may be hostile and threatening, you must present a calm, non-threatening, yet confident demeanor. Speak to them in a calm tone,” he stated. “Your body posture and mannerisms must not match the aggressor’s level, as this will challenge his ego and escalate the confrontation.”

Remaining calm after the fight has begun will be easier to do if you are confident in your abilities. While you may not be an MMA expert — or even consider yourself a mixed martial artist — knowing a few of these key maneuvers will give you the confidence you need to be champion of the bar fight. But more importantly, champion of diffusing the fight before it even starts.

A special thanks to Joe for his advice. He can be found at www.renzogracieholmdel.com