Injury Rates from Street Fights in the UK

Research from hospital patients in Britain show that in fights “people who had been kicked were most likely to suffer serious injury – even more so than those who had been attacked with a blunt or sharp weapon.”

BBC News Report
Journal Article

At first glance, this would seem to validate the tried and true martial arts strategy of training in kicking techniques over the currently popular emphasis on ground-fighting based on the dogma “that all fights go to the ground.” Kicking was 44% more likely to cause a serious injury than punching.

But as you read the news story, it turned out that people were often kicked after they had “gone to the ground” the wrong way.

[A]lcohol was a large contributing factor in the use of kicking in fights as drunk people were more likely to fall over.

So indeed, fights do go to the ground rather than being stand up kickboxing fights (no surprise). But on the other hand, this is a good reminder that the ground is a very bad place to be if your opponent’s friends are still standing.

Once you are on the floor, you’re at great risk.

Just because the fight is going to the ground doesn’t mean that you want to go there with it.

There are also lessons to point out from the other side. This does succinctly and brutally reinforce the Yachigusa-Ryu philosophy of kicking:

  1. Never kick above your waist.
  2. Always kick to the head.

Some other points from the study worth mentioning:

  • There was a significant increase in severe injuries when there were three or more assailants.
  • The greater rate of injuries from feet over blunt objects does not look to be statistically significant.
  • Blunt objects (and of course feet) caused more significant injuries than sharp objects. This could be because attackers pull back sooner after cutting somebody or it could be due to the fact that may of the cuts were only due to broken glass.
  • Patterns of violence are likely to be different in other countries, both due to cultural reasons and the differing availability of firearms.
  • Kicking was the mechanism of assault in only 7% of injuries surveyed in the hospital. Blunt and sharp objects each represented 11% while punching represented 55% of cases. In other words, kicking might be dangerous but it is rarer than other attacks.
  • Victims were more likely to sustain serious injuries in middle age, with 47 being the peak age.
  • More than a quarter of treated victims were women, which is a higher percentage than in previous studies. Women were less likely to be severely injured than men, unless they were the victims of multiple attackers.
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