Fighting on the street is not recommended. You should try to avoid a confrontation on the street as much as possible. Training in boxing or martial arts will help you in many situations, including a street fight. Thai Boxing, Boxing, Judo, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, all will help you, and by training in those arts most people will develop the mindset of trying to avoid a confrontation unless there is no other option but to defend themselves.
Obviously there are exceptions and some people want to learn Boxing or Martial arts for the wrong reasons. This post is not for promoting violence, It's for people that want to be prepared to defend themselves if the worst happens, and also to help in lessening the risk of injured hands in order to see a fight through to the end. In a street fight or self defence situation you need both hands, what if you throw a punch, land the punch incorrectly and can't use that hand again within the fight because it's swelled up like a balloon and hurting bad. You have just become hindered by injury, now your chances of coming out of that fight in one piece have been lowered considerably.
Some people say that you shouldn't punch in a street fight. In some ways this is good advice. One of the methods behind this madness is that your hands are not tough enough to withstand the force of punching someone in the face or head. Street fights are unpredictable and in the heat of the moment your punching can be wild. This means that in a real situation you won't be able to land the perfect punch every time. Sometimes you end up landing a punch and you will connect with the smallest two knuckles (The end two). Connecting with the last two knuckles on someones face bones, teeth, and specially the head will almost certainly result in those knuckles becoming instantly swollen. Connecting at funny angles with the weakest knuckles, hitting tough bones in the face, teeth and the head, will happen in a street fight that lasts longer then a few seconds.
In fact, even one punch can result in damage to your hand if you throw a punch and it doesn't land on target correctly. Using a flat palm can be a very effective strike in a street fight, along with elbows, kicks and knees. Using these less fragile parts of the body to strike with can obviously lessen the risk of injury to your hands. However, most peoples instinct is first and foremost to throw punches.
If you want to minimise the risk of injuring your hands in a street fight you have to make your hands and knuckles as tough as possible. Boxing training can help but in boxing you always wear gloves and hand wraps when punching anything. And as much as this will still make your hands reasonably tough, it will not help that much in a real street fight situation where you have no hand protection at your disposal and it's as real as it gets.
This is where we have to look to some of the training methods used in Karate. Certain forms of Karate dedicate big chunks of their training to making the hands and knuckles solid. If you have ever seen a true Karate practitioners hands that trains in the forms of Karate that have a focus on tough hands you will see what I mean. Their hands are solid, like a pair of weapons. Lump Hammers I call them. This type of Karate training focuses on self defence and has the objective of ending a confrontation with one, or several, solid, full force direct strikes. Also with Karate, the focus for some strikes is more on landing a strike / punch with the toughest two knuckles, the two closest to the thumb. If you can train, and make it Instinct to consistently strike and land the two hardest knuckles when you punch in a street fight you will reduce the risk of damaging your knuckles immensely. And at the same time do maximum damage.
In Karate the students will punch / strike some very solid objects like wooden boards, bricks, blocks, and wood with fabric wrapped around. A normal person wanting tougher knuckles and hands for self defence protection and reduced injury does not have to go to such extremes. A good heavy punch bag will do the trick. With one sacrifice, you have to punch it wearing no protection at all. Also, to be safe it's recommended that you start this type of training by punching the top (the softest and more hollow) part of the bag to begin with. Get your hands, wrists, and knuckles used to this first. After a while as your hands, wrists, and knuckles will get used to the solid impact. Your knuckles will start to become tougher.
After a while training like this adjust the height of the bag to make the bag higher, or hit your bag lower so that your now hitting the bottom of the bag, the toughest and most resistant part of the bag. With this training you would want to connect with the two weaker knuckles at times as well and not just focus on the two biggest and strongest. That's because in a street fight, no matter how good and accurate you can punch the chances are that you will connect with the weaker knuckles at some point. So it makes sense to focus on toughening the fists as a whole.
One method that can be beneficial for replicating punching in a street fight is to have a heavy punch bag which is not attached to the ceiling or hanging on a bracket. Place this bag on a ledge at a side angle. Then do up to 6 x 3 minute rounds of bare knuckle punches. Because the bag is at an angle it will get your wrists and knuckles used to landing punches at strange, awkward angles, like what will happen in the reality of a street fight.
Do not jump straight into doing this type of training if you haven't been doing any punching / striking training for a while. You have to work your hands up gradually before going full force at a heavy, barely movable, rock solid, punch bag bare knuckle. One word of warning: Do not use a canvas fabric type punch bag for any of these type of exercises, you will rip your hands to bits. Use a leather cow hide or plastic type material punch bag. Although nothing beats training with real training partners, a heavy, unattached punch bag is also great for strength exercises like lifts, squats, take down practise, and not forgetting ground and pound. Even basic ground fighting techniques like certain position transitions, side control striking, full mount fluency, triangle submission drills. But that's another post.
Nothing is definite and no matter how tough you make your hands it will still not be 100% that you will not injure one or both in a street fight. Street fights are just too unpredictable. But by training the hands in this manner you put better odds in your favour. I wish you every success in gaining your lump hammer fists. For defence purposes of course!
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