I started training in the martial arts at the age of four. To this day, I’m convinced that my parents signed me up at that young age because they knew I was going to get my ass kicked a lot.

It was partially true in some ways. I certainly got bullied a ton, which to this day remains my biggest pet peeve in life, but getting punched in the face wasn’t necessarily a daily occurrence. I see this as both a good and bad thing. It was a good thing, obviously, because I didn’t get punched in the face every day (duh!). It was also bad in a way, however, because on those occasions when my face did happen to run into someone’s fist, I wasn’t quite prepared on how to handle it.

Strange as it may seem, most people really don’t know how to handle getting knocked up side the melon.

Shock and Awe

I think the biggest “problem” with getting punched in the face is the immediate shock that is experienced. Not just the physical pain surrounding the punch, but the surprise, anxiety, fear and awe of the situation. It’s very easy to go into an immediate state of tunnel vision and shut down emotionally. It becomes hard to think and see, and many people will just stand there and let themselves get hit. But the real concern is what happens if the punch is just a prelude of things to come?

So before I get into some of the finer details, let me just say it so it’s out there for you to think about:

Why did you let yourself get punched in the face to begin with?

I get that “things happen” and you can’t account for all situations, but let’s be honest; 99% of the time I’m sure you could have seen what was coming, and you probably should have taken steps to avoid it. Don’t do stupid things in stupid places with stupid people.

With that said, let’s assume that you had no choice for whatever reason. A bad situation and unfortunate circumstance. What do you do then?

Recovery

First and foremost, you need to move your feet. Don’t just stand there and take the punch “like a man.” Moving your feet allows you to absorb some of the hit. But most importantly, it takes you out of the kill zone so you can get your bearings and regroup. If  you can escape, that would be a perfect time to do so as well. (Hint, hint. There is no need to stand there and fight if it’s not life-threatening to you or someone else.)

Second, don’t tense up your face and neck to try and lessen the impact. That doesn’t work so well. Close your jaw so your teeth don’t get knocked out and allow the punch to move your face, too, so it can absorb some of the impact. That, coupled with moving your feet, is a much better alternative to just standing there. Think of it as “rolling with the punches.” What a concept!

If possible, you obviously want to try and put up a few roadblocks between his fist and your face, so if you can move and get your hands up in between you and him, that’s a huge benefit. Not so close that your attacker can grab your hand and tie you up, but enough so that he has to work his way into your space.

Escape

These are just a few very simple ideas; certainly not the only ones. I’ll stress one more time the importance of escaping. If you don’t need to fight, don’t fight. If you have no choice, do your best and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.