How to Fight Drunk

How to Fight Drunk

How to Fight Drunk
Take the Combatives Drinking Challenge 
(ages 21 and older only)

Even Mel has been known to have a few.

There’s kind of a “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy in martial arts when it comes to drinking. Everyone assumes that you’ll be completely sober when you have to defend yourself and we all know the opposite is true.

People drink and when people are drunk they have a tendency to beat the crap out of each other. Drinking lowers your inhibitions, impairs your judgment and cripples your motor skills and before you know it, you’re dancing with a house plant.

If you have chosen a path of sobriety, then you don’t need to think about this, but for the rest of us who occasionally like to have a few, keep reading, but read fast, I don’t want you to pass out before the end of the article.

If you’re going to drink and you’re serious about self defense, you better know how drinking affects your performance.

Alcohol affects your judgement and coordination because impairs your body’s ability to get oxygen to your muscles and vital organs..including your brain. In reality these effects happen faster and are far more debilitating than you think. This is mainly due to your lack of judgement.

Your new found bravery is replacing your real ability to actually fight. As your willingness to fight increases, your ability to fight decreases.  

I first noticed this when I was younger and a few of us were drinking in my buddy’s home gym. We decided it would be a good idea to go on the bench and try for a new max – testosterone, alcohol with a dash of barbell – it’s a wonder no one died.

Needless to say, I didn’t hit my max, but I did learn a valuable lesson – while you may FEEL like you can take on the world – the world can come back to kick you in the a$$.

Since everyone has a different tolerance level, to help you determine yours I present the following drill…


The Combatives Drinking Challenge 

I’m no scientist (but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night) however I did put together a drill to help you determine how many drinks it takes to render you useless.

Note: this is best to do with a friend or seven.

Establish your sober baseline:

30 Second 3 Count Chop Drill

30 second 3 Count Kick Drill

30 second SDTS Ground and Pound top

30 second SDTS Ground and Pound bottom

Take a drink wait 10 minutes.

Do another round of the same circuit. 

Take a drink wait 10 minutes

Repeat until you need to stop and catch your breath during a 30 second burst.

When you hit that point, that’s your threshold. Count how many drinks it took and remember that’s how many drinks it takes to impair you.

After your threshold is reached, it’s a steep decline (trust me on that one).

The record is 8 shots of bourbon.

Now I’m not telling you to film your attempt and put it on Youtube, that would be irresponsible….

Life isn’t always dojo’s and gymnasiums.

Night Clubs are EXTREMELY disorienting.

You need to train for where and how you live.

That’s why it’s important to train at home doing the things you normally do.  When you go to a place to practice, you get into a self defense mindset and that’s not reality. We see this with cops and soldiers often.

The uniform goes on, the game face comes out but as soon as they’re off duty, they get caught off guard like everyone else. In order to practice “flipping the self defense switch” you need to practice in places where you’re most likely to be attacked, where you work, live and play.

How far can you take this?

I’ve set up a strobe light, smoke machine and lights to simulate a club atmosphere. Be careful the strobe REALLY messes with your depth perception (note: wear face protection).

We’ve done car jacking simulations, parking lot scenarios and anyplace else you can think of, just get out of the gym.




Until Next Time…Train Honestly,

Damian Ross
Founder/ CEO The Self Defense Company



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Published by theselfdefenseco

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


    1. Rich,

      The point of the article and drill is how to establish a threshold and know exactly when you’ve had too much to drink. If you’re too drunk, well you’re just too drunk.

      “Walking Away” is NOT ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA.

      Let me ask you Rich, when can you walk away? How do you know if you turn your back on someone that they just don’t sucker punch you? In short when do you know to “walk away”?

      I’ll get into the “fine tuned” comment later. Let’s focus on the ALWAYS walking away concept.

  1. Drinking alcohol is a personal choice with different potential consequences depending on many variables. I have heard and seen some horrific alcohol related events over my career in the health care field. Clint Eastwood in his famous movie, “Dirty Harry” reminds us, “… A man’s got to know his limitations.” So this blog is good information for those who do consume alcohol. I know that I perform my best with a brain free of intoxicating substances (which took me a while to figure out in my younger years, LOL), so that’s how I roll now. So I say Damian and Clint Eastwood both made some damn good points.

          1. Damien, I would like to see a drill of a possible car jacking attempt while you the defendant, are changing a tire on the car, or perhaps attempting to fix some.other minor issue with the car. What would you do? How would you proceed to do so? Thanks in Advance Larry Michael Mullins Johnson City Tennessee

  2. I usually don’t comment on articles. I read them and try to get all of the practical info that I can out of them. Once again, your article is spot on. I like to drink a few myself. But, I do practice what you’ve spoken of in this article. For the people who’ve been questioning it, put it to the test. It might surprise you.

  3. Andrew Branca, a friend of mine, has a saying, “Three things that will help you stay out of trouble. Stay away from stupid people. Don’t show up at stupid places. Don’t do stupid things.” That is good advice, I don’t care who you are. L-5

    1. Good advice Oral, I’d add, watch your drinks so they don’t get spiked, and only drink what you saw made/poured.

  4. I remember when I was doing some self Defense training with a former French Foreign Legion trainer, and this very subject came up

    He pretty much gave the same advice as you said, but he also shared a very useful drill that anyone could apply in the dojo or gym

    He got us to spin around on the spot until he shouted stop, and then we’d have to perform the same drills we’d just rehearsed.

    It was amazing how quickly people lost their balance, missed the pads, or felt queasy!

    Couple of rounds of that and we were all grateful of a break with a good cup of tea! ?

  5. My approach is to drink very moderately unless I’m at home or in a safe place where I don’t have to leave straight away so I can sober up before I go. Even then I hate getting so drunk I’m out of control. I did that a bit while doing shiftwork after a cycle and it spooked me so much I only have one maybe two normal strength alcoholic drinks when I’m out, to make sure I’m sober before I drive.

    Oral Neal, I like your advice, and I would add to that I think it’s a good idea to try to learn & remember who amongst those we know become jerks or monsters when they are drunk & avoid being near them when they are drunk if not try to keep them becoming drunk.

    Finally I would only drink what I have seen poured and not taken my eyes off long enough for it to be spiked.

  6. Howdy Damian,
    I neither drink alcohol, nor take anything that will impair me, but I do have cancer that messes with my energy level a lot, and have been known to get a cold or the flu from time to time. Therefore, do warn your readers to not think they will never have a similar problem if they don’t drink or do drugs.
    Have a fun weekend.

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