Street fighting is a term used to denote spontaneous, hand-to-hand fighting, usually in public places. This violence is usually intended to result in injury and submission. It often results from a dispute and can stem from personal hatred, jealousy, harassment, group association or bullying. "Street fight" is a figurative term - a street fight not necessarily occurs in the street, it may happen in a bar, at a party, in a park, etc.
Individual street fighting (which is considered here in the context of "single combat") is distinct from sport fighting and duels because the latter are normally conducted according to some pre-arranged format, usually including some sort of rules. The distinction is not simple, since street fighting may be conducted according to an informal code of honor, but in street fighting such a code would be understood rather than explicitly agreed upon.
In the past, from early years children learned that men made a war, fought, wrestled, while women never did. That’s why it was honorable for boys to know how to fight and wrestle – tusslers, boxers and wrestlers were extremely popular. At the same time, girls even didn’t imagine they would fight or wrestle. The social environment taught that women must be helpless and weak, under men’s protection. Then if was impossible to imagine a real physical combat between women. However, since the end of the 20th century, combative women literally burst in movies, TV and Internet where they skillfully fought and wrestled. Female combative sports spread all over the world, some of them became Olympic disciplines. This was accompanied by tectonic shifts in the direction to the gender equality. All the sudden, it turned out that girls and women readily fight and wrestle – in the backyard and in sport gyms. According to the statistics, American schoolgirls fight more often than schoolboys.
Individual street fighting is very often discussed in martial arts classes, often called self-defense, as a real-world application of the techniques taught in the class. Though most, if not all teachers (as well as female combatants) do strongly stress avoidance of fights altogether.
Individual street fighting can arise in many ways, and different social and ethnic cultures (as well as gender) are subject to different forms of street fighting. Actually, there are two forms of individual street fights: spontaneous fights (personally motivated by anger, hatred or hostility) and organized fights provoked by various reasons - from jealousy to outrage and often - by cash interest
Traditionally, woman's goals in a street brawl were different from men's ones (even though, they seem to become more similar with the progress in the women emancipation.) For a man, a victory in "street fighting" (if it's not an attack for robbery) usually means an opportunity to prove his position in a social group or in woman's opinion. The traditional woman's goal in a personal motivated fight is making her opponent non-competitive, mainly, by her ugly appearance (for instance, to scratch her face). Then, to embarrass the rival by putting her on a position when she feels unbearable shame in front of other people (for example, by tearing her clothing off). A fierce female fight is described in detail in Emile Zola's novel "L'Assommoir". One of the two brawlers managed to won the tussle just by exposing her rival's buttocks.
In fact, women are more emotional creatures than men, so if a woman takes it into her head to fight, she usually does not wait until the clarification of duel conditions but just go into the fight right away. However, organized street fights (or free fights) became quite popular. The reason seems to be simple: people like women fighting and ready to pay for watching the show (either live or taped). And the girls in their turn, are ready to fight for money.
Very often any female fight, no matter, real or staged are called a catfight. In old societies, a women's brawl was considered as a rare claw-scratching, hair-pulling show; hence, this depreciating term is associated with it. However, (unfortunately or not) nowadays a women's fight is not a rarity and some contemporary women fight skillfully and fiercely.
In our classification, we consider catfighting as a specific female show combat (mostly pseudo-combat) with established "technique" (hair pulling, nail scratching and cloth tearing, etc.). Unlike "street fighting", catfighting is kind of show, as a rule staged. The scornful name "catfighting" reflects the haughty attitude of some men toward women. This clichй was based on the centuries-old social rules for females ("women don’t fight, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t curse", etc.). In fact, as the women emancipation is developed, taboos for women's behavior gradually disappear and women show up on the screens, fighting "like men" (i.e. using punching, kicking and grappling).
Being closely acquainted with such ladies as Bridget Riley, Shannon Logan, Nikola Hartmann, Erin Toughill and many more strong skillful female combatants, we consider using the term "catfighting" with respect to real women's combat activities as totally inappropriate and even offensive.
The most testimonies about female "street fights" appear in videoclips and video films, in literature, in movies, on TV and in numerous "eyewitness" stories (see some our stories). In the contemporary television and cinematograph, women fight much more frequently than in the real life. Scenes with women's fights literally flood cinematograph. Authors of movies have quite rich fantasy - from light catfighting to a ferocious brawl of female prisoners or a mass hand-to-hand battle in the river...
Until recently, majority of fights and catfights circulating on videos represented just staged shows imitating female fighting and wrestling for spectators amusement (see the sections "Fight shows" and "Just women's combative forms"). Now, video clips with real girl "street fighting" increasingly appear on the web market in which girls fight fiercely and cruelly as if they really hate each other (and even desire to eliminate). Many such reels represent amateur shooting of real spontaneous brawls while in other cases "promoters" managed to provoke the fights (probably setting the girls on to fight by a good prize); however, the girls fights so recklessly and excitedly that it looks like there is some enticement other than just a cash prize. In fact, such fights are pretty similar to MMA-style fights (one of the brawlers on the video clip at right even wear fighting gloves), even though they look less athletic but more natural and impromptu.
If you judge female street fighting techniques by numerous videoclips (for instance, "This Will Shock You", "Girlfight", "You Tube", Resourse "Come Get You Some", Just Fight Production), these are five most favorite moves: punching to head (usually, a prostrate opponent), kicking (usually, a lying opponent), hair pulling, slapping and grappling (in attempts to contain an opponent and to gain an advantageous position.) Extremity twisting and clothing pulling occur more rare.
Surprisingly, as it can be seen in the numerous videoclips all over the the web, contemporary brawling girls rarely use traditional “catfighting” style; instead the street fight techniques and plot are quite similar to MMA matches, except using hairpulling and some other moves not allowed in mainstream sports. A usual female brawl starts with punching and kicking (sometimes followed by some verbal squabble); then after inevitable takedown, the girls continue at the ground struggling for control in the UFC style. However, hairpulling sometimes is still the favorite technique which allows pinning down the adversary. Surprisingly, many female brawlers are capable to bite the bullet and demonstrate very good fighting skills and stamina.
Fights between women are so impressive for public that a forgotten celebrity becomes famous again just being involved in a fight (catfight). Danielle House, forgotten "Miss Canada" who was convicted for assaulting her ex-boyfriend's girlfriend in a bar-room achieved "15 minutes of fame" - after serving her sentence, House named Playboy's Playmate of the Month for December, 1997. One of the most outstanding female gymnasts in all times, Russian Olga Korbut, being totally forgotten for decades, suddenly attracted general attention in 2002 by coming into the ring in "Celebrity boxing" to fight against younger popular television actress Darva Conger. The scandalous figure skater in the past, Tonya Harding, began attracting public attention by her fiohts on the ring (including "Celebrity boxing".)
Perhaps, not too many women enjoy participating in street fighting or willingly get into street fighting (even though they exist - we have testimonies) - women would more likely prefer watching men fighting. However, growing women emancipation and behavioral freedom make it more possible: "men are allowed to fight, why women should be kept out of that?" As a result, the female fighting style becomes closer to the men’s one and smacks in the teeth or trips are accomplished as often as hair pulling and scratching. Perhaps, our correspondents Kirsty, Nastya and Angelina are not typical examples of girls but more and more women behave as they do.
Some girls practiced in street fights are good in MMA-style fighting (like "Extreme Catfighting"), so the title "street fighter" sounds solidly there, almost like "professional boxer".
Even sport combatants are sometimes engaged in a brawl. In 1999, a women's fight made a lot of noise. The most famous female professional boxers, Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker, encountered by chance, got sworn at each other and began tussling. It's indicative that one of them shouted: "Let's see who is the better woman". Surprisingly, the skilled boxers didn't box but shoveled each other and toppled over the floor. Possibly, it might be some advertising action though. By the way, for years the boxers were unable to meet on the ring. At first, Martin evaded fighting Rijker but as soon as the bout was eventually set up, Rijker turned out to be unable to fight due to a trauma.)
Some people consider ability and willingness for "proper" fighting as an indispensable condition for the social gender equality. The prominent feminist and boxing reporter Katherine Dunn wrote: "We don't just deserve power, we have it. And power in this and every other society is not just the capacity to benefit those around us. It includes, absolutely and necessarily, the ability to inflict damage..."
Pubnlishing this article, we lay emphasis on the resolute rejection of street brawling (especially with female participants) as inadmissible way of solving problems in a civilized society. Besides, psychological traumas inflicted by street brawling, uncontrolled violent moves can inflict serious damage to participant bodies and harm female reproductive functions.