"FIGHTING IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SELF DEFENSE FAILS".
The goal of any true self-defense system is ensuring personal protection. There are many ways to accomplish this goal with some of them being physical and others being non-physical. The best way not to get hurt is to avoid any situation where danger or a confrontation might be possible. Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world and violence can happen anywhere and at anytime. When avoidance and awareness fail, self-defense is your next recourse, but you still don't necessarily have to bring it to a physical level. Self-defense is also about psychology; can you talk your way out of it? Can you bluff your way out of it? Do you have your running shoes on if talking doesn't work? Remember, we live in a violent world where a simple argument can lead to a deadly encounter. Weapons are readily available and those combined with drugs, alcohol and a "I don't give a f#%k" attitude can make for a potentially deadly situation. Why take a chance to escalate a situation if the only things being exchanged are words? If you can walk away, walk away. If you can't walk away, talking hasn't worked, and you realize the situation is escalating to the physical level, it's time to act. You don't necessarily have to wait for your opponent to throw the first punch or make the first move but you do have to consider the results of your actions. In a court of law, anyone that reasonably believes that their person is in danger of physical harm has the right to defend them self, EVEN IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN PHYSICALLY TOUCHED. Respond according to the situation. If it's a drunk, control him; if the assailant has a weapon and you believe he is trying to kill or maim you, you can respond with deadly force.
Now, what happens when you attempt your self-defense and it doesn't work? You miss with your pre-emptive strike, your timing is off, your strikes don't get the expected response, who knows? Anything is possible, self defense is not a 100% art and you have to be prepared for the unexpected. The situation has now gone from a self-defense scenario to a fighting scenario. In self-defense, skill, speed and surprise rule the outcome, but in fighting, size and strength are now more of a determining factor. In the fighting scenario, you and your opponent have squared off and you are both looking for openings and opportunities that either of you can take advantage of. This is the situation we, as KENPO practitioners, want to avoid for the simple reason that we no longer have full control of the situation. In self-defense, we control everything because we have the element of surprise and confidence in the knowledge of our skills. Once fighting has begun, we have to maneuver into a position where we can attempt to gain control back and apply self-defense techniques once again, but our opponent is now aware that we are a danger and will be much more wary of our actions.
Self-defense and fighting, two different worlds but still very related and either can turn into the other. While the KENPO practitioner does train to fight, both standing and on the ground, we acknowledge that our strength and the safest course of action lies in self-defense and that is the area we seek to perfect.