If you're waiting for the other person to act, you're at a significant disadvantage. They're always going to have a fraction of a second on you, and the closer they get and the more blows they can throw out to force you into a certain pattern of response, the more effective that advantage becomes.
Until you force
a limited range of options on the other person, until you take some control of the fight, you're trying to swim against the tide - and sooner or later the other person will get lucky.
It's important to recognise that there are differences between sports and less formal types of violence. Beyond just the 'there are no rules' stuff people might give you. There are rules - and people who violate them tend to find life very difficult afterwards.
People have different levels of commitment in real fights. Which determine how seriously they'll attack you.
People start off with different levels of recognition of what's going on. Which determine things like the range, the relative orientation of the actors....
People have different levels of preperation. What weapons they have to hand, what armour they have.
People have different levels of respect for life and the law. Most people balk at inflicting any great degree of violence on another person.
People have different levels of experience with the psychological and physiological effects of their stress response.
Fights between two highly trained, very fit people, without weapons, where they both have similar levels of commitment, where they're both starting off at extreme range knowing what's going to go down.... Look different to real fights.
And while I agree that someone should know what it's like to have someone who wants to hit them coming at them and throwing down - that is a good experience to have - I also think that someone who's stepping into violence outside of the ring should have some more effective gameplan. Most fights I've seen the guy who has had a plan has won. Even if the other guy is in a technical sense far better than him at the actual fighting part. You can be the best fighter in the world, but if someone walks up to you and goes Blam
across your throat at point blank, you're screwed.
So if you are going to intervene, have a plan to set the other guy - or guys - up. Don't just think you'll fight them and fall back on your training.
Do you intend to issue them a warning? To be prepared to allow them to back down? Are you legally required to issue them a warning?
Well if you do you have to recognise that you're potentially sacrificing the element of surprise in that. (If you had it to begin with.) Their response to your warning may be to fire first. So if you intend to issue a warning you might want to stand off a little so that the other person has to enter your space. You can generally nail them as they come in.
If you don't intend to issue a warning, you might choose to close as quickly as possible and take the other person down hard. On the reasoning that the last thing you want to end up doing, if you don't practice those kinds of things, is dancing around at the edge of range where sport techniques dominate.
But in taking either approach to the situation. You've socially altered the dynamics of the fight - in a way that is not the case in an MMA or boxing match.
Do you intend to call the police and then intervene? Well if you do that's a valueable bit of help to have on the way. And a useful bargaining chip. "If you stay here to fight with me, the police may get here while we're fighting." But then you've potentially got a rapist or rapists running around with a grudge against you. May not be too smart if your intervening somewhere you go regularly.
How prevalent are firearms in your area? What are the laws governing firearms use? If you point a gun at a rapist and tell him to beat it will you get nicked for brandishing? If you haven't called the police you can probably get away with more in that regard - the rapist is hardly going to call the police and tell them that you waved a gun at them while they were trying to rape someone. Victim might, if they see - if you're in that sort of area.
Is it that important to you to stop a rape five minutes earlier than the police would turn up anyway?
There are a lot of variables for this sort of thing. And I know the list I've provided above is not anywhere near exhaustive. But, if you are going to commit to intervening, it might be handy to think in those sort of terms.
I would say, in my experience at least, the vast
majority of a real fight is decided well before anyone throws a punch. A lot of them time it's just people making eyes at each other - sizing each other up. Setting up little plans.
Counter intuitive though it might seem - most real fights don't become fights. Fights are two people, who for whatever reason think they're going to win, not noticing the other person has something set up where they should just be calling the whole thing off.