We’ve answered questions similar to this one in the past. The simple answer is the old adage: “Where the head goes, the body follows.”
Control the head. You control the fight.
Grabbing someone by their hair is an easy means to controlling the head. You see people with no training go for this one all the time, especially with women. It’s not just men versus women, it’s also women versus women. It also happens to men with long hair. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it hurts like hell.
This is the major reason why long hair, especially left unbound, and at very close ranges, is trouble. It’s an easy grab. It’s also very painful for the person on the receiving end, your hair is dead but the follicles are full of nerve endings. Very, very, very painful when grabbed. More than that, you can haul them around by their hair and use that pain to control the head. There more hair there is, the looser it is, then the easier it is.
It gets in the way, it gets in your eyes, it snags on your surroundings. It’s bad news bears. The last thing you want after being knocked to the ground is some jackass stepping on your hair and forcing you to choose between actually tearing it out as you try to escape (ouch) or lying there and taking it as his buddy starts launching kicks into your stomach/ribs/head.
And, no, that’s not an abstract. Hair is trouble.
Bind it into a tight braid, roll it up beneath a hat, and get it out of the way. You don’t want it around when shit starts going down. Hair grabs, scalp grabs are an easy thing that every basic idiot knows how to do. It’ll still happen with short hair, it’s just harder to maintain a grip and you have to get closer.
Allow me to repeat that anyone, anyone will do this when presented with the opportunity. It doesn’t matter if they’re fresh of the street or have twenty years of training. The ones who know what they’re doing will know what it does, the ones without it will just go for it on instinct alone.
Your body will protect your head. That’s instinctual. If your head is in danger, your body will move to protect it. That’s not always beneficial to you because as we’ve said before native instinct can and will get you killed. It leads to some very stupid choices, like rolling onto your stomach while someone else is sitting on your back beating your head to escape. (That just traps you with no means of defending yourself, but it’s natural instinct.) The same will happen with your hair. Natural instinct when your head is trapped is predictable and it can be abused/exploited by someone else.
“Real fighting” is that there are no rules, nothing is off limits, you use every advantage you can to survive. If you don’t someone else will, and they will use the openings you’ve left open against you. That’s it.
Now, if you want the fantasy of the warrior woman with the long flowing locks who flawlessly kicks ass and goes back inside to drink a scotch then by all means run with it. Accept the fantasy for what it is and go to town. That’s the vast majority of female action protagonists in fiction.
People love them. They’ll go down defending them.
You want that? Do it. Embrace it.
Embrace it for everyone.
Because there is nothing worse than a piece of media that claims to be realistic then invents a whole separate subset of rules for its female characters in order to have its cake and eat it too. (I’m looking at you, Dark Knight Rises. Otherwise known as the moment we realized Catwoman’s current comics costume was more realistic. Short hair. Hood to cover head. Goggles. Boots.)
The logistics are:
People grab it. It hurts. It can kill you.
It gets stuck on things. It hurts.
It gets in your eyes.
When it gets pinned under your body, it hurts.
Throwing it in someone else’s face makes it easier for them to grab.
It gets stuck on things.
It hurts like hell.
If you must have your hair long, then put it in a braid. Put it in a tight bun. Nothing loose, no loose braids, no loose ponytails, no loose hair. Very tight, bind that shit down. Get it up and out of the way.