A frequent concern of people starting to learn PP is to wonder if they can really be used in a fight. They can. It is like anything else in your art. Drill. Make your drills progressively more realistic with safety. Back up and drill from an easier level when you stop learning things from your drills. Maybe this will happen every 5-10 minutes. Train with an uke with whom you have a good relationship. A good uke is almost as valuable as a good teacher. A good uke will work with you to make your practice as efficient as possible, not just someone who wants to know the attack, and mindlessly throws it. A good uke is active, listening, watching, thinking, and giving you feedback.
I got attacked at work a couple of nights ago. I am a psychiatric nurse and I work with violent patients often. In a very short space of time the activity went from threats to lunge. Help had not yet arrived when the patient lunged. The patient was too angry to use those verbal deescalation skills effectively but I tried for a couple of sentences worth.
The action went like this: Patient lunged, I flung the chart rack between us to create distance, hitting the patient. Hook punch to my head. I cover and spear N-UE 9 with my elbow. She is stunned for just long enough for the staff who arrives to grab her in a bear hug. That she releases the bear hug and throws him into the corner of the doorway is another matter. By then there is lots of help and we do what needs to be done.
The key is practice. What I did wrong was to lean over the chart rack as I was flinging it. My coach has exhorted me not to give away my head by leaning for years. I'm just not that good yet. I've been practicing a lot since.
What I did right was fling the chart rack. This came with all those rhondori drills, (multiple opponent drills)finding someone (thing) to direct in between. Then covering and spearing for a PP comes from drills. I didn't think about it. The action was too fast.
In the end, my arm that took the hook was red and sore for an hour or so, and my face had nicks and pressure marks on it from breaking my glasses with my arm. I'm OK.
Did PP make a difference? I like to think so. I think it made it easier for help to get the bear hug and to prevent a second strike. It was maybe 5% of the total that occured. It was an important 5%. It occured in a real confrontation. I realize it wasn't dramatic, but since I could have been severely injured, it was dramatic enough for me. Stunning someone's arm was the exploitable opportunity needed. It caused her to waste a time frame. It may have made the important difference.
The older I get, the better I was!