American Angst combat tips?

I’ve been trying to play American Angst because it was nominated for some XYZZYs, but I keep dying in combat. In fact, I’ve died six times in a row in one particular combat, and I can’t figure out how to get past it. Are there tactics that I’m not understanding? Did I miss picking up a better weapon earlier or something? Or do I just have bad luck?

If it’s the one I’m thinking of, I just had to brute force my way through it by trying over and over again. I don’t think there’s anything that helps.

+1. When given the option, I preferred 2 SP kicks over 1 SP punches; I was always much more likely to run out of HP than SP. Also, after winning a combat, there’s a checkpoint; if you lose the next combat, you restore to the previous checkpoint with full health.