April 2009

Self Defense Awareness and the Problem of Naivety and Arrogance.

Violence by any one on innocent people is absolutely abhorent. Unfortunately the news everyday is full of stories of bashings and murders many of which are carried out by peple that he victims knew (apparently the statistics suggest 75% of victims knew their attackers. One of the most recent high proflie attacks was that of Chris Brown on his girl friend Rihanna. I have included below a video, passed onto me by my FAST defense colleagues, that was made reenacting the event as per the police notes taken from Rihanna’s testimony.

Celebrity Attack Reenactment

This attack was a despicable, cowardly act by a formally respected member of the celebrity establishment that are, in many cases whether they care or not, role models for our young people.

I would also though like to make a comment, that may seem to some as PC incorrect, regarding Rihanna’s actions. Was it personal naivety, celebrity ego or arrogance exacibated the events that led to Rihanna being brutally bashed by boy friend Chris Brown?

If the reenactment is accurate, a lesson must be learned from the act of making the provocative phone call to someone telling them to make sure the cops were at her home when they got there. This call was made in the presence of someone who had a previous history of violence toward her and with a big celebrity ego.

Decisions require emotive input to be made and there is strong evidence that we make our decisions based on emotion and then rationalize them. Threatening a bid ego could potentially result in triggering rage that, once initiated, would run until it was exhausted leaving irrevocable damage in its’ wake.

My point is that if the call hadn’t been made by the victim the situation may have calmed down. Unfortunately the call would almost certainly have exacibated a situation that could potentially have been calmed down until the victim was in a safer, more secure position.

The first area of effective self defense knowledge and preparedness is awareness. I have come across many examples in my time teaching self defense of people who have that naive and/or arrogant belief that they will never be attacked. This is particularly evident with many of todays people who live in more developed countries, young and old.

In the case of the young many of your atackers are known to you (note the statistic on the video). To illustrate my point further, I would like to add that I live in a country that is supposed to be a “nice ” place to bring up your kids, New Zealand, here we are regularly experiencing “thrill attacks” in which gangs of young youths pickout victims and beat them so badly that they are severely maimed and even killed (and we don’t have easy access to guns), and as for adults please get it into your heads it can happen to you and most attackers don’t care about your status, they just want their kicks or your money and they could take your life. Again I relate the story of a young office worker in his 30’s beaten to death with a baseball bat while walking home after having a few drinks with his workmates after work. This occurred on a main street and was perpetrated by a group of young thugs driving around in a Mercedes looking for a victim.

I urge you if you to examine your own beliefs on your self defense ability and needs and develop an awwareness of your suroundings and behaviour.

In addition if you’re looking for a no nonsense book on useful street self defense methods check out my “No B.S. Street-fighting and Self Defense Guide” by clicking here.


Self Defense and KISS.

The self defense and street fighting situation is another area in which too much information in respect of techniques is detrimental to realistic self protection

We as instructors should be aware that the majority of our students come to us looking for effective self defense and it is our responsibility to ensure that we give them a street effective awareness and fighting ability.

Over the years I have practiced several martial arts each with their various self defense techniques against all manner of attacks. Many of these defenses were not only bordering on the ridiculous but in many cases dangerous to the defender with many schools teaching several moves, often with high complexity, against the same attack.

– just the other day I was teaching a class of new students and asked whether any had been taught self defense before, one unsuspecting young fellow then related to me how he had been taught about 6 different ways to defend against a swing each one of dubious value.

And then there’s my favorite demonstration I give at the start of a self defense session – when someone grabs your wrist (can’t think of it ever happening to me in a street encounter) I demonstrate a few of the of the weird and complex moves taught in martial arts schools (I speak from experience here!) when all it takes is smashing the attacker in the face with a palm heel or a front kick with the shin in the groin (or both), end of story.

Unfortunately many instructors fall into the trap of either teaching what they were taught as part of a curriculum or wanting to show how great there system is because it has so many techniques to deal with bad guys. Many instructors have never been in a real fight and would do well to critically review the self defense component of their martial art, whatever it is, with the assistance of a reality based self defense coach. I myself have incorporated the adrenal stress training of Bill Kipp’s FAST defense program as part of my schools self defense program.

In respect of the street, simplicity is best and the well known acronym applies; KISS – keep it simple stupid, here are some basic guidelines:

1) First and foremost learn and develop awareness skills. If you can behave in a manner that reduces the chances of getting into life threatening situations, all the better.

2) Learn and develop a mindset of confidence and power that manifests itself in the way you think, behave and communicate.

3) Keep your eyes on your adversary at all times and develop your ability to maintain a distance that allows enough reaction time should the atttack occur.

4) If a situation occurs get the job done quickly and effectively thus reducing the chances of you being hit, as the real street situation can be very chaotic.

5) If the attacker has friends you need to deal with the situation quickly and brutally so that you can deal with any other attacker and obtain a psychological edge – you want to appear psychotic and let them know someone is going to get hurt – remember that the majority of attacks are only carried out if the perpetrators believe that they will win.

6) In most cases with the average person you will experience the adrenal stress syndrome and your cortex access will be greatly impaired thus reducing your ability to access fine motor movement control and knowledge of complex moves. Therefore you must rely on simple moves that are easily learned and employed under stress. The only way you can rely on more complex moves is continual training on a strong set of practical simple moves with strong practical principles.

7) When it’s done get out of there and seek help if necessary.

In respect of techniques:

1) Eye gouging with fingers and thumbs.

2) Palm heels to the nose and jaw as opposed to punching.

3) Throat grabs and striking.

4) Knees in the head (when attacker is down or bent over) and groin.

5) Front kicks with the shin into the groin.

…and I don’t care whether you’re a 30 year veteran martial artist, fight conditioned MMA fighter or just an average guy or women when it comes to self defense keeping these guidelines as the basis of your self defense game will give you a good foundation should the need arise to protect yourself.

Many instructors have never been in a real fight and would do well to critically review the self defense component of their martial art, whatever it is, with the assistance of a reality based self defense coach. I myself have incorporated the adrenal stress training of Bill Kipp’s FAST defense program as part of my schools self defense program.I have also include some basic essential striking techniques and an audio of "presenting yourself as a threat to an attacker" as bonuses included in my new DVD series

entitled “Mastering the Danger Zone” it is a series packed with effective gap bridging tactics for Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts by clicking here you’ll be directed straight to the site and some free give-aways.

Those of us who have embraced the MMA way are in an excellent position to really provide effective self defense skills untainted by the traditional BS, be aware that many people come to us for that as they watch their heroes in the cage and believe that this will give them the most realistic approach to effective self defense.

In addition if you’re looking for a no nonsense book on useful street self defense methods check out my “No B.S. Street-fighting and Self Defense Guide” by clicking here.

Knowledge is Power in MMA, but Too Much Knowledge Can be Detrimental.


The growth and popularity of MMA, BJJ and other grappling mixed martial arts has led to a huge number of techniques appearing in various books, DVDs and internet video resources.

Although I really love the continual new knowledge and ideas, it can be a double edged sword for the more competition minded MMA athlete. As too much information can lead to the acquisition of too many options available when fighting, thus slowing down response time and your game application; due to too much thinking during the pre-engagement and set up periods of the fight.

When we are in a fight situation we’ve got enough going on inside our head without burdening it with the problem of deciding on what move or technique we ‘re going to use .

All decisions require sorting through options and the more options we have the slower the response as documented by the often overused Hick’s Law – to me it’s just common sense – if you’re trying to decide between too many options you have to be slower in the application of anything.

In addition all decisions require emotional input (De Tomasio’s “Descartes Error) but the right kind of emotional input – motivational confidence as opposed to debilitating fear of failure which will further slow the application.

We thus get caught up in analysis paralysis at a micro-second scale that results in our opponent, unless they’re a cabbage, already launching their attack or setup and forcing us onto the defensive.

And if it isn’t enough that we don’t have our own game sorted, a worthy opponent is taking advantage of the same principles by feinting and compound attacks (increasing the stimuli we are exposed to) and/or attacking with superior speed, power and technique which , if we are badly prepared, attacks our emotional integrity.

In order to address this problem we have to be very disciplined with ourselves in our MMA fight game preparation and acquisition of techniques. Break down your game plan into it’s main components, I suggest the preliminary breakdown should something like;

  1. Standup moving and striking,
  2. Standup grappling to throwing,
  3. Ground position acquisition,
  4. Transition and control,
  5. Ground finishes including striking and
  6. Escapes from positions and finishes.

Then develop a couple of strong basic techniques within each group with high probability transitions between them.

Once this framework has been established, develop variations for the basic techniques that deal with counters that the opponent might apply as you attempt to execute them.


An excellent example of this methodology being applied to a takedown, that has come to be one of my favorite takedowns, is freestyle wrestling’s John Smith and the “How Low Can You Go” instructional tape on his specialty; the low single takedown available at this link; How Low Can You Go, II -- Championship Productions, Inc.
John does an awesome job of focusing on the fundamental application of this takedown then goes on to show variations on setups, dealing with counters and dealing with problems that may occur on entry, thus providing an excellent game plan for the Low Single.
..and for those wrestling and MMA fans out there check out this video I found of John Smith drilling with Dave Schulz at the 1989 Wrestling World Cup. John executes some nice Low Singles at about 2:14 and 2.59 into the clip.



This takedown is also useful for the cage, but we need to get to our feet immediately after completing the takedown and throw the leg across and then knee ride the opponent; I have covered this in my DVD series on “Mastering the Danger Zone” that focuses on bridging the gap for Mixed Martial Arts and street self defense, just click this link and you'll be taken straight to it.