Friday, April 21, 2017

Why most self defense systems will get you killed

I'm going to lay down the brutally honest truth that most people teaching self defense are unaware of or simply don't want you to know. Most self defense systems will get you killed on the streets. There i said it. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I'm not going to try and persuade you why what i teach is better. I'm simply going to give reason why most self defense systems do not and will not work in a real world setting. You can choose to ignore the facts or embrace them. The reasons are as follows:

* No training in situational awareness - When was the last time you heard your self defense instructor talk about situational awareness? There's alot of schools teaching self defense who focus on combat but very few who actually talk about situational awareness. What is situational awareness about? The ability to observe your surroundings and comprehend their meaning. It's about finding which observations are critical to your survival (ex. body language, odd behavior, etc.) and which are just distractions. Many martial arts instructors and people teaching "reality-based" self defense ignore it. What do you think the average reaction time is? According to science, it's around 150-300 milliseconds. During that period of time, your brain has to see the threat coming and process the information in order to respond. That's not alot of time to act. Even if you see the threat coming, there's a chance you still won't be able to respond in time to defend yourself due to factors such as distance. You can test it out for yourself and find out (see link below).

It doesn't matter how good you are in sparring. You will always get caught off guard by the first hit on the street if you don't understand how to be situationally aware. One hit is all it takes to end your life be it from a gunshot, a knife, a KO punch, or any other deadly weapon. Many people teaching self defense ignore that and think that you can defend yourself effectively from any surprise attack.

* No training in de-escalating or defusing violent situations - Alot of people emphasize combat but almost no time is spent on resolving conflict before it starts. People think that a simple apology will suffice when it won't in all situations. You won't learn about the psychology of human behavior and the dynamics of human relationships in a dojo or a "reality based" self defense school. It's this lack of training that leads people to treat self defense as street fighting rather than an actual process of ending conflict peacefully. If you want more, read my post "the most fatal mistakes you can make in self defense." Just look at what happens when you fail to defuse a potentially violent situation properly. (

* A sports mindset - When alot of people hear self defense, they automatically picture two guys sparring in a ring or mat with protective gear and gloves on. They might also jump on the MMA bandwagon and believe that martial arts alone will save them in any violent situation. In reality, the sports mentality limits and often hinders your ability to defend yourself. On the street, anything goes. In sport, there are rules and rules are limitations (ex. no dirty fighting, no weapons, no multiple attackers, etc.) Do you realistically expect to survive EVERY violent situation that comes your way by training in a sports environment? If you want to learn more, read my post "Not all combat is the same for self defense!" (

* Unrealistic static and flashy combat - I've seen countless martial artists and "reality based" self defense systems show a fancy or "cool" demonstration of techniques. What's the problem? They don't tell you under what conditions the techniques work and when they won't. When a technique or a sequence of attacks are being demonstrated, you'll have a student comply by offering little to no resistance such as shown here. The reality is combat is unpredictable. You don't know how your attacker will respond and that's the scary truth - you don't know. Why don't self defense instructors tell you that? Because it doesn't sell! Let's face it - no one wants to pay for a self defense system that admits it isn't 100% effective. Nevertheless, people want to learn techniques as a "quick fix" for all their problems. Techniques are eye -catching but they are not what will save you in self defense. If there was a set of techniques that worked for every situation, i wouldn't be writing this post but there isn't.  

It's easy for a self defense instructor to put on camo pants and act like a tough marine who knows what he's doing. It's easy to apply a wrist lock under a calm controlled environment with a compliant student after a bit of practice. It's easy to get out of a bearhug by delivering a kick to another student's shin in a dojo. That is until your attacker throws you on the ground, beats you up, and renders your technique useless. Until you realize it's all impractical in the streets and you start to blame your instructor or he/she says "you did it wrong.." Assuming you live to tell the story.

* Ignoring physiology, psychology, anatomy, and other factors - A huge part of why most self defense training systems fail is the lack of knowledge on the effects of stress and adrenaline on the body. I've seen alot of Krav Maga practitioners attack by clinching an opponent and knee striking the groin. This might work but that's assuming your attacker isn't under adrenaline. The effects of adrenaline on the body can cause people to perform amazing feats and tolerate huge amounts of pain. If your attacker is determined to kill you and is undergoing an adrenaline rush, inflicting pain isn't going to end the threat. What it will probably do is make him or her angrier and more determined to kill you. There's also demonstrations where your instructed to attack the body. The problem? Most instructors aren't telling you where to hit and that greatly reduces your chances of surviving. If you hit solid bone and your hand breaks, that hand is now useless in combat. The only reason why it works in a school is because of gloves, light contact, or no contact at all in hard target areas. There's also the psychology of conflict that plays a role in your survival. Do you realistically expect an emotionally sensitive soccer mom to have the will to gouge out her attacker's eyes under high levels of stress and tunnel vision?

Unfortunately, many professing to teach self defense ignore all that and assume that what they teach works in every situation.    

* Neglecting the laws of self defense - Perhaps a huge neglect in self defense circles is the legal system. Alot of people just assume that they can attack in any manner and claim self defense in court. How you handle a situation is going to determine whether or not you legally acted in self defense. If the police find that you used excessive deadly force on an attacker, it's going to make YOU look bad. Unfortunately, alot of self defense schools neglect incorporating the law and ignorance of the law is what will get you locked up.

* Unrealistic view of combat - Alot of martial artists and "reality-based" self defense systems paint a beautiful picture of combat. The reality is combat is anything but beautiful. It's hideous. It's bloody. It's vile. It's grotesque. The notion that your going to walk out of an intense violent battle without any flesh wound is an illusion. When people get punched multiple times, there is bleeding on an internal level that people often aren't aware of. You will likely be left with "battle scars" be it psychological or physical. Whether you survive or not is irrelevant. You have to accept that you might be left with irreversible damage no matter what happens. Could be the loss of an organ, blindness, a limb, or any other permanent reminders. That's the price you pay for getting into violent situations.      

In conclusion, these are just some of the reasons why most self defense systems fail. The choice is yours. You can choose to continue living in a fantasy world where the facts don't apply. You can choose to continue searching for "the best martial art for self defense." You can choose to invest in courses teaching you static techniques on how to deal with situations than face the reality of combat. You can also choose to acknowledge the facts and base your training around them. After all, it's your life. I hope that you make the right choice because it means the difference between life and death. 

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1 comment:

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