True Self Defense Starts Here!

How to Train for Self-Defense

For you to understand what "Self-Defense" is, first you must understand what it is not.
"Self-Defense" is not martial arts training. Nor, is it fighting. It is not, simply, mastering a set of physical skills (e.g. becoming a kung fu killer, ninja, or combat shooting expert). It is not getting in touch with your "inner rage" and channeling it into attacking someone. And, it is not something you can take a weekend seminar for; and, then, forget until you need it. Truthfully, self-defense is not a specialized skill that you only use in one context.

If self-defense training is to be effective, it must be multi-layered.

By this we mean that a wide variety of skill sets, knowledge, self-awareness, and behaviors are involved. Many, that at first glance, might not be obviously related to what you think of as self-defense. But each adds an important layer onto the whole of the subject, and therefore, your safety. As such, you must consciously focus on these layers if you wish to be safe from violence.

Self Defense is: Life Skills.

These are skills, talents and abilities that you will use in a myriad of ways every day of your life. What's more, as they are basic people skills, using them will improve your quality of life. Use them and you will find yourself in far fewer conflicts, you will be more popular, work will be easier and you will get along with people much, much better.

Self-Defense is taking these same skill sets and, with some slight tweaks, applying them in a slightly different context. Properly applied, you will never have to use physical force to protect yourself because you will never find yourself in a situation where violence is likely.

Violence is an Extreme.

What people do not tend to recognize about extremes is that they don't just happen. It takes time and effort to make such a long journey to this wild place. Putting it bluntly, he must work to get there.

Furthermore, extremes are based on normal interactions, over-emphasizing certain elements and intentionally deleting other tempering influences. This means, that any extreme is based on that which you already know. It is just blown all out of proportion. It is so distorted that, you may not recognize it as such - especially the part about tempering influences being left out. There are several reasons for this failure; the most common ones are anger, emotion, or stubbornness on your part. These don't have to be regular states with you either. Giving in to them, just for a moment, can put you on the path towards violence. Lose control of yourself with the wrong person and you will be shot, stabbed, beaten or raped.

The trick for avoiding violence is recognizing it and the path that leads there.

By knowing the elements that are commonly used in this extreme - and what their normal proportions are - you will be able to see when they are being blown out of proportion. It takes time to get to an extreme, when you see these elements being distorted - even by yourself - you will know you are on the pathway to violence.

Our approach is to acquaint you with these elements so you can recognize this distortion - and its significance - early enough that you can extract yourself from a situation without having to resort to physical violence. It is far, far easier to stop, take a deep breath, turn and walk away than it is to physically combat your way out of an attack.

Four layers of self-defense training

The following is a simple model for explaining what is meant by effective self-defense training must be multi-layered.

1.) Common sense - Do you even want to go there?
(This point includes knowing what behaviors will put you into conflict and moral/ethical issues involved with use of force) What are the standards you must abide by?

2.) Diplomatic - Do you need to hit or can you resolve this another way?
Can you talk, negotiate or trick your way out of it? (This point also includes knowing the legal ramifications of hitting; and, weighing the repercussions against the need of the moment.)

3.) Strategic - When and where to hit for maximum results appropriate for the situation (justifiable use of force).

4.) Tactical - How to hit (physical application).

As you can see the issues become larger and more complex the further away one gets from just the physical. Many so-called self-defense courses/martial arts schools do not address these higher level skills because they assume they already are in place. We do not. Countless incidents of violence could have been avoided if they had been.

Why must these layers be included?

There are several reasons:

First: You cannot focus on only one aspect and expect your self-defense to work. For example, physical application is a most basic and simple skill set. It is, also, the last ditch, extreme response. If a situation goes physical it generally means you have not applied the other skill sets correctly. You have allowed the situation to develop to an extreme. Unfortunately, physical force is also the most unreliable of responses. And, as you are now in an extreme, if it fails, you are in deep trouble. It is literally jumping out of a plane with only one parachute that has a 50/50 chance of not working.

The multi-layer approach is your back-up. To be more specific it is having options that prevent you from ending up in that situation. Including, not going parachute jumping in the first place, but if you do, knowing how to pack your chute so it will open. By having these layers, you have control and influence anywhere along the process. It is also knowing the further down that path you go, the more extreme the danger and the more likely you are to lose control of the situation.

Second, there is commonly an underlying assumption of self-righteousness regarding so-called self-defense. To begin with there is a drastic difference between self-defense and fighting; and, it is a difference that you need to know. Bottom line: It will not be immediately apparent to the responding officer that you are the victim who was obviously only defending himself against this horrible person. While police will often arrest both parties in a fight they are almost guaranteed to arrest the winner. If you have successfully defended yourself, that means you. Furthermore, your claim of self-defense is going to be seriously undermined if you were an equal participant in the problem - no matter how self-righteous or justified you felt you were. As there are serious legal ramifications to this subject, you had better make sure that you weren't part of the problem.

Third, the effects of violence will last a life time. It doesn't matter if you are the victim, the perpetrator or even if you were just defending yourself. Exposure to, and participation in, violence will change you. Often, not for the better.
In the long run, these levels will give you the coping skills necessary to deal with the changes violence will cause. Your entire life is a long time to justify, or, self-righteously put the blame on another. It requires coping abilities that are beyond the capabilities of many people. In other words, while in the short run, self-righteousness and anger can protect you, over time guilt, shame, moral pain, and trauma over what you did will eventually creep in.
In the immediate, these levels will help you get through the emotional/adrenaline stressors that come with having to defend yourself. Contrary to popular belief, an overwhelming majority people cannot just flip an emotional switch and find and apply effective self-defense moves in a crisis. Combat is a traumatic psychic shift. One, that if you do not have specific training to prepare you for, you might not be able to make in time to defend yourself.

Fourth, they remove doubt. If you have established standards by which to judge when you are legally and morally justified to use violence in your defense then you will be able to act with grim, un-conflicted determination towards achieving the goal. This is not an emotional or subjective reaction, it is reacting to a known and identified threat.

Fifth, relates back to both the second and fourth reasons, but is distinct enough to be its own reason. By knowing these other issues, you will greatly assist yourself in communicating with the police and defending your actions in a court of law as to why you felt it was necessary to use physical force. Violence doesn't happen in a vacuum. Legal repercussions are as much of a danger as the physical assault. This, is why you need to understand that aspect and how to survive the court battle as well as the violent encounter. If you cannot articulate why you felt it necessary to use physical force, the authorities will turn it into a your word against his. Unfortunately, as he is now injured the weight of the argument is on his side. That in the eyes of the law makes you the aggressor (read: the guilty party).

Also, never underestimate how an attorney can turn your words against you. You might have been utterly, and totally, correct in your assessment that physical force was required to protect yourself. However, if you cannot articulately supply facts that list A.) his behavior according to established standards of jeopardy behavior; and, B.) what you did to de-escalate/avoid the altercation, an attorney will twist you around like a pretzel on the stand. He will turn your self-defense pleas; and, have you babbling, well he looked at me mean! for the reason as to why you put his poor innocent client in the hospital. After he has ripped your self-defense stance apart, he will make you look like the person who intentionally started the violence.

Sixth reason: the higher levels instill in you negotiating skills and conflict avoidance. This doesn't mean that you run like a rabbit. It simply means that you have a wider set of tools at your disposal to find ways to resolve potential conflicts and problems without resorting to extreme measures. These are known as people skills. The better you become at them, the less likely you are to find yourself in a violent situation. Avoiding violence is the very least these skills can do for you. More realistically they will dramatically improve the quality of your life. At home, work and in your social life, you will achieve more of your goals with less conflict and stress.

A point we feel strongly about is: effective self-defense training focuses as much on your responsibility for your words/actions and the legal restrictions/repercussions of violence as it does your right to hit.

Apparently, most self-defense instruction (at least the ones we have encountered) assume that these other layers and skill sets are already in place, In doing so, they ignore addressing the issues that lead up to physical violence. Some of these programs teach extreme physical violence and often lethal force. Some classes approach conflict from a very biased, blaming standpoint (i.e. it is all the other guy's fault and whatever you do is justified). A very important buzzword to watch for in such programs is empowerment. A program that is focused on empowering someone, many times gives a carte blanche excuse for the behaviors and attitudes that result in conflict and violence.

Simply stated, any program that gives you the idea you that you are justified in doing or saying anything you want and that the training will teach you how to fight if someone takes umbrage, isn't teaching self-defense. It is at best encouraging and reinforcing dysfunctional, selfish behavior and at the worst setting you up to get your brains blown into a fine pink mist if you behave that way towards a truly violent and dangerous person.