06 June 2009

How Hard is it Really?

Image by Bring back Buck

How hard is it to defend yourself against someone really? I mean, seriously, if you have trained for a matter of years with the intent to defend yourself against an attacker, surely, you are ready by now? Do you think a possible attacker trains as much as you do? I doubt it very much. So why train for more than a few years?

Are you Wasting Your Time?

If you havn't gotten yourself up to a suitable standard over a time frame of years than really, you are never gonna get there. You might as well give up and walk along looking at your feet. Years and years of training is a long time.

It is important that we step back and take a look at what it is we do when we train for many years with the intent to defend ourselves against a likely attack. It is important that we acknowledge that a likely attacker is not out there training the way we are.

The Likely Attack

Take the example of someone who has been training for five years with the intent of being able to defend him or herself or friends against a likely attack. The most likely attack will probably be a case of assault and possibly robbery (These odds have been discussed here in more detail elsewhere. Look at the sidebar to the right for more info on this).

Anyone who has persisted to train for five years is very very unlikely to be the initiator of assault and even more unlikely to be the initiator of robbery. These type of people would have quit long ago or would not have even started as they would likely assume that they are already awesome fighters. It takes a certain amount of humbleness and nobility to accept we do not know all we can, so we go out and search for someone to teach us.

A LOT Can be Learnt in Just Five Years

Take comfort in the fact that a likely attacker has inferior skills to you after training for five years. Five years is a long time to train. Someone can earn a degree in five years. A trade can be earnt in five years. A child can be born and be at school in five years. So why do people continue to train after five years?

I think a lot of people through whatever cause, give the likely attacker far too much credit and under appreciate their own skills. I mean seriously, if after five whole years you are still not confident in being able to stop an attack that you really need to stop, step back and have a look at what you have been doing for the last five years of your life.

Again, the Alpha Male and the Predator

A likely Alpha Male attacker will generally be intoxicated which will mean his co-ordination will be quite poor and he will be quick to fatigue, he will be suffering from tunnel vision and all the other effects of adrenal stress which you will be and most likely he will be less trained than you are. Be confident in these details!

A likely Predatory attack will be reliant on the element of surprise, will probably be poorly trained in close combat, will likely be drunk or a drug addict and/or be physically malnourished and again, you will probably be more highly trained. Be confident in these details!

Work the Basics, Hard and Realistically! Its That Simple!

Defending against a likely attack is really quite simple. Train often doing gross motor techniques which professional fighters can apply in the combat sports such as punches, elbows, low kicks and kness as well as standing and ground grappling. Learn how to use impact and edged weapons such as sticks and knives as these are the most common weapons used today.

The emphasis? Work on the basics over and over again and work them hard! Do not get fancy, ever. A good basic framework is kickboxing or Muay Thai type training, Greco Roman or freestyle wrestling or BJJ or other stand up and ground grappling type training and also some Filipino weapon training.

Destroy the Enemy, he is Probably a Deadshit

You do not have to be at the elite level in these systems, just have a good grasp of the basics. A few years doing this will see you absolutely destroy most types of potential attacks.

Remember, a likely attacker is not a highly trained assassin! He is generally just a deadshit!

There is one other thing which you can and should do every single day of your life. Be aware of your surroundings. Notice when you are in a higher threat area and maintain 360 degree awareness and look for likely threats. This is free and you do not need to spend any money to do it. This is your first level of defence.

Deny an Attacker the Element of Surprise

If you maintain that first level of defence, you can never be caught by surprise. If you are never caught by surprise, I would say your ability to defend yourself has just gone up 500%. The element of surprise really is THAT important in the successful outcome of an attack. Deny that element and you massively turn the odds in your favour. Its that easy.

So what should you do if you HAVE been training for over five years? Hang up the gloves and retire? Not exactly. I guess the point I am trying to make is don't use up your valuable time on this earth with spending an unnecessarily high amount of your time training. Once you have spent a solid few years training, you can back it off a little. Go out and live your life. After all, that is why you want to protect your life isn't it? So you can live it? So get out there and live it!!!

Intensity and Realism - The Simple Solution

Its like an athlete who is training for an event. They train hard, then back off or taper. Once a high level is achieved it can maintained at a higher level with much less work than it takes if you want to increase to a higher level.

The secret to maintaining a high standard with less time spent is this. You need to maintain a high level of intesity for those times you DO train. A really good idea is to do those short Reality Based Self Defence (RBSD) courses such as FAST Defense and Senshido and other high level and realistic seminars.

It isnt really that hard. Train the basics often and hard and realistically for a few years and then just back off the number of sessions done per month but maintain or even increase the intensity. Remember, a likely attacker is a deadshit, don't forget that! Have confidence in yourself and your training.

The Caveat

There is one caveat to all of this. The trained opponent. There is always the outside chance of facing a trained opponent. There are no final solutions in life, or in self defence. There are very highly skilled and able people out there, make no mistake about it. There are combat sport athletes, 100% committed martial artists, hardened criminals, military personel, security professionals and more. These people are out there.

These people are another level altogether. But how likely do you think it is to find one of these people attacking you for no reason? I would say it is very very unlikely. Even the hardened criminal will not want to attack someone on the street. Why? He has other shitheads to do his dirty work for him. He doesn't need the unneccesasary risk of such petty shit.

Walking the Warriors Path...

To train to be able to go up against the high end of the combative world is different to be able to defend yourself against likely attackers on the street. This type of skill is beyond the scope of this post. To do this is to walk the warriors path. This involves time and commitment. Often, a very big time commitment as well.This is a different subject altogether.

Once more, it is very very unlikely that these level of warriors will attack you for no reason. This is perhaps further incentive to be nice and not pick fights with people. After all, how well do you really know the person you have chosen???

Live Your Life

The people who attack others are generally deadshits. Do not forget this. It really isnt that hard. Have confidence in your training. Go out there and live your life, that is why you strive to protect it don't you?

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  1. This is ridiculous. People dont train to fight, they train to master their bodies.

  2. Hi anon.

    I can see how you could think that studying martial disciplines is about mastering ones own body and not fighting. However, that is fundamentally incorrect.

    The martial arts and Low Tech Combat in general is about person to person combat. And fighting skills make up a part of that. Along with fighting skills as was mentioned in this one post, there are many other aspects of Low Tech Combat which require study also. Things such as awareness, victim selection, evasion, social engineering, safe overseas travel, strength and conditioning and more.

    I have written about this Full Spectrum before here,
    The Full Spectrum

    Out of interest, the follow up post to this is rather different and highlights some areas of study for when the this practise becomes life long, where the student walks the path. This is walking the warriors path and can be found here,

    Walking the Path

    There IS more to Low Tech Combat than fighting. But if you just want to master your body, you are perhaps better off practising gymnastics. Gymnasts have supreme control of their bodies and they are without peer.

  3. I agree with a lot of what you say, but I would like to offer a few contrary observations. I believe that you both overestimate the time required to train for a violent struggle, and you conversely underestimate the level of threat one might face. This sounds a bit contradictory, but I observe:
    1) The skill set one must develop for a violent confrontation is not complicated. Gross motor skills, as you note. If it takes you more than a year of serious work-outs to learn those skills, then I think you should question either the complexity of your technique or the complexity of your tactical plan. Vastly more difficult to develop than skill is the capacity to form the genuine intent to harm an attacker. Years of learning ever more intricate technique will not compensate for a lack of intent.

    I realize that your figure of five years is merely an example, but to even talk in terms of years of training is, in my opinion, to go well beyond what is required and you end up overemphasizing physical technique. Now, if we're talking about gaining the knowledge to successfully train others for combat, then five years or so is probably a good starting point.

    2) Dividing threats into two basic scenarios or types is useful, so long as we avoid being too stereotypical in our depictions. Examine the videos you have linked from your post "Violence" and try to categorise them cleanly as Alpha Male or Predatory. As archetypal poles of types around which to group instances of violence this division might work, but when it leads to an almost dismissive tone towards "Alpha Male drunks," I think there's more harm done than good. The psychology of human motivation is, obviously, complex, and this includes the motivations for violent assault. We recognize complexity in ourselves and we must likewise recognize that complexity in our hypothetical attacker(s).
    I fully appreciate the need to develop self confidence, but to accomplish it by building a contemptuous image of an assailant is, I believe, a serious mistake. This assailant has the primary advantages of choosing the time and place, and choosing the conflict. He has the initiative, he has the intent, and he has the belief that he will win (otherwise why start it?). Or, he is out of his mind and irrational, or drugged/intoxicated. Neither situation is to your advantage. You might be assaulted by a hardened ex-con, just out of a ten year lock up and seeking to finance his new freedom with whatever your house contains. You might have a fender-bender with a bodybuilder just peaking on a steroid rage. You might happen to be the next person in a borderline paranoid's path when he decides he's mad as hell and won't take it anymore, and the look on your face makes him reach for a knife. Hypotheticals, sure. And unlikely. Just as facing a serious assault from anyone is statistically unlikely in most of the developed world. But to reduce your expectations of violence to drooling schoolyard bullys or sly predators who will avoid you 'cause you're a stud, well, that's simply flawed thinking. Everyday in every city in the world there are violent encounters that do not fit easily into this scheme, and bad men daily walk the streets.

    My revision to your post is essentially this...Winning and surviving a physically violent encounter isn't especially complicated and training for it need not take up a huge amount of our time...but it can still be hard as hell.

  4. Great contribution AFJ.

    Intent is VERY important and can take years to develop to a standard where it can be used as part of our physical responses.

    Thank you for highlighting the risks with categorising all physical attacks as one of just two types. The Alpha Male and the Predator is just a model. And a very useful one I feel. I have written more about it in my post The Two Faces.

    However, like all models, it is just a model. There are many combinations and abnormalities. Attacks by youths in groups is just one example.

    Thanks for your contribution, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  5. Which is why soldiers at higher levels who receive hand to hand combat typically drill it for many hours each day, every day, for maybe three weeks. Intense, basics, repetitive, but not for years. We all get absorbed in 'Hollywood' fighting, movies, that promote spinning back kicks and techniques requiring years just to learn. I think some of the reality stuff, Krav Maga, WW2 Fairbairn stuff, is more like what is needed. Plus immense conditioning, something I need to improve greatly.

  6. I do not believe that anon's POV and Adam's are necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe someone with the body of a Greek god is an idiot and just wants to look good, or maybe they are smart and have a lot of self respect. The latter is the type of person that will work harder than anyone (even a "professional") at everything they desire. So, naturally, if they desire to survive into old age, they'll figure out a way.

    Maybe the use of FUD here was intentional, maybe not. With guys like you and Marc MacYoung, I'll trust my ability to think for myself.

  7. Hi! Just found your site and started reading some of the things you wrote. I never did any fighting course, but know some basic punches, kicks and knife throws. Anyway, I have one thing to agree with you and another to disagree.

    I agree with the concept of alpha male and predator types of attack. I have avoided robbery a couple of times using the concept of predator (The robber looks for easy targets, so dont look easy when you spot a possible predator. Estabilish a perimeter where strangers at the street or at another place could be a surprise problem.). Also avoided alpha male attacks by resisting the temptation to argue.

    What I have to disagree is that trained professionals dont attack randomly. It is a true statment only on the case of Predator attacks (they dont have a reason to plan an attack). But on the case of Alpha Male behavior, even well trained ppl get emotional and irrational. I know that because I was threatened by a Jealous soldier once. Its also kinda common here (in my country) to see security profesionals getting arrested for exagerating and killing male youngsters on night clubs (usually with firearms and to prove superiority).

    So, dont expect your attacker to be untrained. Expect for the worse case to be prepared.

    Also, awesome website! I`ll come back later to check for updates!

  8. @Sifter, Intense, basics and repetition is an excellent combination for achieving great results. I of course agree completely about the hollywood stuff. Reality shouldn't need to be emphasised when talking about self defence, but unfortunately in todays day and age, it is necessary...

    @Josh, I am not really sure what it is you are trying to say... sorry about that.

    @squishoso, Glad you like the site! Great points about the Alpha Male and the Predator. Glad to hear you have been able to avoid violence using these simple principles! They do work and are practical. I fully take on board what you say in regards to trained people sometimes attacking randomly. There are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, the most unlikely thing will happen. "Expect the worst and hope for the best" is a solid policy.

  9. I'm wondering what country squishoso is from. I'm thinking brazil.

    With the advent of MMA, a lot of people with no business opening a school are opening schools. they have no understanding of martial arts discipline and respect. Thus, neither do their students. So having a rear naked choke slapped on you isn't a far stretch any longer.

  10. That is true. Some MMA schools do nothing but teach people how to be a ratbag. Sure, ratbags that can fight but still ratbags. Not really following the 'martial way'. Unfortunately it is more of a sport these days. And big business. Though still very effective.


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