Self defence for dummies

One for the martial arts aficionados, or anyone with a knowledge of self defence. In IMHO, as I doubt there’s a factual answer, but hope there’s something that comes kinda close.

Ages ago I asked a q regarding how effective different martial arts styles are against each other - Doper consensus being that this already existed in the form of MMA tournaments, and that generally speaking a master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu could take any other technique to town.

However, this q is about more general techniques against worst case scenarios in day to day situations - jumped by some drunken ass, or worse etc, where the only option is to defend yourself - which martial arts technique would be best for this?

Obviously subjective, but a few criteria I think are useful for judging.

  1. Ease of learning for total beginners, including fitness levels required to utilise.
  2. Effective defence technique - law abiding and sensible citizens I don’t think would find much use in a technique which emphases attacking.
  3. Proven technique - stats like “technique x has saved y amount of people from aggressors, compared to technique w which saved z” would be ideal, but details are difficult to come by. Everyone wants bragging rights and is trying to sell something online.
  4. Technique must be more effective than a swift kick in the balls and fleeing (the “Arnold Rimmer” school of martial arts). Which personally I think is a pretty good technique.

“Self Defense for Dummies” should just be a bookjacket wrapped around a rock. The sequel could include a piece of string.

Don’t mind me. Carry on.

Maybe the advanced manual could come with a steel-tipped shoe for more painful bollock-crushing…
(Disclaimer: Effects may vary based on gender).

I’m certainly no martial arts professional, just a survivor.
I advise everybody to go ballistic. That does not necessarily mean using a firearm. I could have said “go nuclear.” It’s a term I use for pulling out all the stops at once when confronted with danger. The first step is to be aware of surroundings and be ready to react. Do not hesitate to react with the greatest force available before the opposition takes control of you. If you get in a fight, you can expect to get injured. Be ready and accept that likelihood. Your goal is to minimize damage and inflict maximum damage. Let your attorney and the court figure it out later. Avoiding a conflict is the best medicine. Just my opinion.

Krav Maga fits your criteria, except for (maybe) #2. Still, you’re not going to fend off an attacker by blocking all of his moves; but if you knock him on the floor with a nice strike, he’s not going to kill you and you won’t be going to jail.

‘Technique’, while valuable, is not the primary aspect of effective self-defense. The most valuable skill you can have in terms of defense is awareness. Having awareness allows you to prepare for an attack, and demonstrating awareness can often forestall an attack. After awareness, attitude (as in "You may fuck me up, but I’m going to make it cost you more than it is worth!) is key. Technique is useful in giving you different ways to respond to an attack, but unless you’ve drilled in the technique to the point it is instinctive, it is likely to degrade under stress. Most streetfighters have a handful of unsophisticated techniques but have developed awareness and attitude that allows them to get and maintain initiative, which is advantageous over having a closet full of techniques.


That’s pretty much it, and one of the most valuable tools you’d get from MA training. Situational awareness, willingness to strike, acceptance that you are going to get hit and the mental strength and/or experience not to just curl up and die once you do get hit.

Beyond that, don’t fight fair, because the other guy sure won’t. Hit anywhere, any way that you can. Everything, and I mean everything can be used as a weapon, if you can see it that way. Tripping, pushing or guiding the bad guy’s head into a brick wall or jamming a car key in his eye is going to make it very hard for him to keep hitting you.

  1. Be aware of crime statistics and put caution in order of actually likelihood of danger, rather than public perception. AKA avoid dangerous situations. Overall it will come down to, “Stay away from anyone drunk, high, highly emotional, or deranged.”
  2. Run away as fast as you can, if you can.
  3. Act to do as much damage – with as little regard for your own safety – as you can the instant you’re in danger.

Martial arts only comes into it at item #3. You’ll do better off to spend time at #1 and #2 (AKA keeping your cardio up).

Wrestling. It’s the only self defense accepted at the elementary, high school and collegiate level. However, very difficult to pick up as an adult.

Second Krav-Maga: it’s designed to teach a complete newby Isrealy Defense force draftee all they need in 6 months. One thing I leaner working with Israelies, they’re very pragmatic and to the point.

Be wary of diciplines that focus on tradition or competition. You don’t need to punch through a samurai’s lacquer armor. You wish to prepare to defend your or your loved ones’ life, not win a match.

Here is some google research homework for you:
-Combat mindset (vs. competion mindset)
-colour code of mental awareness (created by Jeff Cooper)

Finally, buy yourself this book and get a big dose of reality:

Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence

Hope this helps.

Krav Maga all the way. Personally, I think #2 is a silly rule when you’re talking about real self defense. Do as much damage as you need to do to get away and then get away.

Bad idea. You DO NOT want to go to the ground with an assailant. You give the attacker the advantage. He may have confederates waiting or access a weapon.

The only goal of self-defense should be to allow yourself to get clear of the situation.

As the others have said, inflict damage with no mercy and disengage.

Which is also why BJJ isn’t the best in a street situation. However, wrestling teaches good form and stability, and the ability to put someone on the ground without going there yourself. I don’t think it’s more effective than other arts, but it does provide a solid base from which to learn more.

Except you don’t care about putting someone to the ground without damage.
An unhurt opponent will be back up before you can move.
Wresting does not teach you how to deliver a blow nor how to take one.

You want to minimize contact time with your assailant.

Thanks for all the useful replies. Just to clarify on criteria number #2; it’s more emphasising that going looking for a ruck and drawing ‘first blood’ is not the idea, more what to if someone is physically coming at you and how to react to it.

I think the suggestions of the no-holds barred system of Krav Maga and the idea of essentially going into a berserker rage when threatened with injury are pretty sensible, no point trying to stick to Marquis of Queensbury rules when your opponent is trying to kick your head in.

A little background; yesterday being xmas day the wine was flowing and emotions were running high, a drunken jackass started threatening us. Fortunately I managed to defuse the situation verbally before it came to a fight, but running away wasn’t much of an option so I wondered what exactly I’d do if it came down to a fight.

I’ve been watching youtube vids on techniques (awareness seems to be a very situational thing - as opposed to some thing to learn and train, but I might be way off). Can anyone recommend any good ones?

You need to learn to deliver blows without a windup/telegraphing the move.

The knees are a good target, a kick through the joint will disable anyone.
A kick to the crotch is not always a good move, men instinctively will protect that area and it’s not easy to get a shot that high unless you’re close enough to get a knee in and that leaves you vulnerable to the same thing.

Be aware of objects within reach and their potential as a weapon.
If you’ve ever seen a Jackie Chan movie( yeah, I know it’s a movie, bear with me), see how he improvises weapons.

Runnerpat - wrestling doesn’t teach you how to take a blow? Cmon. I’ve had broken noses, cauliflower ears and other injuries all as a result of wrestling.

Now I will agree that it doesn’t teach much to the extent of delivering powerful blows and knocking someone out or being particularly useful against two or more opponents, but then again not much is for the average Joe (outside cross country).

Picture yourself against two guys where one is holding you. You can’t tell me it’s not useful in getting out of that situation. In fact, probably more useful as compared to other arts where you emphasize striking. Can’t strike if someones holding you down.

Now a fair street fight against one opponent with no weapons, wrestling most certainly works. I can take you down, hold you there, even choke you out without a single blow being thrown.

Against two or more people, or somebody with a weapon, no probably not very useful. Then again, you better be one he’ll of a striker if you want to get out of that situation.

On a side note, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I still feel the top wrestlers in the world if they competed in the ufc would be among the elite. Just look at Brock lesnar, Josh kosheck, frank Edgar. All good wrestlers but not quite the elite NCAA Div. 1

Well if you just ask your attackers to make it a FAIR street fight, wrestling will do just fine.

Or you can just do your “Krav Maga” and knock out 5 guys in a few minutes just like they do in the movies…

Because you wouldn’t have looked dashing and manly? Because you were being held in place? Or because the people who were endangering you probably would have followed and caught you?

If it’s the first of those options, then yes, running away was an option.