Take Them Out Quick | Realistic Self Defense

Today there are many excellent martial arts for street self defense.  Most of these arts will work effectively if the practitioner is truly prepared to apply the techniques in a realistic manner with intent to actually do harm to an assailant.  True street self defense is almost as much mental/psychological as it is physical movement.  Not only do you have to understand and be able to effectively use the skills that you have learned, but you must also be prepared to do so in a ruthless manner that allows you to go home alive after the conflict.  

I travel the world teaching seminars covering various aspects of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. I have heard seminar participants saying such things as “I could never do that to someone” or they cringe as I demonstrate a kick to the groin or finger jab to the eyes.  What is missing here is the psychological “fight or flight” motivation that gives you what you need to execute these movements.  These same people, if faced with a situation where the life of their spouse or child was threatened, would find themselves thinking about things in a completely different way!  In such an instance, “What can I do to see that I/we survive” becomes their main thought.  

Training for Self Defense

Training drills for any real world self defense oriented martial art should include scenario drills (with protective gear of course) that train the practitioners for dealing with not only common situations that may arise, but also situations with as many variables as possible presented on different terrains.  Some situations will be more “comfortable” compared to others, but all are necessary in order to truly be prepared.  You must learn to deal with single or multiple opponents, both armed and unarmed.  You could be on the sidewalk, in an alley, on some stairs, in a doorway, in a confined space, in a parking deck, in your car or in a wide open park.  Think about the areas that you spend the most time in, as that will give you some really good ideas as to scenarios that would best help you prepare for possible conflict.  Unfortunately, there is no “rule” as to where an attack will occur, or “limit” to what can happen during said attack.  It is best to be prepared for anything you can imagine, and in this case, your imagination is extremely useful.  The more you can imagine happening to you, the better you can prepare for the possibilities.

To increase your chances of coming out alive in a life threatening encounter, it is best to select a few threat ending techniques, and work those techniques over and over and over, in as many different combinations as possible.  It would be nice to think that you could end a conflict in one shot, and while it is possible, it rarely works out that way.  A finger jab to the eyes pretty much ends things, but you must be extremely accurate with the strike.  A kick to the knee or groin can end things, but if your attacker in hopped up on drugs or adrenaline, sometimes they can get past the pain and continue fighting.  An accurately placed side kick to the knee area can break the leg.  Even someone on drugs cannot stand if the leg is broken at the knee joint.

When considering possible attack combinations, think about the “flow” of the movements in the combination.  Does one move flow right into the next without awkwardness?  If not, then you should probably forget that combination, or at least file it away for possible future development.  Oftentimes the problem is not the particular combination, but the current skill level of the practitioner.  While something may not feel good to you at two weeks of training, after two months of training it may feel great!  

Think about your target selection.  In a life threatening encounter, you must strike first, strike fast and strike hard to areas that will count.  You do not have time to waste striking peripheral targets that allow the assailant to continue their assault.  Our primary targets are the eyes, throat and groin.  Secondary targets are the nose, solar plexus and the knees.  Focus your attacks on these targets and your chances of successfully ending the encounter are greatly increased.  In Jeet Kune Do one of our main principles is using the longest weapon to strike the nearest target.  Apply that principle and you will usually be successful.

Some of my personal favorites for street defense are the straight kick to the groin, followed up with a straight punch to the nose or side kick to the knee followed by a finger jab to the eyes.  These are examples of technique combinations that flow naturally.  In other words, one move goes right into the next without any awkwardness.  It is this type of combination that is going to get the job done when the time comes.

Always remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Work on the “directness” of your attacks.  The closer to the straight line, the less wastage of motion, therefore the best for a street encounter.  When your life is on the line there is no time to “wonder” if something is going to work or try something new.  Stick to what you KNOW works, and do it quickly, powerfully and ruthlessly!  

Equipment for Self Defense Training

Training with equipment is an excellent way to develop your speed, accuracy and power in the execution of your techniques.  In Jeet Kune Do we use the mook jong (wooden dummy), the heavy bag, the double end bag and specialized pieces of training equipment to sharpen out tools.  If you have a training partner, the focus glove and kicking shield are great training aids.  You can use a pair of metal mesh goggles to train speed and accuracy into your finger jab to the eyes.  Get creative with your partner and the drills that you work.  Focus on developing all of your physical attributes such as speed, power and especially accuracy.  There is really no limit to what you can do with an active imagination and a creative partner that is working towards the same goal as you.  The more you train together in a safe environment, the better prepared you are to do the right thing when an attack occurs.   

Two of the most important attributes to develop are alertness and awareness.  I have seen situations where someone was attacked and caught completely off guard.  If they had been alert and aware of their surroundings, this would not have happened, or at least they could have responded in time to do something about it.  One of the worse things I see nowadays is the “it will never happen to me” attitude.  Some people are naïve enough to believe that if you are always where you are supposed to be, and not out late at night or going to bars and night clubs, that nothing can happen to you.  And yes, while you greatly reduce your chances of being attacked by eliminating these factors, the reality of the matter is that you can be attacked anywhere, anytime, by anyone!  People have even been attacked in church parking lots, or in the church!  To think that where you are eliminates potential threats is one of the worse mistakes that you can possibly make!  You must prepare for anything, anytime, anywhere!  

There are many other things that I could go into here, but this should give you some good ideas of what to work on to prepare for realistic self defense.  One thing I did not mention is the “legalities’ of street defense.  I have never worried that much about this myself, as I have always made sure that the situation warranted whatever I did.  Everything always came out OK.  My thoughts on this have always been to take care of myself and my loved ones first, then worry about everything else later.  And besides, I have always been fond of the saying … it is better to be tried by twelve that carried by six!

About the Author:  

Sifu Lamar M. Davis II has been a practicing martial artist for forty-seven years at the time of this writing.  He is a fully certified Second Generation Senior Instructor of Bruce Lee’s fighting methods of Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do
He is the Executive Director/Master Instructor of the Hardcore Jeet Kune Do Chinese Gung Fu Association, and travels the world teaching seminars and training camps. 
Sifu Davis has had nearly two hundred articles published in martial arts magazines worldwide, and has fifty-four instructional DVDs in release.  
He is the owner of DragonBlast Martial Arts Equipment, and custom builds training equipment geared for Wing Chun Gung Fu, Jun Fan Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do practitioners.  
For more information, please visit www.HJKDCGFA.com .  You may contact Sifu Davis by emailing Sifu@HardcoreJKD.com
or by calling his office at (205) 467-9039.  

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