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If You Want to Learn Self-Defense, Then Choose Your Martial Art Very Carefully

If I told you that between now and the time you die, nothing of a confrontational nature could ever happen to you, would you believe me?

If I told you that will never experience:

1.     Verbal confrontation

2.     Physical confrontation

3.     Bullying and intimidation of all types

4.     Attempted home invasion

5.     Attempted sexual assault

6.     Dealing with road rage

7.     Facing dangers when traveling abroad

8.     Violent crime

…would you believe me?

From my experience, you could find yourself in any of the following situations:

1.     Walking home late at night, alone

2.     Walking to your car after work, at night, alone

3.     Taking public transportation late at night, alone

4.     Being at a party where you’ve been drugged and targeted for sexual assault

5.     Being on a date where the other person is trying to rape you

6.     Being at a bar or pub, where a person becomes hostile and wants to beat you

7.     You see your partner is being verbally or physically abused

8.     You see your child is being verbally or physically abused

9.      You’ve been targeted for racism, hatred, or violence

10.  Your job puts you in a situation where you have to deal with dangerous elements




1.     Your safety and security is your responsibility. No one else’s.

2.     The safety and security of your family is your responsibility.

3.     Don’t rely on the police, your neighbors or strangers to save you. They won’t.

4.     It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

5.     You need to choose the right kind of self-defense training and avoid choosing the wrong kind.


The problem is ignorance when it comes to choosing martial arts. Most people don’t do enough research. They don’t know anything. Most people can’t tell the differences and think all martial arts are the same. People choose based on:

1.     A lack of factual information

2.     A lack of thorough research

3.     Falling for the marketing hype

4.     Following the most popular trends



I will educate you on what you need to know. In every country in the world, you can find hundreds to thousands of martial arts. Not only Japan, China, or Korea.


Traditional Martial Arts

1.     Follows rules

2.     Follows old, ancient, and outdated technology

3.     Still teaches techniques and ideas that do not reflect the reality of today’s world

4.     By following tradition, they ignore science and advancements

5.     Focus too much on the Asian fantasy

6.     Emphasis on demonstrations and exhibitions over substance

7.     Examples: Karate, Kung Fu, Aikido, Ninjutsu

Tournament Martial Arts

1.     Follows rules

2.     Similar to traditional styles

3.     Focus is on competition-style fighting, not self-defense

4.     Focus too much on the Asian fantasy

5.     Emphasis in demonstrations and exhibitions over substance

6.     Examples: Taekwondo, MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Cultural Martial Arts

1.     Follows rules

2.     Similar to traditional styles

3.     Focus is on demonstrations and exhibitions – too much show

4.     No practical applications for street fighting

5. Weapons used in demos will get you arrested if you use them

6.     Examples: Wu Shu, Kuk Sool Won, Shaolin


Self-Defense Martial Arts

1.     Never any rules

2.     Made only for real combat where your life and safety is compromised

3.     Designed to adapt to all situations, including weapons and multiple opponents

4.     Designed for survival

5. Designed for military warfare

6.     The goal is the end the fight in seconds – get in, get out, no shows or displays

7.     Examples: JKD, Filipino Martial Arts, Pencak Silat, Krav Maga, Wing Chun


How you train will determine exactly how you will fight under a high-stress, high-adrenalin situation. You are a computer and you will get out what you put in.

If you train according to a set of rules, then you will respond exactly like this when under pressure. You will respond under the limitations of rules. If you train in Taekwondo, then you will fight like you’re doing Taekwondo. Which is going to get you killed.

If you train in a realistic martial art, like Jeet Kune Do, Kali etc., then you will fight unrestricted and unconditionally. You will do whatever it takes to end the fight.

But you cannot train for both. You will confuse your nervous system and will crash under pressure.


The major difference between tournament martial arts and self-defense martial arts is the use of rules.

If a martial art has rules, run away. It will be a poor choice for self-defense because you will end up conditioning yourself to react to an attack the same way you would in a sport. You will be constricted and limited. You want to be unlimited and unrestricted in your fighting ability.

For example, in Jeet Kune Do, we attack the four primary targets:

1.     Eyes – take away their vision

2.     Throat – take away their ability to breathe

3.     Groin – take away their manhood

4.     Knees – take away their mobility

These are the weaknesses of the body and we attack them with speed and efficiency. Taking these targets out will help to end the fight as quickly as possible.

But rules-based martial arts will never allow these targets. Why?

Whatever is illegal or foul in sports is exactly what you do in a real fight. Ask yourself why is it illegal? Or foul? Because you’re going to seriously injure an opponent. But what are you trying to do in a real fight? Seriously injure an opponent.

In karate and taekwondo you are not allowed to attack below the belt. You’re trained to ignore one half of a person’s body. You train for five years and earn a black belt, but the whole time you’ve programmed yourself to ignore half of a person’s body. When you’re not allowed to attack below the belt, then you’re not trained to defend below the belt. In a real street fight, can you figure out what problems this could cause?

In karate and taekwondo you are not allowed to punch the face. So you’re trained to ignore the most obvious target of a punch in a real fight. The rules protect your face. In a real street fight, can you figure out what problems this could cause?

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a very popular sport, you’re not allowed to punch, kick, elbow, or knee. Not to mention, you can only grapple with one person at a time. In a real street fight, can you figure out what problems this could cause?

If your goal is to learn self-defense, stay away from martial arts that follow rules.


Street and sport are worlds apart when it comes to fighting. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

What is spectacular for an exhibition is very impractical for the street. And what is practical for the street is very dull for an exhibition.

In sport, the goal is to win against evenly matched opponents. There are gender classes, weight classes, age classes, and skill levels. The environment is fair and monitored by referees and judges. Fairness is the law. Cheating will get you disqualified. It’s sportsmanship.

In the street, the goal is to do whatever it takes to get what you want. For the good guy, the goal is to end the fight and escape as quickly as possible. There is no audience to applaud your spectacular demonstration of skill. No trophies or points. The bad guys try to get what they want by any means necessary, including killing you. Cheating and deception is expected. It’s not a test of skill: it’s a test of smarts. Bringing the wrong martial art to the street will get you killed.

By the way, weapons are almost always involved in a street fight. There are no hidden weapons in sport.



In the street, criminals use their advantage over those they judge as weaker.

A handsome, popular, wealthy frat boy knows he can rape any girl he wants because his father’s well-connected and the police are afraid to touch him. He’s a predator who has an advantage.

It’s the opposite of a fair fight. It’s a predator-prey relationship. One side has an advantage over its victim.

Predators don’t go after other predators. They don’t want to work too hard and they don’t want to get hurt. They go after easy prey, like young women, senior citizens, smaller people, children, foreigners, or minorities.


In Jeet Kune Do and Kali Escrima, which are the martial arts I teach, the goal is to turn all of the techniques we learn into muscle memory, or reflexive responses. The somatic nervous system is responsible for reflexes, which are involuntary muscle responses. You want to react to stimulus as fast as possible by bypassing the brain. You want your body to move without you having to think about it. By the time you see the fist coming at your face, you better move or you will get hit. To get that kind of reaction speed and movement speed, you have to practice a technique at least 1,000 – 5,000 times correctly. In combat, speed is number one. It doesn’t matter how many techniques you know. If you’re too slow, you’re never going to get there and you’re going to get hit.

That’s why the somatic nervous system, or reflex speed, are the most important attribute in combat.

Not all martial arts train like this, nor do they believe in this. If your focus is on demonstrations, then you want the audience to see what you’re doing. If it’s too fast, they can’t appreciate it.

But if your martial arts is focused on self-defense, then it’s better that no one sees anything. If your attacker can’t see what you’re doing, then he can’t stop you.

Your opponent must feel your attack before he can see it.


Unless you live on a desert island, you will, at some point of your life, experience a confrontation, a threat, a fight, or any number of mutations that life has to offer. Believe me, you’d be surprised at all the crazy things you’ll have to deal with as you live life. But the point is, your self-defense skills is your responsibility. Protecting and defending your family is your responsibility. Before you choose a martial arts school to join, ask yourself what your primary goal is for learning martial arts. If it is self-defense, then find out which of the four types of martial arts does this school teach. If it isn't self-defense, then keep looking. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and your money. If you want self-defense that works, I recommend Jeet Kune Do, Kali Escrima, Pencak Silat, Krav Maga, or Wing Chun.

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