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#414334 - 01/14/09 05:14 PM Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities.
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2577
I have read a few threads on here about different ideas people have for self-defence that have nothing to do with martial arts. I want to summarize them here briefly. They are all activities that can be worked at or studied that may be beneficial in a Self Defence situation:

Bodybuilding/Strength Conditioning: Using a variety of sound training methods (e.g. machines, free weights, body weight) the body is built/strengthened. Possible benefits for SD include superior physical strength to attacker/s, additional protection for the body and psychological factors such as intimidation (i.e. someone appears "big" or "strong", which may effect the response of aggressors).

Running/Speed Training: Somewhat similar to above. Running is done as exercise. It can increase endurance of the body and its vital systems. Sprint training or speed training can be done to allow increased acceleration/explosive power in a running/flight situation.

Parkour/Free Running: I think everyone is familiar with these systems. Although differences between the two are clear (Parkour is about efficient movement through space, Free Running is more of a sport). If correctly trained, both could be very useful in a flight situation.

Dogs: Man (and woman’s) best friend. As a dog lover and owner myself, I can attest to the superb potential for dogs in civilian defence, be it from early warning to possible deterrent. Its not fair to say all dogs are suited to guard/defensive duties. For some breeds of dogs of this it is against their nature to be aggressive. Some individual dogs may not have it in their nature either. Some owners may not want their dog to do this. Owner education is something anyone can study. Their are dog handling/training courses in most places.

LEO Engagement & Training: Many places in the world allow civilians to participate in law enforcement training/work (even on a voluntary basis) to some degree. I am aware of one such scheme in parts of England. People give up a small amount of their own time each week/month and assist in police duties. Awareness of how the law and police work and train may be of benefit pre/post an attack.

Self-Defence Education: Education from people like Geoff Thompson and Marc MacYoung. A lot of the ideas and strategies put forward by people like these can be very effective, and most of these ideas don’t involve physical violence e.g. Awareness, Avoidance, de-escalation, listening to your instincts etc…

These are very very brief points on all of the above. They are succinct encompassments of my own thoughts based on some of the posts here and some of my own ideas. They are not definitive by any means, and can quite rightly be challenged if you feel you want to!

I posted them up here because I wanted people to think and, if they want to, discuss the potential in looking at these activities (or any others you can think of) as alternatives to martial arts in relation to Self Defence.

Many people put a lot of time, money and effort in to training martial arts. On some level, I feel most people who study martial arts are interested in SD in some shape or form.

I honestly don't know though how effective a lot of martial arts would be based on my own experience. I am not interested personally in defending myself, but a lot of people who ask me about martial arts do so with self defence in mind. So I started thinking about the alternatives to MA.

Anyone any thoughts on any of this?
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

#414335 - 01/14/09 05:18 PM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: Prizewriter]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
What are you, some kind of hippy?! Hitting people FTW.

J/K, man. Good post that covered a lot of the alternatives. I would add weapons to that list.
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#414336 - 01/14/09 06:42 PM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: Prizewriter]
Cord Offline

Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.

Self-Defence Education: Education from people like Geoff Thompson and Marc MacYoung. A lot of the ideas and strategies put forward by people like these can be very effective, and most of these ideas don’t involve physical violence e.g. Awareness, Avoidance, de-escalation, listening to your instincts etc…

You know you are preaching to the converted with me on all of this Prize, but in a coincidence as only life can throw at you, I had this article forwarded to me by my Savate/jkd instructor via email tonight, and I think it addresses things very nicely- nothing new, but very clear.


Your 'Safety Barometer'

by Diana Rathborne (Minnesota Kali Group, USA)

While we can’t plan for everything or avoid all possibly hazardous
situations, a good ‘Safety Barometer’ can keep you (and those in your
charge) safe with a little practise and not too much work. Detailed
below are the elements to developing your own self defense barometer
and skill set.
First, pay attention to your surroundings. If something seems ‘off’,
take a moment to identify what it is. Is it a person? Is something in
the environment out of place? Is it something that is usually there,
not? Is a door that should be closed, ajar? Are all the lights
working, etc? This process is called the OODA loop. The OODA loop has
been used by civilians and military alike for decades to observe,
evaluate and change a situation to effect the safest outcome in a
potentially violent encounter. The acronym stands for Observe - Orient
- Decide - Act. The moment you observe something wrong, orient on what
it is, decide what to do and do it. The process is fluid and requires
constant reassment until you feel you are safe.

For example, while you are walking down the street, you observe that
you have an uncomfortable sense that something is not right. You
orient on your environement and the people within it. You see someone
who makes you uncomfortable. You can’t see anything specifically
identifying the person as a threat, but you orient on your discomfort.
You decide to put more distance between you and the person and change
directions. You have affected all 4 stages of the OODA loop. You are
not done, however. As you change direction, you notice he has also
changed direction and begins to follow you. You now check for all
avenues of escape, choose the one directing you towards the most other
people and move toward it. He turns and walks away. Whether you can
articulate a reason or not, your discomfort indicates a need to
evaluate and change your environment.

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of
cure is dead on in the self defense realm. The best self defense skill
you can develop is to not be in a situation that can turn to a violent

Violence prevention, for the most part, hinges on a few small things
that are easy to do. First, develop your awareness and OODA loop
skills. Next, develop a ‘self defense’ mode/attitude. It should
include: how you walk, how you use your awareness, voice and posture
to convey that not only are you paying attention to everything in your
environment, but that you will fight to defend yourself. This mode
should not be one of bluster, bravado or aggression. A calm,
determined attitude and athletic stance will convey your ‘power’ and

Third, eliminate yourself from a possible attackers ‘Victim Selection
List’. This also is fairly easy to do unless you have a stalker or a
personal connection with a violent person. (If you are in this
category, you need to address the problem IMMEDIATELY. Utiliize the
police, victim advocates, a shelter and all other appropriate
professionals.) To be on a bad guy’s ‘Possible Victim’ list he/she
first needs to notice you. To avoid this all you need to do is not
present the look of being a ‘profitable’ target. Easily removable
belongings of value such as a purse should be held close to your body.
Blending with your environment is always a good idea. A bikini at a
black tie event, for example, will draw attention to you. If you also
have on expensive jewelry with that bikini and appear intoxicated, you
are putting forward the message, “Look at me, I have money and I can’t
defend myself”... a siren song to a predator! An outrageous example,
yes, but the idea behind it is clear.

If no one chooses you as a victim, you have accomplished your self
defense goals in the easiest possible manner! To summarize, don’t get
chosen, change your environment immediately upon sensing a threat and
convey the impression that you are a ‘hard target’: you’ll be a lot of
work for little to no gain. Awareness, avoidence, attitude and action
are all essential elements to a functional ‘Safety Barometer’!

Don't let the door hit ya' where the good lord split ya'

#414337 - 01/15/09 03:06 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: Cord]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
Errrm, would you laugh too loudly if I suggested team sports and dancing?

I'm thinking of the development of fitness, reaction time, explosive movement, awareness of body space and surroundings, increasing the ability to perform 'unusual' movements without planning, avoidance and also having a great bum (butt, for our colonial cousins).
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

#414338 - 01/15/09 07:42 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activiti [Re: trevek]
Ilove2Hit Offline

Registered: 10/02/08
Posts: 264
Loc: Athens, Greece
self defense has not to do a lot with MA. sure they teach u how to hit and block etc etc... but they dont show u how to defend urself. self defence doesnt have to do with the actual fighting. when u fight, u already lost. in my course (MT) there are also people who come and think that they will be more able to protect themselves if they practise MAs. that is right on the one hand because they learn blocks and punches, thought conditioning they become faster and stronger, they also build some lean muscle mass and (eventually) burn fat etc etc... they also get exposed in some degree to high adrenalin levels whenw e compete against each other in the ring or if we compete against much more expirienced fighters. this is good because we get used to the adrenalin and wont freeze so easily as if we´ve been never hit before or never been exposed to these levels before.

but what is said here is right. MA is MA. and SD is SD. so if u want to learn how to effectively defend yourself... do SD. if MA is ur aim, do MA.

i practiced over many years "Streetfighting SD". that was very helpful.

if u want to defend urself google or search in your local area for some school offering self defence courses. be also sure u check the instructor is qualified there are many (sorry the language) wanna-be-self-defence-instructors out there which are complete idiots! make sure you go there at least 2-4 times before commiting urself and giving them ur money. if the teacher is not qualified or seems strange to u, then do not join the school. u want him to teach u stuff that might safe ur life or that will make u go through your everyday life more easily.

important is to note that self defense is not the actuall fighting. in a real self defence course there will be a lot of talking on how to avoid a fight, what to do, what not to do etc etc.

if u join a school and the first thing ur instructor tell us is "okay, lets say someone wants to fight with you and graps your throat from the front" then just turn around and leave.

self defense does not start when it is getting physically, no sometimes not even when it gets verbal. sometimes it just starts with a look in someones eyes, you walking down the street or simply just a bad feeling in your stomach and your instinct telling you that something is wrong. and that is what self defense is about. knowing how to deal and face all these issues. not how to block some punch or reliefing urself from some sort of choke. its about getting urself out of all the steps that lead u in this choke.

- alex
do what you say and say what you do no pain no gain

#414339 - 01/15/09 08:02 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: trevek]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2577
Godd stuff guys.

Trevek, I think you made a good point. JCVD once said the hardest thing he ever did wasn't karate, martial arts, or bodybuidling, it was ballet.

I was on a training course being taught by a big Scottish guy. He was about 6'3" and had a big frame. He had a lot of great stories to tell us to lighten up the week. He had played rugby for 35 years, and continued to coach the game.

He was on a train in Romania a couple of years ago. It was late at night and he had come from a Microsoft conference. He had a laptop with him. He said he nocticed two guys who were staring at him for a long time. He thought something was up.

Sure enough the carriage emptied and the two guys went into another carriage, leaving the big man alone. They came back 15 minutes later and tried to grab his laptop.

He said he gave a "Glasgow Kiss" to the "wee one" and the grabbed the other and "barged" him to the ground. Not too sure what he meant but he said the two muggers came of badly from it and he got off Scot Free (no pun intended). He said he reported it to the local police but they didn't seem to interested as a)he wasn't hurt and b) he still had his laptop. The guy said he was able to handle himself due to playing rugby as he had been in many a ruck.

I also recall a thread on here, it was one of the first threads I ever read. A guy was weighing up studying both BJJ and Aikido at the same time. He was saying that he had already started BJJ, but wanted to add Aikido.

He said that his BJJ coach said Aikido was fine, but in his opinion Aikido wouldn't be much use if a 250 pound American Footballer grabbed you (of course the coach mentioned BJJ would be useful in such a situation).

So obviously the BJJ coach viewed people who played American Football as being a threat and able to handle themselves!!!
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

#414340 - 01/15/09 08:13 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: Cord]
MAGon Offline

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 1737
Loc: Miami, Fl.
Speaking of coincidences, this is the second time in as many days that I've read something similar to the article you posted, and been involved in a similar discussion. In the other one Gavin de Becker's "The Gift of Fear" was mentioned. It expands on the topics of the article, and is a good read. I recommend it.
Sorry if I hijacked the thread!
Just when you think something is foolproof, they come out with a new and improved type of fool.

#414341 - 01/15/09 10:46 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: MAGon]
creative Offline

Registered: 04/26/04
Posts: 401
Loc: UK
Good Topic. For me the best advice option for self defence is:


Self-Defence Education: Education from people like Geoff Thompson and Marc MacYoung. A lot of the ideas and strategies put forward by people like these can be very effective, and most of these ideas don’t involve physical violence e.g. Awareness, Avoidance, de-escalation, listening to your instincts etc…

Funny how much effort some MAist can put into looking at stats of common attacks, tayloring their training to match; then go out to a pub/club/nightclub in the 'wrong' part of town with the wrong people drinking too much etc etc.


MA is MA. and SD is SD. so if u want to learn how to effectively defend yourself... do SD. if MA is ur aim, do MA.

lol, this is confusing! Wat is the aim of MA?

I think that when most people say that there aim is SD, what they are probably saying is they want to know how to defend themself in a fight situation. I think most people don't look at self defence holistically. People tend to think they are 'streetwise' and don't need help with the prevention/pre-confrontation aspect - which as most of the people here seem to agree is the important bit!

As for alternatives. Anything will help, better do Rugby and enjoy it than karate and hate it. Learn prevention and the chances of you needing to use self defence skills become minimal IMO.

Edited by creative (01/15/09 10:50 AM)
"Its only pain, it wont hurt you"

#414342 - 01/15/09 11:55 AM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: creative]
DeadlyKnuckles Offline

Registered: 07/26/08
Posts: 130
Loc: United States, Florida

MA is MA. and SD is SD. so if u want to learn how to effectively defend yourself... do SD. if MA is ur aim, do MA.

No, if you want to learn how to effectively defend yourself, find a good instructor.

There's just as much [censored] in self-defense courses as there are in martial arts schools.

Either way, I think firearm training should be added to the list.

#414343 - 01/15/09 01:12 PM Re: Screw you MA! Alternative Sel Defense Activities. [Re: DeadlyKnuckles]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
OP when I started studied the MA it was in the reverse order you learned SD then you learned how to play tag with it to set our timing and distance. And through this you attained physical fitness and mental awareness gaining a spiritual oneness. I find it funny now that people study MA now to win trophies and like joining a fitness club. Some people are shocked that in the Midwest I got into so much, well drive by didn't get popular until guys start wearing braids and bowrats and pony tails. So we fought with our fist and took an a$$ whipping like a Man. Only when the Yanks and far Westerns LA gangs came here did we turn pu$$y.

But this just shows how far the MAs has felled at one time it was taught to the Armies and Marines as the last dicht effort to survive if at war. Now we are asking questions why practice SD in a MAs, sounds like why practice swimming in WATER to me.

Having lived through actual attacks multiples, muggings, mono mono beat downs by bigger and older guys, stick & knife attacks or even gun threats or in defense of others or because it was my job I know the benifit of SD in MAs. It is the confidence of knowing because you have trained to be there. The unknown factor is not as UNKNOWN, U sorta know what to expect and can adjust to the unexpected better. It was just training now obviously its some kind special training you need outside of skip kicking 4 times on leg or jumping back fisting and screaming. sigh.

I agree modern weapons should be trained at the highest level of MA, thats why its called MAs. The art of War.
What happen? Foam gloves???

Edited by Neko456 (01/15/09 01:31 PM)

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