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Joe Lewis - Top 10 martial arts for self defense

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I'd wager it was the opponents lack of skill. Most people who bring out a knife have no intention of using it, it's for intimidation.

 

Indeed. Intimidation.

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I once worked with my students to try to get them to work on understanding the value of different weapons.

 

As was mentioned the knife is more dangerous with multiple attacks in rapid succession, but pretty much anyone in an art that practice sparring should immediately be taught, that if you're going to throw one attack you should be throwing at least 3. 

 

The training I went over with them involved a kali stick, tanto (single edged knife), and hanbo (three foot stick, heavier and a bit longer than the kali stick). I had them practice defending themselves from the different weapons. The initial conclusion that the knife was the most dangerous, then transitioned to to the kali stick as they practiced and appreciated the extra reach and ease with which they could strike the attacking arm. One student made use of a solid thrust to the attackers throat, and soon the hanbo was considered pretty useful as well. A bit slower but harder hitting with even more range. At which point I worked with a couple with the knife, closing quickly and stuffing their attacks with my free hand. So now the knife was king, at which point is switched to kali, and worked controlling the distance and the fight vs. knife.

 

My students then became confident that it was purely the skill of the practitioner. So I decided to move into a narrow hallway in the dojo. Kinfe vs. Hanbo... but without the room to really make use of a lot of the reach of the hanbo. Obviously, the knife has a big advantage. Add in a leather bomber jacket used to control the knife and the game changed again. I also showed how it can be used to block the vision of your opponent while you can strike through it.

 

Ultimately, it was a good class, and I feel like my students got the main point of it, which was that the person who wins is going to have the best combination of skills, mindset, and tools is going to be more likely to control the fight, and controlling the fight is the best way to come out uninjured. 

 

That's why I've always felt that the "What art is best for self defense" arguments are moot. The arts themselves are always going to have some kind of focus, but the ability to apply the tools of an art in a variety of situations tend to depend less on the art and more on the practitioner. Muay thai may not be a stick art, but if that fighter successfully gets in tight and works knees and elbows in a clinch, that stick isn't going to count for much, but if they stay back and try to work kicks and range, they're really going to give that stick fighter time and opportunity to "Defang the snake" and use the full worth of their weapon.

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At least we all seem to agree that fighting an armed person barehanded is a bad idea.

 

Oh and a fun fact, subconsciously people are more afraid of a knife than a gun. Our inner caveman seems to know instinctively that it's dangerous, while a gun is something that was invented after we stopped relying on instinct so much.

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The entire concept of self-defense in itself is rather moot, because ultimately it all just boils down to chance. You have an assault rifle and your opponent has a nail clipper, but you both happen to be stuck inside a locker. You have a .45 handgun and your opponent is 10 feet away with a hatchet, and your weapon happens to jam. You've trained in martial arts your entire life and are a master of every weapon ever created, but your opponent is on a plane above you getting ready to carpet-bomb your city. There are no weapons and you are a champion Greco-Roman Wrestler, but your opponent happens to be a tiger. The most you can really do is analyze the scenarios and rate them according to the likeliness of them happening, specifically train for them accordingly, and hope for the best. Otherwise you're pretty much just James Toney hoping that Randy Couture stands in front of you so you can punch him. Or Michael Jordan playing baseball.

 

I don't really want to go into semantics, but I don't consider running away as self-defense, but rather self-preservation. Defense has to meet an attack, and running away prevents the attack from happening. It's our macho culture and our repressed aggression that causes all this self-defense talk. Like I previously mentioned, it's much like how gun nuts insist that their guns are there for protection and self-defense, when it's really more of a culture thing (probably symbolizing one's penis). It's not about self-defense, it's about too many action movies dictating the stereotype of how men should be. It's about the ideals of masculinity and believing that you are able to fight when it comes down to it.

 

So no, I don't believe in self-defense training. I believe in self-preservation training. Concepts, not techniques. And I believe that the best form of self-preservation is situational awareness. Recognizing when things are about to go bad, and avoiding putting oneself in precarious positions. Specificity may still come into a picture. A person who lives in a populated area might train her/himself to know where the exits are the first time s/he enters a building. A person in a combat zone might train to operate with a firearm, body armor, and a fire team. A person living in the woods might train to be able to recognize and avoid dangerous flora and fauna in the area. But no, we watched Batman, and we want to be able to beat the shit out of a mugger and dispense some justice.

 

I personally believe that Rory Miller's Meditations On Violence, and Bruce K. Siddle's Sharpening the Warrior's Edge: The Psychology & Science of Training are the two best references I have ever read regarding the subject.

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At least we all seem to agree that fighting an armed person barehanded is a bad idea.

 

Oh and a fun fact, subconsciously people are more afraid of a knife than a gun. Our inner caveman seems to know instinctively that it's dangerous, while a gun is something that was invented after we stopped relying on instinct so much.

 

Well that's the point of being armed: it's an advantage that humans created because we don't have claws or sharp teeth. I don't think anyone here is saying that being unarmed is a good idea.

 

People from the middle east (and I believe a lot of other impoverished nations) don't give a shit about assault rifles being pointed at their faces. A machete, however, appears to inspire much fear. Perhaps because of its association with decapitations and other gruesome ways to go.

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Had a guy pull a knife on me before, I just handed over what he wanted wasn't worth fighting over, Had too many friends in Northern Ireland stabbed and killed over nothing.

 

Was in my work on my own one night youths came in cracked a bottle and stole £75 from the bar, I wasn't fending them off no job is worth a slashed Artery.

 

On a more recent occasion though me and the Pregnant mrs were walking home through the park and two guys my own age stepped out and threatened us. I right crossed one in the throat, Kicked the other in the nads causing him to fall, turned back on the first guy hooked him in the temple and stomped on both their chests as they laid on the floor.

 

What did I get out of that? A swollen fist, Threw up from the Adrenaline and the cold shoulder from the future wife for a week for losing it over a threat.

 

My only martial art experiance is on and off boxing training, I'd never fight an armed opponent willingly, knife crime is huge here people consider themselves "Big boys" with a knife. But I'd fight any one to defend my unborn child and Fiancée, and I'd certainly fight dirty I'm a strong believer that if backed against the wall people will use any method to survive. If it meant survival I'll bite, gouge, stomp, headbutt, kick in the nads ect . . . Any means I see required.

 

Not what you expect from some one trained to Box eh?

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When you say they consider themselves "big boys" with a knife, I always picture Crocodile Dundee when the guy pulls a switch blade on him. That's not a knife, THAT'S a knife! And the dude runs off.

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As we are on the topic of knives, I figure I would add my 0.02c. I have a decade or more training in Kali and Silat. SE Asian systems with a huge focus on weaponry as has been mentioned. Knives, sticks, cloth weapons, blowpipes- if it can be used to kill someone they have killed someone with it.

Now my instructor has close to 30 years experience in these systems and in his time has been in 3 knife fights. He was stabbed in all 3. 2 were minor injuries, the 3rd almost killed him. He took all 3 combatants simultaneously and made it out of the house (was a house invasion situation) and made it to the road before collapsing.

His advice to me has always been run if you can. If not give them your wallet etc, it's not worth the risk. If you have to fight, get a weapon And take them out at the first opportunity.

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I have read on another forum, and generally believe it to be true...

 

You can take an average person and give them 6 months of solid knife training (Kali, Silat, etc) and they will be able to take out 99% of the people out there, and probably 95% of the martial artists. 

 

Having practiced with knives, I hope to never ever get into a knife fight.

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Well... to be honest a blunt weapon is usually easier to deal with as they require more than a light touch to actually do damage, thats the whole issue with fighting against a blade. It doesn't matter how good you are, if the other guy knows even the basics of knife fighting he can and will maim or even kill you. The rubber knife with lipstick on it is a good way to test it. I'm curious did you test that while defending against predetermined strikes like you do when training a specific technique or in a sparring type test? A fairly standard real knife attack would be a stab to the throat/face from the side going down into a slicing motion to the gut and back up for a stab from the other side.

 

Karl I can't really judge the situation but I'm gonna guess that the attacker used a large overextended attack with his knife, basic idea behind knife fighting (Draken50 will probably be able to confirm this) is small and fast attacks usually in combo's of 2 or 3 strikes. So aside from your uncles skill, the opponents lack of skill was probably a large factor. Even with those factors though, very impressive since people, even trained people tend to freeze up at the sight of a knife.

 

 

We started off with perscribed techniques just to check effectiveness and then we had that moment of 'well, let's try a few different strikes' again, not trained in knife fighting but stuff like keeping the blade hidden and striking without warning...didn;t have a chance, best we got was getting the arm in the way and moving the body out of the way...

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We started off with perscribed techniques just to check effectiveness and then we had that moment of 'well, let's try a few different strikes' again, not trained in knife fighting but stuff like keeping the blade hidden and striking without warning...didn;t have a chance, best we got was getting the arm in the way and moving the body out of the way...

 

 

Sounds pretty much like standard knife defense drills in krav, those types of strikes are the most likely in a self-defense situation. The whole point as my trainer put it when we did those is to "avoid a fatal strike so you can get the fuck out of there".

 

 

I have read on another forum, and generally believe it to be true...

 

You can take an average person and give them 6 months of solid knife training (Kali, Silat, etc) and they will be able to take out 99% of the people out there, and probably 95% of the martial artists. 

 

Having practiced with knives, I hope to never ever get into a knife fight.

 

I can only agree with that, I did eskrima before I moved and during knife fighting sessions I shined despite never having done much actual training with one. Teacher said it was because I had good timing and was good at judging distance, which are the 2 most important factors combined with speed. There really aren't many complicated techniques to go with it, just basic rules and lots of practice. Technique wise theres 2 things to focus on, keeping your movements compact and slashing correctly. I still enjoy sparring with marking knives (chalk, lipstick whatever works at the time) but I wouldn't wanna try a real fight.

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I'm also a bit surprised at judo over jujitsu, I was always under the impression that judo was more sport based, while jujitsu looked at a more practical application?

 

It depends on what kind of Jujitsu you're talking about.

 

Judo can be used as a self defence, but it is most commonly taught as a sport (however as said, can still be used as a form of self defence). 

 

Traditional Japanese Jujitsu is generally taught as a martial art for self defence, but judo is honestly a more refined version of Jujitsu. Jujitsu contains a lot of techniques that involve the user having to be physically stronger and physically more dominant than their opponent. Judo on the other hand utilizes momentum and physics, implementing cleaner, faster and more effective techniques. 

 

If you mean "Jujitsu" as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, I would have to disagree (no offence to anyone here, of course). My reason for saying that is the goal of BJJ is to take your opponent down to the ground, where his/her strength becomes useless. Sounds good. In fact it's great for a one versus one scenario, but in a "real" hostile confrontation where there's a possibility that you'll have more than one person? E.g. the guy's mate(s) coming to help 'em out? Why would you want to go down to the ground to deal with someone? In a street scenario, the ground is a very dangerous place. 

 

I train in Judo myself, so to be honest yeah, I am being a little biased. I have no idea how "effective" Judo would be as a self defence because I've never actually been attacked or been in a real fight. I hope to never be. 

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It depends on what kind of Jujitsu you're talking about.

 

Judo can be used as a self defence, but it is most commonly taught as a sport (however as said, can still be used as a form of self defence). 

 

Traditional Japanese Jujitsu is generally taught as a martial art for self defence, but judo is honestly a more refined version of Jujitsu. Jujitsu contains a lot of techniques that involve the user having to be physically stronger and physically more dominant than their opponent. Judo on the other hand utilizes momentum and physics, implementing cleaner, faster and more effective techniques. 

 

If you mean "Jujitsu" as in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, I would have to disagree (no offence to anyone here, of course). My reason for saying that is the goal of BJJ is to take your opponent down to the ground, where his/her strength becomes useless. Sounds good. In fact it's great for a one versus one scenario, but in a "real" hostile confrontation where there's a possibility that you'll have more than one person? E.g. the guy's mate(s) coming to help 'em out? Why would you want to go down to the ground to deal with someone? In a street scenario, the ground is a very dangerous place. 

 

I train in Judo myself, so to be honest yeah, I am being a little biased. I have no idea how "effective" Judo would be as a self defence because I've never actually been attacked or been in a real fight. I hope to never be. 

 

Hi there!

 

I would tend to disagree about Judo not being dominated by strength as well (again, this is from learning it a great many years ago) as a lot of the techniques I was taught were based on starting from a grapple (where greater strength would be advantageous) whereas Jujitsu (we were taught traditional, not BJJ) was always taught from a punch but we also did randori which would give a greater range of options against a physically stronger opponent.

 

A mate always used to say that the JJ we trained in made us a jack of all trades, master of none...

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Hi Obitim. :)

 

Judo does involve strength to a degree and you're right, when you learn techniques you usually start from a grappling position, but realistically it involves technique, momentum and physics. The bigger, stronger individual usually has the advantage but then there are other factors involved too - technique, speed, experience etc. Good example - I'm not a very small person (6'3, +100kg) and we had this French fella come to our Judo club back in 2012 for a while. He was a small guy. Under 63kg, about 5'8 or so, small guy... but he would just decimate me every time in randori due to his technique and speed, that and he was a lot more experienced. I guess the point that I'm trying to make is the bigger, stronger guy doesn't always win. 

 

Regarding randori and competition, don't forget that a fight never starts from a grapple. Yeah, the two fighters will close in to each other and initiate the grapple, but I guess that's the beauty of randori. Get in there, quickly grab your opponent, move them around, disorientate them, draw them off balance and try to throw. 

 

From what I've heard about (from reading, watching stuff and listening to others discuss it) I was always under the impression about what I said regarding Japanese Jujitsu - that a lot of techniques require you to be physically stronger. You are right as well Obitim, I failed to realise that Judo does contain a few techniques that require... hm, not so much "being stronger" but at least a degree of strength. To be fair though, certain techniques would be inappropriate to try and perform on certain bodies, depending on your own body. For example... if you're a taller fella, you wouldn't want to try and perform ippon or morote seoinage on someone who's very short, stocky and heavy. You wouldn't want to try and perform kata guruma or something on someone a lot heavier either. It can depend on your own body and the body of your opponent. 

 

Although I have seen tall guys do a dropping variation of seoinage on shorter guys and making it succeed... some people make it work. :)

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The shorter person has certain advantages, I remember a warm-up drill where we clinched and then pushed against each other. Shorter people had a habit of scooping with their shoulder which made them able to push up unbalancing taller people. So a lot comes down to technique, though if technique is equal the larger stronger person is not likely to lose.

 

Also to go back to the spirit of self-defense, I bought and read 'Facing violence' by Rory Miller. It's a real eye opener, not to mention a bit of a modern martial arts basher. He doesn't say it's wrong or useless to learn a martial art, but it's wrong that it's sold as an effective self-defense training. One of the most striking things he mentioned, is that when he teaches knife defense he calls the class "Why I don't pretend to teach knife defense". His ideas are a bit more complicated than that but if you're interested I can really recommend the book for an insight into the reality of violence and the consequences even if you win.

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"Facing Violence" is an excellent book, and anyone interested in the subject should read it. 

When we do some knife stuff, we preface it by saying, "this will still probably get you killed, but..."

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