If you go to Facebook or YouTube, you will see no end of experts teaching self-defence techniques, and the vast majority of the instructors are older guys who are telling you exactly how they would deal with an attack based on their own experiences and opinions.

The issue is that most of these situations you see on video are ‘surgical’. A man grabs an arm; you do this and then, etc.

You get the idea.

The reality of self-defence is far different. It is chaos, and if you are still training for these nice clean situation, you are not preparing for reality.

Check out the video below to see real violence in action; this is a 100 man brawl that took place in a  British Pub recently. That is the reality!


Ok so most fights have far fewer people involved, but this is the way it goes. In the street, the Marquis of Queensberry rules are out and ‘kick’ em, when they are down, is in!

So we have put together a list of 5 signs you need to watch out for to check if your self-defence training is out of date


1. You Only Train One on One

Groups attack people on their own because there is a diminished responsibility and a far higher chance of victory, which sucks if you are on the receiving end.

You can hit like a sledgehammer, be able to Oma Plata an Elephant and you can even crap lighting itself. None of it matters if you give the person on your blind side a free shot!

If you only train for one on one situations, you are missing out on what self-defence is all about, being in the worst situation possible and that starts with being outnumbered.

99% of martial arts train for one on one situations and spend years doing so when you need to start with multiple attackers from day one.


2. You Are Spending Too Much Time on Edged Weapons

We all love getting out the rubber knives and testing ourselves against a half-hearted attack from our training partner. It fills our ego with a sense of pride in our skills.

Training with a knife is very enjoyable and yes it does have a part in training, but it is a critical mistake to focus on worrying if the attacker does or does not have a knife on them.

Sadly too many instructors spend far too much time installing fear that everyone is ‘tooled up’ when they are walking around the streets.

This is not true.

The truth is that people carry knives for reasons that are far too complicated to go into here, however, if you lead a sensible life and live in an area with moderate to low crime the odds of you ever meeting someone with a knife on them reduces dramatically.

By taking basic crime prevention measures such as not walking home alone etc., you automatically reduce the risk of any knife related situations.

Now that is not to say you shouldn’t train knife defence because you should, but it needs to be put into perspective.

An example of this are instructors who try and test if you could tell if someone has a knife on them. This really doesn’t matter because they could have a knuckle duster on them which can be every bit as dangerous as a knife (some even have blades on them), they could have a broken bottle, a screwdriver or anything else.

So once again, you might be able to easily deal with a knife attacker because you spent 99% of your training doing this, but that is a really poor use of training time if you come unstuck against two unarmed and unskilled attackers that can finish you off in seconds.

Knife defence is sexy stuff, we know that, but you need to place it amongst your training and not let it dominate.


3. You’re Not Fit (and not getting any fitter)

If you have been going to self-defence training for a while now and that belly is not shrinking, and you are not getting any fitter you need to look at two areas.

  1. Your Lifestyle and 2. Your Training.

Like it or not fitness is a part of self-defence and if you are not fit enough to fight you are wasting your time learning because you will not have the fitness levels to perform the techniques under any degree of pressure.

If you are drinking 10 pints of beer a week and eating burgers as one of your five a day, then no amount of training will help.

Yet, a lot of self defence classes do not push the class and spend more time talking than they do training.

If that is your class leave and go and find another!


4. You Can’t Defend Off Your Back

“Never go to the ground in a street fight” blah, blah, blah!

I have heard this more times than I have had hot dinners.

However, it fails to take one thing into account, ‘what if your attacker puts you there!’

Grappling is now embedded into culture (it always was if we are honest) and therefore people are bringing those skills into the street, so regardless of if you say you will never go to the ground you need to learn how to fight off your back!


5. You Never Do Grappling/ Striking And Grappling

Ok, so this follows on from the not fighting off your back.

I do know people that are great in self-defence and train to fight off their backs, but this is where it stops.

A lot of this tends to be as a result of the audience/ students. In a female dominated class people stop at the old ‘fight off your back rape defence situation’.

The thing is, grappling is not one dimensional. You need to fight off your backs, knees, sides and also if you end up on the ground you need to know how to get up safely. This is all part of real grappling for the street.

The ‘I will never fight on the ground’ is all well and good until you end up down there.

Now you might not be learning all that due to an instructor’s lack of knowledge but as Andy Norman says ‘ If you can fight like Mike Tyson on your feet, you need to be able to fight like Tyson on your back, your knees and in all positions’.



You sign up for self-defence training, and you expect it to work. However what you often sign up for is the views and opinions/ experiences of the instructor.

This is not the same as learning self defence for the modern world.

If you really want to be able to protect yourself, you need to be less romantic about your systems and instead train for reality. If your current training is not meeting those goals, it is time to move.

Thanks for reading


I have trained martial arts for the vast majority of my life, and I have seen a lot of real violence.

Yet there is one aspect of self-defence that virtually no one ever talks about, the street kerb!

I am not sure why people never speak about one of the most sneaky and destructive elements of self-defence but it simply never comes up. I have seen street kerbs fell the biggest of fighters, change the entire complexity of a fight and also cause life changing injury.

So in this article, we will look at how you can train for the dreaded street kerb in self-defence situations.


Why Kerbs Hurt and Catch Us Out

Ok, who hasn’t tripped on a kerb and then tried to look cool afterwards, I know I have. The reason is that these little blocks of concrete are usually out of our visual field and if we are distracted we can easily be caught out

Tripping on a kerb is pretty harmless in everyday life, but in a self-defence situation, it can be a game changer. So this is an example of what can happen.

You are attacked in the street by a less skilled opponent. After he swings and misses, he grabs onto your chest and pushes you backwards.

He is drunk, overweight and has an attitude problem and simply due to his weight he manages to push you back slightly.

Suddenly your heel gets caught on the kerb, and you fall banging your head on the concrete, dazed and with blood coming out of your head the next thing you feel is the impact of the drunk guy’s size 10 in your face!

You were not defeated by a better fighter but by a tiny piece of concrete!

Ok I know that is quite a dramatic tale but the danger of street kerbs is rarely appreciated because so few attribute them as having any factor in the success or failure of self-defence situations.

However having viewed numerous real assaults and seen even more on CCTV footage I can tell you that they do play a major part in turning the tide of an altercation, especially when alcohol is involved.

Of course tripping over them is just one area, Kerbs present a serious issue as a secondary danger.

If you are knocked over anywhere near a kerb, your body can receive a  serious injury to the head or body if you land badly.

Simply put those little pieces of concrete we see every day can be dangerous!

So how can you train for this?


Going Old School

In Judo and many other contact martial arts, stepping out of the combat zone will receive a penalty, and this is something you can train for.

Training for this develops environmental awareness as no one wants to lose on penalty points.

But in self-defence situations we do not worry about penalty points so how can you start to develop environmental awareness in a location such as a church hall?

There are a few ways to do this and here are the simple ways.


1. Create Matted Training Areas

Rather than have people train on mats, instead lay them in the outline of a square so that the middle is the floor of the training location and the mats create a square outline.

The mats are the raised payment, and the edge is the kerb. By trying this, the coach can start to look at where your feet are during the drills and if you get caught out, let you know.

With some effort, you can start to use what boxers call ‘ring craft’ to make sure you are never near the kerb.


2. Focus Pad Throw Down

This is another sneaky low-cost way to improve environmental training. When you are training simply place focus pads down and a line, try and have no more than 10 in a line.

The great thing about this drill is that if the students knock into the pads and move the line, we can safely say their feet would have clipped the kerb.


3. The Line of Belts

If you have any karate or Judo belts, you can train the same concept by tying the belts together.


What Does This Achieve?

The aim of this is not really to tell a student ‘you would have fallen over’. We do not know this for sure.

The real aim of this is to teach a student that there are environmental hazards in a self-defence situation and they need not only to be aware of multiple opponents and weapons but also where they are standing.

No one said self-defence was going to be easy!

So what other dangers does this exercise help with?

Imagine you are fighting in a subway station. Clearly, the tracks/ drop down onto the track is a risk area you need to focus on.

If you get attacked on pavement, you need to think about the road. People do get run over while fighting!

Also, what if you are a security officer and end up tackling someone on a  walkway or roof, one wrong step and you could fall off the roof.

The list can go on!

When you are training at a gym or dojo it is really easy to be removed from the dangers of an environment; however, you still need to try and teach students about the risks (without exposing them to any).

With a little imagination, you can start to develop awareness of dangers that are well out of your visual field.


Thanks for reading