Tag Archives: Self-Defense

Do you have a post showing how to write the different steps in training (basically, from zero) to learn self-defense? If not, could you please post one? It’s very important to the story I’m writing.

Since the question is in two parts, I’ll answer this one in, well two parts. I can do a post talking about how to train someone in basic self-defense. The problem is that the question of “basic self-defense" is actually not clearly defined. There are a vast number of different approaches to training someone in self-defense, so many that it’s actually a lot easier to break them down into separate schools of thought than it is to talk about their step by step training regimen. Every single program is different, most of what the student learns in them depends on their instructor and their instructors approach. But I’ll list most of what the programs should cover in my answer to your second question.

The first thing you should know about most forms of self-defense training is this: self-defense training won’t teach you how to fight, it will teach you how to fight back.

This may not sound like a big distinction, but it’s actually a pretty huge one. The goal of almost every self-defense program is to give the student access to a limited set of basic techniques that can be used and the body can easily remember. The intention is to teach the student just enough so that they can extract themselves from dangerous situations and be aware of their surroundings. The assumption of those programs is that the student will be facing someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing: like the school bully or a street fighter. The vast majority of training isn’t preparing them to take on someone who knows what they are doing like a cop, a martial artist, or a marine.

Most self-defense courses last anywhere between a few hours to six weeks of training before the student is turned loose. The problem for describing self-defense training is that your character could be picking up their training from whoever got called in by the college rec center or they could be getting it at their local precinct, the results for both will be very different.

So let’s go over the three basic schools of self-defense and that ever elusive fourth one, which is probably the one you’re looking for.

1) The Martial Arts School

This one covers a lot of bases and a lot of techniques from a lot of different styles. I’ll also say this isn’t Mister Miyagi teaching Daniel ala The Karate Kid. This is the most common of the self-defense schools, the instructors who teach under it are usually martial artists themselves and their either working with a home-brewed concoction of different techniques or under a single corporate banner and style. That is to say: your character won’t be learning martial arts, they’ll be learning cherry-picked techniques that the instructor has deemed appropriate to be taught in the limited amount time the student has. For the most part, all they’ll be getting is techniques and not much else. What they do learn is certainly useful, but it is hodgepodge. Most of the stuff we usually associate with martial arts training, a student won’t learn here. They just won’t have the time. Like I said, it’s not The Karate Kid.

2) The Police:

The cops (at least in America) have their own brand of self-defense that they’ve designed for civilian use. Every local precinct and Sheriff’s Office should have a listing of seminars that you (or your character) can sign up for if you wanted to get some actual on the ground experience of what it’s like going from zero to sixty. This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you live in America and can stand the idea of being around cops for a few days it might not be a bad one to look into. Since the Police are government subsidized, some of their self-defense programs are free.

If they do cost money, they tend to be cheaper than the Martial Arts and Military ones, because again these programs are usually subsidized. They’re also cheaper in the short run than signing up with a traditional school for some sort of conventional martial arts training.

Police Self-Defense training is not the same thing as Police Hand to Hand training though, this is the style that’s for civilians and is designed to do the least amount of damage to the opponent. Regular Police Hand to Hand is much more lethal and, unless you get “lucky" with your instructor, you won’t find programs teaching that unless your character signs up for the Police Academy.

3) Military Training:

The styles under this header go to the Military taught professionals who leave the Military and then turn around and go into the business of civilian self-defense. The self-defense training under Military professionals is a little more conventional and usually a lot more brutal. These are not self-defense styles that focus on the preservation of the enemy, but on stopping the enemy and eliminating them as a threat. They won’t advocate for lethal force, usually, but everything up to that point is usually fair game.

An example of more military minded self-defense styles are the Michael Janich Martial Blade Concept videos on YouTube, some are posted under the “Michael Janich" tag on this blog. The Michael Janich videos also fall under category 4 of Self-Defense training, for the most part.

4) Training in a Martial Art:

This is when the student says they’re training in self-defense, but are actually training in one of the many Martial Arts styles. This is a student who goes to classes or studies with a single instructor three to four times a week, whether it’s in a traditional school or their own backyard. Their training involves months or years, instead of hours or weeks, and they get all the extra conditioning, balance, and stamina training that the “normal" self-defense courses absolutely 100% lack.

There is a big difference between training in self-defense and training in a style for self-defense. It’s an important distinction, because it keys what gates of information your character will have access to in their training. Self-defense isn’t the quicker version of learning how to fight and someone trained in self-defense while less handicapped than a street fighter can share some similar weaknesses.

Some articles that may be useful to you:

Anything under our self defense tag, the Michael Janich videos in particular.

Our article: How to Choose A Martial Art, which includes a list of martial arts based around “subdual" the main mechanic of self-defense training: http://howtofightwrite.tumblr.com/post/50682766604/fight-write-how-do-you-choose-a-martial-art

And our article: Unusual Martial Art: Street Fighting for some thoughts on what self-defense training is, for the most part, preparing your character for.


In answer to your second question, I will post the basic concepts and techniques that most basic self-defense courses cover.


Focused Impact Volume 1: A Practical Course In Self-Defense With Tactical Pens (by StaySafeMedia)

We haven’t had a lot of time to come up with anything new. (Moving sucks!) Anyway, I’m leaving this here for you guys. In this video, Michael Janich (a self-defense expert) talks about using a tactical pen (any metal pen will work) as an alternate form of self-defense.

We’re still planning on doing a write up on improvised weapons, but I thought this would be good to get some of you thinking about what sort of weapons a character can carry that won’t be immediately identified.

If you can, watch the video a few times to get an idea, not just on how to fight with a pen, but how to control an attacker.

Notice: when he grabs, he grabs to the upper arm, this greatly limits the possibility of movement by the assailant by eliminating their ability to use their elbow. While the shoulder can be dangerous without the rest of the arm, it’s difficult, especially if you take out the legs. The upper arm also has a pressure point half-way up the inside where the bicep and the triceps connect. This is also why he suggests striking to the inside of the thigh half-way up the upper leg, again, to a pressure point. Also, when he traps the foot while attacking.

These are all ways a smaller, weaker fighter (any fighter really) can nullify the strength advantage and control their opponent’s movements to limit their avenues of attack.

Warning: Please, do not go searching for your pressure points if it’s your first time. The pressure points connect to your nervous system, messing around with them can be highly dangerous to the continual functionality of your body. If you insist, never cross-grab (search for two pressure points on different sides of your body), pick the left or the right, never both. With a cross-grab you’ll send two different signals through your heart, which can get crossways and damage it. So, don’t. Write it only or take a class. This stuff is very dangerous, so always practice under the eye of a trained professional.


A Sucker for a Mug of Coffe: windlion: The Cambridge Companion to Time Travel: Tip: Women Are Not…

A Sucker for a Mug of Coffe: windlion: The Cambridge Companion to Time Travel: Tip: Women Are Not…

MBC Guerrilla Video Volume 1: Concepts (by StaySafeMedia)

So, I’m posting another Michael Janich video. This one is about basic concepts that have to do with self-defense and his own personal style that bases itself in knife fighting.

I’m a big fan of self-defense training for everyone, but on a craft level for writers especially. The difference is that many martial artists will focus their training on how to do a technique and not the focus of what it’s for until after the student has developed a decent base. This is fine, even good, for martial artists because it’s a necessary step. But it can make researching MAs rather obtuse when trying to divine how it works without the necessary years of training. Practice for real world situations often won’t happen until the upper belt ranks and sometimes, not until black belt. For example, I didn’t start working knife disarms until I started training for my second degree black belt test at 15.

Compare to self-defense, where training focuses on techniques that can be picked up easily and puts a primer on user understanding. The focus is not just on how to do a technique, but what it is and what it does, how it can be used practically and with different variations. This is the sort of information a writer needs to be able to write about fight scenes well.

Also, studying up on body mechanics and basic physiology never hurts.

I’ll be posting an article of my own later today. If you have any questions either regarding writing or self-defense, our askbox is always open.

JUNKYARD AIKIDO: A Practical Guide To Joint Locks, Breaks, And Manipulations (by StaySafeMedia)

This is the last video I’m posting, but hopefully you’ll take a look. There’s a lot of overlap between self-defense training and writing about combat in learning simple basic techniques that you understand and can use effectively in multiple situations in both real life and on the page. Some of the best advice I have on writing fight scenes is very similar to the advice Janich puts out for self-defense. There’s also the added bonus of seeing a few techniques in action that will hopefully help you build better fight scenes.

I’ll be doing my own discussion of how joint locks work and how to write them in stories in the near future, but for now take a look at this video and the other videos I posted today to see if anything here may be helpful for you.

Remember, these are just bite size chunks from his full self-defense courses that are helpful to get you started. If you’re interested in more, you can check out his website and his other videos on Youtube.

PRACTICAL UNARMED COMBATIVES VOLUMES 1 & 2: Critical Skills of Damithurt Silat (by StaySafeMedia)

I’m gonna take the day off tomorrow, so I’m going to post a few of Michael Janich’s self-defense videos to the blog for you lovely folks to look through. Remember, the information in these is split up because it’s part of a larger video set. Janich has, though, in my personal opinion some of the best practical advice for developing self-defense skills and establishing a plan. And because he can communicate clearly and coherently, and is mostly easy to understand, this makes his stuff really useful for you writers as reference.

If you’re interested in home defense, I’d also suggest checking out the show The Best Defense currently airing on the Outdoor Channel. There’s some useful info to be had there too.