Wednesday, November 21, 2012


My friend Eric Stafford ("Arik") gave me permission to re-post this from the Geshmache Yid! forum at I thought it a good fit for the site because I recently was involved in a discussion with a CCW holder who seemed totally oblivious to the idea that we need to prepare for threats that might not rise to the level of using deadly force. Equally important, we might not always have the chance or the ability to get to a firearm. So with that, let's keep in mind that the Thinking Gunfighter thinks about more than just the gunfight, and prepares for "the fight" whatever it might be and whatever it might need.

I posted this a long time ago on the fighting arts discussion forums:
This is just from my personal experiences and observations, so it is possible that some may disagree with me on some of these things bit I have come across many Myths in the real of self defense especially involving martial artists.

Myth #1: "Bad guys don't train"
Reality: What is a "bad guy?" To me it is anyone who is standing in front of you wishing you to do you harm first of all, and that can be someone who is either trained or untrained. Who is to say that a person wanting to rob/rape or murder you is not a trained boxer, wrestler or Karateka? Working in the Dept. of Corrections, one would be surprised at how many inmates who come through the gates who were ex military, ex-boxers, Karate black belts, ex wrestlers, and so on. Now obviously, they must have done something "bad" to get into prison, yet some are also trained fighters. One must never assume that the "bad guys" don't train.

Myth#2 " Most muggers and other criminals are generally not in good shape and therefore, wouldn't be much of a challenge against a trained Martial Artist"
Reality: I hear this lame line a lot. People often get criminals mixed up with the hot head who thinks you just stole his parking space mixed up. Sure, both may be an adversary at some point in your life. However, Criminals, by their very lifestyle tend to be in better shape than the average joe and in some cases more than the average martial artist. If you have ever visited a prison yard, chances are you will see huge inmates pumping massive amounts of Iron, they are bench pressing more than the average karate student will ever hope to and have ripped muscles and have the ability to probably pull your arms out of your sockets. If you have ever driven by a basketball court in the ghetto and saw some of the thugs who hang around playing basketball while not selling their dope, you will notice some pretty impressive physiques on quite a few of them.

Myth #3 "Self defense situations are usually over with quickly, therefore you don't need to concern yourself with conditioning and endurance much"
Reality: Self defense is more than just punching someone in the mouth. When I think of self defense or better yet, self protection, I often think of not only a would be mugger, but maybe the idea that you may have to drag or carry an unconscious family member out of a burning house, run away from a potential threat, Even pushing your car to the side of the road to avoid getting it rammed and yes, in some cases, if you have to fight and the fight goes the distance. I agree that most SD situations may be over quickly, although in the case of stamina/endurance, it for is is along the lines of "better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it."

Myth#4 "It is unlikely that a Martial Artist would have to worry about getting into a fight with another martial artist, since we generally do not get into street fights."
Reality: Hogwash! Martial Artists are human beings, and being such suffer from and are affected by the same emotions as non-MA's such as envy, greed, wrath, etc. therefore, there is no way to come to the conclusion that MA's are less likely to get into a fight or lose there temper than anyone else.
Myth#5 " Any training is better than no training."
Reality: That's only true if you are getting good, quality training. Poor and ineffective training can actually do you more harm than good by giving you a false sense of security and having you armed with shoddy techniques that can make a physical situation go from bad to worse.

Myth#6: BJJ, boxing, Judo, MT, and (fill in the blank) are not real effective and were invented for sport, therefore haven't much value in unarmed combat.
Reality: All these "sports" were designed with combat in mind. Let a Judo practitioner use one of his "sport" throws on you on a solid ground and see if it feels real or not. BJJ was designed as a street fighting art. the whole reason for the point system was to reinforce good habits in attaining better positioning during an actual fight, with top and back mount being highest since in a ground fight, those are two of the strongest positions to be in.
Boxing was one of the fighting styles taught to the ancient Greek soldier as well as Wrestling and Pankration. While they may not have as many "deadly moves," Both are quite functional.

Myth#7: "(fill in the blank) style wouldn't be effective because you don't see people using (fill in the blank) style in Pride or UFC"
Reality: While MMA is definitely a good test of overall fighting skill, it has in some ways distorted some people perceptions about " effectiveness" Yes, it has helped open people's eyes to the effectiveness of grappling and has shown to be a good test of skill, the thing to remember is that these fighters are modern day gladiators really. They sometimes spend 8 hours a day, 7 days a week training. People like to take styles that the MMA fighters take in an attempt to be "more effective" without realizing that it is not the style itself that makes some of these fighters, but the level of fitness and amount of training. While in some ways, MMA has definitely shown the advantages of some styles like Muay Thai and BJJ, It doesn't, by default mean all other styles would be ineffective in a self defense situation.

Myth#8 "(fill in the blank) % of fights go to the ground"
Reality: If I hear this one more time.....There is no scientific data to support what percent of street fights go where. Period.

Myth#9 "(fill in the blank) style beats (fill in the blank style i.e. Stand up versus ground) XYZ% of the time.
Reality: See answer to myth #8

Myth#10 "The ground is a bad place to be in a street fight anyway, so training to fight on the ground would be a waste of time."
Reality: The fact that in a lot of cases it is a bad place to be is the exact reason one should train it in the event that they find themselves there. There are also situations where it may be a better place to be such as if you are a trained ground fighter and your adversary is obviously better stand up fighter than you and it is a one on one weaponless fight with no chance of you running away.

Myth#11 " Size doesn't matter."
Reality: Everything matters! His skill, your skill his strength and yours, his mindset experience or lack thereof, if either of you are intoxicated, etc..
Even if you are much more skilled than your opponent, if he outweighs you by 100 lbs of solid muscle, it force you to change your strategy. What techniques work on someone your size or smaller may well not work on someone who is a great deal larger than you. Also a 275 lbs power lifter may lack technique, but may not need much of it if he manages to seperate your head from your body or pick you up and throw you against a wall or body slam you into the pavement.

Myth#12: Martial artist have a great advantage over a "street fighter."
Reality: the term "street fighter" is a generic term That covers too broad of a spectrum for that to hold much truth. While some so-called street fighters may be nothing more than hot-headed punks who have trouble backing down and lack real skill, there are others who have spent years growing up in the roughest areas of town, have done time in state prisons and know from first hand experience how to fight with knives, guns and bare hands. They may never have stepped into a dojo, but they have learned from fighting for their lives in the mean streets and the prison cells, they are great at using improvised weapons, using violence to get what they want and are used to hitting and getting hit, something not all MA's are used to. Such an individual can be a terrifying opponent in the street. While being a trained boxer or MT fighter may definitely give you an advantage, one must not be to over confident when confronted with any opponent.


  1. Thanks for this post. I've heard many tedious debates over what style is best or who is or isn't tough, etc, etc. Perhaps too many participants of these discussions have formed their perceptions of reality by watching TV and movies as opposed to any practical experience.

    A few years ago, I was on a BJJ mat with a buddy who had a wicked arm bar from the guard. He bragged that no one could escape once he had it locked on. Another guy claimed that he had a fool-proof counter to it. So, they decided to put it to the test and start with the second guy's arm already trapped. Somebody said, "Go!" Before the guy on the bottom could extend his hips, the guy on top punched him square in the face. The bottom guy went limp.

    Maybe some would read this and think that my point is that a punch in the face beats and armbar. But, what I drew from watching the ordeal was that the best technique is what works right here and now. That could be an armbar, a spinning back kick, or ramming your shopping cart into a mugger and sprinting back into the supermarket while yelling for help.

    I would rather hear self-defense discussions oriented on the identification of threats that exist and the best ways to mitigate them. We can best prepare for bad situations by first imagining their possibility. Then, each person must identify idividual strengths ad weaknesses. A 110 lbs. soccer mom probably needs to strategy than a guy who was a linebacker in college. It is up to the individual to then use this knowledge to train and prepare. Ideally, your preparation includes practical exercises that hone skills and offer feedback.

    I agree totally with your assessment of "bad guys". There are men out there who are absolute predators. Dominating the weak is part of their genetic fabric. If nothing else, once a thug has decided to engage a target, he has assessed the situation, identified weakness, and has an escape plan if things go awry.

    Most of these predators spend their entire lives in an environment in which fighting skills are not a matter of discussion. Instead, they are put to the test time and again from sheer necessity. Lifting weights in prison isn't a pasttime as much as preparation for combat. What's more, many of these guys have a keen knack for how to avoid trouble when odds aren't in their favor.

    It seems intuitive that maintaining physical fitness, practicing martial arts, and keeping up with markmanship skills would increase the chances of a successful outcome in a self-defense situation. But, these factors are lessened by the failure to assess the threats that one is up against and avoiding danger in the first place. What's more, they are useless if an individual lacks the stubborn will to survive. It is unlikely that such a will can be developed by avoiding reality.

  2. Threat assessment, IMO, is one of the most important but least understood elements of personal defense. I've had people argue with me there is no such thing as a "typical" or "normal" gunfight, for example. If you haven't figured out what is normal how can one properly prepare? If you have no idea what the threat is likely to involve how can one prepare to counter the threat? Apparently it is a guessing game for some folks. Learn to assess your potential problems in advance. Learn what to expect. Learn how to assess your opponent before the fight and during the fight. You may be wrong in your assessment. But at least it gives you a realistic place to start from. As you learn more and change your assessment you can then modify your response.

  3. In the police academy I was taught "YOUR WORST has to be better than THEIR BEST"- Train as hard as you can, every time that you can, because you'll be facing guys who have have been in plenty of fights and have spent years training in jail.

    The civilian world is a little different. Civilians have more opportunity to retreat. It stills hold true, however, that if you're training to fight someone on the street, you'd better have trained yourself HARD to win that fight. You have to assume your opponent will be bigger and stronger!

    Shit, what does it come down to in the end? Train hard, and if you don't (REALISTICALLY) think you can win the fight, avoid it!

    Hey DA, great to have you back! I'm sure I'm not the only one who's missed your articles!

  4. Thanks, Greg. I try to post articles and discussions as I get them, so if you or others find an article that you think would be good for the site let me know and I'll try to make arrangements to get it up so we can all benefit.

  5. Thanks for this, such a fun yet true information.=)

  6. Hi David, thought you might find this interesting.

  7. Thanks Rick. It's a great point and one that many don't seem to understand. The gun is not the only response to an attack, and often it is not the best response.

  8. Nice post.I think so that training should be done in any institute or classes. You can't learn everything from videos itself. At the time of emergency we would not be able to use our weapons if we are not trained well as in case of ISIS. All you need to do is simply join the Firearms safety training classes and get the confidence to carry that killer.