One of the primary messages from contributors to RoK is the need for self-improvement among men in the 21st century. Knowledge, fitness, game, and wealth-building are all critical pieces of the puzzle that is masculinity. Self-defense is a piece that has been touched on many times here, but I’d like to cover some aspects of it that don’t get as much play as which style to learn does.
Being able to effectively defend yourself is a fundamental part of being a man. Sure the police and various security personnel in public places can come save the day, but they take time to respond and might not get there in time. In addition, a wildly out-of-control civil lawsuit system combined with a society increasingly emasculated to the point that any kind of masculine aggression or violence is frowned upon, even in self-defense, can leave a man on the wrong side of the fence should he not cover his ass in a confrontation.
Let me start by saying that the primary purpose of this article is not to emphasize or promote any particular style. Instead, I intend to focus more on how to begin your training, some tips for what to do when conflict is unavoidable, and what I call the intangibles, which are the aspects of self-defense that are supplemental to the application of techniques, but just as important. While the techniques are obviously the foundation of self-defense, it’s the intangibles that will usually dictate whether or not they’ll need to be used in the first place. I’ll also cover what your options are if martial arts just isn’t your thing.
1. Choose Your Art
Now that you’ve decided to train, you’ll need to pick an art that appeals to you. My advice is to do your research thoroughly and choose one that is practical and based on application in real-world situations, which is commonly known as street defense. If you can afford it, I would also recommend private instruction as opposed to groups for more individualized attention. You’ll definitely progress faster this way, but you’ll lose the value of sparring with others in a class setting.
However, if your instructor’s legit, he’ll be able to connect you with others so you can spar. Remember, there is no substitute for sparring with a living, breathing human being. Hitting a punching bag, a wooden dummy, or other inanimate objects will help ingrain techniques into your muscle memory, but in the immortal words of Bruce Lee,
Make sure to research your instructor’s pedigree. Most instructors worth their salt will willingly and openly say how many years they have in the art, and who they trained under. Trace that lineage and make sure they’re bona fide.
As I stated, I’m not going to get into this style versus that style because arguing about which style is best is a complete waste of time. The fact is that there is no supreme style. Everyone thinks their style is best and the only way to definitively prove it is to actually fight and not sit around talking about fighting. Unfortunately, even that will prove nothing, since you could have someone with 20 years in one art facing someone with 10 years in another and have any number of physical advantages (or disadvantages) that could affect the outcome.
That being said, there is such a thing as the worst style in the world. Choose wisely.
So you’ve chosen an art and you’re progressing, but obviously the point of learning is so you’ll be ready to use these skills in a real-world situation. This is where the intangibles come in, and they can mean the difference between going home and going to the ICU.
Judging Books By Their Covers
An essential habit to learn is situational awareness. This means always being aware of your surroundings, specifically the people around you, even in a seemingly non-threatening situation. Most people who are ready to do some dirt will give you plenty of signals to watch out for, if you’re actually paying attention and not wandering around like an iPhone zombie.
Let’s say you’re at the club/bar. Everyone seems to be having a good time, and thanks to the teachings of RoK you’ve pulled a legitimate 9 with a body that just won’t quit. Your game’s got her moist, and she’s eager to pull you on the dance floor so she can rhythmically grind her money-maker on your crotch, no doubt a prelude to the naked version you’ll be receiving later. By all accounts a great night, so you have nothing to worry about, right? Wrong.
Your inability to tear your gaze from your new friend’s phenomenal assets along with a sense of protection provided by many bouncers has caused you to stop paying attention to your surroundings. Due to that lapse, you haven’t noticed the guy holding up the wall that’s drinking heavily and continuously glaring in your direction. (Depending on how hot your girl is there will likely be more than one.)
This is a man thinking two things: I want to fuck her and you’re in the way. He won’t acknowledge that his game plan of standing in one spot with a sour look on his face and expecting broads to flock to him is a recipe for rejection. In the fantasy he’s built in his mind, she should be with him and his hamster will come up with any number of ways to blame you for the fact she’s not.
Never underestimate the power that jealousy, loneliness, and a lack of game combined with copious amounts of alcohol and other drugs can have on a man’s regard for the consequences of assault. Now I’m not saying that you need to be paranoid and constantly looking over your shoulder the entire night to the point where you can’t enjoy yourself, but scan the room periodically and if you repeatedly notice a suspicious character giving you the mean mug, keep an eye out for the duration of your stay for any advances towards you.
This goes double when the place is closing and you’re outside, as this is when these cowards like to strike. Don’t count on security to protect you, because when the other patrons are leaving at their most inebriated there’s usually chaos and pandemonium. If there’s another altercation that they’re attending to, your hater could use that opportunity to go for the sucker punch.
Another perfect example of situational awareness was during the Donald Sterling witch hunt, when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got into hot water for making some comments which, while true, didn’t jive with the PC agenda.
“If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of.”
Judging books by their covers is how humans stay alive. Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to think it’s wrong to judge the shady character(s) advancing towards us on the street until it’s too late. I’d rather risk “offending” someone than have them get the jump on me. If they’re so offended they ignorantly want to start a fight about it, then your training will come in handy anyway.
Political correctness doesn’t stop a knife to the spleen.
I know this sounds odd when I’m talking about self-defense, but during an argument you should avoid conflict when you can. If you live in a major coastal city, which a lot of us do, the law is not on your side when it comes to any kind of violence, including defending yourself. The days of eye-for-an-eye are long gone as far as the law’s concerned. Now you’re supposed to “be an adult and take the high road”, which means debasing yourself or getting your ass kicked while waiting for the cops to show up and then counting on the legal system to track down the random asshole who did it instead of just handling it yourself.
On that note, when training in self-defense, it’s a great idea to know the self-defense laws in your city or state. As far as I know, all states use an equal force stipulation when it comes to defending yourself. For instance, let’s say someone pushes you in the chest. Although technically assault, this is not a serious threat of injury. You escalate by punching them in the face, knocking them out. They fall, crack open their skull on the pavement, and die. You can now possibly be charged with manslaughter.
Possessing martial arts training can (and probably will) be used against you if you live in an emasculated area that abhors any kind of masculine aggression. Some states even have a “duty to retreat” law, whereby you can fight back only if there is no avenue of escape left to you or if retreating poses a danger to you. In other words, you should always run away first.
What To Do When Conflict’s Unavoidable
So what is a trained man to do when he’s confronted by a person who wants to engage in fisticuffs and conflict appears to be unavoidable? Make sure your actions can’t be perceived as anything other than self-defense.
First, try to reason with them in a mature, civilized manner using a calm tone of voice. If that doesn’t work and they continue to get belligerent and start to invade your three feet of personal space, subtly step back with whatever foot is your rear foot in your fighting stance and be very vocal about the fact that you don’t want any trouble or tell them to leave you alone. The more witnesses present, the better. As you step back, put your hands up to shoulder height with the palms out in the universal symbol of surrender. Hands out in front of you will work too.
This serves three purposes. The first is that this movement is for the benefit of any CCTV cameras in the vicinity. Most of these places are loud, so there won’t be any usable audio. Should the issue go to court, the video will show your body language as clearly non-threatening. Second, it puts your hands up in a way disguised as passive, but can quickly be converted to an on-guard position that protects your face. No sucker punches for you. Third, by slightly putting your rear foot back, you’re turning your hips so that your groin is angled away from them and you’re not squared up if they like to kick. You’re also now halfway into a fighting stance, which will save you time should some shit go down.
If you’ve done everything you can to avoid conflict, short of running away like a bitch, and it’s apparent that violence is still imminent, DO NOT look your opponent in the eyes. This will be extremely hard to do, since our natural masculine instinct is to lock eyes and to look away is considered weakness. He will take it as such, but it is not. In fact, it is actually a heightened sense of awareness, because by dropping your eyes on the center of his chest, it allows you to see all four limbs instead of just the upper two.
This is important, because most guys on the street are what we call “sloppy boxers”. They’ll have a rudimentary understanding of how to throw some basic punches and will probably be amped up on some combo of drugs, alcohol, and adrenaline, which makes them dangerous, but it doesn’t mean they know how to fight. However, when defending yourself, you must never assume your opponent is a one-dimensional fighter who can only punch. Always bring your “A” game and assume they’re as good as you are and know how to kick, wrestle, grapple, etc.
When you lock eyes, you get trapped in the “tractor beam” and now you can’t see what his hands and feet are doing, which puts you at a disadvantage. By focusing on their center, you’ll be ready for any of these eventualities. Let your opponent think you’re weak. He’ll take the first swing, and you’ll be the one going home to bang that 9 you pulled while he’s curled up in the fetal or unconscious.
Just as a side note, if you’re really a badass and IF you can pull it off, you can use the Richie Aprile “Manson Lamps” Technique to unnerve your opponent and convince him that he should seek to retire forthwith, thus avoiding conflict.
3. Personal Firearms and Knives
So maybe martial arts isn’t your thing. Maybe you’re too busy with business and other interests to find time to properly train. Maybe you’re impatient and don’t want to train for years to become proficient. In that case, I recommend the lifehack of self-defense, the personal firearm: all the “fuck off” in a fraction of the time.
Now any time I bring up the benefits of martial arts, there’s always some smartass who likes to mention how “martial arts can’t stop a bullet”, or “I’ll bring my 9mm, you bring your fists, and let’s see who wins”.
While both of those points have some validity, if these guys took the time to pull their heads out of their asses, they’d realize that it does you absolutely no good being the best marksman in the world and not having a gun on you. Even the armed forces, whose members carry assault rifles everywhere, emphasize hand-to-hand combat, or what they typically call combatives. This is because they realize there are many instances where a firearm isn’t available or of use to you and you’re going to have to fight solely with what you were born with.
In civilian life, this is much more relevant. Tighter gun restrictions are making it difficult, and in many places impossible, to legally carry a gun in public, which makes this option useless to law-abiding citizens for anything other than home defense. Another drawback is that you’re pretty much skipping over the non-lethal aspect of the equal force stipulation and going straight to lethal force. Depending on where you live, unless someone is trying to harm or kill you with a deadly weapon, shooting them can land you in some seriously hot water.
Despite what people have been led to believe, most people who carry guns aren’t looking to shoot someone. It’s more of a “rather have it and not need it then need it and not have it” type of thought process. If you go this route, make sure to thoroughly research and keep up on the gun laws in your state.
Next to a gun, a folding knife is the next best thing. They’re legal to carry almost everywhere, as long as they conform to the legal limitations on blade length, assisted opening, etc. As always, know the law when it comes to these issues. Just as with guns, reasonable and equal force applies here as well. If you get into a fist fight and escalate by pulling out a knife, even just to brandish, that could be construed as assault with a deadly weapon. These should be used more for an armed robbery or carjacking situation.
One very important thing to note here about weapons. You should never let your progression in self-defense lull you into a false sense of security. Movies and television are not reality. Unless you’re highly proficient in your art and spend hours every day training specifically in how to disarm people with guns and knives until it’s as easy as breathing, it’s better to just give an armed thief what he wants. Material possessions are replaceable, your life is not.
Better Safe Than Sorry
In conclusion, we here know that western civilization is on the decline and that lawlessness is going to get worse before it gets better. There are some who would have you believe that we are “progressing” towards some Great Egalitarian Socialist Utopia where everyone gets along and we’re all equal. These people are useful idiots and delusional fools.
There will always be class divisions that separate the haves from the have-nots, creating those who resent the successful who worked hard for what they have and look to take it from them. There will always be a drug trade that breeds extreme violence and produces desperate addicts looking to find money for their next fix. There will always be those who believe that “might makes right” and will look to take simply because they are stronger.
These same fools would also have you believe that you should “use your words” and other pussified notions when confronted with people who would use such violence. Words are a quaint idea, and should be the first course of action in most situations simply to avoid conflict, but are useless without action to back them up.
FDR and Winston Churchill made many grand speeches during WWII, yet they weren’t walking (or rolling) onto the beaches of Normandy using their eloquent words to convince the Germans to lay down their arms. Instead, it was the RAF and soldiers with M1 Garands shooting Nazis in the face that produced victory. Being able to defend yourself, your loved ones, and your property is essential to being a man. Don’t fall into the emasculating trap of depending on others to come to your rescue.
Read More: How To Spot And Avoid A McDojo/Belt Factory