Real Self-Defense Techniques that Work!

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
30 Nov 2013


I grew up watching Karate and Kung Fu movies and watching Boxing matches on TV. You see the fledgling full-contact Karate was not televised. So I was left with watching something on TV and then trying it with my friends. Never mind I did not really know what I was doing – most of the Karate/Kung Fu was bunk. Alas I was soon to discover that professional Wrestling was a bunch of hogwash too! So maybe Robin could take Kato? Well hmmm….


In this post I’ll zoom past my childhood un (or mis)-understanding of TV fighting as it relates to real self defense and speak about real self-defense moves as I have used in real fights (while working as a door man in my youthful 20’s).



My Dad popped my bubble about Batman and Robin. He said anyone could see them pulling their arms back and could smack them before they could even punch. I vainly tried to defend Batman but after my Dad showed me the old One-Two punch combo… I understood that TV fighting was probably all for show.


That was a tough lesson to swallow because later when the Kung Fu TV series came on – some of it looked like it might work. So I started to explore Karate schools/instructors… at first most of them showed kicks and punches but when I tried to use them in a sparring match – I got hit as much as I hit back. :(


Thankfully that is when I started taking lessons at a real Karate/Kung Fu school – Tracy’s Karate. You see when I took my first few lessons – my instructor, Dick Willett told me that I knew most of the kicks and punches already but I had no strategy. He said he would show me not only how to connect but how to avoid getting hit back!


I soon learned that all of the TV/movie fighting used real kicks and punches but only applied the flashy techniques. The ones that would not work mostly in a real fight but looked cool. Kind of like that offensive spinning outside crescent kick Billy Jack did to the main thug in his movie. That would never work against any proficient karate or kung fu practitioner. A good fighter would either step away (you would have plenty of time) or smack him in the kidneys or such… either way the telegraphed spinning kick that the idiot turned his back on you – would fail.


So fast forward to today. I’m a black belt in his 50’s that understand strategy. I am no where near the shape I was in my 20’s but thankfully fights only last a minute or less for real unless the fighters are totally incompetent (or you really are fighting  the cream of the crop that decided that a decent life was not worth living – decided to be a criminal). You see bad guys are like the rest of the population. Very few of them make it to the top and become good fighters. Too much work for fellas that like to take short-cuts in life.


So one more thing before I give you the techniques that really work. There are a lot of valid was to skin a cat (sorry any cat lovers – read peel a banana)! The all work but I only fight the way that works for me. So while I will state what works and why – don’t take that as me saying nothing else works… I just don’t favor it maybe if it for other valid approaches.


Here goes – Distance is critical. How far you are from your opponent. If you are in kicking range and not doing anything – you can be kicked before you can get out of the way from a good kicker. If you are inside of punching range – you can get hit before you can even block it or get out of the way from a puncher that understands initial movement.


So any technique that starts with he grabs you from behind, your arm or he is throwing a kick or punch… that is a comedy of errors! You gave up your primary weapon – CRITICAL DISTANCE!!!


That is not to say there are not things that can be done if someone is inside your critical distance (kicking/punching range) but you only have a chance if your attacker is totally inept!


For instance – a robber comes up and points a gun at you from 5 feet away. He is outside your critical distance so you cannot do much before he could pull the trigger (unless he is a bad shot) but say you fake fear and he gets overconfident – approaches you and you fear for your life. You could slap the gun out of the way and attack (keeping the nozzle of the gun away from you).


The reason that would work is his reaction time is no match for your initial movement (isolating every part of your body except for the initial hand/arm movement). That’s another fallacy I see in movies all of the time – a murderer gets right next to the victim and the victim does not have the training or realize he can hit the gun before it can shoot.


So you see distance is everything. Assuming you keep the distance until you are attacking (or running) – you have a good chance.


I mentioned initial movement – Bruce Lee taught that – it is how he was able to hit people first. Joe Lewis brought that to the Tracy’s organization – it is how Tracy’s fighters were so good back in the day. Not many understood critical distance and initial movement.


So say you keep the distance – cannot really safely get away and have to fight back. If you keep the distance and uses hand or foot attacks with initial movement – any attack will work. You can use your favorite attack if you set it up like I described. There is no more guess work on what works – only practice your attacks with the first initial movement – bridging the gap to get inside your opponents distance when you are ready. If you attack does not work – abort outside of the distance and try again.


Then the fight is a chess match – with the first successful attack (and subsequent pile-on) as the winning strategy!


The beauty with this winning strategy is you get hit less (if you get hit – you were sleeping and let your opponent inside of your distance without a counter or side step).


If you hit your opponent and you do not get hit back – I don’t know about you but that sounds like something I want to do.


So no magic – just sound strategy. Go out and practice your critical distance and initial movement Grasshopper. If you do not understand what I’m talking about – seek out an instructor/school that understands these methods.


And as always – if you like different strategies – there are others that can work – I just don’t like them. Good luck!

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