Improving Self-Defense, Add Violence

The highest concern for me as a self-defense instructor is to properly facilitate and encourage (by way of writing, coaching, lecturing, etc) practical, safe and effective training methods; period!  Not ones that effect a person superficially, but ones that cut deep to the marrow of reality; the very real world in which we live.  To be honest, we (for the most part) live in harmony.  We go to work, we come home to our family, or we go out to dinner with friends.  Most people don’t even concern themselves with the very real possibility that a vicious assault lays just around the corner.

We all lack confidence, just in varying degrees.

As we “free climb” upwards from where we currently are [self-protection readiness] we must have a strong and sturdy grip [abililty] to change our state to one of: high intensity, strong-willed, 100% determined.  Our foothold to this climb is our confidence.

Believe me or not…it does not matter.  Somewhere within that skull of yours you understand that in order to effectively conquer a violent aggressor, the modern man or woman must find it within themselves to not only reciprocate the violence being done to them, but to break rules, to go against (in most cases) their religious/social/cultural beliefs.  What is right?  What amount of violence is right, if any?  At what cost?  What must be at stake for us to act in such a way?  All of these (and more) are important questions to ask yourself.

Most people (including myself) have a natural aversion to violence.

As a kid I trained in the martial arts so that I wouldn’t have to win through violence.  Everything was properly planned out, and when needed, I would respond with the same energy, skill and grace that my heros displayed on television and film.  I would always be in the moral right.  I would always be merciful.  I would always beat them with a calm, collected mind.  And I would walk away from battle without a scrape or bruise.  The sorry chap would never seek revenge or vendetta because of the fear of being humiliated twice over.

Luckily, I grew into a man.  And although I can still hold a smile to my “invincible youth,” I can easily decipher fantasy from reality.  Reality comes into play when play is wild and spontaneous.  Training for real world violence, therefore, should be conducted with as much zestful aggression as one wishes to have in the moment.  Punching a bag for the sake of punching amounts to very little.  It’s as if you were trying to drink up a lake with a fork.

I leave you with this question…

When violence becomes necessary… by this, I mean, when there is no other recourse but to fight for your survival, how might we know if we have what it takes?

My belief is that it rests on two key components: how you change your entire physiology to aid in your survival, and how we build our confidence through proper, situational, and realistic training methods.

Many martial artists insist on fighting fire with water.  But I strongly believe, and it is essential to know, that there are times when you must fight fire with fire!


Please give your thoughts below.  Let me know if you disagree, and/or if you have something to add.

Michael Joyce

His Combative Profile

»»» click the picture above to visit a short interview of Coach Joyce in this month’s Skirt Magazine (Jan. 2011).

8 Responses to “Improving Self-Defense, Add Violence”

  1. Spot on! As Tim larkin says, violence is rarely the answer, but when it is, it’s the ONLY answer. Whoever inflicts the first injury walks away.

  2. Excellent article!

    You have to realise you are worth fighting for! Don’t let the cowardly attacker prevent you from seeing your loved one’s and family that same day.

    Awarness is the biggest part in self defense, but sometimes you are forced to defend yourself, and when you do you have to act with 110% commitment. Can’t see? can’t fight. Cant breath? can’t fight! You have to have the will to survive that allows you access these targets. Eyes and throat with all you have! Don’t be an easy target!!

    • Thanks for your comment Sean. And welcome to the CombativeCorner family. Help us to spread the word if you can and encourage the comments! One of the ways we all will become better martial artists is through better communication and understanding. Thanks again for your post and I look forward to hearing from you and your students down the road. Peace. -The Combative Crew

  3. Bruce b Smith Says:

    I agree 100% Great article.

  4. You raise a question that must be asked: “Am I willing to be just as bad as the person attacking me?” This is a question many martial art students don’t think about until it’s too late. The study of martial arts can be very pretty to look at in the movies or tournament, but ultimately it may be necessary to use those same skills to defend oneself against a violent attack. While forms, katas, and sparring are fine, an attempt should be made to create scenarios that might occur in the real world that would require the use of our skills. Great article!

    • Thank you Joe. A big motivator for this type of article came from my personal experiences with several, very talented martial art teachers in the past (not naming names) that still feel that reacting and counter-attacking are valid and safe. At the same time, there have been numerous highly-skilled martial artists that have had their ass handed to them by an attacker with little or no experience. They use savagery.. and employ deception. We should learn this trait ourselves. Or at the very least, take this concept very very seriously!

  5. Do you feel that non-leathal self defense is a better option for those not able or don’t know the essentials to phsically defend themselves. ie. Tasers, stunguns & pepper sprays.

    • In a simple answer, YES I do. However, I feel that most people CAN defend themselves quite effectively and should definitely become acquainted with the Fear/Adrenal Response, and the 3T’s (Tools-Target Areas- Tactics). My concern with non-lethal self-protection tools such as the ones you list is their READINESS. While anything that gives you the advantage of survival is best… the likelihood of being able to use your self-defense device effectively is fairly minimal in my opinion. I DO have a self-defense keychain (that I personally designed) and promote (http://ChenStore.Biz). The main point of my endorsement of this is that (1) it gives the holder more confidence and security as you have it firm in-hand and (2) it’s more accessible in a “tight spot” as most of us of driving age have our keys on us, or near us. The same cannot be said for a taser.

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