Effective self-defense training comes down to “comboing” up your self-defense moves into a “machine gun” mentality, where you hit your opponent with several different moves, using different tools on different lines of attack.
Hello, my name is Matt Numrich and I have been a self-defense expert for over 20 years to the civilian, law enforcement and military community. In 2002 I helped put together one of the first defensive tactics programs for the Air Marshals after 9/11. I have also trained the US Army and Navy. Several years ago I was hired by the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) to overhaul there field officer’s self-defense training, completely rewriting their defensive tactics manual and training program. I have also owned and taught in several of self-defense academies focusing on Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, Filipino Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga. I enjoy writing for several martial arts and self-defense organizations over the last 15 years, and being published internationally in books and magazines. I currently teach out of an academy I operate in Phoenix, AZ, and continue to produce video and online self-defense training programs (see links further down in this article).
If it came down to it, can you defend yourself from an attacker?
In self-defense, you don’t want to have the “cannon ball shot” mentality, meaning your strategy should not be about winding up for that one “big blow” which will take your opponent out of commission. This article will specifically show you how to practice your self-defense moves, plus give you some super effective techniques. To do that, we have to look at the foundation of your training habits, and start with the foundation, working our way up.
Even if you’ve never trained, this article can help get you started toward aggressive and effective self defense — keep reading!
Effective self-defense training comes down to “comboing” up your self-defense moves into a “machine gun” mentality, where you hit your opponent with several different moves, using different tools on different lines of attack. If your training does not mimic that, it is unlikely that your body will respond with this strategy under stress. The secret is the fact that you must train like you want to fight, because you will fight like you’ve trained.
Therefore, drilling over and over again should be the focus on your training time, instead of trying to learn more and more techniques. Let me say that again, because it is so important: Your training time should focus on mastering what you know, through a game plan which works, not simply learning a long list of techniques. If we had to budget time to each part of your training, I would advise a 10-60-30 formula.
What is the 10-60-30 formula? Here’s the breakdown:
About 10% of your training time should be given to learning or even fine tuning new techniques. Breaking down each mechanic to its step by step movement and discovering how each body part is used to maximize its effectiveness is key. The more skilled you are, the less time you might have to put into this area, as you probably already know the material. If you are newer to self-defense, 10% is still a good maximum to limit this area, and not get overwhelmed by learning too much too soon.
After that, 60% of your training time should be dedicated to drilling that technique or set of techniques. “Repping out” dozens and soon hundreds of moves will build efficiency where you can now perform the techniques quicker, while still maintaining it’s effectiveness.
Lastly, 30% of your practice time should be given to scenario work, which now gives you a chance to illustrate your new techniques under real stress and unchoreographed circumstances. The difference between this section and the previous “drilling” time is that you are now facing unplanned responses. Meaning, when you conduct a drill, you know the 1-2-3 set of moves you are doing over and over again. This is what will give you the “machine gun” response I mentioned earlier, which is what we want here.
During the scenario portion, you should now combine several different moves (kick, knife disarm, wrestling counter), covering different ranges (i.e. kick boxing, ground fighting, weapons defense) where you don’t exactly know what will happen to you next.
To illustrate this point, let’s expand on this method using three different moves and then, at the end, we’ll throw in another self-defense strategy to show this Technique, Drill and Scenario Training progression. Then in the next section, I’ll walk you through each technique so you can practice each using the 10-60-30 formula.
Technique: We’ll be focusing on three specific self-defense techniques to start us off: Stomp Kick, Elbow and Knee Strike.
Remember, that only about 10% of your training time should be dedicated to “learning” the moves. This might seem unusually low, but that will force you to pick and choose the techniques that are simple to learn with minimum amount of steps to complete them. They should also be “gross motor skill” based, where the majority of the movement is carried out by larger muscle groups. This will ensure that they can be completed better under stress, when compared to fine or complex motor movements.
During this “Technique” part, you’ll want to break down each move into a simple step by step completion. I like to break all my moves down into a three part progression, where three words remind me of what needs to be done, which is exactly what I do in the technique videos included at the end of this article. Remember, this is not drilling, you are simply learning how to perform the mechanics of the move, noting the placement and movement of each body part.
Drilling: After you have initially learned the couple steps of the technique, it is now time to drill them. Drilling once again, is the repetitious practice of the move over and over. Again and again. Over and over again. This will account for over half of your total training time where if you’re not breaking a sweat you’re not working hard enough. I’m serious about this as this is the main “workout” time where you build your speed, balance, power, agility and endurance. You need to be breathing hard and breaking a sweat to do that properly.
You can dedicate this time to one technique, but most likely you’ll want to practice several self-defense techniques in a sequence over and over again. Using simple boxing moves, you would not just limit yourself to a jab over and over again, but after learning a jab, cross and hook, you drill all three of those moves: jab-cross-hook, jab-cross-hook, jab-cross-hook, etc. After that, maybe add on a move, such as a jab-cross-hook-elbow, or upper cut, etc.
During this drilling portion you should be moving around to develop better timing and distancing, increasing and decreasing your intensity, dealing with other moves (such as a cover) to break the monotony, etc. Use this time to work in other calisthenics such as squats, sit ups, stretches, sprints and push ups. Why? Yes, variety will help your interest level, but it also boils down to strengthening your body. I was told by an old coach of mine that you want to make your practices harder than your games. Therefore, in a real fight, will you be doing a set of “jump” squats (where you burst up with each squat) and lunges, no. But, after doing a set of side kicks to front kicks to roundhouse kicks, and then throwing in these exercises will only make your kicks stronger in real life.
Mix this area up, vary rest times and focus on a handful of moves you can really get good at. Do not practice 30 different moves, but hone in on the 10-15 which you can learn over time, dedicating training sessions to intensely drilling, doing all of this to prepare yourself for the last part of your training: Scenario work.
Scenario Training: After you have learned a set of techniques and have drilled them adequately, it is time to move to the last section of your training which involves scenario work. This kind of training does not need to involve “role playing” per say, but must involve a couple key components which separate it from simple drilling.
The first difference is that it should include 2-4x the amount of technique options compared to regular drilling. The second important difference, is that it must include a focus of “responding” to stimuli. What does that mean? It means the person training will have to identify what technique(s) is the most appropriate in the scenario and use it.
To illustrate this level a bit more clearly, note that although it is not necessary, having more than one training partner is a benefit with scenario training. It allows each “attacker” to be fresh and transition to a new kind of attack, almost by interrupting what another attacker is doing. These quick transitions allow minimum set up time and force the practitioner to adjust on the fly, improving their reaction time.
The progression could be explained this way, which may take several classes allocating the proper time in the 10-60-30 fashion:
Technique: Learn the jab, cross, hook, front kick, knee and ground escape, all separately.
Drilling: Practice the jab-cross-hook in combination, and work in sets of squats. Do the same with a front kick, flowing into several knee strikes, working in a cycle of abs. Train the ground escape, with wind sprints in between sets.
Scenario Training: You will want to work with three training partners, one attacker has a pair of focus mitts, where they work jab-cross-hook combinations. The second partner can attack at anytime with a push from a thick kick shield where the trainee must respond with a front kick, moving into a clinch with a series of knees. Lastly, a third partner can take the person down to the ground, simulate a choke, where the trainee must reply with a defensive strategy to escape and get to their feet where they can again be attacked by the focus mitt attacker or kick shield attacker.
Whew! Seems like a lot, I know. Remember, the condensed structure of this article doesn’t necessarily do its justice here. Progression is the key word. You must crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. You must learn before you drill, and drill before you work in multi move scenario training. Some days will be good, as you learn a technique in record time, and other days you won’t get down a kicking drill sequence, regardless of how much time you spend on it.
But, if you stick to the principles of progressive training, take your time, and dedicate focus on physical effort of a handful of moves you will impress yourself. To get you started, let’s give you a handful of techniques to start you off. These next four videos will teach you the self-defense techniques, and very simple ways to drill them, including practicing them against “air”, bags, partners and pads. From there, use your own creativity to make ways to train them in scenarios.
Finally, remember to have fun doing it. Don’t make it all serious, all the time. Make it a workout, make it stimulating, teach and learn with your partners and keep smiling even after breaking a major sweat!
FOUR SELF-DEFENSE TECHNIQUES YOU MUST KNOW
I’ve had the blessing of being a full time self-defense instructor for over 20 years. I have trained military, law enforcement and thousands of civilians in hand to hand defensive techniques.
At the heart of survival is personal protection. If you can’t defend yourself against another human being, your level of independence is minimal. Self-defense is protecting not only your personal body, but those you care about and your possessions.
That is why I want to share with you four basic, yet very effective self-defense techniques you must have in your arsenal. You won’t always have access to your firearm, or any weapon for that matter, so knowing how to use your body’s best tools is key to creating your personal protection and self-sufficient foundation.
Of these four techniques, you’ll find that they meet three criteria. They will all be Effective against attackers of all sizes, Efficient to execute minimizing your reaction time and Simple to learn, train and remember. Although other martial arts may teach some of these attributes, the art we’ll specifically be pulling from is Krav Maga. Krav Maga is the Israeli system, and is world renowned in its brutal defensive mindset and results.
I look forward in following up with you in the next several lessons, and thank the editor for giving you resources to keep you and your family safe.
As a special offer to readers, I will send you these lessons on DVD, with additional moves, tools and strategies we don’t have time to cover on these bite sized articles and posts. To claim your free Krav Maga DVD, simply go to OnlineKravMagaVideos.com/dvd.
1.) ONE KICK TO KNOCK YOUR OPPONENT BACK TEN FEET
I had the blessing of training an elite group of law enforcement awhile back, and they needed a self-defense technique to move an opponent back several feet as they were clearing a room and identifying suspects. That objective may not seem that challenging to most instructors, but when I saw their uniforms, and the amount of equipment they were carrying, it became a bit more interesting. Most of them had “long guns” which limited their mobility, and other gear, which added to their weight.
There is this one Krav Maga kick that I teach to civilians which packs a huge punch, while still giving them stability and balance. It would be perfect for these law enforcement guys, but it reminded me how incredible of a technique it is for regular civilians. We have taught females around 100 lbs to move bigger, stronger guys across the room with this one move: The Stomp Kick.
You can click the link below to check out a quick video of me instructing on it, but first, let me explain it.
It is a powerful kick that could be done in two ways – defensively and offensively; depending on the reaction time you have. The “Defensive” Stomp Kick is done when an attacker is close to you. The “Offensive” Stomp Kick is done when an attacker is a slight distance apart from you and when you have ample time to pre-emptively attack.
To do so, here are the following steps:
1. KIP (snap up your leg). Since you don’t have enough time to react fully most of the time and gain a whole lot of momentum, just bring up your knee as high as possible and as much as you can.
2. LEAN. Lean your back a bit. This way, you can balance yourself as you throw your hips forward where you basically get the power of the kick.
3. KICK. Next, deliver and release that powerful kick using the bottom of your foot to either their chest, stomach or groin area.
This self-defense move is quite effective because such a powerful kick will surely push back any attacker. To get more detailed instruction, in addition to three other Krav Maga self-defense moves, go to this link: OnlineKravMagaVideos.com/free-video-1 .
2.) CLOSE QUARTERS, KRAV MAGA STYLE
Since the 1990s, the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC’s) and many “military” styles have underlined the fact that close quarters combat, can give any person an edge in self-defense. Krav Maga embraces it as well, and uses two specific moves to control an opponent and put them down quickly and easily, regardless of how strong your attacker is. I will get into some additional details in a video below, but I wanted to walk you through the basics here.
This is one of the most important moves in Krav Maga self-defense because many times the objective is to end up in this range to onslaught your opponent with several close quarter moves. Just like any other Krav move, this is a perfect move which will easily put you in control, while giving you the opportunity to inflict enough defensive pain to escape any dangerous situation. Here are the two moves, explained over three steps:
1. CLINCH THE NECK. The first thing to do is to clinch the back of the neck of the attacker using a “C grip” where your thumb is on one side, and other four fingers clamp down on the other side.
2. GRAB THEIR ARM. Next thing to do is to hold the tricep of the attacker using the same C grip as explained above.
3. STRIKE USING KNEES. Finally, deliver several powerful knee strikes hitting him to any open target, ranging from the thigh to the groin, or stomach to face. There are lots of ways to throw this knee strike. You can also use both your knees by switching them. However, most of the time it is best to identify what knee is stronger or you are more comfortable, and place that one in the back, and strike with it. To get more detailed instruction, in addition to three other Krav Maga self-defense moves, go to this link: OnlineKravMagaVideos.com/free-video-2
3.) BETTER SELF-DEFENSE MOVE THAN A PUNCH
When defending yourself, you want to use the best technique, which will give you the most “bang for your buck”. There is no doubt that a punch, using your fist is the most common since the beginning of time, but if you step in just a bit closer, you can unleash a much more powerful tool: The Elbow Strike.
We’ve all seen them in the movies, and even in competition. However, if we’re in reality, not the movies, and if your opponent is not prepared for it as they will be in competition, the elbow strike is a great tool. I’ll give a video link below which will cover the details a bit more, but for now, let’s go over some of the ways you can learn it correctly and quickly, as Krav Maga teaches it.
The elbow strike has lots of variations you can choose and you can use them in different situations and positions as well. In this move, you have to make sure that you have a physical contact with the tip of your elbow regardless if you have to use it in a frontal, side or rear assault. Here are the tips for Elbow strike:
1. COVER. Bring both arms up to protect your face, as you’ll be moving in closer to your opponent, and also want to load up for the strike.
2. BURST. Use all your body’s momentum to increase the power and throw as much power behind this move as possible. If this move is done to the rear, exchange this step for sighting on up, or seeing what you are hitting.
3. ELBOW. Round your elbow as you deliver that elbow strike, activating your shoulder to strike at a downward angle as much as your flexibility allows. Again, don’t forget to always cover with your other arm. When you decide to use your right hand for the strike, your left hand will automatically be your cover. It is important to cover yourself since you are in a close quarter situation, and you are in a very vulnerable position.
I have found that because Krav Maga uses this “burst” it is harder to defend against, while also increasing its “kick”. The elbow is much stronger than a punch, and a fist is not as structurally sound as the elbow. Punches have their own place in self-defense, but making sure you integrate elbow strikes gives you more options, and presents a better move for close quarter fighting. To get more detailed instruction, in addition to three other Krav Maga self-defense moves, go to this link: OnlineKravMagaVideos.com/free-video-3
4.) ESCAPING THE SCARIEST ATTACK
Any self-defense situation is scary, but there are those positions we hopefully will never find ourselves in which will push the limits of our resolve. As I’ve taught self-defense for over 20 years, there is one position women say is the scariest, and men finally will admit they are the most fearful of.
The situation I’m talking about is having someone sit on your chest, while they are strangling you. If the person is stronger or bigger than you, this situation is not only scary, but also extremely dangerous. Krav Maga has identified three of the easiest steps to get yourself out of this situation, which I’ll fully cover in a video link below, but we’ll go over the fundamentals right now.
Here are the three defensive moves to escape and defeat someone choking you from this position:
1. PLUCK. The first thing to do to overcome from the scariest position is to pluck the hands of the attacker to escape from that person choking you. Take both your hands on the attacker’s hands and pull, or use a plucking motion, to get the hands off.
2. TRAP. Trap your attacker’s hand by raising up your hand and wrapping over top of their arm up and then wrap your leg over their leg on the same side.
3. ROLL. Last but not least, roll to the side where you created your trap.
When you are on the thrust of the other person, then you all have the momentum of striking your attacker. To get more detailed instruction, in addition to three other Krav Maga self-defense moves, go to this link: OnlineKravMagaVideos.com/free-video-4