Wanting to learn how to defend yourself from a violent attack and only practising physical fighting type skills is like wanting to be safer on the road and only practising how to crash better.

It seems crazy in that context but that is what most people focus on when they pursue self defence. Sure, car safety ratings and crumple zones and heaps of airbags are all very good but limiting our interest to only crashing is very short sighted. That’s obvious right?

To be safer on the road it helps to look ahead, buffer away when passing oncoming trucks, understanding the sorts of things bad drivers do so you can avoid them, know where the local black-spots (high crash areas) are and understanding how blind-spots work are all far more important proactive measures to being safe on the road.

The same goes for self defence.

Limiting our focus to fight type skills is like limiting our interests in road safety to crashing better. Don't be the Volvo driver of the self defence world. Be smarter than that. Don't be ignorant of what is going on around you.


Sometimes, possessing good fight skills can make us overconfident where we don't use those 'soft skills' and somewhat ironically can mean we are more likely to end up needing to use those fight skills. This is the same dumb attitude where Volvo drivers feel so safe and secure in their car that they tend be ignorant of what is going on around them and are more likely to either cause an accident nearby or be in one.

Focusing on driver knowledge, driver skills and driver awareness is the primary area that will improve driver safety.

We should take the same approach with self defence. Much like understanding where accident black spots are and what sort of accidents happen there is important, so too should those of us interested in self defence seek to understand where violence occurs in our neighbourhood and what sorts of violent crime is most common.

Understanding the underlying nature of human violence will allow anyone with an interest in self defence to decipher the apparent mysteries of violent crime. It will provide clarity to what was previously fuzzy and disordered.

Prioritising understanding over fighting is obvious from this vantage point but is rarely taught. Low Tech Combat is all about this smarter approach to self defence.

However many young men will not be hearing this message over their internal voices telling them they are warriors - “Musashi said the ability to defeat men in fights is all that matters”. I know that voice well although I think that youthful voice died of old age some time ago now. While many young men think of themselves as warriors, most are not. We shouldn’t be too hard on them as it can be a difficult lesson to take onboard for some. #growingpains

Sometimes, it is shocking just how little some good fighters know about human violence and violent crime.

Much like car safety ratings are still important in the grand scheme of things and are great at improving our chances of survival in the worse case scenario, so too is developing physical response skills for the rare occasion we find ourselves in a violent encounter. Sometimes, someone can just crash into us when unexpected.


But if we want to be safer on the roads we don’t only go for the safer car. It shouldn’t be the number one thing we look for when we want to stay safe on the roads. It shouldn’t be the only thing we need to take care of to be safe on the roads.

While driving a safer car should make up just a small part of staying safe on the road, some do it better than others. And yes, I will be linking this back to self defence in just a moment. Bare with me.

When people are in the market for a new car, safety is typically an important consideration - especially for families with young children. But when shopping around, people typically start off their study of car safety from a very low knowledge base. This means they are susceptible to what car salesman tell them and what sponsored website reviews tell them. So even when they are actively looking to factor in car safety intelligently into their buying decision making, their knowledge on the topic is quite shallow meaning they are likely to make suboptimal findings. And then they are driving a car around for many years telling their friends how safe they think the car is.

The same goes for self defence. When someone first starts being interested in self defence, they start looking around for either a local martial arts or local self defence school. Their knowledge to inform considered decision making is suboptimal. They are susceptible to what the school owners and instructors tell them. So even when they are actively looking to factor in desired self defence skills into their decision about what school to join up, their knowledge on the topic is quite shallow meaning they are likely to join a school that is ultimately not the best fit for them. But once they join up, they are committed and will be telling their friends about how good his school is for self defence training.

Smarter, not a better crasher

We should primarily aim to be a safer driver. We should also primarily seek to understand violence first and have physical skills as a last resort. Physical skills are a lower priority. We shouldn’t focus only on the last resort at the expense of everything else that comes before it. That’s what Volvo drivers do.

Don’t be the Volvo driver of the self defence world. That’s just embarrassing.


As a somewhat self fulfilling prophesy, ignoring everything that comes before physical violence makes physical violence more likely to occur. The vicious cycle continues as the person who faced a physical encounter will likely double down on the physical aspect because it was the only aspect of the violence our protagonist was aware of.

Focusing on all of the pre-violence aspects enables us to avoid, prevent, deter, detect and mitigate violence.

With these sorts of skills you will be less likely to need to draw on those last resort physical skills. This is the same as the better more advanced driver having less need to rely on airbags and crumple zones in a crash.

Ultimately, who is safer on the roads?

  1. A driving enthusiast who has undertaken advanced driver training (which always involves a lot of theory), knows about road accident trends, knows where the black spots are in their neighbourhood, actively scans the road ahead, doesn’t text and drive while at the same time owning an older car with zero airbags and brakes that are serviceable but not as good as modern cars.


  1. A Volvo driver who has undertaken no extra training besides getting their license, doesn’t really care for road statistic things and can just satisfactorily control their Volvo which he bought because it was one of the very safest cars on the road. He loves telling people how safe Volvos are.

So who is safer?

And who are you in the self defence world, number 1 or number 2? Who do you want to be?

Leave your comments below.



P.S. So yeah, I am picking on Volvo drivers a little here but I hope you get the point.


If you like this post you will definately want to get your hands on the free Self Defence Essentials guide. This post is just one part of the guide and it's yours to download now in PDF format for free.

Just tell me where to send it. Leave your email in that box below.

Self Defence Essentials 250px.png



We examine rising knife and gun violence in the UK from a self defence perspective. Watch a documentary about knife attacks and knife culture in London, examine some of the latest violent crime statistics from the Office of National Statistics as well as examine some real case studies of knife and gun attacks. It's a deep dive!

In this article, we go deep on knife and gun violence in the UK. All for self defence knowledge.

Ray Floro and Edged Weapons


Recently at The Martialist:

There are two aspects of training with knives that Instructor Floro always emphasizes: The first is the importance of safety in training (including good protective gear and respect for one’s training partners). The second is the social and legal responsibilities of training with, carrying, and using knives. Especially given that knives are not legal in some areas, the latter is extremely important, while the former fosters a training environment in which quicker and more realistic progress can be made, he asserts.

I have personally trained with Ray many times several years ago when I was lucky enough to live near him - including numerous private lessons. Ray is the real deal.

Ray's system, Floro Fighting System (FFS), is fantastic for the following reasons:

  • Solid origins from the Filipino greats (Illustrisimo, Sulite, Diego etc).
  • Ray stripped out all traditional aspects of his system making it more focused.
  • Ray became quite proficient in fencing and that influence can be seen in the foundations of his current approach.
  • The FFS system is very knife focused - this is important from a self defense perspective due to edged weapons being the most common weapons used to commit violent crime in Australia and the UK. In the US edged weapons are just second to firearms.
  • The FFS system is very direct and linear. This means it is QUICK!
  • Ray himself is very personable, funny and a great instructor.
  • Ray personally possesses the fastest striking I have ever experienced - the very definition of non-telegraphic striking (this is the fencing coming out). I have been hit squarely in the face by Ray on so many occasions during knife sparring and I still haven't seen most of them.

A lot of what Ray teaches is how to use a knife. This is important from a purely self defense perspective so that you develop an appreciation of how the knife can be used and develop a sense of its strengths and weaknesses. This prepares you to aim to defend against the knife’s strengths and its most dangerous uses.

He also teaches a very effective unarmed approach to defending against edged weapons. His use of what he calls, or at least called, 'the latch' was the simplest and most effective means to stop an aggressor pulsing, or sewing machine stabbing, I have seen. This is the most effective way I have seen to effectively defend against that rapid in-out-in etc. stabbing so common, and effective, in knife attacks.

Ray is also constantly refining and updating his system as his own knowledge, learning and experience grows so it is not dormant.

To get a taste of Ray's approach to edged weapon awareness from a self defense perspective have a look at the following two videos from his free ’7 Vital Truths of Edged Weapons' video series.

All of the other videos in the 7 video series are well worth a look too.

I can highly recommend his DVD series for those that don't live near him. You might find it interesting to look at who provided some of testimonials on that page as well.

I struggle to think of anyone else anywhere in the world more qualified and capable of teaching on the topic of edged weapons. Two thumbs up.

Violent Crime over 2016 - a preliminary look

As we start to enter 2017, it is a good time to revise ourselves of the most recently published violent crime data and projections for 2016. This will prepare us for when violent crime data for all of 2016 is released later in 2017.

Is violent crime trending upwards like some claim? Or is something else going on? Are some areas far worse off than others and skewing the figures? Let's have a look.



News source:

A beauty queen trained in self-defence fought off a mugger moments before her casting to take part in Miss Universe Great Britain.

She parked up on a side street close to the meeting place at Jurys Inn, Broad Street, but as she locked her car a man approached her.

The thug began to pull her and attempted to grab her handbag.

She fought him off.

As Kirsty Grace arrived at a Miss Universe casting, she parked down a side street. As she got out of her car in her high heels she was approached by a mugger who probably thought he had just identified an easy target.

Fortunately for her she is a practitioner of Krav Maga and is a blue belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

The 26 yr old said: “Self-defence has been an interest of mine for many years and I want to emphasise to other women that it’s imperative to learn how to look after ourselves".

“I really believe the mugger thought I would be an easy target, relying on catching somebody off-guard or vulnerable in high heels - I’m pleased I showed him otherwise".

“Awareness of what is going on around you is so important at all times. Timing is essential, responding quickly but keep as calm as possible, all these things you learn and drill in training classes which helps you act under pressure. I then went to re-adjust my hair in the ladies bathroom shortly before walking in for my casting.”

While this is a good news story I would like to tease out some self defense aspects to consider in light of this story.

The bad

She parked down a side street.

Side streets off busy areas are the hunting grounds for predators. Marc MacYoung calls these areas 'fringe areas'.

They are to be avoided whenever possible - especially if you are walking down them by yourself, especially if you are female and especially at night.

Going into these areas is high risk. You would want to be in condition yellow and on the ball.

However, life being what it is, sometimes we cannot avoid staying out of high risk areas for whatever reason. This seems to be the case here.

Secondly, it seems the mugger was onto her as she got out of her car. This implies she didn't see him as she was locking the car when he struck. If she was forced to park here she should have had a really good look around, with doors locked, prior to getting out of the car and maintained observation as she exited.

This act, looking for threats and appearing aware, can deter a mugger who wants to go for easy targets who they can strike using the element of surprise.

It is unclear if she did this or spotted him prior to getting out of the car.

The good

Kirsty was able to fight her way out of a bad situation.

That takes skill and luck. No doubt, her Krav Maga and Jiu Jitsu training helped her in a significant way.

She was lucky.

She was lucky there was just one attacker and not two or three or four. She was lucky he didn't use an edged weapon (or gun). She was lucky he wasn't bigger, stronger or faster, more skilled or more determined.

But she took full advantage of that luck by fighting back in a skilled and determined way.

Sometimes, events in our life can take centre stage and it can be so easy to forget all about our safety. That makes us human. Let this serve as a reminder to try and be more mindful when we are in high risk areas.

Kirsty's example here shows that when avoidance and awareness don't work and violence is inevitable, you better have a robust Plan B. That's where physical resolution skills are paramount.

And yes, she got through to the next round.



What is self defense? What is it really? What should it be? What is the state of the self defense industry?

Simple questions at face value but many important points can be drawn out from analysing them.

Firstly, we determine that existing definitions of self defense are seriously flawed. 

Secondly, we explore a new updated definition that is much more useful.

Thirdly, we identify that the self defense industry is doing a very poor job of teaching students useful self defense knowledge and skills. 

Fourthly, the martial arts industry is no better at teaching self defense skills. 

And finally, we realise that there is almost no serious consideration of the legal use of force. A massive oversight. 

We also cover much more ground. This is a long post - over 3000 words so get yourself a coffee before diving in.

Self Defense Smarts - our new ebook on Amazon!

I recently launched my first book on Amazon!

It is called Self Defense Smarts.

After being listed on Amazon for the first 24 hours it went to #1 in Violence in Society and #1 in Martial Arts. It also broke through the overall Top 300 mark for the entire Kindle marketplace (not bad for a self defense book). I am so happy with how it was received!

Some of the first reviews started to come in during those initial days. All five star reviews so far!! (Reviews are continuing to be provided - check the Amazon page for updated reviews).

The ebook is essentially a ‘best of’ from articles featured here on Low Tech Combat over the years. I have also written a couple of extra exclusive chapters just for Self Defense Smarts. The new chapter I am most happy with explores how we can utilise risk management principles for smart self defense. I think most Low Tech Combat readers will really like that one.

Other chapters in the book cover the following topics:

  • What is Strategic Self Defense?
  • What self defense school or martial art is right for you?
  • How much should you train?
  • What is a Warrior?
  • What is the full spectrum of human to human conflict?
  • Can you be stabbed with a weapon and not know it?
  • Is grappling a smart thing to do when there is a knife involved?
  • What are the colour codes of awareness?
  • Aliveness.
  • Is killing someone who broke into your home self defense?
  • Are combat sports a waste of time for self defense?
  • The best improvised weapons in the world.

And lots more.

Self Defense Smarts is packed full with well over 50,000 words and hundreds of pages. It is not one of those teeny tiny ebooks.

Self Defense Smarts will be a great and convenient way for you to have ready access to the best articles from Low Tech Combat over the years. I like reading books in Kindle because of the easy searching, highlighting and note taking. The popular highlighted sections are always interesting as well.

Check it out on Amazon and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it!

Can I ask of you just one thing?

I have just one big favour to ask. I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave an honest review on Amazon.

The number and ratings of reviews are a key indicator for Amazon to identify that a book is doing well which can push it up the best seller lists. The further up the lists it goes the more people get exposed to it. I want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to get their hands on this book. Leaving a review would be a great way you can help contribute to this ebook being seen by as many people as possible.

P.S. Yes, I know. To my Australian readers I know I am spelling 'defense' the American (wrong) way. By far, the biggest section of my audience is from the US and I expect most people on the Amazon book store are going to be American too so thought it just makes sense to spell it the US way - 'defense'. It does hurt me on the inside. I will probably keep spelling it the proper way (defence) on this site outside of this post about Self Defense Smarts.

Trial by Combat: A Quick Look at Duelling

A Brief History of Trial by Combat:

Duels outside the legal system, however, were much more common. The duels that remain so famous date back to the Italian Renaissance. Its inventors, in creating formal rules for fighting to resolve a dispute, intended to prevent endless conflicts and generation-spanning vendettas. The rules were designed to limit the advantage held by good fighters—something made easier with the development of dueling pistols, whose poor accuracy made winning a duel comparable to winning a coin toss. As journalist Arthur Krystal writes, “The duel of honor was supposed to cut back on unchecked violence… to make men think twice about resorting to violence.” 

Interesting read regarding formal duals in ye olden days. Some fascinating insights into how duelling was a normal part of a functioning society at a time of no real functioning legal system.

Of course, it wasn't all gravy. It did end after all. Interesting to note duelling ended not too long ago.

I might end up doing a more in-depth look at duals and ritualised combat in the future.

Raising Daughters and Teaching Real Self Defence Skills

Matt Thornton:

First and foremost, I want my daughters to grow up unafraid to speak their minds, and defend their boundaries. I want defiance, aimed at anyone who would try and hurt, demean, or victimize them, to be the go to reaction. In short, I want to raise assertive women.

Some great advice. Real self defence is not about techniques.

Case Study: The unpredictable typical criminal

News story:

The Daily Record of Morris County reported on Monday that authorities allege in court documents that Hannah, before he was shot, pointed a loaded shotgun at an officer, and that the hammer had been pulled back. The newspaper, citing affidavits filed in Superior Court in Morristown, said he had been kicked out of his grandparents’ home because of heroin use and told his grandmother he wanted to end his life.

The court papers also reportedly say Hannah stole a Kate Spade designer purse from a car in Butler on the day he was shot, keeping the contents but discarding the purse. Kate Spade purses can be worth hundreds of dollars. Neighbors said that police had been looking for Hannah that day and neighbors called police to tell them that the man they wanted was walking through the neighborhood disguised as a woman and walking with a limp.

This, in some ways, is a typical low life criminal. He engages in crime to fund his hobbies. However if you stumble across his path he could be dangerous.

He doesn't appear to be especially capable but the willingness and readiness to use violence is probably there. He is also likely to be highly unpredictable.

If you were running scenario training what would you brief the aggressor role player if you were to use the above person as an attacker model? What techniques? What overall approach? Would he hit and move to keep distance and maybe eventually flee? Or would he charge in and end up in the clinch? How would he wield a weapon? Swing keeping distance or go for big knock out hits? What about if he was armed with an edged weapon?

It is interesting to consider this particular case - even if it is based on incomplete information. Thinking about what this person would do in a real attack can provide really useful insights into the sorts of skills you would need to develop to best counter him in a real self defence encounter.

It is worthwhile spending time considering pre attack indicators and knowledge you could draw on to avoid getting involved in a physical encounter at all.

This person could feasibly be a predator (mainly) and also an alpha male (especially if high or drunk).

Looking for the causes of the massive violent crime drop in the 90s

The Atlantic on that great violent crime drop that occurred in the US in the 1990's:

By decade’s end, the homicide rate plunged 42 percent nationwide. Violent crime decreased by one-third. What turned into a precipitous decline started later in some areas and took longer in others. But it happened everywhere: in each region of the country, in cities large and small, in rural and urban areas alike. In the Northeast, which reaped the largest benefits, the homicide rate was halved. Murders plummeted by 75 percent in New York City alone.

But the forces that drove the Great American Crime Decline remain a mystery. Theories abound among sociologists, economists, and political scientists about the causes, with some hypotheses stronger than others. But there’s no real consensus among scholars about what caused one of the largest social shifts in modern American history.

The author explores a few of the claimed reasons for the massive trend change citing a range of studies.

It is fascinating that we still don't have a better idea. It would be such a valuable and beneficial thing to know so that violent crime could be reduced elsewhere. The policies could be further refined and improved. The dramatic drop in violent crime numbers was impressive.

I've got my own ideas of what the major causes were looking at the various claims. However I think a lot of the apparent success was due to the very high numbers of the 90's in general. The situation was pretty horrible. Almost any measure would have had some effect.

I think most people have their opinions on this.

Increasing instances of children possessing weapons


"Weapons possession and weapons use amongst children appears to be growing, and that is alarming, whether it's guns, knives, explosives or other various dangerous items or substances," he said.

Young people have less concern for consequences. Some also have less inhibition to using violence against other people.

They are however typically weaker than older people so they tend to be most dangerous when they hunt in packs or arm themselves. This story is an indication that the latter is increasing in some areas.

Don't underestimate young men/boys.

Confronting Armed Rascals

News Story:

Gamez had gone to Hernandez’s residence and slashed the tires of a vehicle belonging to Hernandez. Hernandez went outside and confronted Gamez. Gamez attacked Hernandez with the knife causing him injury.

Lesson: Don't confront someone unarmed who has just slashed your car tyres with a knife.

World's Most Violent Cities

The Economist:

A ranking of the world's most violent cities by CCSP-JP, a Mexican NGO, reports that Venezuela's capital Caracas had the highest murder rate in the world last year.

It is clear that Latin America is particularly blighted by violence. All but eight of the 50 worst cities on the list are to be found in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cities from only two countries outside Latin American and the Caribbean occupy places on the list; the United States and South Africa.

It does seem a little shameful that arguably the most modern and developed country in the world, the US, has a very high crime rate that features in discussions regarding the most violent places on earth.

The US is not in the same league as a place like Brazil, as seen in the image above, but it does make the same conversation which should be concerning for US citizens.

Traditional Martial Arts and Self Defence

Is this conversation still new to people these days?

Many people teaching martial arts have little to no experience with real world, brutal violence yet proclaim to teach self-defence. And very few critically look at what they are teaching or have been taught. Many of us have been caught up in dogma, a way of looking at violence due to our work - the martial art or ring sport in which we participate. Because we lack real world experience we tell ourselves a story about how we think it is rather than how it actually is in reality. We assume way too much.

My experience in learning technique in many systems is often like this: Attacker assaults defender. Defender does technique X. The technique is successful. Finish. And it woefully attempts to replicate real world violence. When you think about effective self-defence training, does waiting for ideal circumstances to perform technique X seem like a great strategy?

In many real life situations, unless we are assaulted by surprise there is both a pre-confrontation and pre-fight stage. So why aren’t we learning in training how to deal with the situation earlier to avoid the physical assault to begin with? It is foolish to believe that the chance of you being attacked under ideal circumstances will ever happen. Attacks don’t occur in well-lit spacious areas with soft matting and minimal contact.

Go read the whole article.

Sort of reminds me of this.

Avoiding Violence and Personal Expression

Senshido Europe article

I spoke to another “self defence Instructor” about a very unusual haircut he was sporting when he showed up in a foreign country for a training seminar, this drastic hairdo really stood out, but when asked he candidly replied “Oh, I get this done whenever I travel abroad!” So let me get this straight, we teach people to avoid drawing attention to themselves, to avoid standing out in a crowd, and then go do the complete opposite? Do as i say, not as I do? C’mon, WTF?

Again I ask how many of us actually practise what we preach?

How many of us actually conduct awareness drills and incorporate them into our everyday lives? Do any of us actually continuously scan our environment for presence of the abnormal or is it just something used as class fillers?

It's funny how attached people can get to a certain look they want to present to the world some times.