self defence


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.


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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.



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.

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).

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.

Ted Cruz, Guns, Sexual Assault and Mugs

Ted Cruz recently claimed that Australia's prohibition of most firearms in 1996 led to a significant increase in sexual assaults because women were unable to defend themselves.

I am all for self defence but seriously; what a load of bullshit.

The Washington Post did some research into Cruz's claims.

The rate of sexual assaults in Australia has increased slightly between 1996 and 2014, but there was no significant spike or drop after the 1996 legislative changes or buyback program. The increase likely is affected by the increase in reporting, and there wasn’t prevalent use of handguns for self-defense before 1996, as Cruz suggests.

There is evidence that the gun reforms helped reduce gun deaths, but it’s not a sole cause-and-effect relationship. Moreover...Australian gun culture is not comparable to American gun culture — i.e., the use of concealed carry, ability to carry handguns for self-defense.

Women were not previously allowed to carry firearms for self defence in Australia. His pro gun argument is shallow in the Australian context. There are better arguments for preventing sexual assaults against women, for self defence and, ironically, also for the pro-gun movement in the US.

The real issue I have is his fear mongering about a self defence issue and implying a simplistic sub-optimal solution.

Highlighting Australian gun crime rates pre and post 1996 and predicting similar outcomes for similar action in the US is a mug's game.

The Fetish of Streetfighting the Unskilled Possesses

Matt Thornton

The allure of “street fighting” disappears pretty quickly once someone sincere begins training in a combat sport. The idea of beating up the average man holds no glamour when you spend your days battling with fellow athletes who are at least as skilled as you are at the art of hand to hand combat.


I have no respect for people who have a genuine interest in getting in street fights. It is weak. It is a desperate grasp for status. Such action appears like the pertpetrator is attempting to gather and pour self esteem into an empty vessel that is full of holes.

This is especially so for people who use the ‘sucker punch’ or ‘king hit’ 1 - even more so the ones that come in from a flank and blindside people. That is pathetically weak and shows an immense lack of confidence in ones own abilities.

  1. We should all start referring to these sorts of pathetic attacks as the ‘scum punch’ or ‘coward hit’. Calling them ‘king hit’ and even ‘sucker punch’ can imply some sort of (a), skill in applying it (king hit) or (b), fault of the victim (sucker punch). This is not my idea; there are many who are promoting this. I think it makes sense though I am not sure what effect it will have as far as numbers of these sorts of attacks goes. If nothing else these are better descriptors.

Drug use, mental health issues and extensive criminal history in an attacker


Mark Lavelle (32) was sentenced to seven years in prison with two suspended for the attack on Mr Cooper and the hijacking of a taxi.

Lavelle had taken crystal meth before the assault...Lawyers for Lavelle said he suffered from a mental disorder and had been with the State's psychiatric services since his mid-teens.

He has 62 previous convictions and a long history of substance abuse.

It is not just an angry aquaintance or drunk person at the pub who engages in violence. It is also people with mental disorders, extensive criminal records and long term drug use we need to consider in our awareness and self defence approach.

Such a combination in an attacker can often result in attackers with super aggression, strength and unpredictability.

Real Knife Attack and Startle Flinch Response Example


A 33-year-old was sitting in traffic in Steel Street, with the driver’s window down, when a man ran towards him from the footpath and started stabbing him.

The driver used his arms to protect his body, which bore the brunt of the attack, as he sat strapped into the driver’s seat.

This sudden attack would probably have triggered the startle-flinch response which is evident in the use of the arms to protect the body. Sometimes instinct and reflexes are good for our survival.

Gun Violence and Crime in the US

Gun Violence and Crime in the US

Gun violence and gun crime in the US. Quite an emotive topic for some.

However this post looks straight at the data and truths surrounding gun violence in the US so we can have a better understanding of how it happens and how we can defend against it.

This is one of the longest posts to be published on Low Tech Combat so strap yourselves in. We also have a whole heap of charts and images (13 in total) to portray the information as efficiently as possible.

Chimp vs Chimp Violence and Insights into Human vs Human Violence

Chimp vs Chimp Violence and Insights into Human vs Human Violence

New studies into how chimpanzees engage in violence between one another shines great insight into the fundamental nature of how and why humans engage in violence with one another.

This post explores these recent studies and provides analysis into the meanings for us humans.

The King Hit

The King Hit

The King Hit (or Sucker Punch) is causing a lot of problems in todays society. It is easy to hit someone with a cheap shot.

We explore this King Hit issue in this post. We look at the injuries and family suffering that King Hits cause. We look at some statistics. We look at the pettiness of the reasons people use these cheap attacks. We look at the culprits. We ask if King Hits are a reflection of a cheapening of life these days and dehumanisation more generally.

Regardless how much much of a cheap shot these sorts of attacks are, the threat posed by them is very real - especially if you are drunk (drunk=slow).

Let's get stuck into it.

The Human Combative Behaviour Presentation

This post contains a highly produced slide deck exploring the topic of Human Combative Behaviour.

It combines some fantastic imagery, statistical analysis and features many of the key points from the Manifesto aiming to educate people about human to human violence.

Strategic Self Defence

Strategic Self Defence

Many people get confused regarding the differences between strategy and tactics; Even people who are well versed in various combat arts and sciences.

This post examines exactly what strategy is and what it is not - from a self defence perspective.

Then we go deep and explore how we can approach self defence from a strategic perspective. This will get you thinking big picture and how the deliberate big picture decisions we make flow down to everything else.

Are Combat Sports a Waste of Time for Self Defence?

Are Combat Sports a Waste of Time for Self Defence?

There are broadly two camps.

The first camp, they love the combat sports and feel that unless you train against a 100% resisting opponent you are not close to simulating real violent encounters.

The second camp, they feel that there are too many restrictions when training in combat sports which generates bad habits.

There is a bit more to it than this and we go deep looking at whether or not the combat sports are a good method for developing effective self defence skills.