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.

ISR Matrix: The Definitive Review and Interview

ISR Matrix: The Definitive Review and Interview

ISR Matrix is an excellent system for learning physical self defence skills. 

It is a contemporary system that considers legal use of force at every step.

This is quite a detailed post that explores the system and also includes an interview with one of the main instructors in the region.

Aliveness: Common Sense or Controversial?

Aliveness. Although the term is linked to Matt Thornton (who is known for really promoting the concept), Aliveness can and should be associated with all types of self defence or combat related training and not just bjj.

In this post we look into this topic of Aliveness in some detail.

New Solo Training Device for Boxing Skills

I recently came across an interesting training aid whilst checking out some past posts on Nathans excellent blog, TDA Training. I found it through one of the comments. This device, called 'Boxerballs', is designed to stimulate the reflexes during solo training which is quite difficult to do generally without a partner.


The training aid is primarily for boxing skill training. The video above is a better description than words can do. What I like about it is that you can get a kind of realistic "sparring" session done by oneself. Training with this apparatus I would envisage, would very much stimulate the reflexes and would require quick movements in both defence and offence. Bobbing and weaving away from the multiple balls as well as quick target acquisition and striking a mobile target.

Sparring Solo?

This is good training. In the real thing, a target is only going to be open for a short period of time. During that period of time three things have to happen.


  1. You have to detect the opening,
  2. You have to make the mental decision to attack it, then
  3. Physically be quick enough and accurate enough to land a strike onto the target whilst it is still open and possibly moving.

These types of skills are readily trainable by training with live training partners when drilling, sparring and/or wrestling but not so easily replicated when training solo. On top of that, it provides a further challenge by offering multiple targets on multiple levels! This would be a very stimulating type of training in my opinion!

Stimulating those Reflexes

I first came across this training aid just 10 minutes ago from one of the comments on one of Nathan's older posts from February 2008 titled, Gross versus fine motor skills training. I have no other knowledge on the product other than what I have recently seen and read in the last 10 minutes. Perhaps I should have done more research before posting? I think not.

From what I have seen, I think it is a great training aid. The inventor, Brendan, also seems interested in bringing Boxerballs to the wider training public. Maybe you can help him? Check out the Boxerballs youtube channel and the Boxerball blog

Seems like a great product!



Jissen - Martial Arts Magazine FREE

I first found Jissen through a recent post over at MarksTraining.

Jissen is a free online Martial Arts Magazine which is put together solely with a pragmatic approach to dealing with the Martial Arts. It focuses on effectiveness and practicality. It is edited by Iain Abernethy.

Because it is delivered free and online, the articles don't have to be popular and mainstream which ensures some of the articles are quite interesting.

It features 13 articles over 54 pages. A sample of titles includes:

  • How to Spar for the Street,
  • How to Survive a Knife Assault,
  • Martial Arts Scepticism: A manifesto and
  • Power and Impact

I definitely recommend checking it out, after all, it is FREE!

Download the pdf for Issue 3 of Jissen here. (6.48MB)

The Sucker Punch and Cheap Shots

This post is a follow up post to yesterdays titled, Are Martial Arts a Waste of Time?

Today I'd like to expand on that a little and talk in more detail about Sucker Punches and Cheap Shots.

Tricks from the Streets

Yesterdays post was mostly about street smarts and awareness. It was about being street wise. One aspect of being street wise is being aware of Sucker Punches and Cheap Shots.

Almost all street fighters and violent people have a 'trick' they use when they initiate an attack that gives them a greater chance of landing that first strike. Once that first strike lands, the rest will follow in quick succession.

This is normal. Expect it. This can happen in both Assault and Robbery. It happens differently but it still happens.

Be Street Wise by Ruddington Photos


Prior to an assault, there will likely be some type of posturing. This could be pointing, shoving, pushing, loud yelling argument or something of that nature. There will generally be some type of distraction or feint an attacker will use to set up his first strike which will generally be a big right hand. They will generally use some type of 'trick' or other set-up to cover their intentions as they throw that first strike.


For Robbery, it may be a little different. Someone who should have been detected on your radar may stop and ask you for a cigarette or the time or whatever to assess if you will be an easy target. The way you reply to his question may be what determines if he launches into his Robbery attempt. On top of that, while you are thinking of a reply, that may be the moment they launch their attack. It is 'cheating', it is a 'trick', but it works.

In both cases, being aware of these Sucker Punches and Cheap Shots will give you a much better chance of seeing them coming and avoiding or countering them. Implement these things into your own training. Use drills which simulate surprise attacks and feints.

Train using these Tactics

One suggestion for doing this includes standing in the middle of a circle with your eyes shut and someone comes in and pushes you then throws a big right hand (with gloves on of course). After you feel the push from whatever direction, you open your eyes and counter the attack.

Physical Surprise

There are many variations to this one drill. You can do it against a wall or in a corner. You can have a number of training partners line up and one person walks by them at about arms distance. Any one of them can begin the attack. It could come from in front, behind or next to them. You can have two people launch the attack or even three as THREE attackers has been seen to be more likely than two attackers!

Intellectual Distraction

You could initiate the attack by asking distracting questions such as 'Hey, didn't we go to the same school?' Encourage imagination from the question askers. Once the question is asked, launch the attack at the moment when the partner is thinking of a response.

Be aware of Sucker Punches and Cheap Shots. They were used in school and are still used on the streets today. He who uses these tactics to launch an attack, has the advantage. If you are in immediate danger, cant escape and feel the need to launch a pre-emptive attack, you may want to use these tactics as well.