What is the best self defense system

Chapter 1

What is the best self defense system?

That is the biggest question there is to answer. There are many different systems that claim to be the best (battle tested) system. In my opinion, there is not one best system. There can be the best system for you, but not one in general.

Whether a system is the best for you depends on your goals and what you expect from it. If your goal is to learn a specific technique and spend hours and hours on perfecting it, your best bet would be within traditional martial arts. If you want to improve your ground fighting game, learn to play on the ground, you will probably end up somewhere between Judo and (Brazilian) Jiu-Jitsu.

But are these traditional martial arts preparing you for defending yourself against a violent attack?

In my years of training traditional martial arts, we did some selfdefense. There was always the preset attack. Whether it was a grab, a punch or a knife attack. I remember getting into an argument with a group of renowned senior instructors (6th dan and higher), discussing the lack of reality in these ‘demonstrations’. In their opinion, it should be clear what style art you were doing in the selfdefense.

This is where I got confused, but also started to question my own instructors….

Is there any logic in having a style-characteristic way of defending yourself? Is the karate-do way better than the Judo-way? Or is the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu way better for selfdefense than Thai boxing?

Is selfdefense something you can learn? Or does it only have something to do with how you are born. This brings us to the way people respond to certain situaties: Freeze, flight or fight responses.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as that a person only has one way how they react. I think everybody, no person excluded, will go through all the different responses, but time between the different responses is different. Some people can switch really fast between freeze and fight, or freeze and flight. Others switch just a bit slower.

Nice example of this is someone crossing the street. If you cross the street and a truck comes storming at you, I would say all people freeze for (more or less) a second. At this point you probably jump to the side of the street (flight). Not many people will face the truck and think they can defeat it. So this is our instinct.

Switching to the “fight” modus is (from instinct) more a survival mode as well. I we need to fight for food to survive, we will. Even if this means taking risks. If we need to fight to protect our kids, we can endure way more than we think humanly is possible. So it is all depending the totality of facts and circumstances given in a certain situation that will decide how we will react.

Back to the best selfdefense system. If we all have different kinds of ways we are responding to a (potential) threat, there is a logic in offering different kind of martial arts that address different perspectives on learning selfdefense.

I have heard from many people that they don’t like martial arts, or fighting in general. They say it is uncivilized and that’s why they refrain from it. When you ask them how they would respond if someone would enter their house and threaten them, they think they know what to do. I will hit them, I will fight them, I will comply to their demands…. All scenarios are possible. And what if your kid gets bullied at school? They learn to reason with the bully.

After asking if the bullying stops after their kids talks to them is practically always a no. A lot of parents (and teachers) tell the kids to learn to stand up for theirselves.

Sounds to me like throwing the kid in deep water and expect it to swim, without any instructions…..

But how do you learn to defend yourself?

First of all, you need to recognize the situation. If you are truly trying to learn selfdefense, it would imply that you need to be brought into a situation in which there is a threat. This way you learn to recognize the threat. Once you recognize it, you need to learn how to respond to this threat. Luckily, we have our built-in reflexes, our instinct. Many systems taught have a go-to respons in a certain situation, but in a real-life scenario stress will kick in and we will first go to our instincts. So if the selfdefense is built on natural reflexes, it will be the easiest to use. Does this mean that other techniques or responses are not efficient? Not at all, but it only takes more time to learn them and to let your body go to this reaction as a first response.

So what is the perfect selfdefense system?

If you take all the above in account, there is no such thing as the perfect selfdefense system. Anyone claiming their system is perfect for any situation, are not completely honest about what they are offering. As long as you know this and you are honest about it, there is no problem.

I am a Krav Maga instructor, a lot of people are saying it is the best selfdefense system in the world. Also a lot of people think Krav Maga sucks, because Muy Thai or MMA is must better. Maybe…. To be honest, I don’t think Krav Maga is teaching the strongest or best techniques for all situations. However, I do think that Krav Maga teaches a technique all students can learn and perform in a short period of time, built on natural responses. So which one is better? I think it is all depending on how much time you want to spend on it. I have been training my gyaki-tsuki (right cross) for many many years, trying to perfect it, giving it full power and being able to stop it 3 millimeter before my partners face. But will it be effective in a selfdefense situation? It looks cool, but is it effective?

Or is my hammerfist, that I have been hitting on a pad during several selfdefense classes, more effective?

Can I apply any combative in a situation? If someone is choking me, can I hit him?

If there is a knife from behind on my throat, can I kick? Or throw?

What system to choose will depend on how you want to learn selfdefense? Do you want to learn weapon defenses? Or just grabs? Or chokes? Or a little bit of all? It is all depending YOUR expectations, YOUR goals.

So if you were expecting an answer on the question, I am sorry to disappoint you. These are all questions you need to ask yourself.

Do you want to learn an art? Or do you want to learn how to survive an attack? Do you want to learn a lot in a short period of time? Or are you ok with a system that will take years to master?

Even a combination of all the above is possible, if not recommended. Risky quote: The more tools you have, the easier it will become to respond to a threat with the appropriate reaction.

In the next chapter I will talk about online classes. Are they sufficient for learning self defense?