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A Dual Approach To Self-Defense

yin-yangUnless you’ve been living in a cave all of your life, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the concept of “Yin And Yang.”  Even if you don’t fully understand it,  you will… The more you learn about self-defense (and life in general), the more you’ll come to understand how profound the concept of “complimentary opposites” is.

Now before I get a gazillion responses chastising me for my over-simplified use of this ancient and profound concept, let me clarify that I’m using it for discussion… not much else.

There are two basic approaches to self-defense. There is the “theory approach” (which I’ll associate with the “soft or yin” aspect of self defense) and there is the “training approach.” (which I’ll associate with the “hard or yang” aspect)

Neither approach is “BETTER” than the other. Neither is COMPLETE without the other.  In my opinion, only by integrating BOTH approaches will you have a realistic personal safety system.

The theory-approach involves understanding the dynamics of violent encounter.  How they happen, how to prevent and avoid them, how to detect and recognize them and how to deal with them if and when they do happen.

It involves the idea of protecting yourself from “outside threats,” in particular the violent or predatory actions of other people.

The “problem” with an exclusively theoretical approach to self-defense is that it does very little to improve your health or protect you from “internal threats” (such as the health threats associated to being out of shape, making poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive drinking and poor diet etc.)

Another pitfall about a theory-only approach to self-defense is that your “measuring stick,” the criteria of “success” is to use your knowledge so that “NOTHING HAPPENS.”

You know what boys and girls?  Dedicating time, study and energy for the achievement of “NOTHING” is not a huge motivator.

The training-approach to self-defense goes at things from a different angle.  Self-Defense training involves the regular, ongoing process of developing skills and developing “athletic qualities” that can help you deal with a violent situation.

Enhancing your performance IS a legitimate solution to many of the problems we face in staying safe.  Make no mistake about it, a fight is an “athletic event.”  The more skilled you are, the better shape you’re in, the more confident and mentally prepared you are, the better you’ll do.

The “measuring stick” is health and self-improvement.  “Success” IS when something happens. The ongoing process of working out and developing your self-defense skills will get you into great shape.  You’ll look better, feel better, be stronger, leaner, and in general much healthier.

Which is pedal on a bicycle is “better” the right or the left?  Which is better inhaling or exhale? I think the “answer” is not one or the other but BOTH.  Thats my point, BOTH knowledge and training are important in gaining the most out of your self-defense efforts.

There’s not much sense developing a healthy attractive body if you some “shitbag” cranks you over the head, drags you into the bushes and victimizes you.  Nor is there much logic to building a life around worrying about and avoiding that “shitbag” when chances are you’ll never encounter him any way.

Learn to protect yourself from the inside and out. Combine the study of personal safety with the regular practice of conditioning and training.

Enuff said,


About Randy LaHaie

I’m the founder of “Protective Strategies,” a training and consulting company providing self-defense and combative fitness solutions to law enforcement, high-risk professionals and private citizens since 1994. I am a retired police officer, court-declared expert in use-of-force and critical incident performance, and a life-long student of self-defense and combative fitness. “My Thing” is to help people incorporate functional and minimalist workout strategies to improve their health, fitness and personal safety.

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