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Kick Like A Mule, Hit Like A Ton Of Bricks!

self-defense techniqueWould you like to discover a simple self-defense training strategy that will allow you to gain maximum benefits, quickly, with a moderate investment of your time?

If you’re an advanced practitioner who’s hit a plateau, a novice hoping to acquire legitimate self-defense skills fast, or anyone who wants to optimize your self-defense workouts and fighting skills, I invite you to give this a try.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” ~ Bruce Lee

There are no quick or easy fixes to acquiring legitimate self-defense skills. However, if you combine solid principles, common sense and simplicity, there ARE shortcuts and best practices that will take you from where you are now to where you’d like to be faster than you might think.

It seems that there are two opposing positions on the development of self-defense skills.

On the one hand, there are those who claim that they possess “the secret” to fast and easy self-defense skills. Anyone, regardless of size, age or gender,  can learn it in a short course or a weekend seminar (for a fee of course). You don’t have to be in shape, you don’t have to practice and it doesn’t even matter how big, strong or dangerous your attacker might be.

Then there’s the other side of the argument, where you are told that achieving self-defense mastery is a life-long process. It will take you years to achieve “black belt status” before you should even consider applying what you’ve learned to defend yourself.

I call bullshit to both of these positions.

Now that I’m getting older, lazier and wiser (that last one is debatable 😉 ) I have little interest in training longer and harder than I have to. Like you, I have better things to do with my life than train for hours to make minimal progress.

But also like you, I want to stay in shape and keep my self-defense skills intact for a lifetime.

Jack Of All Trades; Master of None

There are countless techniques associated with various self-defense systems. If you try to practice all of them, you won’t be able to spend much time on any of them.

So how do you optimize your training and produce the best results in the shortest amount of time?

Divide and Conquer – A.K.A. Specialize!

The solution is obvious and simple: Narrow the focus of your training to a couple, strategically-selected techniques and train the shit out of them!

Rather than dividing your time between several fighting techniques, spend that time on a couple really good ones.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t practice other skills. It means making your specialty technique the focal point of your training. You’ll dive deep into the execution, application and versatility of your specialty move.

“You are more likely to acquire power by narrowing your focus and applying your energies, like the sun’s rays, to a limited range of activities in a small number of domains.” ~ Jeffery Pfeffer

So Where Do I Start?

Sounds great in theory right?

The first challenge is on deciding which technique(s) is best to focus on. Which technique will give you the best bang for your buck? Which skill is most likely to come to your rescue in “the mud and the blood and the beer,” of a real-world encounter?

If you’ve been training for a while, you probably have a pretty good idea which of your techniques would be prime candidates. Pick one. ANY one will do at this point to get you started. You can always change your mind and switch to something else once you start experimenting.

What feels most natural and powerful to you? What move do you land most often in partner drills and sparring?

I sugget that you start with a striking technique as opposed to a kick. There are just too many variables in a self-defense situation that limit the practicality of kicking as your primary option.

It’s fine to select a kick as a “secondary” specialty technique. Pick one strike and one kick and you’re good go.

Fundamentals First

Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice does. Practicing a technique wrong over and over again won’t make it right. It will only lead to frustration, injuries and bad habits.

Make sure to brush up on the proper mechanics of your chosen technique. Practice it in as many different ways as you can think of: fast, slow, in a mirror, on a heavy bag, on focus pads, and partner drills.

Set it up and follow it up in combination with other techniques. Learn to apply it in a variety of situations, against different attacks from various ranges and positions.

This is the fastest method I know of to provide you with solid, functional fighting skills.

Nothing Lasts Forever

After a while, you may grow bored with concentrating so much attention on such a narrow focus. You will probably also arrive at a point where your go-to technique is pretty damn effective, efficient and ingrained.

So THEN what do you do? Switch it up and start over again with a different specialty technique.

My preference is to pick one specialty technique for each limb. Over time, you’ll develop the ability to land those skills at will with knock out power.

My personal inventroy is a right cross, left hook, right roundhouse kick and left side kick. I’ve been working on them for 40+ years and I’m still not done yet!

What are your thoughts?

If you were limited to a single self-defense technique in a fight for your life, what do you think it would be?

I invite you to provide your feedback, suggestions or comments in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

Take care, train smart and stay safe.

P.S. If you’d like more details about those “solid principles” that I eluded to earlier in this post as well as an explanation of why a specialty technique will have such a dramatic impact on your combative performance, I wrote a post about it a while back. Here’s a link to “The Brass Knuckle Effect.”

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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  • Rob Doore

    Good post Randy,also when only selecting a small toolbox of gross motor hard skills,your not overloading your brain with to many techniques when it comes to fight duress,so there’s less time lapse and a lot quicker response.hicks law I do believe….

    • You’re exactly right Rob… I’m glad you agree. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your input.

  • Denver Jewell

    Excellent post. I remember hearing a discussion on MMA fighters (UFC Tonight maybe) and they were saying how important it is to be well-rounded but when going for the win they all resort back to their “bread and butter”. And Rob’s right about having fewer choices allows one to choose quicker…

    • Glad you like the post Denver. I almost wrote it using the term “Bread & Butter Technique.” The dictionary describes the term to mean “solid, reliable and practical.” That would certainly fit. That was the term we used when I first incorporated the strategy into my own training “way back when.” Thanks for chiming in.

  • Chuck Peterson

    Years ago I was fighting in karate tournaments – point fighting. My instructor, a champion competitor, limited me to two techniques at one tournament. They fed off each other and I worked them over well. I actually made it through the first 3 rounds using just those two techniques so I know the benefit of knowing your bread and butter. I also know the Hicks Law arguments and they are good arguments.

    However, there’s another argument to be made. I don’t go looking for fights (any more) so my moves are going to be in response to his attack. I have a huge toolbox of techniques but his stance and first move are going to narrow my search very quickly. Having drilled the combinations into my cabesa for the last 40+ years will allow me to dish out the flurry after that first move – it’s not just my first move but the combination of moves that I have locked in. Do I give up a bit of decision time by having so many techniques to pick from? Absolutely. But my brain isn’t going to spend a lot of time thinking about kick, club or knife defenses if he sets up like a boxer and leads with a left jab.

    I do prefer to train against most likely attacks with most useful responses the most (even though the esoteric techniques are a lot more fun).

    • Great comments Chuck… thanks for your input.

  • Shaun Turton

    I think this is superb advice. A shame the message doesn’t get through for many people, who think having a smorgasbord of techniques is where it’s at. A single technique, hmmmm tough call. My can’t fail, very safe move has always been slip behind someone then pick them up and drops them. It’s surprisingly easy to slip someone once you are used to it.

    But then knees and elbows are always good, and of course when in doubt, choke ’em out. That’s about my repertoire. I think it’s simple enough.

    • Thanks for your input Shawn… I’m glad that the post got you thinking.

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