Last updated on September 10th, 2023
6 Proven Ways to Learn Self Defense
Learning self-defense is insurance against bodily harm. It’s also a great way to learn how to avoid trouble and handle a sticky situation. Personally, I learned self-defense because I was a skinny dude who couldn’t throw a punch. I was always getting picked on because I could never stand up for myself.
Now, whether you want to protect yourself and others or become physically and emotionally fit to handle a violent situation, I’ll teach you how to get started in self-defense.
In this guide, I’ll share how to learn self-defense based on real-life experience. I’ll also share some useful tips to make the learning process effortless.
6 Proven Ways to Learn Self-Defense
1) Self-Defense is Psychological
I imagine your idea of self-defense is learning different martial arts styles or something along those lines. Yes, learning how to throw a punch or defend against a kick is important, but you must also realize that self-defense is mostly a state of mind and being.
Therefore, the first thing you need to learn about self-defense is to desist from the idea that you’re a victim. Think about the famous quotes from people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.: Even if you’re physically beaten, you shouldn’t let that break your spirit. Always find that within your spirit.
Once you find your resolve, understand that 9/10 times, the key to resolving a conflict is usually proactive and psychological.
Learn about situational awareness. Consider your environment and the people around, and always cover your back. If you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, always listen to your guts and remove yourself as fast as possible before letting things spiral out of the way.
Next, consider the psychological aspect and learn how to talk your way out of a conflict. Learn the different verbal strategies and tactics on how to de-escalate a situation. Read about conflict resolution, especially those that rely on transactional analysis theories.
In most cases, you’ll realize that most conflicts are solvable through word of mouth-no need to engage in a physical confrontation. Learn how to persuade an aggressor to ease them down. Here, humor may help, intimidation may help, or even debating skills- depending on the situation.
2) Consider Martial Arts
Learning martial arts is the second step in learning self-defense. At the basic level, understand that all forms of martial arts are sports at their core. Martial art is simply that, an ART.
It teaches you how to be competitive in a certain sports niche, just like football training or racing, but they have the added benefit of making you a fighter.
Surprisingly, the mainstream doesn’t seem to understand that martial arts are sports optimized as gladiator sport style and not optimized for self-defense. Either way, starting a martial arts journey will provide everything you need for self-defense, even though that’s not necessarily the main goal.
A big real-world benefit of learning martial arts is the stamina boost. You get extremely fit from the conditioning drills and gain more fitness and confidence to handle violent situations.
So, how do you pick the best martial arts program for self-defense?
In my opinion, there’s no “best” martial arts training. In self-defense, no technique fully protects you against a violent situation or guarantees to prepare you for self-defense. The truth is all martial art techniques have limitations under different circumstances.
For example, consider a martial art like Judo. It’s a great technique, but unfortunately, it lacks real utilization in MMA and versatility compared to wrestling or BJJ. Does that mean you shouldn’t practice Judo? Far from it; there’re situations where it comes in handy.
You must understand that in the martial arts space, there will always be debates about which art is better. Don’t listen to that BS.
Instead, here’re some pointers to follow when selecting the right martial arts for self-defense:
Choosing A Martial Arts to Learn Self-Defense
Aliveness in Training
An important consideration when choosing what martial art to pursue to learn self-defense is that it should stress aliveness in training. It should simulate real-life conditions.
Martial art techniques that focus on aliveness promote practicing drills and sparring from early on. A sparring partner gives you progressive resistance and simulates something close to the same speed and intensity as a real fight.
Beware of the traditional martial arts, where they don’t use techniques that are “too dangerous” or don’t believe in sparring.
Some martial arts techniques that believe in this philosophy involve kicking, such as Muay Thai, & Grappling, such as Sambo or Brazilian JJ.
Next, choose a martial arts technique that won’t lull you into a false sense of security. The ideal martial arts technique you choose to learn self-defense with should have practical applications in the real world.
Your instructor should focus more on applicability in real-life situations and less on sporting applications. For example, breaking boards and bricks is nice but won’t help you in real life. Similarly, don’t go for a technique with lots of conditioning. For example, high kicks are fantastic to throw but easier to spot and counter in a street fight situation.
So, instead, I suggest picking a technique that promotes small and subtle kicks. The easy non-telegraphed techniques your opponent can’t pick. Leave the high, flashy techniques for the films.
I would also suggest you learn any martial art with full contact and where striking is an art. Techniques such as Muay Thai and Karate teach you how to develop how to hit and get hit. Muay Thai, for example, will teach you clinching, kicking, punching, and taking hits on the head.
Training your body on taking hits is important because it conditions your body to handle lethal full combat/contact situations.
Another factor to consider when selecting a martial art technique is that it should be a no-gi grappling. No-gi means it shouldn’t overemphasize the importance of wearing the classic fighting robes. You don’t want to train exclusively on a gi and then come to the street and realize your opponent isn’t wearing one.
Next, you must ensure your technique has lots of grappling. Remember, many street fights usually end on the ground or are usually close combat with much pulling and wrestling.
Learning how to grapple will help you get your aggressor off you when on the ground and teach you how to defend while on the ground.
Judo and BJJ will give you an advantage in close combat or when both of you are on the ground.
A realistic martial art technique for learning self-defense will also depend on your age. The right technique is one which you’re capable of executing. Some techniques can take a toll on your body, and age exacerbates this.
If you’re young, healthy, and quickly heal from injuries, you can pick any technique. However, if you’re advanced in age, you must be selective of the technique you pick. For example, guys in their 40s and above should probably look for techniques that don’t have super deep stances or those with a more upright stance, such as traditional karate or kung fu.
You must also choose a martial art technique that you’re interested in. My advice is to find a technique you enjoy doing. You’ll progress and learn about self-defense much quicker if you choose something you love doing.
From experience, I can tell you that the ability to stick with something is more important than precisely what style it is. Don’t fall for the herd mentality and follow what others are saying; instead, choose a martial art technique and make it part of your life.
Finally, consider a technique with non-lethal and lethal weapons training. Training to manage an aggressor with a weapon is part of the self-defense realm.
Learn the tips and tricks on subduing an aggressor with a knife or pepper spray. Remember, real-life situations are quite unpredictable and usually come in different forms.
There’re many variables to consider when selecting a martial arts technique, but if I were to suggest one, I’d go with MMA.
I might be biased because I train mixed martial arts (Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, & amateur boxing), but from experience, MMA ticks on most of the boxes and has real-life applicability.
Learning MMA will allow you to throw an effective punch, which usually ends most fights and teaches you how to defend and produce an offense, even on the ground.
Plus, with UFC’s popularity, new MMA gyms have sprung up everywhere, so it’s hard to miss a gym in your local area.
3) Strength Training
While still practicing martial arts, building on your strength through physical training is also a great way to learn self-defense.
Stronger guys and those with more endurance are likelier to win in a physical duel, even without any training. Ensure you also work on your strength so that when shit hits the fan, it sprays in your aggressor’s way.
4) Eat & Get Bigger
Big guys are generally intimidating, which is an advantage in street-fight situations. Unfortunately, there are no classes on how to get bigger. You need to eat and gain mass.
And the thing is, even the best technique is easy to beat with brute force. You need to have some baseline of strength. Join a weightlifting class to grow some mass. After all, you will also need raw, primal strength to toss people around. If you can’t do that, all martial arts techniques won’t save you.
5) Consistency in Training
You must also be super consistent in your training. Learning self-defense doesn’t just happen overnight. You must regularly be consistent in all your efforts, whether it’s weight lifting or strength training. Stop procrastinating and get to work.
6) Learn Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is often overlooked in self-defense, but it’s important for sustaining a physical altercation.
Deep breathing isn’t only necessary to help you keep fighting but also ensures that you remain calm and straight, making it easier to assess the situation.
How to Learn Self-Defense Quick Fire Tips
- Regardless of the martial art technique you invest in, you’ll gain a lot from good posture and balance. It’s more than healthy but helps you not to look like an easy target.
- Ignore what other people say about martial arts styles. It’s mostly based on their biases; instead, do your homework and then choose and stick to whatever technique you feel is right for you.
- Cross-training is crucial. Not one self-defense training is encompassing, and every technique has something to offer your fighting style.
- Martial arts are about being dynamic as possible. Get in shape, learn how to hit hard, and how to take hits.
- A training partner will make it easier to progress in learning self-defense.
- Be skeptical of self-defense advice.
Living is Winning
Of course, martial arts and self-defense training don’t prepare for everything in the streets. Always remember no technique will prepare you fully for every situation.
For example, an aggressor may come at you with a gun or even face multiple assailants. In such situations, survival takes a front seat, and living is winning. Running is an option.
It’s one more reason I usually insist on the importance of medical training as part of learning self-defense. You’re more likely to save a life with medical training than with self-defense classes.
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to JRE Clips
It’s a wrap and tips you need to know about learning self-defense. The truth is learning takes time, and there’s no quick fix. It also requires dedication. However, with enough determination, it gets easier over time.
The most important thing to know about self-defense is that it’s always about avoiding conflict or confrontation in the first place. Just because you can fight doesn’t mean you must pick up fights. In fact, something I learned from my trainer is that I should only use physical force as a last resort.