Advice for Real World Self Defense Training?

@hankthetank89 , I have read previously with great interest some posts of yours. They were regarding the inappropriateness of MMA for self defence etc.

Since I am at the other end of the world, joining your classes is impossible, although it is a dream of mine. So what options of training would you recommend, specifically for real world self defence and street fighting?

Also, any particular instructional videos on this topic you can recommend?

There are definetly good classes available in your country.
I work in an organisation called KMG. Its a worldwide organisation and i believe that there are lots of affiliate gyms in every country.
We all follow same program more or less, so that would be a good place to start - look into closest KMG classes near you.

The problem with self defense tho, is that it is too wide of a concept, therefore it takes tons of time. If you do boxing, you basically practice 3-4 types on punches and 3-4 types of defense for a year and you will be kind of good at it.
If we talk self defense, like Krav Maga, 1 year gives you an intro in all the possible situations, weapons, multiple attackers etc, and basically you cant do shit, because you havent practiced anything long enough.
This will strongly depend on an instructor. Some are better than others. Some follow the program too much, some are a bit more opened to other stuff aswell and give you more well rounded training.

I do believe that the basics are super important and are the best tool to have, so you cant just do Krav Maga. Since its too wide of a concept, in 2-3 years you will learn puncing and kicking at a level of someone who has gone to 20 kickboxing classes. So if you are actually interested in this, you will have to do MORE than just 1 type of training.
When i was progressing in this, i had 4 krav maga trainings a week and 3 kickboxing/mma ones.After a few years it will come together and make a lot of sense.

Videos? No. You cant train anything online or with videos. You need someone to actully attack you in training.
In Krav Maga we have a concept called “dry drilling” which means that you practice different techniques by yourself, but one need to KNOW and be able to do them correct before he drills them solo, otherwise you will just drill them wrong and enforce BAD habbits.
Same with shadowboxing - its the best tool for those who know HOW, but its a great way to get to terrible habbits with horrible mistakes if you dont know what you are doing and why.
An example of this is the retarded punching with a small dumbbell. The idea sounds good, but in reality what your body learns is to let the hand down after a punch, when you get tired and dumbbell starts to feel heavy so instead of pulling the hand back, it first drops a few centimeters. Might not seem like a big deal, but a few months of this, and your body is programmed to drop the hand a bit after each punch.

As some one that’s done MMA and self defence I can also testify to this. MMA is not bad for self defence. But its not the be all and end all. And BJJ is almost useless.

I can not say much about Krav Maga - I’ve seen the promo stuff. But I’ve never been to a class. It looks good - but as Hank said - depends on the instructor. I’ve had good and bad BJJ instructors. I’ve had good and bad Judo instructors.

But on self defence I will say - 99% of it is mind set. For example every fight I’ve ever had I’ve been prepared to kill someone to ensure my safety. And if it came to it and the only way to get safe was to push someone in front of a moving car - then I’d do it. That mind set of “anything to survive” is more important than training techniques.

And I’m not running classes down. Having some basic skills like throwing a punch is great. But once the adrenaline hits things like that go out of the window really quickly. Punches get loopy and sloppy. It is hard to keep things as they should be. Even pro fighters start swinging for the fences really quickly. And in that situation what gets you through is aggression. When I taught self defence this was what formed a majority of the practical part. Not how to throw a punch. But that the key to surviving was getting angry.

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This is the 2nd time I recall you mentioning this and I feel like you must’ve gone to a really substandard BJJ school, possibly even fraudulent. Humans haven’t grown any new limbs lately and BJJ (as it was developed) is still a robust, proven system of controlling a violent encounter with your bare hands.

The OP is after info about Krav Maga, which I can’t provide. I’ve also never sparred with any KM instructors, so no meaningful experience to share.


Thanks Hank, you pointed me in the right direction! I have found a local academy for Krav Maga training, and will be joining soon.

Thanks for taking the time to reply, its really appreciated!

BJJ almost useless might be too strong to be fair. But for the purpose of self defence - its not at the top. Not even top 3. I’d put wrestling over BJJ.
The issue is BJJ is for dueling. For that - it is (or was) almost unparalleled. But its reliance on the ground game means you are going to the floor. And once you are on the floor - you are exposed.

“Case study”. I’m okay at BJJ. Assume I get into a fight and it goes to ground. Compared to wrestling and judo BJJ is more open to going onto the back. In a fight this is not where you need to be. In a fight you have 0 reason to think “it is just me and them. There will be no out side interference”. In fact I can’t ever think of a fight where its just been “man on man”. Do you really want to be pulling an arm bar from guard on some dude when his 3 mates turn up?

Which is the next issue. Winning via submission? How many people do you think are willing to break a guys arm in self defence? Kimora someone until their shoulder dislocates? I’m pretty sure I would (I’ve seen what happens to people when they don’t finish fights). But that’s a think. If I pause for a moment and they slip out. Or they start screaming for mercy and some by stander gets involved - I’m on my back both hands full.

Even if you do BJJ for self defence - and you land on your knees and start raining blows. You are still on your knees. And you are still vulnerable. Its not were I want to be. Screw that. I want to be on my feet able to get the hell out of dodge. So that if that guys 3 mates do turn up I have half a chance of getting out of there.
The greatest tool in my “self defence kit” is being able to run 400m in under 60 seconds. And I know that might not sit with the American “stand your ground” attitude. And that’s cool. But if I have 0 reason to fight people, I’ll happily run away. If I have a reason to be there - I’m better placed to fight 4 guys when I’m standing up. I have little chance to winning 4:1 - but is better than 3:1 starting on your knees.

BJJ also does not teach some of the “nastier” side of martial arts. Fish hooks, eye gouging or face racking.

So I guess what I’m saying is: If you know its a 1:1 and you don’t mind breaking a guys arm then BJJ is perfect. But the chances of those 2 things being true are very limited.


You covered a lot of ground in your post and I don’t want to challenge any of your assumptions about how a violent encounter might play out. I think it’s safe to say that you and I have had dramatically different experiences under the umbrella of BJJ training. I’ve found my mat time to have very practical carry-over to bar security situations, which are my admittedly limited sample of real-world self-defense results.

I prefer to prioritize my training under instructors who can whoop my ass, full-stop, no-doubt-about-it, and then show me how to do the same thing. For years on end.

It sounds like you’ve found a better well to drink from. I wish you luck in that pursuit.

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100% true. Altho, a good school and instructor tries to combine these. Thats why real KM is super simple. Why? Exactly like you said - when shit gets real, you wont be able to do fancy stuff with armlocks and throws. Redirect the knife, get your arm cut, kick in the nuts and run… If you get lucky - you get to the hospital alive. Thats it.

True. 1 v 1, in a controled enviroment - BJJ wins, unless you get KOd from nowhere, but then everything fails, not only BJJ.
The thing with BJJ is that it takes a lot of time, which we dont want to waste on the street. In many cases attackers have weapons and you dont want to get in a close distance at all with someone who as any sharp objects available.
KM teaches that you always need to be in a longest possible distance. BJJ thrives in shortening the distance.
1)It can be bad to get in a close range…
2)BJJ focuses on 1 oponent and while you are going for a nice choke, you can get attacked by another person or persons.
3)BJJ doesnt provide an escape. Lets say you get the armbar. Now what? Ok, you break the dudes arm? For what? For pushing you? In my country you will be the one who goes to jail. Lets say he wasnt pushing, he went for the kill. Well then, he wont stop if you break his arms. What next? Go for the leg? Unless you get the choke, you cant really run away fast. Im not saying it cant be done. Im saying that there might be a bit safer-faster tactical options.

KM also has techniques on the ground but they are focused on getting up as soon as possible. But still, everyone should know BASIC bjj.
Some of the best KMG instructors also have some good belts in BJJ.
Jacek Walczak is a purple, imo. And Albert Kagalski is even a black belt in BJJ imo. And these guys are on the International Instructor team of KMG. They come at my place to see if shit is up to date, take exams etc.

p.s - only now i realised @carlbm wrote most of what i said already, haha.

haha, this reminded me of a BJJ instructor that trained me in MMA.
When he showed some shit like “ok, so now you can push your finger in here” and i was like : “isnt that illegal? wont i get point reduction?” he said : “yes, but he is the one getting hurt” haha :smiley:

When talking about this stuff, actually, BJJ should be taught in a mix with ground and pound at least for self defense because lots of BJJ goes out the window when the other guy starts headbutting. Im not saying a good BJJ dude cant solve this problem, im just saying that sometimes when we focus on our sport, we lose the other aspects.
Like - my passion is Kickboxing. And my best training partner is pure Krav Maga. So most our sparring sessions start with him kicking me in the nuts like 10 times before i adapt to what we are doing because i was too focused on what i wanted to practice from a Kickboxing standpoint. In the streets, that first kick might have fucked me up.

Be careful tho. Go, check it out but be careful.
KM was “made” by Imi Lichtenfeld who founded IKMF. After his death, his star pupil Eyal Yanilov created KMG, while older instructors remained IKMF.
Everyone can say they teach Krav Maga. Lots of Krav Maga is total shit. IKMF and KMG are the only organisations that need certification and actually oversee what is taught in their schools all over the world.
Im not saying everything thats not KMG or IKMF is shit - i have seen some good hybrid schools that have different stuff but it seems good(many ways to skin a cat) but be careful because there is LOTS of bullshit in Krav Maga schools all over the world. If its not IKMF or KMG, its 90% chance that its just some bullshit dude who has no real experience or certification.

You might ask - why stupid papers mater, right? Well. Look at it this way - KM does not have the sport element. We cant really test most our shit full force, SO lots of it is somewhat theoretical.
These gruelling 12 hour exams, a few times a year, are the only thing that seperate the weak from those who KNOW their shit. If someone is an instructor of KMG, he might be good, he might be bad, but at least he survived the exams.
Sure there are guys like me, who finished with 96%… There are guys who finished it with 72%. The difference is there, but still - at least the worst instructors of KMG : 1)PAID for the exams, so they invested their own money to be instructors 2)at least went through SOME sort of examination and tests of their skills.


@hankthetank89 Great post overall. I think you brought up a lot of important nuance to consider when thinking about our personal training priorities, so please don’t misinterpret the following criticism.

This is not true, at least not in my experience. Once a skilled BJJ player with decent levels of strength and fitness has a good grip on someone you are in a game of decision-making. How long it takes to resolve will now depend on your grappling experience, unless you manage to break the connection and turn it into a striking match or sprinting competition.

Good luck with that if you’re not practiced on making it happen. If you have examples of how it’s done, please share.

You can arm-drag a dude on your feet and be on his back, working a rear naked choke or even a strong rear clinch in under a second. Takedowns, throws, joint locks and chokes can be applied very suddenly from all kinds of positions in all kinds of circumstances. Training with wizards who like to play violence as close as violence can be played day-in, day-out makes this apparent.

The training methodology emphasizing hard sparring isn’t BJJ’s only secret sauce. The secret sauce is positional dominance and escapes from bad spots, which is how you get to good spots reliably. The whole situation can change in seconds, especially if you don’t understand the game that’s being played. If you don’t, you’re suddenly in a bad spot, and then you’re beaten.

BJJ as I’ve learned it provides all of the escapes I’ve ever made function against any kind of stress test. BJJ at it’s core is getting out of bad spots in a methodical manner, and asserting your will from the best possible position.

For my $0.02, I don’t rely on any martial arts training time to address multiple attacker scenarios. That’s why we have weapons and awareness.

I hear you.

I attended this exam, and this is how the black belts who teach me self-defense are made.

Agree. I’m lucky I’ve had some good teachers. So when stuff went side ways I was always ready. Well ready"ish". Its never good. When it comes to fighting all you have is grades of survival.

I’ve seen stabbings. Up close. REAL close. The thing that struck me is how quick it was. 3 people all fighting for their lives in under 5 seconds. I look at the videos on the internet on how to defend against a knife and I wince. The best defence you have against a knife (assuming you are not armed) is being able to cover a lot of ground VERY quickly. Fucking leg it. Funnily the only time someones ever tried to stab me was with a pen. Proper 12-6 stabbing motion aiming for my neck. I caught it classic karate style and then punched them straight out. Hard core right? Wrong - it was a 55-60 year old woman who’s husband I’d just kicked out of a pub for arguing with the karaoke DJ.

When I did Judo it did competition/sports judo. The 2 biggest differences between that and the typical judo. I learnt 4 throws. Just 4. And I did not learn them book perfect. I was show the cheat code.
But these 4 throws make up 75% of the throws you see in sports judo at that level. And they are never pulled off book perfect. So why spend time learning a redundant throw, that does not work when done “correctly”?
I went into my one and only comp after 4 months of Judo and won gold. None of my fights lasted more than 30 seconds. It is this sort of mentality that “wins” fights. I’d rather have 1 thing that I can bet on 99% of the time that 99 things that I can bet on 50% of the time each.


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yes, i agree if we are talking someone who knows what he is doing…
its just that not everyone is good… i see that in all the classes - some are good, most are not…
Krav Maga for regular people specialises in teaching some basic tactics that can just be smart to use and add to persons chance to get home with less damage. Also, when i teach people, i always say that against a sports striker or grappler they have no chance. Imo, KNOWING this, could save someone also.

Not everyone who practices BJJ is good at BJJ. Idk how its where you are from but in my country its like that withe verything - 20 people at the gym, only 1-2 is looks like he goes at all. 20 people practice MMA, only 1 dude holds a title, and few of his friends are good - 80% of the class go there for years and are still shit. Its like that with education and everything.
So in my experience, just cuz someone does BJJ doesnt mean he can do what you said. Actually - MOST of them cant.
But i do agree with what you said if we talk about people who are good at BJJ.

well you can also see this in striking…
best strikers of 2021 - McGregor and Porier. Look at their fights. They swing, they let their arms down all the time. The punches are just thrown for fucks sake with no real reason. Starting with a leg kick that never connects. Never doing more than 2 punches and when they both swing at the same time it looks like 2 drunks fighting on the street. NOTHING shows that they are good. NOTHING. If you could mask the ring in the video and their faces, i could just as easy comment that video as a beginner MMA match.
So where are all the fancy combos they learn on the padwork and what exactly makes them so good? Different factors, but good striking isnt one of em.

BJJ is wrestling.

In your experience people training Krav Maga execute the Krav Maga techniques in a fight more reliably than people training BJJ are able to execute their techniques?

“Good” is relative in BJJ. BJJ presents a multi-year path to proficiency and a decade plus for anything resembling mastery. Some pick it up faster than others, some quit before they ever get anywhere. Your competency, or lack thereof, is exposed in sparring.

What sort of capabilities should someone training Krav Maga for, say, two years expect to have?

Wrestling is also the name of a sport. If you want to get technical “freestyle” or “Greco Roman”.

What i ment to say is that its the same thing all across. There will be a few good BJJ guys in every class, and a few good Krav Maga guys. But most will be average at best.
I suck at grappling and i dont really do it much but i have submited guys who train BJJ regulary. Not the good ones of course, but that what im saying - 80% of people who attend a BJJ class are not good at BJJ or anything. Its the same in KM classes.

Super hard to say because there are people who “live and breathe it” and people who train for 5 years and still cant throw a straight punch.
It would be also complicated to explain in no matter what level to you since you are not familiar with a Krav Maga curriculum.
That is the most fucked up part in KM which also leads to many shit practicioners. There is just TOOOO MUCH.
Lets take P1 level - the very basic, first level. So we start with straight punches, groin kicks from a neutral stance. 360 defense against circular punches(big swings thrown by untrained people) + counter attacking. 3 different ways to get up from the floor(depending on how far is the attacker, we have different ways to get up that get us to a safest position to either run, or continue fighting). A basic defense from a very basic stupid chokes on the ground(like the ones they do in movies) and simmilar chokes standing(mostly never done in real life).
As the levels go up, the techniques are added and get more complicated. Also new stuff is added like weapons, multiple attackers, etc.
Doing KM at a good level is hard because there are lots of techniques and different problems.
Lets say - knives. With a knife you want to be in a longer distance. If attacker has a bat or a stick, you want to shorten the distance so he cant use the bat. If you combine these 2 in a stress drill, not only there are like 7 different techniques for different stabs, there are 5 different techniques from different swings. So not only you need to know them - you also need to be able to react in a correct way, AND you need NOT to fuck up by jumping on a knife and/or taking a step back from a bat.

There is also a problem with how a person learns this stuff. Some people can only learn it “by the book”. So “if he stabs me like this, i do this”. But then there are people who just naturally would hold a knife differently and they do the same stab in a different angle. People who learn it like its math, cant do shit when something changes, so you also need to be able to addapt.
We had this one guy in class who was from a farm. He was swinging a bat like he was chopping wood and no one, me included, could do shit because by the way he starts the swing you have no idea HOW will he continue the movement, so all you can do is some basic stuff like just shorten the distance and punch and kick, but no way to use any particular technique since its impossible to tell how will he continue the swing.

In a above average scenario, a person who has done 2 years of some good training should be able to use punches, kicks, knees and elbows. Would be able to use basic defenses against circular and straight attacks and kicks. Knows how to move if there are multiple attackers. Knows how to get back on his feet, knows a few defenses against most basic chokes and holds on the ground and on feet.

This is a super good video of what KM curriculum looks like :

Some of the stuff might seem super simple but you must remember that average person who takes interest in KM is in no way a fighter.
Each MOVE, even as simple as moving a step forward and step back in a fight stance, every elbow strike in every angle, is at least a weeks worth of lessons for most people.
2 years, is almost nothing.

Ah, there is one more thing.
A good KM school, like KMG creates its curriculum based on statistics. Nowdays we have cameras and reports available so each year lots of stuff is changed. What used to be P4(more advanced) could now be P1(beginner) because apparently people are facing a certain problem more often due to different reasons in the world.
Also, a lot of techniques might seem retarded by someone like you, for example, with a good base of skill.
If you would see some of the stuff we do on the ground, as a BJJ practicioner you might facepalm and say “what kind of bullshit is this?”.
But that is why KM is good. Statistically most people have never learned to fight. And statistically its most likely you will be attacked by someone who has no idea how to grapple, not someone who has a belt in a BJJ.
For example, we do this stupid defense from a straight arm choke on the ground like in the movies where they both grab each others throat or face and just struggle. As someone who knows BJJ you would think its stupid cuz no one attacks like that, BUT… when you ask a random dude to mount another dude and : “just kill him somehow” you will see that most people begin to grab the throat.
Same with attacks agains punches and stabs. We practice stuff that would help agains MOST attackers - people who are just plain agressive with no skill.
When you pick a beginner in a class, give “her” a rubber knife and say : “just stab me how you would stab me if you wanted to” and you will see how she stabs in a weird 6-12 upward motion.
Then all the internet experts on prison stabbing start commenting how “this never happens” but its exactly how it always happens.

1 year of BJJ will win 2-3 years of KM 1v1… Any contact sport athlete would. Then again, in my MMA class guys often come in with black eyes from the weekend. In my KM class, NO ONE EVER has came in with an injury from a party. Not because they are good fighters. Its because KM is also a mindset and knowing when NOT to fight.
After 2 years of BJJ you can take someone down and grapple him to death. What i try to accomplish in 2 years is that this one 37 year old nerdy technology dude would be able to cover from a huge circular swing, kick the agressor in the knee or balls and fucking run.
By taking the guy down, there are lots of new problems that can happen which wont happen if a guy does a correct reaction, counter-reaction and de-escalates as fast as possible.

This is good for girls also.
When i did a bit of BJJ, we had this European Judo champion girl who was like 220lbs. I was the same weight and she was a funny chick so we did train a bit. I was a complete beginner and she was a title holder. Well, she couldnt do shit to me. I couldnt also cuz i didnt know anything but the point is that i could have killed her in real life probably.
We also had a super awesome smaller girl who was great at BJJ, but since she was small, she only could roll with teenagers.
If it was my girl or daughter i wouldnt want her to try to grapple a guy like me. I would much rather her be able to fight, bite and kick, and run.
And as simple as it sounds, most people saying “thats easy, everyone can do that” - no its not. Most people cant kick other person in the nuts to save their lives. I have tested this many times when people say : “its ok, ill just poke him in the eye” and then i say “you have 3 seconds to poke me in the eye and then i will punch you in the face” and when stress hits they just step back and fall on their ass instead.
So even these basic stupid simple things need to be trained daily.

The main point of all this is that BJJ might be like bringing a flamethrower to a fist fight with a risk to get burned yourself also.
Most of the basic KM doesnt work in sparring and it doesnt work against someone who does sport fights. But that is not the goal. The goal is for this stuff to work on a regular drugged up dude who just wants to rob you, or a bully who just wants to slap you in the face.


Ill add a few good demo videos on what i believe looks somewhat good :

This is now a KMG instructor Tommy Blom, he also has done some MMA fights :

KMG Serbia :

I have done some stuff with this guy. He also has some high-level BJJ belt :

Interesting stuff. Thanks for taking the time to reply in such detail.

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You’re asking this question from the perspective of someone who will never do Judo at an elite level. Success leaves clues.

You could add folkstyle if you want to get technical. But the idea that a sport can prepare you for a physical confrontation that is not following the rules of the sport seems flawed.

Can prepare or can prepare you fully?

Because I don’t see a flaw in the logic of the first statement, but do for the latter.

Yeah - and this advice was given to me by an ex world champion. Who son was a European champion. And who’s school produced several national and international competitors including an Olympian or two.
So not only is he successful in himself. He is a successful coach.

When starting to compete in judo it is better to have 4 throws you can nail than 20 you can kinda pull off sometimes. As I say those 4 throws were all you needed at that level. As you got better you needed variety more as the opposition got better. But not straight away.

So your saying in a fight someone that’s spent 15 years practicing MMA (which is a sport) is equally prepared as someone that never touched a focus mit, done bag work or done any wrestling?