But what if they fight back? – The Self Defense Company

But what if they fight back?

But what if they fight back?

Dear Sirs,

I’m very disappointed in you 60 minute Self Defense Program, it seems like most if not all your “defenses” don’t account for the person fighting back.” -Dave M.

Thanks Dave, it’s much appreciated because you bring up a big misconception about about self defense and martial arts. Martial arts have conditioned us to believe that what you’re seeing in the ring is a fight. But you’re not. What you’re seeing is only SYMBOLIC of a fight and there’s where the two part ways. 

Self defense as taught by martial arts, is a counter-move or specific defense formula that is based on SPORT FIGHTING. That’s the “if he attacks me with this move, then I counter with this defense” equation. This seems to work in the dojo, but it FAILS in the street because of one simple reason…it’s not a competition.

What’s the difference between a FIGHT and a COMPETITION?

A fight is where the people involved are trying to MURDER or RAPE each other a competition is a consensual test of skill based on a specific set of rules at an agreed time.

That’s it.

It doesn’t matter where the altercation is – as long as the intent of one of the participants is to murder the other one…it’s a fight. 

Two people can get into a bar fight or a “street fight” but if they’re not trying to RAPE or MURDER each other…it’s still a competition. It’s depends on the INTENT of the assault.

Now that we understand INTENT of an attempted rape or murder we can move on to the next aspects of a REAL fight.

Instead of going through the usual list of “martial arts have rules” let’s get into the mindset of your attacker.

In the street there are two primary situations:

  1. You’re being mugged or robbed (your attacker wants to take something from you)
  2. You’re being assaulted, raped or murdered (your attacker wants to cause SEVERE injury or death)

Why does your attacker pick you?

  1. You have something he wants.
  2. He is confident that he can get it from you with minimal resistance.
    1. When we say “minimal resistance” he feels he will not be CAUGHT, IDENTIFIED or INJURED
  3. He has a plan of attack that does NOT considering your resistance. Yes, he expects some protest, but not a knock-down, drag out fight.

Make no mistake, there’s not a bully or criminal out there who got into a situation thinking someone was going to fight back…I mean REALLY fight back. If they thought that, they would simply move on to an easier target.

Your attacker is not only planning on succeeded, in his mind…it’s a forgone conclusion.

The ONLY two ways to WIN any fight.

He Quits.

Every situation comes down to a RISK vs. REWARD formula.

In this case, is the value of what your attacker wants worth being CAUGHT, IDENTIFIED or INJURED. There will come a point in your resistance that your attacker will think it’s not worth it.

Every time you FIGHT BACK you increase the chances of him breaking contact because as soon as it doesn’t go as planned – he will reevaluate the risk vs reward and that assessment is a matter of SECONDS not MINUTES.

Most times a few seconds of resistance is all it takes to stop an attack. This article talks about this fact.

You Finish Him.

You continue your attack until the threat is STOPPED. You keep going until the threat no longer has the potential ability to cause you or your loved ones ANY harm.

The “SECRET” to winning EVERY fight (and why we don’t care about him “fighting back)

  1. Attack FIRST – once his intention to attack you is revealed (and it’s not too complicated to do this) ATTACK.
  2. KEEP ATTACKING – do not stop which means you must:
    1. Control the pillars of self defense – MOMENTUM and BALANCE.
      1. Momentum – keep taking ground and moving forward.
      2. Balance – maintain yours, destroy his.
    2. Don’t allow him to “set up”. In order for him to deliver a meaningful attack, he needs to put his body weight behind the assault. Don’t confuse reacting to fighting back – when he covers up HE’S YOURS – TAKE HIM!
  3. Use Equalizers – Empty hand techniques are the LOWEST for of self defense, weapons are KING and were developed to make your job easier, so use them.

There are only two people in a FIGHT – the one attacking and the one being attacked…don’t be the second person. A real fight isn’t a “give and take” sparring match. It’s one person trying to dismantle another person regardless of what that person does.

In a typical self defense class – one person attacks and the other defends – in the street – one person attacks and KEEPS ATTACKING until the other person is a quivering mess. 

All that matters is POSITION, DISTANCE and how much and how fast you can deliver damage. When someone swings at you, you react – you move, you duck – in that split second, you’re not thinking of attack – now comes another attack and it connects…the PAIN hits, followed by another assault and another…FIGHT OVER.

Don’t be the target – BE the attacker.

Train Honestly,


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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. I will give you all just one pearl of wisdom at a time. During recon training I was taught by a 5 foot Filipino buck Sergeant. Of the many many things he taught me to keep me alive was this, “You MUST understand EVERYTHING about your enemy before you even THINK about engaging or attacking! You MUST understand where they eat, where they shit, where they piss, [I’ll fast forward because he went too long]. Then, and only then, do you have confidence of a solid outcome!”. This man’s wisdom saved my life, many times over.
    I know many may not understand this pearl but the act of patience and observation before taking action is what the wisdom of the SDTS have incorporated in their foundation of knowledge. If you can’t feel it then you must ask me to kick your ass to open your mind. That buck Sergeant did it FOR ME on a regular basis, pending my willingness to PAY ATTENTION.

  2. Spectacular!

    It’s always about the element of surprise when it comes to winning on the street or in combat.

  3. working security, (i work private security, so my co-workers are desk agents, staff, etc…not other security officers nor security minded people), that being said, i often find myself being questioned, innocently enough, as to why i didn’t just, well, more or less, barge into a situation and take over. they see me rush to a scenario, and then pause.. what they don’t understand, is the pause is a long listed impromtu assessment of what the actual scenario is. just as what was stated above implies, you must understand (or in my case gather and make decisions with) the most accurate and as much information as possible.

    the 2 edged sword that occurs here is 1) your outcome tends to be as favorable as possible for all parties involved, and 2) you cover your ass by being the most “educated” and detailed in your account of events.

    I have earned respect from some good guys on the force for being a solid source of reliable, accurate information in situations that justify their presence.

    all in all, i guess i’m just agreeing with this post more than adding any content.

    1. You do bring up something that’s overlooked though…SIZE UP.

      From the moment you get the call, you’re talking to dispatch to arriving on scene you’re gathering information and making risk-reward calculations. This is an ongoing process until you’re back in HQ filing a report.

  4. And remember that most anything can be used as a weapon-car keys, rock, credit card, stick, snap off a car antenna, …

  5. excellent article/advise. Self defence only works if you have the confidence to do what you have to do to get away. I often ask students can you take your keys out of your pocket and pop someone’s eye out. The response is usually no or ewww or something to that effect. Then i ask the same question but now they have ripped off you clothes could you do it, usually over half agree. The moral is we don’t walk around looking to poke someone’s eye out but when it gets ugly we do whatever we need to do to get to safety and if that means popping an attackers eye out then that is what we needed to do to get to safety.

  6. Invaluable info once again Damien. Go with your gut/intuition, set your mind to the task. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, if something “feels” hinky, go with it, don’t ignore it. That 6th sense is incorporated into our DNA, hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of years of life and death experiences automatically available, all it takes is using the other 5 senses in conjunction with the 6th. See, hear, taste, touch, smell your surroundings. Situational awareness in a nutshell. Act on your instincts. Predators are doing the same thing, with a plan of action that has worked for them in the past. What does a predator look for? Prey and prey in it’s simplest form is unaware of it’s surroundings and neither ready or willing to fight back. Don’t allow yourself to be preyed upon, DO something to become a Sheepdog. Neither predator or prey, ready and willing to fight back at all costs. As Damien always closes with, train honestly.

  7. so, a statement coming from a position of awareness, 2 scenarios are likely to occur, first, i impromtu, example, the guy in the alley ramping himself up to jump the next person to walk by, just so happens to be you. you haven’t been sized up, and incorporating even the basics in this system will show this guy got far outweighed in his option to attack you. wrong place, wrong time.

    but the second scenario, is the one that truely concerns me. now i’m nothing impressive, average at best, but i don’t carry myself like a victim either. i exude confidence, keep my eyes up, make eye contact.. everything awareness condition yellow more or less, so, my example, is the guy who’s taken his time to assess me, and still finds me as his mark. to me, this means that if this guy has made the action to attack me, whatever his reason, he’s already talked himself past my awareness and demeanor. at this point, havoc is what must ensue. this is not a guy who’s gunna get thrown and run with his tail tucked.

    i’ll close with this, i never, ever wish to find myself, fading out on the ground, and have my last thought be that i had underestimated my attacker.

    1. The second guy sounds like he NEEDS to get to you and his risk is worth the reward. This would mean that you either:
      A. You are living a lifestyle where someone needs to have you taken care of – in this case, you should be good to go and armed.
      B. You have something of great value he wants…in which case you should also be prepared.

      As for the random psychopath, serial killer type…you’re not the target they will typically hit. They’re predators and will take down easier marks.

  8. I agree with what you teach whole heartedly. But Damien “please!” Proof read your articles. With so many grammatical errors one may think you are lazy or just lack pride in your self. And you sir have much to be proud of. Been following you for many years keep up the fight and continue to train honestly.

    1. Wow Dennis – that’s what you pull away from all of this…a few type-os!

      Now I will admit, we write a lot of these things and errors do get posted after all the cut and pasting and editing…

      BUT THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS SPELL MY NAME CORRECTLY. It’s only plastered all over the place.

      I would also suggest that you contribute something of substance with future comments.

      You should also take a look at this study recently published in ESQUIRE concluded that the people who point out type-o’s are assholes…just sayin’…


      1. Thanks theselfdefenseco! I felt compelled to comment on this but held my tongue. My viewpoint completely! People who point out other peoples grammatical errors are assholes. I made reference to that at the end of my post mis spelling sentence to see if I’d get called on that. Keep up the great posts Damian, I enjoy there wisdom.
        Aloha from Kauai!

        1. Hey Jeff…yes, no doubt, these posts get edited and saved over and over again…and some stuff gets missed.

          So…there are two other EASY ways our hero could have handled this and NOT been a DB in the process.

          1. PM me on the platform. Real simple, private, etc.
          2. Email customer service (we have CONTACT US all over this thing)

          But no…he decided to post publicly…which only amplifies his douchebaggery.

          Oh, and if he’s so concerned with my grammar, he should at least point out the errors! Whenever I’m in a meeting of any kind and someone points out an issue, I’m looking for the solution that comes along with it. It might not work, but it starts the process. It would have been real easy for him to send the errors in a PM.

          Finally, feel free to post whatever you want. This is supposed to be both fun and educational :)

  9. As a “what if” guy Nathan Willison, I have quite often created scenarios such as the 2 you set up. After over 4 decades of training however I have come to realize there are too many variables at play to properly play the mental chess involved in these scenarios…i.e. Timing. Will I be sick or well, happy or sad, rich or poor etc.
    Attitude and attention trumps all. What really is of concern is being able to manage FEAR IN THE MOMENT. There is no possible way to train for an assault that you are not in control of and trust me, you and I are NOT in control of how we are attacked. Our attacker is, Period. There is one thing certain, we will react pretty much the same, when surprised, it is an an autonomic response that the hands go up in the air to protect the head. Now if we reverse engineer everything from that initial response forward then the SDTS fits in perfect. Use fear to empower the strikes and when I say strikes I mean everything, head,, teeth, shoulders elbows, hands knees, feet. All technique flies out the window. What matters is, strike, strike, strike. Repeat. Move on.. Now all this having been said, train honestly, know your targets and keep on striking. BTW, don’t worry whether your grammar is perfect either. If you get it you get it regardless of spelling or senrence structure.
    Just saying…

  10. I will give you all just one pearl of wisdom at a time. During recon training I was taught by a 5 foot Filipino buck Sergeant. Of the many many things he taught me to keep me alive was this, “You MUST understand EVERYTHING about your enemy before you even THINK about engaging or attacking! You MUST understand where they eat, where they shit, where they piss, [I’ll fast forward because he went too long]. Then, and only then, do you have confidence of a solid outcome!”. This man’s wisdom saved my life, many times over.
    I know many may not understand this pearl but the act of patience and observation before taking action is what the wisdom of the SDTS have incorporated in their foundation of knowledge. If you can’t feel it then you must ask me to kick your ass to open your mind. That buck Sergeant did it FOR ME on a regular basis, pending my willingness to PAY ATTENTION.

  11. johnnyinseattle@yahoo.com
    You are not anonymous. Your post hits a nail on the head. No matter what anyones previous training has taught them, there is always room to grow.
    Funny as it seems, the more we know intuitionally the less we need to express physically. In a nutshell when you get it you get it. From this perspective the path is cleared of mental flotsam and jetsom making it easier to understand the teaching. Stepping through FEAR is my ultimate responsibilty. The simpler the teaching the easier it is for me to get to that place/space of learning. The SDTS has opened that space, at least for me, to get to that simple place. No hard tecniques, pretty much the same movements works for any attack scenario.
    Attack the person/true weapon, not the tool, (knife, gun, club). No intricate moves that weigh the body/mind in the adrenaline dump. Just keep moving forward, strike, strike, strike! Then move on to the next task. Don’t get much simpler than that! This coming from a 9th degree black belt who got tired of all the intricete moves and said, “Fuck it” and discovered the SDTS. Anyone out there concerned about this system? You don’t know me, but trust me. Quit wasting your time on systems that teach you all the COOL moves, joint locks, pressure points, weapon disarms etc. When shit hit the fan, all those moves do to. The SDTS is the simplest, deadliest system on the planet. PERIOD!
    Jeff “Bam Bam” Voorhies
    10th degree Black belt
    Yen Ching Tao Kenposilama
    Head Master
    4SD Street Smart System of Self Defense
    Kauai, Hawaii
    Home of some of the most renowned Grandmasters on the Planet.
    Just my 2 cents worth

  12. I am not here to trash anyone’s grammar, nor tear someone down, but to simply put my two cents in about a subject that in my mind is probably one of the most important in any form of self-defense. Just following along with this, and I am one that is a true believer in “situational awareness”.

    I come from a teaching background and deal with teenagers primarily, and without fail even though the content of the course I am teaching is not self-defense related I feel the need to include a section on situational awareness. Because situational awareness is basic to just about everything we do in life.

    So I ask the kids in class if anyone ever goes out for a nice run, by themselves, it has been my experience unless a kid runs on the track team if they do run it is most likely a solo sport. Now it is the next question that is asked to get to the meat and potatoes of the subject. “Do you listen to your MP3 player while you run?” Of course, many runners listen to their music while running to keep their tempo.

    This breaks the cardinal rule of situational awareness, you put a set of earbuds in with music blaring in an attempt to keep pace, and in the meantime completely tune out the rest of the world. Makes no sense to me, and after the lecture hopefully makes no sense to them either. Never mind you should avoid going anywhere unaccompanied, but you surely should not take away one of your keenest senses.

    1. Absolutely 100% correct. Without awareness you are SOL.

      It doesn’t matter what you know…you’re done like dinner.

  13. Great points! To emphasize, know that predators are real, be prepared or risk becoming an easy victim.
    I had to learn the hard way and was lucky to survive. So know how to recognize potential risk situations and AVOID them if possible, don’t let your ego or stupidity suck you in. Stay prepared, trained, and if necessary, to flip your switch to “nightmare” mode on your attacker, and know the SDTS is a proven and comprehensive close combat program. I have trained in a number of formal martial arts, and I hang with what works! Love your honesty Damian, I am honored to be one of your students.

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