Get REAL, TRAIN REAL, STAY ALIVE! - Carl Cestari – The Self Defense Company



“Carl Cestari was one of my instructors and mentor in the world of combatives. He died way before his time in 2007, he is greatly missed.” – Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company

In Carl’s own words….

Damian Ross (left) with Carl Cestari on the set of "Combat Jujutsu" in Damian's Dojo in Pompton Lakes, NJ
Damian Ross (left) with Carl Cestari on the set of “Combat Jujutsu” in Damian’s Dojo in Pompton Lakes, NJ

There are few men more feared than professional boxers. Forget the “fantasy” myths so prevalent in martial arts circles. A competent professional club fighter would massacre most martial artists. Hell, most serious amateurs would do the same. I’m not interested in the 1000-year-old “secrets” of One Hung Lo. I know what I know after all these years.

Regardless of whether anyone wishes to accept or deny the truth, the truth remains.

The questions you need to ask are: Why are boxers so good? What can we learn and HOW can we apply these lessons to our own training in combatives?

Well, first and foremost boxing makes you TOUGH.

Hitting and being hit,  not giving in, training that HURTS! Balls! The strip mall studio may make you “sweat”, Cardio Kick Boxing may take off the “pounds”, but it’s NOT the same as HARD TOUGH training.

Forget about the “schools” that promise FUN, EASY, “NON-INJURIOUS” SELF-DEFENSE! There ain’t NO SUCH ANIMAL!

Secondly, boxers train in only a FEW skills, but to a HIGH degree of REALISTIC PROFICIENCY! 

Lastly, boxing is pragmatic! NO ROOM FOR BULLSHIT!

Okay, so how do we apply this to OUR THING? (SDC Combatives Training)

Make contact, train with a real rough and tumble attitude! Eat the PAIN, it WON’T KILL YOU! Condition YOUR weapons! GET TOUGH (where did I hear that before?).

You had better grow some HARD BARK on your ass, if you hope to survive and prevail in a REAL STRUGGLE for LIFE and DEATH!

Now I am NOT talking about BRUTALIZING anyone in training. THAT ain’t what I’m talking about! I am saying that hard, realistic PROGRESSIVE training, will build TOUGHNESS, like proper weight training builds strength and power.

Hick’s Law! K.I.S.S., same idea! Tiger Claw, Chin Jab, Edge of Hand, Elbows, Knees, Low Kicks and Stomps, Head Butts and a few assorted other nasty “chips”, and YOU GOT ALL YOU NEED!

I think that those who say they have “IMPROVED” – “REFINED” – “COMBINED” and any other nonsense, have simply MISSED THE POINT! Or feel compelled to add “Bullshit for Bucks”(NO that wasn’t an old game show).

The KEY again is HARD WORK!

A boxer works his left jab into the GROUND, always striving for more POWER, SPEED, and ACCURACY, right? So do the same with the Tigers Claw, Chin Jab, etc. Make these few skills THE absolute BEST they CAN BE!!!!!!

Example: I don’t need 2000 “moves”, if I train my Tiger Claw to be so QUICK, so POWERFUL, so ACCURATE that there ain’t a damn thing you can do to stop me from ripping your face off and knocking your block completely OFF YOUR FRIGGIN’ SHOULDERS and IF THINK YOU CAN STOP ME I’LL STOMP YOUR DAMN WORTHLESS ASS INTO A BLOODY PUDDLE!


If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If it sounds to good to be true, it is! Anything that can screw up will! We’re all in this ALONE. No one’s getting out of here alive.

When your number is UP well it’s UP! Getting THIS?

People often say stupid things like: “What would you do if you had to fight Mike Tyson?”. What are you talking about, stupid? If someone was going to harm your family, wife, loved ones or friends……….Would you look at the threat and say – Oh BOY he looks really tough, really dangerous, I might get HURT! Or would you tear into the THREAT with absolute bloody-minded ruthless brutality fueled by abject hate and rage coupled with killing intent. Only YOU can answer that! But I’d much rather DIE on my feet, than LIVE on my knees!

All top combative athletes have a LIMITED number of methods that they have honed to perfection. They have a never say DIE attitude, they EAT PAIN, and they don’t believe in the “Tooth Fairy”. These are GOOD solid lessons for close combat.

One last comment to clarify “attitude”…

My late “Unc” Emilio Panero was one of the NO BS toughest men you would ever meet and believe me there were many that wished they didn’t.

His advice, to paraphrase…….”I don’t give a flying F**K who he thinks he is, he doesn’t have a clue as to who I am” and “whatever it takes…….a gun, a knife, a lead pipe, or my fists, feet and teeth, his MOTHER will wish SHE was never BORN”

Sometimes in life you can’t run, whatever the outcome, whatever the cost.

Have a good night!


I STILL can’t say it better myself.

Look, we train like this EVERYDAY and you can join us RIGHT NOW.

What are you waiting for?

In the street you’re either hitting or getting hit, time to pick a side.

History favors the bold my friend.

Train Honestly,



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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. Excellent article .well put together, it is as my father use to say mind over matter, the bigger they are the harder they fall, my late father was a very good boxer , never looked for or started a fight , but having said that would never back down if approached, and always walked away with his head high,

  2. Mr. Ross is 100% correct. Carl Cestari was brilliant and so are his trng methods–>FEW SKILLS-MAX HIGH PROFICIENCY–>THE K.I.S. PRINCIPLE. Claw, Jab, Edge of Hand, Elbows, Knees, Low Kicks, Stomps, Head Butts, etc. Tie it all in to hard Physical Training and resistance exercises for all the techniques. Also know human anatomy… As in everyone regardless of height/weight are built the same from the thoracic arch up to kneecaps down. Add in, if your opponents weight does not cover, their pelvic girdle…. Everyone has heard the phrase VIP rel to personal protection… I use it as a technique guide as in…. V-Vision=If they cant see… I-Inhale or breath as in if they cant breath and P=Pain as in what you did has them unable to function …. As long as any of those factors single or combo are in effect=You own your opponent.

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