The Hardest Thing About Self Defense – The Self Defense Company

The Hardest Thing About Self Defense

The Hardest Thing About Self Defense

…is taking the first step to fight back. 

When you practice in a typical self defense class – it’s easy to fight back. 

Someone is the attacker and the other person is the defender….they attack and you defend. 

  • You know WHEN he’s going to attack. 
  • You know WHO is going to attack you. 
  • You know HOW he’s going to attack you. 
  • And (most important) he’s going to WAIT for you to defend and let you WIN!

This traditional way of practicing self defense doesn’t work and has never worked. 

  • It ignores what happens before the attack (the size up and the approach).
  • It allows your attacker to enter your personal space.
  • It allows your attacker to put his hands on you first.
  • It gives you a false sense of security.

No one, has ever grabbed your wrist and then just stood there. 

Training to WAIT for the attack is the absolutely WORST thing you can do in self defense.

Look, you don’t know who you’re facing out there… would you let Chuck Liddell have the first punch?? I sure as heck wouldn’t. By the time he attacks IT’S OVER.

To fix this you need to know when you should attack BEFORE the actual first punch is ever thrown.

That means you need to set your trigger distance. Then you need to train in a way that enables you to TAKE THAT FIRST STEP.

This starts by understanding that there are 3 steps to every attack.

  1. Size up – Here your attacker is doing a risk-reward analysis to determine if he can get what he wants from you without being caught, injured or identified.
  2. Approach – Attackers don’t appear out of thin air – he needs to get close to you to impose his will on you. He will either approach you or you will approach him.
  3. Assault – This is the the actual attack (this is where most systems focus and it’s too late).


We cover this EXTENSIVELY in SDTS Module 1, so I don’t need to go into it. But in short, you want to keep your attacker at a distance where in order for him to touch you, he needs to shift his weight. 

Once you set your trigger distance and he crosses that line – BOOM, you need to react by either ATTACKING or ESCAPING. 

And that’s the hard part because you think you need COURAGE and CONFIDENCE to take that first step but in reality it’s FEAR and SELF DOUBT that precede an attack and that’s good because you can turn that into action with the correct training. 

Pre-fight anxiety is NORMAL and you’re in good company. There are A LOT of professional fighters, cops, soldiers and martial artists who are reluctant to take that first step in the street.

Rest assured, the “WHAT IF I FAIL” question will be gone after you engage because you will be entirely in the moment and your training will take over. 

This is why we train to go 100% all of the time. This is how to channel your fear into action. 

Practice your techniques from that  TRIGGER DISTANCE and this will condition you to react correctly. The more you practice it, the easier it is to execute. It’ not complicated. 

Just focus on your TRIGGER DISTANCE and going from 0-100mph in an instant. 

Take ground, keep attacking and DON’T WAIT!!!

In a real fight, you’re either attacking or being attacked. This isn’t sparring – there isn’t an exchange. It’s you, alone against an unknown threat when you least expect it.

Regular people without any real training survive violence EVERY DAY. Imagine what you can do with the correct training.

Train Honestly,



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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. Good advice, Sir. I know what “critical distance” is from karate….I guess the way to set the line is at that distance? I don’t look real menacing… fact, I have a Charlie brown face, watery blue eyes, thick glasses (always train without them.. ANY martial art., because I know the first thing the guy is going to do is try to knock them off. I’m a sho dan in Wado Ryu karate, trained under Captain Chris Pirazzo in Combatatives, and currently do kickboxing. I learned some Ju jitsu is karate……its one of the foundations of Wado Ryu). I’ve been overawed by street punks who put on a good act before, and I now know what to watch for. They’re usually as scared as I am, if not more. (Plus, N’s come in all colors…… I have black friends, and train with black guys, but none of them are N’s).

  2. Again …very good message that we all need to memorize and make a part of our being/ mind set so that it is instinctive. If it isn’t automatic all our training was a waste. I encourage all readers to repost Damians articles ….you never know if your repost will wind up saving just one person down the road.
    Dave Leeland

  3. Always excellent, practical, logical advice for any person concerned with unarmed self defence .
    The best instruction, tips, advice I’ve seen while researching this over the past 50 yrs. for men , women, all sizes, shapes, and levels of physical conditioning. Thanks Damen, keep up the good work.
    Det. Joseph Stasnek #773 Philadelphia Police Dept. ( Retired)

  4. Do you offer face to face workshops anywhere ?
    I can learn a lot from reading.
    I can learn more by doing ….
    Fred Woolman

  5. To all readers; Damian’s self defense lineage goes back directly from the legendary Carl Cestari and on back to the masters and creators of the fighting arts that dominated all others during and after the Second World War. My advice is to forget, as much as possible, what you think you know and follow his direction.

  6. You’re absolutely correct Thomas. The SDTS developed by Damien is the best self defense system available. I encourage everyone I meet to check it out.

  7. Joining SDC was a real eye opener for me…I was never sure whether my martial arts training would actually work in a street altercation. I learned quickly that, it likely would not. I learned Pai Lum from an excellent teacher, but the soft skills of awareness, and the idea of striking first were never taught.

  8. Most, if not all of the SDTS instructors Level 3 and above, have extensive martial arts training, experience and some have taught. Most, if not all of the above, also have military, LEO, security training and experience. ALL have found a home here at SDC because it is NOT martial arts, is NOT complicated and IS simple and easy to learn. And, it keeps getting better. Sign up and hold on. L-5

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