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Tips from Tim Larkin

Self Defense; Stop Fighting and Deliver a Beating

When you think about self-defense in a life-or-death physical altercation, what scares you the most? I’m willing to bet your biggest fear is that the other guy will hurt you.

Whether he does it with a gun, a knife, a club or fists and boots, you are preoccupied with stopping him from hurting you. And so you seek out things to mollify those fears — gun disarms, knife defense, stick fighting and self-defense techniques to block punches and kicks. All the while you’re missing what makes him so powerful: not caring about any of those things.

If you have a gun, what’s your priority, shooting him or worrying about countering gun disarms?

Does the one doing the stabbing care at all about knife defense?


The last thing on your mind if you’re busting limbs and heads with a baseball bat is whether or not the other guy will take it away from you.

Thinking it’s any different with fists and boots is what separates the person delivering the beating from the person taking one.

Self-defense is first and foremost about preventing the other guy from hurting you — talking him out of it, running away, techniques to stymie his attempts at harm. The first two are great if you can get them (and really, I shouldn’t have to tell you to avoid trouble if you can). For our purposes, I’m going to assume you can’t get away to safety and the only thing left is violent action, which leaves us with the third element of self-defense: stopping the other guy from hurting you.


Why practice techniques that take time and constant practice when it can be demonstrated that people with no training or experience win at violence every day? They win by having a superior perspective — caring about nothing but delivering a beating — and then get to work creating results. No training, no practice, just an all-consuming intent to cause harm.


If you’re concerned about stopping or controlling him, you’re mucking about at the completely wrong end of things, placing yourself in the unenviable position of trying to prevent a beating instead of delivering one. Contrary to popular myth, you can’t do both at once.


Fighting is about engaging with the other guy’s athleticism and skill. You’re really only going to do well if you are bigger, faster, stronger and he doesn’t cheat. If you’re there to fight and he’s just there to deliver a beating, you’ve got your work cut out for you. If he’s just there to scrap also, chances are someone may get their ass kicked, but no one will get seriously hurt (unless someone falls down and hits their head on concrete). The real danger lies in not knowing his true intentions until either a) he’s killing you or b) he resorts to cheating or pulling a weapon to even the odds as you start to win the fight.


And while “fighting” seems like it would be the same as “delivering a beating” (or at least containing the concept), “fighting” implies a back-and-forth while “delivering a beating” is necessarily one-sided.

Hand-to-hand combat suffers from the same problem. While the word “combat” has military connotations and thus sounds more serious and dire than mere “fighting” — the implication being that while you may just get your ass kicked in a fight, you can actually die in hand-to-hand combat — it still lacks the unidirectional focus of “delivering a beating”.

Again, what makes that imaginary adversary powerful, dangerous and fear-inducing? The idea that all he wants is to hurt you. The other guy is scary because he’s just there to deliver a beating. He just wants to hurt you, break you, put you down and make you stay there.

The only hope you have of at least evening the odds is to see it the same way. See yourself as the one delivering the beating and train accordingly.


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