Self Defense Has No Style

Today, I received an interesting email from Damian Ross. In it, he talked about self defense and the development of the Self Defense Training System.

Here is the email:

Self Defense doesn’t have a style, it has criteria, and the criteria are simple. We call them the 8 cardinal rules of self defense. These are the same criteria we used when putting together our own training. This was before there was a training center. Before the Self Defense Training System. And before anyone sold a video or taught this system.

We were selfish back then. We just wanted to know what worked the best for us. At the time, I was doing a lot of security work as a bouncer and I had a tendency towards a certain lifestyle that had me hanging around Harley Davidsons and 1%-ers. I was leading a double life. Suit and tie by day, biker-bouncer-bodyguard at night. I was in my 20’s. What can I tell you?

I liked martial arts but realized they were useless beyond the sport stuff. My habits forced me to spar or wrestle. This put me in a vulnerable position because when I was going for a takedown, I should have been ending the fight. When I was putting my hands up, I should have been ending the fight. There were a few times when I locked up with somebody and his friends would jump in. To be honest, I was lucky. Damn lucky.

Finally in 1989, I connected with a training group who were only interested in one thing: anything that worked. From there, criteria were developed by which we evaluated every system and tactic we came across.

Here are those criteria:

  1. Will it work against someone bigger and stronger? Chances are you will be attacked by someone larger than you.
  2. Can I do this when I’m sick, injured or older? You will most likely be attacked when you appear to be an easy target.
  3. Do I have to remember specific self defenses or wait to be attacked? Action is faster than reaction. Having to recall specific defenses to individual attacks wastes valuable time and it’s all a good street fighter needs to turn your lights off.
  4. Will this work against armed and unarmed attacks? There is an overwhelming possibility (70%) that a weapon will be present during an assault, even if you don’t see one. You must treat every attack as a weapon assault.
  5. Will this work against multiple attackers? You must assume that your attacker has friends, even if you don’t see them. Smart street fighters will have buddies to jump in at a moment’s notice.
  6. Your attacker wants to injure or kill you. If someone has intent, they will stop at nothing to get what they want from you.
  7. It must work in any environment or terrain. Can you fight in a phone booth? On sand, ice or gravel? You never know where you’re going to have to make your stand and chances are it won’t be on a nice, flat, smooth surface.
  8. It must be simple. Under stress you can only process and perform simple, gross motor skills. It doesn’t matter how much you practice, your body automatically goes into fight-or-flight mode as it moves blood from your extremities to your large muscle groups and vital organs.

We flash forward many years later and the result is the Self Defense Training System. Where the only style or doctrine it adheres to are the 8 criteria above.

Here’s a video by Damian Ross and Pete Barry that talks a bit more about self defense and what exactly makes up a system:

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